I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect. No, it’s true! (But please don’t tell my wife and destroy her perception). I swear too much and have bad habits too numerous to mention but none of them, now I’m middle-aged, include driving or riding in a manner that is likely to cause danger to others or myself.
My commute to work is about 28km of a few rolling hills and one nasty one towards the end, with both pedestrian crossing and traffic intersection lights on the ascent and, in Spring, a particularly aggressive magpie. But the first part of the journey isn’t too bad. There have been a few occasions where cars and trucks have come too close for comfort but none like there was this morning.
The incident which increased the heart rate above 135bpm at about 6.50am yesterday occurred on a roundabout at Petrie (ignore the date/time stamp on the recording). Travelling south in Beeville Road the road widens from one lane plus a parking lane to two lanes (with no parking lane), the left most of which is signed for traffic to exit on Dayboro Road towards Strathpine. The right lane is for traffic going straight ahead into a housing sub-division or right on Dayboro Road towards Youngs Crossing Road intersection or past there to Dayboro. Approaching the roundabout Beeville Road bends slightly to the right and as it widens to two lanes I checked back and saw a silver four wheel drive a short distance back, still climbing the hill. I signalled my intent to turn right and – for reasons of safety – positioned myself in the left lane whilst continuing to signal right with an outstretched arm letting traffic on the roundabout pass in front. I then moved onto the chevrons to the left of the edge line and continued to ride towards Dayboro Road still with my right arm signalling my intended course. So, considering I had signalled heaps more than many other cyclists tend to do I was a bit shocked to find the silver four wheel drive, a Mitsubishi Pajero Queensland registration 692ITY drive straight in front of me into the Petrie-on-Pine estate. But as he/she had signalled their intent (note flashing indicator) to turn into this road then their wanton disregard for other traffic can be forgiven. Apparently. But as my name is not Jesus I decline to forgive and so you shall have your 15 minutes of fame.
Some forty minutes later, and still marvelling at my good fortune of almost meeting the courteous Pajero driver, my disappointment in the attitudes of some Brisbane road users continued. On Old Northern Road/South Pine Road at Everton Park, just after the intersection with Dargie Street, the traffic starts to back up to a standstill. For some unknown reason drivers are unable to position their cars on the road to allow cyclists to pass safely on the left, so many cyclists, myself included, pick the safest option which is to ride between the two lines of traffic (see, I told you I wasn’t perfect!) until the space on the left increases . Unfortunately, just after the intersection with Stafford Road the entire scenario is replicated on the approach to where South Pine Road becomes Wardell Street. This is a long, straight stretch with an appalling road surface and camber on the left of the southbound lanes. The road passes Mt Maria College and so is in a school zone. Now traffic is so heavy here that speeding is not an issue but right outside the main entrance to the school is a pedestrian crossing controlled by traffic lights. So you would think that when riding along through stopped cars and trucks, which are stopped because the lights were RED, that you would err on the side of caution and stop too or at least slow to a crawl pending their change to green. But, no! Apparently if you are a cyclist then that ridiculous rule shouldn’t apply to you. So a big round of applause to Mr “Lend Lease” for doing the wrong thing at a red light and giving Brisbane drivers more anti-cyclist ammunition. And a dollar to the swear jar for me for calling him a fuckwit.
But it didn’t end there. A bit further on Mr “Lend Lease”, like me, took an exit to a back street next to the Enoggera train station. Due to a blind corner at the bottom of the off-ramp the intersection is controlled by a stop sign. The big question for users of this intersection during the morning rush hour is whether there is a police officer on the other side, just out of sight, but in possession of a video camera filming the evidence before he issues the $300 fine. Lucky for Mr “Lend Lease” there wasn’t since he (and the driver following) made no attempt to stop.
I eventually caught up with Mr “Lend Lease” when he stopped for the lights at the Samford Road / Enoggera Road intersection (this one is a bit busier and so perhaps he didn’t feel so brave). I told him he was doing some wonderful things to enhance the reputation of Brisbane cyclists in his disobedience of the red light and the stop sign and called him a tool (no more money for the swear jar!). I must have hit a nerve because he reacted and told me in no uncertain terms to worry about myself.
