Love is a battlefield…Valentines Day Alleycat

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia on February 22, 2010 at 10:20 am

So a couple of the boys that I met at polo with Joel/Jol, especially Ben whose spent some time in Radelaide (which is my new favourite bastardization of a city name, in front of Brisvegas, but I can’t think of a good one for London, the first thing that pops into my head is Slumdon or Scumdon,m and they are the only ones I can get to work with the don, if you can produce a better one I’d be in your debt, and would use it for the foreseeable when talking about London to get it into people’s consciousness). So Ben is a courier and he invites me out to the Valentines Day AlleyCat which is held on Friday the 12th. It would only be my second alleycat after the fakenger one I did in Stockholm with Russell, which was great fun and a golden way to see the city, even if everyone who participated in that one, got absolutely battered and ambulances had to be called.

So I uhmm and ahh for a little bit, then think fuck it, if I’m going to do an alleycat I might as well keep up my perfect record and only do them outside of London town, what do I have to lose, and head over to the Melbourne Museum over in Brunswick/Carlton, where they have Avatar playing on the Imax – is it worth me seeing it for a third time on the Imax, I’m in two minds – so I roll up, cautious not knowing anyone, expecting it to be tiny, and no one to be there. But when I arrive there’s already an expectant group of fifteen to twenty and some pretty schweeet bikes lying around, and a guy who is the spit of Russell, down to the checked shirt, sunnies, cycling cap and rolled up jeans, pulling wheelies, backward circles and endoe’s as he rolls around the space between buildings.

I introduce myself to some of the bods, take some shots of their bikes, and spy Maiya (think that’s how you spell her name) who I’d seen at polo as well, and get paired off with a tall bespectacled guy called Budge. Obviously in the Valentines day alleycat, you’ve got to be in a two some. We shoot the breeze, catch some jokes, and wonder what is in the envelope we were given at registration. Even though we’ve been told not to look until told, the sneakier amongst us have been looking to see whats inside as soon as the envelope was in their hands. And we have grown to about eighty people, in forty teams. We are told to lock our bikes up to our partners in front of the museum and then told to stand across the way about fifty meters away. We’re given some instructions, tell the ladies who are running it to speak louder, berate those who have cheated for opening their envelopes early and then sprint en masse back to our bikes, unlock them and head out.

I hand Budge our envelope as I fiddle with the d-lock which I’ve death clamped our bikes together with and inside is six locations, around the city and a map. I’ve got the camera we were told to bring and we’re off. Now Budge says he’s never been a courier and he’s a riding a bike that Tommy(thebrick) would be proud of, 25’s, back rack, gears, but he hammers it and I’m trailing in his wake as we race to Flinders St station and the bridge that adjoins it, our first destination, along with a couple of other pairs. We’re riding the wrong way down streets, jumping lights, and generally behaving as if this is the most important alleycat in the world. Its mayhem and I’m trying to be legal, but you can’t be legal and keep up, and even being illegal I barely keep up. We get to the bridge and have to reenact Leo’s and Kate’s bow of the ship embrace from Titanic, laughing so hard I can’t keep a straight face we mug for the camera and then its off out towards Collingwood and through Abbotsford, pushing pushing pushing, I’m huffing and my chest feels a little tight so I take a pull on me inhaler, and it doesn’t do much, but it does enough and I feel slightly easier in my breathing, as we hook a quick illegal right and climb the stairs of the three/four storey car park. We alight onto the roof and perform a jump for camera, asking anxiously where we are in the standings but the guardians of the checkpoint lie to us and we depart.

Spinning down the curved multi level drive, swinging wide then leaning and hitting the apex, fingers covering the brake, just to make sure I’m not attaining losing the front velocity. Its another dash across town, this time heading north up Lygon St, slinging it past the general cemetery on our left, and everything starts to look familiar. Been here before. Definitely. As Budge calls out the intersection we’re supposed to meet on I’m ahead of him (mentally if not physically) and I’m turning down to where the park leads you down to Arnold and Macpherson, where the polo boys meet up on Tuesdays and Sundays. Sure enough, they are waiting on the strip of grass with a long skipping rope and as I try to capture budge skipping I get one blurred shot, which the guardians deem to be good enough and we’re heading even further north up Sydney St toward a tattoo parlour.

We come across another couple, male/female this time and ride along, exchanging banter, pulling away then being caught up again. We take a wrong turn, the other couple figure out where they need to be, as me and Budge consult our map, figure out we turned left too early and chase after them. We pull up sharply, and this time we’ve got to give ourselves tattoo’s. I decide on our initials in a heart AB, and budge scrawls something on my neck which I can’t see obviously as its on my neck. I decide we need photo’s just in case they rub off, take a couple of blurry snaps and we head back south to Brunswick, to what I’m overjoyed to realise is the last checkpoint, grabbing a flower as we go – we have to have one, it’s the done thing to give your loved one flowers on Velentines day, dontchaknow.

In a park over by Fitzroy North, we see a bunch of bikes underneath a bandstand, trip up the steps, and are told to eat what looks like a pink jammy dodger without using our hands. Lips barely touching, hands behind our backs, teeth scratching for purchase on the biscuit, like long lost lovers we attempt to devour the morsel, laughing as we do so. Cheek full of sweetness, I follow Budge down a winding course back to the Melbourne museum, over some tram lines, down a tree lined avenue, up the wide expanse of Nicholson St, where the ending awaits.

In my head I still think we’ve got a chance of winning this thing, or at least placing well. Which is blown to the four winds as we turn into the square in front of the museum, and discover there are lots of people lazing around, bikes leant against blocks, posts, strewn carelessly across the ground. The final act of our partnership is for Budge to give me a ‘Dink’ or backie for us of the English persuasion. I sit side saddle across Budge’s rack as he tries to pedal us across the finish line, but we just wobble side ways, never quite attaining the speed required to get and stay upright. Finally we abandon, laughing at our failure and we go up and find out where we placed. Showing the photographic evidence of our participation at each checkpoint, and discover that we placed twentieth of the forty teams that entered. Mid table obscurity, my task here is done.

I grab a couple of six packs from the bottle-ohh (off-licence) and we drink to our success as the sky gets dark and the winners are announced.

  1. that’s a piggy back ride in the States.

  2. I’d go for “Lonedon”, but you’re right, there aren’t many good options that replace the initial syllable. Badelaide, Madelaide, Sadelaide, Gladelaide, or Fadelaide seems to offer rather more options.

    Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Adelaide, and none of the above negative bastardisations are meant to be anything other than word-play.

  3. Update, man!

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