I've long suspected that Jer has the best job in the world. I've also suspected the commute to and from his work by bicycle would be a dream. At over 50km each way, it is pretty much a micro-tour every day. For some unknown reason, he has never attempted it. Time had come to pack a ridiculously large amount of unnecessary crap in some panniers, and actuate "Ride to Work With Jer Day"...
Day started much like every other day that involves getting up at dark-thirty to go riding. Alarm goes off, I fumble around, try and figure out how to activate snooze, then go back to sleep. Alarm goes off again, I then check the weather radar, hoping for even a speck of rain within 512km so I can call the whole thing off and go back to bed. On this occasion there was a bit of rain, but my usual weak text messages weren't enough to dissuade Jer from having a go.
Meeting at the usual spot down the road, Jer was on his sweet new ride, the 2011 Fuji Touring. What a weapon of a bike it is, all the bits for a tourer, at a bargain price. But I'll save the bike write up for another time - we had a commutour to do...
Got about 300m from the meeting point and I was slowing a little to turn right at the lights. Heard a buzzing sound, and sure enough, Jer had already ridden straight into my pannier. Another couple of km down the road, we were riding two abreast and I heard to harrowing sound of a tyre sliding perpendicular to the direction of travel. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jer flip one way, flop the other way, engage in some panicked swerving and somehow miraculously manage not to end up on his face in the gutter of Junction Rd. I asked incredulously "What are you doing?"
He replied "A stink bug landed on my shorts".
No car commute
The route from Gaythorne (where I live) to Redcliffe (where Jer works) is 50km of mostly flat bikeway, free of cars and quite scenic in parts. The first 12km or so winds its way through the suburbs of Brisbane. The next 10km or so along a bit of floodplain next to Kedron Brook, where on a weekday morning you can feel like the only person in the world.
You can almost see the harrowing headwind
From there the track links up to the Boondal Wetlands bike track, which is a winding, tight little strip of bitumen weaving through about 5km of bush. It's a lot of fun, and it has claimed many a "cat 6" racer in the twisty bits.
Slow and heavy - the perfect tourer
After the Wetlands, the track goes through some nondescript badlands along the railway line. A bit of a yawn, but the fact there are no cars and few cyclists who do this commute makes up for it.
Still no cars for 30-odd kilometres
The Spouty criterium
After riding through the back of Boondal and Sandgate, we eventually arrived at the edge of Moreton Bay, and proceeded along the beachfront for 8km or so until we hit the Ted "Spouty" Smout Bridge that joins Clontarf to Brighton. Up until recently, the only way across for cyclists was via a very dilapidated old footbridge, but the recent addition of the new bridge included a gleaming 4km of dead straight bikeway.
The scene of many an epic velo battle
There is some unwritten rule in our cycling group that whenever we are on this bridge, it is an all out sprint battle for supremacy the whole way across. Today on loaded touring bikes it was no different, although much slower and therefore significantly less impressive (less impressive than an already unimpressive spectacle). We rode side by side for a bit, Jer didn't seem to be fading, so I tried the first trick - grabbing onto the rack of his Fuji and getting dragged for a while, while hurling insults. Didn't seem to make Jer drop below 40km/h, so I needed to try another trick. I drew back level, and I tried to put in some kind of effort at actually being a fair cyclist, but it didn't help me out. As the speed hit 48km/h I pulled out another trick. I rode right up next to Jer and said "You're in the wrong gear, let me help you!" then reached out and grabbed his bar end shifter, and dumped a cassette of gears on him. Did the trick, he instantly lost all momentum, and I cruised off the bridge the triumphant victor of this latest battle.
Waterfront riding near Redcliffe - not entirely unpleasant
A heroes welcome
Oh wait I get it - they cook the food on a hot stone! Fresh humour...
Jer had insisted on leaving at nano-o'clock, and so we found ourselves close by his work about 2 hours before opening time. Enough time to pose and have a coffee...
Excessive commuter bikes
Yep ladies, those hat stripes mean he is a world champion
From the cafe it was a nice easy meander for a couple of km until we got to work. And from the heroes welcome Jer received, it became pretty clear that he was either talking up his cycling exploits to the max, or he was legitimately a much beloved member of staff. It was as though he was viewed as some kind of amalgam of Mario Cipollini, Bono and Sally-Anne Atkinson. Naturally throughout the day I did my best to dispel this reputation as a cycling legend and nice guy he had managed to build around himself.
What kind of job involves touring bikes in a music studio? Best job in the world...
And flamboyantly riding extreme gardening touring machines! Lucky!
Headwind home time
I ended up bailing from work just after lunch, so I could make it home to do some other stuff, and also take full advantage of riding home in the scorching midday sun. The usual headwinds were no different, and by the time I got back from the 2hr slog I was fairly tired from both the ride, and a day of doing new things at work. As I arrived home, Jer was just starting his ride from work, and I could track his progress and shout slogans at him virtually using Endomondo sports tracker. It certainly was fun watching his headwind misery unfold in real time from the comfort of my office chair!
My original questions were conclusively answered: Jer does have the best job in the world, and the car-free 50km commute each way is awesome. I'll be back for sure.