And their lies the root of the problem because I do worry about myself when riding, especially during rush hour. All the time. I worry that some cranky motorist who has seen other cyclists ignore the road rules will give me less room because, well, I must be a road-rule flouting cyclist like Mr “Lend Lease”. I worry that some cyclist-hating driver will report his sighting of the behaviour of those Mr “Lend Lease” types and give fuel to the anti-cyclist vitriol published ad nauseum in the Courier Mail. I worry that my wife and kids will one day receive a visit from a workmate with the news that I won’t be home for dinner. Ever. But I also worry that one day I might be the one that has to deliver similar news to the family of cyclists like Mr “Lend Lease”.
P.S. Unfortunately there appears to be an issue in the uploading of videos 2 & 4 in that the sound is out of synch to the files held on my hard drive.
P.P.S. If you are a manager from Lend Lease (offices at Waterfront Place in Brisbane) and you recognise this fool as one of your employees I most strongly recommend you “educate” him in setting the right example when riding on the road. Alternatively you could recommend he doesn’t provide such negative advertising to your brand.
The comments by Shane Warne in mid-January that inflamed cyclists around Australia, and which drew comment on numerous blogs, first and foremost by Wade Wallace’s CyclingTips, apparently inspired a number of Warnie’s bogan Twitter followers to new depths of feral behaviour the moment they are passing cyclists in their Bogandore sedans (many resplendent with their red or green ‘P-plates’).
Reports from some cities in the days following the controversy highlighted intimidation of cyclists by car loads of youths, many slapping their hands on the sides of the cars and repeatedly shouting “Warnie”. From personal experience most acts of intimidation only occur on lone cyclists, those targeting us generally being too gutless to pick on more than one cyclist. And having been abused and had stuff thrown at me on numerous occasions, and more recently assaulted five minutes from home by a passenger of a white ute being driven by a grub from Burpengary – a grub who was at the time and still is banned from driving until mid-2014 – I decided it was time to invest in a little insurance. So I bought a camera.
I picked this one as the manual states it records for 2.5hours which is more than enough time for my commute with a bit to spare. In fact I could do the commute and a River Loop of Brisbane and still have a few minutes spare. I used it on the way into work a couple of days ago and although I got buzzed a couple of times it was nothing too heavy and there was no “Warnie” abuse. But on the way home, five minutes after leaving the office, I got buzzed by a truck. I just love the way he cuts in after passing then drives on top of the line at the edge of the road adjoining the bus stop emphasising his ownership of the road.
A short distance further on I witnessed the best driving through a red traffic signal I have seen for a couple of years. The intersection with Enoggera Road and Ashgrove Road at Newmarket is always busy with vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians and yet at 4.36pm Mr Pajero Driver makes no attempt to brake let alone stop as the lights turn amber. At this stage he is not in camera, the lights turning amber with the camera almost 56m away. When he is in camera and 15m away the lights turn red and he continues driving through the intersection. As I remark on the video, he is a fucking knob!
Ride safe people and watch out for fuckwits driving cars and trucks…
Well…HE came. HE saw. HE got the same treatment many of us mad cyclists in Queensland put up with ride in, ride out. And, as usual, the bogan element responded to the article published about it in The Courier Mail (I refuse, on principle, to add to that rag’s coffers by linking the article here).
The visit of Australia’s first Grand Tour winner, Cadel Evans, visited Brisbane briefly last weekend and departed on Monday. Unbeknownst to most of his Brisbane cycling fans he took part in a family fun ride from South Bank to the Sirromet winery and then had the temerity to complain about the attitudes of drivers in the region towards cyclists. I don’t disagree that there are a number of cyclists who flout the road rules, the same as there being a number of drivers who behave in an equally deplorable manner or a number of thieves who steal to ensure retailers add an appropriate mark-up on goods to compensate them for stock loss. The fact is they are here to stay and the rest of us just have to put up with them and the negative attitudes that are generated towards the those of us who try to set a better example. I know we shouldn’t but, really, hands up who thinks attitudes are going to change in those who drive white utes, covered in stickers (see end note) just because others criticise their behaviour? However, maybe if Cuddles had not engaged in such a selective ride with only a few of his fans as opposed to a majority, the unnecessarily nasty drivers might have decided discretion was the better part of valour (as we know they are gutless when faced with superior numbers) and kept their unsavoury opinions to themselves (until the next cycling article is published in The Courier Mail).
