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.
Last Saturday I completed the usual club ride followed by coffee and calories at CBD North Lakes (purveyors of the most excellent DiBella Coffee). The weather was perfect (once the sun came up and put some warmth into the morning) and for once I had visions of getting through the 80km without suffering the disdain of those on four or more wheels for those of us choosing two. I should learn not to have visions.
Riding back home (why am I always one of the last to leave?) I was approaching a roundabout, riding on or just to the left of the lane marker on Anzac Avenue, Kallangur, when I became aware of a truck approaching from behind. Now, I was riding at about 30-32kph and would find it easier to negotiate the roundabout close to that speed, much close than the truck would. So what does the dickhead truck driver do? Ease off the gas and allow me, who is ahead of him, to get through the roundabout into a position where it would be easy for him to overtake on the straight road following the roundabout? No! This…
About 500m later I caught up with the truck waiting at the lights on the intersection with Duffield Road. I rode past and as the lights changed wondered whether the truckie would turn off somewhere or pass me a bit further on. I should have known. Another 500m later he passed me again. Just as close as before…
Which just goes to prove if you are a truckie driving B-Double not only do you not need a big dick, you probably don’t have one. Unless it is on your head.
First of all I must say I didn’t expect it to be almost three months before I wrote part 2 of my search for a good bunch to ride with. I could put it down to the pressures of balancing work and home life or that I can be a lazy git, preferring to sit with a glass of red and watching the crap that is on TV. Truth be told, it is a combination of both. I’ll leave you to guess the which carries more weight.
For a woman with an innate inability to master the use of gears on a bike my wife (bless her) struck gold in her recommendation I check out “the bunch in North Lakes.”
Dutton Cycles Racing & Recreation Club has been around since 2007. Founded by the Dutton family behind the Dutton Cycles shop at North Lakes, the club held its first bunch ride in March 2008; four members turned up. It was almost two years later that I joined, but in the intervening period the numbers had swollen proportionately with the growth of the North Lakes and Mango Hill developments and through word of mouth. The profile of the club was also noticed by the Sizzler restaurant chain in 2009 when they used club members to participate in a series of advertisments for the chain which were shown, primarily, during the 2009 Tour de France.
The Dutton Cycles club ethos was explained to me as joining a family. No riders would be left behind. Riders were encouraged by ride leaders to ride within the Road Rules. The attitudes were the complete antithesis of the Zupps Ride. This sounded like the bunch for me! I turned up one hot Saturday morning in early January 2010 and joined an easy bunch for my first ride (club rules) and completed the circuit to Woody Point and back via Scarborough. I expected a longer and harder ride and often during the morning felt I should join the next group up as I spent a lot of the ride easing off and letting the rest play “catch-up.” Nevertheless we all returned as a bunch to the Coffee by Di Bella shop at North Lakes.
Since then I have had great fun riding with the faster groups (mostly “Group 2″), joining in the sprints and suffering on the final bump up Mango Hill to North lakes after smashing it earlier in the loops. I’ve enjoyed also the climbs (23mins) of Mt Mee and, even more so, the descents (6mins). In addition I’ve enjoyed the frequent interaction with car drivers, many of whom have absolutely no understanding of traffic regulations pertaining to them, let alone those that govern the use of bicycles, and some who abuse then stop at the next red light seem quite surprised to be accosted by a cyclist brandishing police ID then given a dressing down. Other than club rides I take part in a number of organised rides through Bicycle Queensland and Bicycle Victoria as well as other rides that take my fancy. But, like many recreational cyclists, I am drawn to the consumption of fresh coffee and cakes. In fact no ride is really complete without it!
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…