Gone Hell Bent For Leather .... bicycle sprint racing on rollers has taken off in Brisbane...... Some call Brisbane the River City, on Sunday Puff Dog invited me along to see what the roller racing scene was like at a River City Rollers organised event.
For more than twenty years Puff Dog and myself have been meeting up every now and then for a pedal around Brisbane's streets, especially the River City's most popular loop, the aptly named river loop. Puff Dog got his name years back when an inordinate amount of panting would occur - whenever the road tilted upwards - the name stuck.
Puff Dog had entered the Sunday night RCR event alongside favourites Red and Julian. By the end of the night Julian had come away with the major prize in a tightly contested battle with Red, leaving Puff Dog in third place. A quick announcement over the PA and it's all over, the prize winners choose from a couple of items laid out on the floor and it's back to the beer and laughs. Puff Dog chose a cap.
This weeks event was held at Cartel on Caxton Street, check in on the River City Rollers website for upcoming events. Kicking off at about four in the afternoon, it took a couple of hours to run through the heats and on to the final. If you jump on the rollers be prepared for some heckling from the crowd.
A mixed crew of contenders are ready to smash away at the pedals in a computer simulated race over 500 metres, equal to about a twenty one second - adrenaline charged high rev dash. By the time eight to ten seconds is reached the lactate starts to increase and the last five seconds seems like an eternity, some slowing - and unable to complete the distance. Some train to race in road races, there are bike couriers and bicycle polo players - a whole contingent of bicycle polo players rolled up after their afternoon match. Apparently the winner, Julian doesn't train much if at all - yet he's got a natural high rev ability. Red's a bike courier and likes a cigarette, each time he rode the hecklers shouting "light one up". The intensity for some is too much, that dizzy - queezy feeling becomes overwhelming as the legs melt away and go numb - then it's a stagger and grab at the wall down a side street for a bit of a chuck and back a few minutes later ready for another beer - or if you're lucky, back for another intense round on the rollers.
Bikes are supplied by Gear Shop West End - if you line up it'll take a couple of minutes to adjust the seat height, get you set and ready to bolt. The rollers aren't set up for front and rear, the front is fixed, so only the rear wheel is on the rollers - I was told that it's too dangerous after a few beers, so no front wheel, is just a safety measure.
Best of all, most arrived and left by bike, not a car in sight. After all it's all about bikes, a few beers, a good time and if you're like Red, a couple of cigarettes.
All River City Rollers Brisbane photos by Robert Cobcroft