The main purpose of Cadel’s visit was to sign copies of his new book The Long Road To Paris. Essentially a pictorial record of his quest for the Tour de France yellow jersey, with photographs by renowned cycling photographer Graham Watson, it is Evans second biography, complementing Close To Flying which was co-written with Rob Arnold from Ride Cycling Review. Strangely though, The Long Road To Paris is much easier to read.
Evans’ appearance at Dymocks bookstore at Albert Street in the city was well-publicised to the Brisbane cycling community with flyers available at the Brisbane BMW Ride For Life Challenge, next to the coffee outlet and across the way from where Evans former Lotto team mate Robbie McEwen was signing copies of his biography One Way Road. Word spread even further with notification posted on various cycling forums and blogs and big posters in the windows at Dymocks.
So it was no surprise, at a little after 10am, to find a queue almost 200m long, four deep in places, snaking its way into the Queen Street Mall and forcing pedestrians to detour around much to their bemusement. What was a surprise though was the lack of abuse from pedestrians when answers were given as to why we were queuing. There were no derogatory comments about cyclists blocking their way, or snide comments about those of us ignorant enough to flout red lights. And there was only one person I saw dressed in Lycra. I didn’t even get any abuse when I returned to work after two hours standing in the sun.
What was almost poetic for those of us who still revel in what is arguably the greatest sporting achievement by an Australian, and who looked up whilst in the Queen Street Mall, was seeing the queue strategically pass Evans’ Tour de France ride number, 141, emblazoned on the facade of 141 Queen Street Mall, an obvious but silent homage to the 2011 Australian Cyclist of the Year.
The signing commenced at 10.30am and it wasn’t long before the future generation of Australian cycling came to be anointed by kang-ga-ri lama. And this is possibly what caused the queue to move oh-so-slowly. The signing was due to finish at midday so myself and those waiting in close proximity to me, not ten metres from the door, were none too happy to be advised at 11.57am by a Dymocks’ employee we might miss out. All that waiting and expense for a fleeting glimpse of the champion many of us had devoted last July to. I feared he might do the bolt and could reasonably foresee such behaviour would be likely to cause a public nuisance so was all set to snap on the cuffs when I made it to the front of the queue.
Unlike his previous visit in 2009 Cadel was not in the mood for a song. But then he wasn’t accompanied by his wife Chiara Passerini so there was no one there to serenade.
Nevertheless he was in the same cheerful mood he had been since Sunday 24 July 2011 and signed the three copies of The Long Road To Paris I had brought along, acknowledging the congratulations of myself and others waiting for our books to be signed as well as others passing on the adjacent escalators.
I left the store just after midday and looked up Albert Street towards the Queen Street Mall. There would be many who had waited who would miss out and wished they had joined the queue much earlier…
End note: I drive a white ute covered in stickers
This blogging lark is not as easy as I thought it would be! My biggest stumbling block is time. When I want to sit down and do it I don’t have the time due to work, or running around with the boys to various things (at the moment we are in Dalby for a swimming carnival). But when I do have the time I am either too tired from work and running around with the boys or, as has been the case in the past week following yet another acid treatment to get rid of a plantar wart from the ball of my left foot, feeling sore and nauseous. But now we are in Dalby and the boys are fighting and squabbling and if I don’t ignore them and write up what I planned to write a couple of weeks back I might end up getting very cranky and that will be it for me doing the blog. So, here goes…
On Sunday 6 November 2011 the second Brisbane BMW “Ride For Life Challenge” was held. The event had first been announced in mid-July and I had indicated to the Minister for War of my intention to ride as I had done the previous year. As the months drew closer and registration opened I became aware the Minister was set for a Council of War with other Ministers (who also happen to be members of the Wide Bay Swimming Association management committee) and that the scheduled date was going to clash. With the meetings being held a couple of hours north in Queensland’s own Middle Earth and commencing at 9am, so necessitating an early departure from home, there was no likelihood of the Minister for War assuming her other portfolio (Minister for Child Safety) so I approached my last chance. Her mother, the wicked witch of Bribie Island, was initially receptive to my plea but within 12 hours had decided to forego the pleasure of hosting a sleepover of two of her grandchildren. I decided to send a tweet to Robbie seeking his assistance. He failed to change her mind and I was left with no choice. No ride for me and no chance of Australian cycling legend Robbie McEwen seeing if he could beat me in a sprint to the finish (we would have to settle it once and for all in a sprint to the coffee stall). The upside however was that I would get to meet Robbie as would my boys and that hopefully they will, one day, be inspired to ride as well as him. So, estimating the riders would be back soon after 8.15am we set off from home for Brisbane BMW in Fortitude Valley.
