Last Saturday I went out for the usual club ride with other members of the Dutton Cycles Racing and Recreation Club (very soon to be renamed “Moreton Bay Cycling Club”). The route is not always the same but, thanks to Strava, always fun to see if we can beat our own PBs or others on the various sprint or climb segments uploaded to the site.
The ride last Saturday was one of the most frequently ridden, leaving North Lakes and riding via Petrie, Strathpine, Albany Creek and Zillmere out to Shorncliffe before finishing off around the Redcliffe peninsula and the jelly-legged sprint up Mango Hill for coffee and cake.
There is always much to see en-route: other bunches (some of whom don’t know how to acknowledge other cyclists); bogan drivers (who only know how to abuse cyclists); the rear wheels of others in the bunch as we rotate through; and of course fantastic views such as the one below.
Although not the halfway point of the ride (in fact it is over half way) it is the regular stop for us and many other bunches. Some riders will use the 5-10 minute break to catch their breath, others to talk incessantly. Most however will use it to snack on whatever they packed for the ride yet forgot to eat until then, get some more water or get rid of other “water”. Which brings me to the reason for this post…
At the southern end of Flinders Parade in Sandgate there is an amenities block. Toilets and washbasins are provided and there is a small gazebo with benches and tables adjoining an electric BBQ. All these are maintained by Brisbane City Council. Those exercising along the foreshore make good use of the facilities which, given their frequency of use, are usually found in good condition.
However, riding in to the rest stop last Saturday it was clear something was amiss. A gentle S/SW breeze was picking up and until I was passing the BBQ I was unaware of what was actually “cooking”. Looking towards the gazebo I saw a bloke with some bags, one of which obviously contained food. The glum look on his face told me he was not impressed at something but I didn’t for one second think it would be down to the BBQ. But a split second later, as the vapour of piss emanated from the BBQ, I realised that some feral bogan, too lazy to walk the ten metres to the toilets, had used the BBQ plate as a urinal. What had not evaporated in the early hours before the arrival of Glum Bloke and the hordes of cyclists stopping or just riding past must have collected in the trap below the plate and was now being warmed by the generated heat on the plate.
The stench was overpowering, so much so it was the unspoken encouragement for many of us to cut short our break or even forego it altogether. The below image I sourced from my helmet camera. Note the wisps of urine steam rising off the hot plate and Glum Bloke sitting on the bench in the shadows. There goes the serenity…
To give the reader the full experience I have made the image “scratch and sniff” enabled.
Use your imagination.
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…