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…