We arrived just before eight and waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. Whilst waiting we met and were entertained by Australian swimming legend Duncan Armstrong (this country is choc-full of legends, both sporting and general). He was there as the MC for the event and spent a bit of time warming up the gathering crowd ready for the arrival of the riders. He is one of those people who has “the gift of the gab” and had the boys in fist of laughter with his spruiking of Robbie McEwen’s autobiography, One Way Road, and other products which were for sale. In particular, his continual recommendation for people to buy some of “Robbie McEwen’s bum cream” would have the boys sniggering and running around talking loudly about bum cream.
So, with me recently having run out of a decent chamois cream and Keywin being hard to find outside of New Zealand, I parted with some cash and bought a couple of tubs. It didn’t take long for the boys to find out and that set off round two as they ran around and mentioned loudly to anyone in earshot that their dad had some of Robbie McEwen’s bum cream. A passerby oblivious to the significance of the event, Robbie McEwen or me would surely have left with the impression Robbie and I were more intimately acquainted than either of us would choose to be or that I was a proctologist (to an Australian cycling legend).
Apart from some very lovely BMW cars on show at the venue one of the sponsors (I think) brought along two of the toys from his own car showroom. They made such an impression on Mr Ten that he has decided he would like dad to salary sacrifice one, a yellow one, for the next family car (as opposed to another Honda). The fact he is also taller than the roofline of the car also pleased him.
Just before 9am the first riders drifted in. Robbie was not amongst them, having done the decent thing and joined some of the slower groups on the ride back, but didn’t take long and he soon arrived. It was time for me to spring into action. I made a dash for the coffee queue and beat Robbie to a long black. Then I turned around I saw one of his assistants had already secured one for him and he was seated and signing books already. I had been beaten again! Trying not to be too disheartened by his subterfuge in sending in a proxy to humiliate me, I took solace in the coffee and my astute purchase of bum cream. I then joined the queue for the book signing.
With me I had three books; one for me, one for my brother and another belonging to a workmate (who couldn’t be there as the boss had sent him to St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean for a week). As the queue advanced I could see others were getting cycling jerseys signed as well as copies of his book. I suddenly realised I should have brought along the Silence Lotto Australian Champion’s jersey I had sitting in my wardrobe at home as it was the same that would have been worn by Robbie back in 2005. The queue quickly advanced and we were soon at the table where Robbie “Movember” McEwen sat surrounded by books, “One Way Road” cycling jerseys and tubs of bum cream. I introduced myself and the boys to Robbie and asked if he would sign the three books and if we could get a picture with him and he readily accommodated the requests (a lady in the queue behind took the pics for us).
I jokingly mentioned I was disappointed he was unable to respond to my Twitter plea for his help in convincing my mother-in-law to change her mind. Some have commented he had every reason to look bemused but I could see he was more relieved I was prevented from beating him back to the finish line.
After this it was time for the sponsors’ presentations and a talk from Robbie. The development and backing of the event by Brisbane BMW and Westside BMW etc cannot be applauded enough, generating necessary funds for Variety Queensland, Guide Dogs Queensland and the NexGen Foundation and giving weekend warriors, corporate riders and some local racers the chance to ride alongside seasoned professionals like Robbie and the next generation being groomed by the Team Jayco-2XU Pro Cycling. Robbie spoke of his 2011 season and his plans for 2012 with his new team and Australia’s first Pro-Tour team on the UCI World Tour, Green Edge Cycling. (What is it with professional Aussie cyclists? Give them a microphone and they start singing – see picture below of Cadel Evans from 2010 for proof).
