26 September 2010

Tim vs Amy, Cooee vs Tim

In the cloudy morning, I grunted a goodbye to Sal, who was diligently and quietly leaving for work in the rain. Her enthusiasm for work that day was as low as mine for getting up, though she chose to rise to the challenge instead of turning towards the wall and continuing to drool and snore for another hour. (Not saying that's what Sal typically does; that's what I did.)

Shortly after, a pile of pyjamas resembling Amy rolled into the lounge like a flannel tumbleweed, so I quickly concealed my drool patch and feigned alertness. We had a date with the Stuarts in Ipswich that night, so we spent our first ounces of consciousness arranging our transport and accommodation accordingly. Amy ended up with a booking on the afternoon train and I would race her there on the Reverend. Cooee had kindly offered to share his bedroom for a couple of nights so I planned to descend upon him after dinner with the Stuarts.

The sun came out for a while before lunch, giving Amy and me the perfect chance for some high-octane shopping in downtown Nambour. The place really has it all: Vinnies and the Salvos.  We picked our way around the place, ingesting coffees, sandwiches and pastry things here and there. Something that grabbed our attention was how polite the locals seemed to be. Every time we threatened to blunder into the path of an oncoming car, they would stop gently and motion for us to cross - quite unlike other parts of southeast QLD, where a wrong move might leave you with a radiator shroud where your lungs should be. Later on, when Amy was rushing to the train with her heavy suitcase, one of the oddly non-violent residents gave her a lift to the station! Perhaps all the physio Sal had done on the local population had made them feel so good they had transcended petty aggression and spent their days offering rides to strangers. Maybe everyone was high on drugs. We will never know.

By the time I left, the heavens had opened again and the Rev and I became hopelessly lost in a tangle of hilly backroads. Visibility was atrocious.  It took half a frustrating hour to find my way back to the familiar freeway, making me late to dinner in Ipswich. Amy had won this round of train vs motorbike and her smugness knew no bounds (at least, not in the confines of my neurotic head).

Dinner was a Thai feast that quickly set everything right again for this sore loser. After we ate, we spent some time in the lounge, marvelling at Bear Grylls' willingness to drink his own urine and sleep inside zebra carcasses for fun. Clay kept us entertained with magic tricks out of a book he'd found, some of which were even successful. Though I could have happily lounged on and stayed the night, I had to see Cooee, so I said a quick goodbye and left. Robyn, Rod and Clay would leave for Thailand soon. I rode through the cool dark and wondered when I would next see them.

I knocked on Cooee's door and he punched me in the balls. At first I wasn't sure if it was his usual affectionate greeting or he was upset that I'd taken so long to arrive, so I tried to smile while I coughed to clear my Vas Deferens from the back of my throat. A glass of red wine later, we were in his bedroom jiggling our wrists, sweating with the intensity of a properly shredding Guitar Hero face-off. We thrashed our plastic guitars through Tool, Metallica and other testostereophonic anthems to badassery, until it was very late.

Next day, I rode a luggage-free Reverend down to 99 Bikes in Fortitude Valley, where Cooee works. There, he was an assembler, wrench monkey and sometime sales consultant to the many Brisbanians who'd rather push pedals than accelerators. We both wanted Vietnamese food from the restaurant at the other end of the Valley, so he ducked through a door somewhere and re-appeared with the Shop Bikes so we could pedal our way there.

I don't know which of them was worse: the decrepit single-speed men's racer without any brakes, or the garishly decorated and slightly bent child's BMX bike. After a brief pause, he deigned that I should ride the BMX; at least it had brakes. Cooee's braking solution comprised a hastily fitted caliper stolen from the parts bin, with his feet for backup.

My 'Shop Bike' would have looked like this if it were new. It wasn't.

The insanity that followed was some of the finest cycling I have enjoyed in a long time. I bunnyhopped up the footpath; Cooee's brakes totally failed; we careened against the human tide on the footpath on our pathetic machines. It was unexpectedly and totally freaking awesome. Arriving at the Vietnamese place, we simply dumped our bikes around the corner and left them. No Valley drug fiend would make anything selling them to Cash Converters, so they were safe to rust in the laneway while we ate.

My stay was to be brief, so the next morning I rose with Cooee, saddled up the Rev and made my way back to Maryborough. Cooee was preparing to leave for Italy - taking some time to explore, ride and live differently - so it was a slightly sombre departure for me. We might only have been lucky to see each other once a year, but his insane creativity was always a delight to have in my life. I hope to hang out with him again, whether it's at home, in Italia or somewhere beyond. Save a broken bike and some vino rosso for me, dude.

Update: Cooee kindly sent me this pic of the very bike I rode (albeit with race bars fitted for extra speed). Here Mr Khoo models the Malvern Star RadMax which is, in no uncertain terms, RAD TO THE MAX.


  1. Where'd the 'Like' button go?

  2. Good story. Reminds me of a time I borrowed a couple of bikes of 'The Raptorman' No brakes, hard seats - we nearly got killed. Glad you made it safe, sounds like you had a great time.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life