“Is there a bike ride on today?” asked the conductor. I guess he deduced that from the large amount of cyclists getting on the train at 7.15am on a Sunday morning. Alighting at South Brisbane station we were confronted with the sight of thousands of people with bikes at the entrance to Southbank all there with the aim of completing the Great Brisbane Bike Ride.
Wheeling our bikes past the Merlins and Treks (akin to driving a Festiva in to a Porche car lot) we registered our attendence to get a blue piece of cardboard with numbers on it to put on the front of our bikes. I guess that was so it was easier for the police to book us when we went 70kms in the 60kms zone (yeah right). Just after we registered the elite riders headed off so that they could ride without having to pass all us amatuers. They’d already reached the University of Queensland before we had even left. Waiting around to start I people watched. There were groups dressed up as doctors, fairies and funny hats. I was impressed with the different types of people who were riding, from old folks to babies being pulled along in trailers behind the bikes. Clothing was also of interest. I was shocked to see people wearing 3/4 jeans as I didn’t think that was appropriate attire for the day. I wondered what sort of rashes or blisters they would have at the end of the day.
Patience was the key to the ride as we probably waited 20 mins before we got anywhere near the starting line but eventually we got to start peddling. Over the Victoria Bridge and round to the freeway was great. The city had an eerie kind of silence as I wasn’t used to being on the bridge without the roar of buses. Up the on ramp to the freeway caused the first burn of thighs but it was worth it for the ride down the ramp on to Coronation Drive. In my head I was going “Wheeeeee”! The flat on Coro Drive was where people began to stop, either waiting for friends or kids or fixing their chains. The throng began to spread out as we began picking off riders one by one or getting picked off.
Riding to the Uni from Coro Drive had a few minor hills where I left Pauline behind so once we got to the river I stopped to wait and we had a drink. Getting back on the bike my chain fell off so a quick repair was in order. Thanks to the wonders of modern engineering it was a simple fix and we were back riding. Just past the uni brought the worst part of the ride. A series of hills that turned into mountains the size of Kosciusko challenged my dedication to finishing the journey. I managed to ride up and down all of them except the last one – I pushed the cycle up that. At the top was St Lucia Golf Club where a group of people had stopped to catch their breath. Both Pauline and I felt sick – the only thing that stopped me throwing up in the bushes was the large crowd there to see it. I felt dizzy as I got back on the bike but we pushed on because the thought of the food stop was egging me on. This was 13kms in to the ride by the way.
Nearing Indooroopilly I hit the wall and thought I cannot go on. My peddling had slowed to a crawl when I realised that it was no good stopping in the middle of nowhere. Up ahead was the Indooroopilly bike bridge and knowing that there would be food up on the other side propelled my legs to keep pushing. It then turned in to a “just round this corner will be the stop” competition where I was sure we were near. After endless turns we reached the park where there was shade, food and drink. A fruit bun, banana, orange, liquid yoghurt and a strawberry milk drink was scoffed down next to the fairy bikers who turned out to be deaf. It’s cool sitting next to a large group of people who are absolutely quiet except for a few grunts and laughs. It’s also cool to eat a shitload of food without feeling guilty because you know you are going to need it.
The next part of the ride took us near home. This was Paulines worst part of the ride as a few of the hills were annoying – especially knowing that she could just detour home and end the torture. Circling around the “O streets” of Yeronga then down to the Brisbane Corso took us past some expensive houses and an optional detour for the Mud Trekkers who could do some bmx type jumping on a dirt track. Those people were crazy I tell ya! Since the Green Bridge is being built the bottom of Dutton Park was blocked off so we zigzagged our way up the mountain through the park. There was no way I could possibly ride so it was a “pushed bike” all the way up to the Melon Bar at the top. Here we stopped for watermelon and Emma and Tom’s fruit juices. The Go-Girl flavour was my favourite.
We didn’t spend long there though because we were nearing the end. Another push up Highgate Hill took us to the excellent ride down to West End and Orleigh Park. That was another “weeeee” moment. I could’ve done that all day except a few people were braking which lessened the fun somewhat. Round along the river and past the Kurilpa Point homeless people (they have a good set up there), a right turn at the Cultural Centre and we were on the home stretch to Southbank.
It was here that I had images of myself holding my hands in the air like Lance Armstrong winning a Tour De France. I waited for Pauline then we slowly peddled our way to the finish line. There were a group of ladies in yellow jersey blocking off the finish line to get their photo taken. Pauline and I patiently waited as the lined up the photo then took 5 minutes to snap the shutter shut. THEN, one of the ladies wanted another photo with HER camera. I’d had enough by then and said in a pleading voice “Let us finish!!!”. She said “Go round” and I said “No… I want to go through”. There was no frigging way I was going to& not ride through the finish line after riding 35kms. At least one of them understood the point and stood aside to let us ride through.
I was a bit dissapointed with the finish but when they handed us our t-shirt and water bottle I was happy again. We had gone through all that torture to win our t-shirts of honour. We slowly hobbled back to the train station to spend an awkward 15 minutes on the seats. By then our bums were starting to throb and by the time we got to our stop I could barely sit on the bike. The afternoon was spent nursing aching bones and headaches while sipping on cordial and scoffing malteasers. I don’t think my body has ever been so abused but both Pauline and I met the challenge we set ourselves and prooved that you can be a lardass and still ride 35kms. The thing that kept me riding was that Mum didn’t think we could do it. We showed her. Now excuse me while I go and get a cushion to sit on and some lotion for my sunburn.