Thanks to Lance Armstrong and Team Radio Shack Robbie secured a ride for 2011 after Pegasus Racing were denied a licence by the UCI. But his omission from the squad sent to the Tour de France robbed his legion of fans around the world from seeing him go up against Mark Cavendish in what has turned out to be his last full season. Robbie has announced plans to compete a half season in 2012, finishing after the Tour of California in May then taking a mentoring role with Green Edge guiding the likes of Leigh Howard to sprint wins and (hopefully) the coveted green jersey in Paris. With his wealth of experience and that of Stuey O’Grady in the team, Green Edge will be a force to be reckoned with in seasons to come.
And that was it. We left Robbie to the rest of his adoring fans and headed home.
This Melbourne spring has got to be the warmest I have experienced in the few days of the past few years I have been coming here. For someone acclimatised to Brisbane weather, where overnight temperatures in the low teens is the norm for this time of year, to arrive in Melbourne and be able to wear shorts and no jumper or jacket is a bonus and bodes well for tomorrow’s ride Around The Bay. Whatever the weather though, I will be feeling the pain tomorrow afternoon and looking forward to the spa tomorrow night.
Qantas engineers and ground staff came to the party yesterday and didn’t unduly delay my flight south and I arrived in time to get to the Optus store at Prahran to pick up my pre-ordered black iPhone 4S 32GB. And there I met the sales person with ADHD. You’d think she’d have the nous to concentrate on one customer at a time and leave the one looking after the counter to deal with customers of the shop floor; or leave the answering of telephones to one of the others waiting to sign up customers eager to get their mitts on a new phone; or maybe, perish-the-thought, not try and deal with her colleagues customers as well? But, alas, no. She was so busy with everything except my transaction that she stuffed it up half-way though! It only took an hour and ten minutes but now I am armed with the latest that Steve Jobs (RIP) has to offer. The wife has now inherited the trusty ol’ 3GS.
The gathering of “Team Dave” this afternoon involved much setting up of bikes and packing of various bits of kit. As usual for this ride we are preparing for everything from summer sun to winter sleet after some light rain and cold winds swept through Melbourne. Tonight we filled up on carbs at Café Grand Forno in Ashburton and after a belly full of pasta and wine I’m sure none of us will be looking forward to getting up just after 4am tomorrow, especially if the wind and rain are still around.
“Rouse” is now 5h away…
There is something almost soothing, strange as it may seem, in the sound of the bugle call “Rouse” as it sounds in the early morning on my iPhone. This may be because, on a workday, I have this innate ability to outstretch my arm and subconsciously silence the alarm either to the snooze function or even turn it off altogether. However, in these circumstances when I am again awoken, sometimes after snoozing for the third or fourth time, it is not so soothing and creates a degree of panic, especially if I was planning to ride in to work that day. If not on a workday, for example a Saturday or Sunday when I have a ride with Duttons planned then it is comforting since I am about to do something I enjoy. Like, ride for a bit then drink coffee at Coffee by Di Bella as well as savour one of their bacon and egg toasties. But when “Rouse” calls to me at 3.30am after four-and-a-half hours sleep I’m not feeling soothed. In fact I’m not really feeling anything. Numb. The inability not to consume half a bottle of Cab Sav and watch TV the night before a long ride is not my forte. And so it started last Sunday…
Wake up. Rub sleep from eyes. Stare at clock in disbelief. Silence alarm before wife wakes as well. Apologise to waking wife. Go to kitchen. Get dressed for ride. Have a bite to eat. Drink some water or electrolyte. Make drink bottles up. Pack snacks. Pump tyres. Unlock and open front door as silently as possible. Apologise to waking wife. Leave with bike. Close and lock front door as silently as possible. Apologise to waking wife. Walk the 30m to the top of the hill as GPS boots-up then clip-in and ride. (The routine is a well-worn path of many a non-competitive MAMIL I suspect).
The Brisbane to Gold Coast Challenge which this year, for some unknown reason, I had entered as a 25-30kmh rider, started at 5.45am for the orange group. Most of the Duttons riders had chosen to go to the start by coach, but as I was riding in I left just after 4am, and allowed plenty of time as not only did I not plan on riding my usual 55-60 minutes into Brisbane I wanted to allow enough time to fix a puncture (the previous day it had rained heavily and the local councils don’t keep the breakdown lanes, cycle lanes or gutters as free from debris as us cyclists like). I arrived just after 5.15am as the sponsors groups were leading off then completed a quick pit stop before joining the throng of orange (interspersed with the late reds and the slower ones trying to get away early), sighting two Duttons riders along the way.
I think I made it through the start line sometime between 5.35am and 5.45am and then joined hundreds of others in trying to get through the South Brisbane stretches of the busway on the 100km trip to the Gold Coast. Climbing away from Woolloongabba the packs thin out considerably and faster riders and bunches can make good speed down to Eight Mile Plains. At 6.02am I left the busway and was back with the traffic, albeit well segregated and policed by Queensland’s finest, ably supported by the numerous volunteers who did an amazing job helping us smile and keeping us on the right route. The next few kilometres whizzed by and I arrived at the first rest stop at Eagleby and promptly shunned the supplies on offer, keeping to my plan to ride all the way through. The hardest section for me in previous years has been the section through Alberton and Gilberton due to a less than optimum road surface and, often windy and wet weather. This year, same road surface notwithstanding, it was much better and contributed to a much better second 40km than in previous years. Two of the racing guns from Duttons passed me as I followed the highway to Coomera and a third soon caught up. But we rode together for a bit, with a couple of others tagging along, ignored the second rest stop with 20km to go, and I got the best way along Hope Island Road towards Paradise Point before my club mate, who had ridden most of that section from Upper Coomera on the front, pushed the pace like Stuart O’Grady and left me in his wake. The other two kept up with him for a while, one of them later dropping off and me passing him on Marine Parade at Biggera Waters. I soon realised I was looking at a sub-three hour time and tried hard to keep the pace on, finally crossing the finish line in 2h54m20s, an average speed of 34.5km/h. You can see my ride details (Lap2) at this link.
Over the next couple of hours I caught up with the other club members who had ridden and swapped views on the ride. I heard one of the members had already left for Brisbane; he had ridden down on his 48×12 fixie in 2h28m and, I’m told, swapped his 12 for a 14 on the way back so he could “take it easy.” Late morning we went over to our pre-arranged lunch venue at the Southport Yacht Club. The buffet lunch served up was of excellent quality and the sight of so many lovely cold beers being sunk was playing with my resolve to ride all the way back again.
Just after 1pm myself and another set off for home. The break in the journey was designed to replicate the break I will have on this weekend’s Around The Bay (even though that break will only be a maximum of two hours long). It was harder going back as the winds had risen and were mostly against us and not having the benefit of a closed busway meant an alternate route had to be found. But we got there in the end, arriving home about four hours later.
The following day I had booked a massage and I was glad I had. Despite lots of stretching the hammies, quads and calves were suffering but after one hour with Zoe from Entire Health I had forgotten all about the muscle pain and could only remember how good she is at finding pressure points.
I had also put my bike in for a service ready for this weekend and found, to my horror, I had ridden 242km with a stretched chain.
So, with a new chain, tuned transmission, a rejuvenated muscular system and a swag of Honey Shotz and Aussie Butt Cream in the musette I am about to pack my bike for Melbourne where, Qantas staff industrial action permitting, I will land tomorrow afternoon for more Cab Sav and late nights before hearing the gentle sound of “Rouse” very early on Sunday morning…
The winter months in Queensland, unlike my former home in the UK, are an ideal time to prepare for the longer rides of Spring, Summer and Autumn. In fact, in the southeast of the state with temperatures rarely getting lower than 5C in winter, it is one place where year-round cycling can be achieved without resorting to layering up too much or resorting to rollers.
Having said that, I’m not the sort of cyclist to venture out from home if it’s raining before I am on the road. I have done it once in the past three years (and you can read a bit about it here) but the thought of getting soaked before I am warmed up and having to put up with slippery roads and drivers who don’t care is not high on my priorities. Another exception would be if it was an event I had paid to take part in but, so far, I’ve been lucky in that regard.
Now spring is here (we are already into the second month – where does the time go?) the state cycling bodies start holding their key events.
Here in Queensland Bicycle Queensland have their nine-day Cycle Queensland event in mid-September with about 800 riders from around Australia taking part in a tour of a particular region which changes every year. A month later this is followed by the biggest event on their calendar, the Brisbane to Gold Coast Challenge, with close to 10,000 riders expected. This ride is on this coming Sunday and will be the fourth time I have taken part.
In Victoria the state cycling organisation, Bicycle Network Victoria, hold their first event of spring a week after the ride to the Gold Coast. Australia’s premier mass participation ride Around The Bay, now in its eighteenth year, attracts 18,000 riders from around Australia and some from overseas to ride around all or part of Port Phillip Bay, with those undertaking the longer 210km or 250km options taking most of the day to complete it. This year will be my third ride with Team Dave.
After that it will be back to Queensland and, willing in-laws permitting, I will drop the boys off for a sleepover in early November before riding in the second Brisbane BMW Ride For Life Challenge. Last year’s was great fun, being able to ride with members of the Fly V Australia and Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans Pro-cycling teams and raise funds for the Variety Queensland Children’s Charity. This years will be just as good with the participation of Team Jayco-2XU Pro-Cycling and Australian cycling legend Robbie McEwen.
Bring it on…
When I started riding again it was, generally, to and from work in the city (about 28km each way – a journey I continue to treat as a time-trial) as well as weekend rides when not working. Having said that, a couple of weeks after I got the bike I picked up an Easter trip to Noosa for work and spent a few paid hours riding down and up David Low Way or out through Eumundi and Cooroy before flying down the hill into Tewantin. But riding alone ain’t much fun so I decided to explore the local bunch rides.
Now, most of the rides start in the centre of Brisbane, close to or from well-known bike shops or cyclists’ Meccas such as Park Road. But living where I do I’m not about to ride all the way in (about an hour with traffic lights), complete the circuit and then ride all the way home, despite how good the company and coffee might be. In addition I will be riding the Huyundai Excel of bikes amongst a sea of Ferraris and I’m sure me drooling over flash bikes is not appreciated. So I started looking for rides closer to home.
The Zupps ride starts from the Zupps car dealership at Aspley in North Brisbane. This is a twenty minute ride from where I live and actually passes about one kilometre from my front door. But if I started cold from home I would get smashed as they were already warmed up and riding at 40kmh pace. So I figured I would ride down there and join the bunch and see how long I would last. The ride that first morning I joined was over 100 strong and as we rode up Gympie Road through Strathpine and Lawnton the paceline was stretching out. It appears we had some of the elite Brisbane-based riders at the head. As we continued north approaching a set of traffic lights the lights started to change to red and, even though they must have known they were towing sixty or so riders through the quiet northern suburbs early that Sunday morning, the leaders decided to push on, most of them flying through the glow of the red lights much to the disdain of the drivers of the white utes and Commodores waiting to cross on their green lights. I stopped. Some behind me went through as well (Fuckwits!) but that was it for me. When the lights changed the remainder of the bunch continued at our own pace. I started the ride twice more, once when the same thing happened and a second time when I managed to keep up with the frenetic pace for a short time before getting dropped (however, I’m still grateful to the bloke who eased off and towed me back, even though I got dropped a second time).
What sealed it for me though was the blatant disregard for other road users, something I find it difficult to come to terms with as a copper. The attitude to cyclists in Brisbane, compared to Melbourne, is appalling with many cagers verbally abusing and driving far too close to cyclists, whether alone or in bunches. Given there are some of us who ignore red lights, stop signs, and ride more than two abreast it is no wonder the rest of us are marginalised. But then most motorists are completely ignorant of what cyclists are allowed to do, such as ride two abreast AND wear Lycra! With my survival instinct kicking in I decided the Zupps ride wasn’t for me. Over the next few months I met up with a few similarly unimpressed souls and rode with them before the Minister for War suggested I check out a bunch in North Lakes…