My friend Bart told me about a system he uses to encourage him to try something new, he calls it ‘life points’. You don’t have a bank of points it’s just a term to remind you to do something challenging. I liked his system, without noticing I had adopted it too. It’s what convinced me to take on what was probably a bad idea. Taking over the bridge jump at Mailcall. It’s harder, it’s lonelier and it’s more intense. It was also subjecting myself to being a newbie again, that clumsy, slow and stressful beginning. Where for the first few days you confuse Walker Street with Miller Street or take a short cut turns into a 20% gradient you really didn’t need. It’s a run from the city to North Sydney over the Harbor bridge, back and forth all day long. It doesn’t sound like much fun but it is, it’s beautiful, and hot and it’s rewarding.
I wanted to do it for a number of reasons; A nasty hustle for work was happening in the city. The usual stealing of work and general complaining had been upped and was seeping into my own movements. The confidence of being a strong and reliable worker started to crumble, as I waited for work to hit my screen, ‘does my controller hate me? Is he punishing me for screwing that job up last week?’ The lack of work was making me question my efforts and wonder if my neck was on the chopping block. Loosing your job in Sydney is scary; there isn’t enough work or enough companies to shuffle between. Another reason I decided to do the bridge is because Dan believed I could, he never thought of taking the job for himself. That’s a level of selflessness I doubt I could achieve. The bridge also meant more money, and a bit of a climb in the courier ranks, it would have been right up his ally because he is consistently strong, fast with endless determination and spirit, he would be faster, better looking and doing it with more of a smile then I ever could.
Dan thought that it would be better to not write about doing the bridge, it would make me look better, people will think I’m just breezing through, I liked the idea but i’m pretty transparent and truth is cool too. In the first week I blasted a hole in a couple relationships because my temperament was an icy fragility and by Friday I was in a state full of wild accusations and pointing them at the world and anyone who crossed my flaming path. Everyday I tried to walk with my head high into the lashing, I
was loving it even through the hell that it was. I had a horror of a week last week, but when the good days finally came it was as if the bad days never happened.
I had a few tips from Paulie before he left, one of which was that ‘you have to pace yourself’. I haven’t yet remembered in time that he said that, I’m all guns blazing until my legs are shredded into ribbons. My diary is full of words like; Zen, calm, smooth, rhythm and peace, because it is so easy to reach a pressure point and panic. I try to remain distant to the aggression of the people getting around the city, I don’t get caught up in even feeling empathy for people, it is cars against cars and cars against pedestrians and cars against bikes, buses against cars, pedestrians against bikes. Everyone for themselves in my eyes now, it means that I can laugh at the man bucking up to a car with his arms wide like he was fighting a guy in a bar rather then being annoyed that he is apart of the problem. Each morning I ride to the ferry at 6.50 am and I see the sunrise through my first bridge love, the Gladesville bridge, and I find the peace I need for the day, because I am a pretty aggressive rider and I need to chill the hell out sometimes.
My controller gave me a couple of mornings of bridge work to practice with while Paulie was still working and Paulie told me that ‘seeing someone doing the bridge is like seeing someone chatting up your girl.’ And after the second week I felt a bit of that, North Sydney was starting to shape, having character that I had never given it credit having, It’s funny how you find yourself of the other end of the spectrum so quickly. 2 months ago the list of things I would do before considering North Sydney for anything was long, and now I cross the bridge 8 times a day.
There were camels in Martin place this week and as I stood next to it for a photo I felt its strength. I saw a connection between the camels and my bike, camels are so utilized as a reliable form of transport and do herculean feats. My bike is tougher and more reliable then me, it has never wanted to take the day off like I do, it never wants to stop working like I want to, it never complains and moans like I do. In particular hard weeks or months it gets through it with me with no complaints. I am responsible to keep it working, but it seems like no effort at all compared to what it gives back. I wake up to it, spend all day with it and tie it up at night.
Having a rack has made me realize how much weight I normally carry on my back, the steering changes every time you add or subtract from it. To make it seem like you are driving a motorbike instead of a nimble pushy. Your whole body moves with it in a way that isn’t normally how I ride, I use my head to direct my body, then my shoulders and arms follow it around the bend and from my waist I lean into the bend and tilt my bike. It used to be more of a whip, you are out of the scene in an instant. Now I slug around, it’s still fun just in freight train way. I also love all the extra things I can do with my rack, like taking my friends home.
The bright glitter of the massive harbor as I cross the bridge, and the holy blue of the Milson’s Point pool makes me long to jump right off the bridge and free fall like Pocahontas into the depths of the water beneath. Summer is thankfully over now and I don’t have to worry about the insane amount of water/sweat loss when riding through summer. I drink a good 4 litres a day and go to bed damning myself for not drinking more, I wake up skin dry and the first think I do is drink from the closest tap. I drink alcohol with regret because I should be putting more hydration in not taking more out. Water often doesn’t cut it, I can down 3 Poweraid’s in the 15 minutes after I cave in to buy them (at $4 a pop I try to hold off.)
We are still sitting in Sydney waiting for Dan to get a Partner Visa approval, we are forging more meaningful friendships and pushing roots deeper into Sydney soil. It’s rewarding to have more significant friendships but the rip that will happen when we leave will only increase, it’s the old better to love and loose business. We still have no leave date, which is killing the dream. We just got out of a few months where the goal got so hazy that giving up and returning to London became to real of an option. The biggest wave of doubt hit us both. Just getting to the dream is killing us. Our failing enthusiasm was bubbling up to the surface and I almost thought we were about to give up when we started talking about returning to London and creating a little couriering business of our own. Dan took a baseball bat to that idea and hit it out of our minds. His determination to get us to the starting line for this trip helped me rise back into form. He said that when we are older we would forever regret not doing it, it was a very real statement and I now know that we haven’t got a choice, it must be done. We do not want to live with that level of regret, I never want to have a conversation about what could of been. So as we dusted ourselves off from a little dirty hole we have now got a new lease on Sydney life. Still not completely happy with the stagnation but I do see the peaking little light somewhere in the distance that I bet will sneak up on us and before we are ready it will be time to leave. Leave all that we have done here, all the people we now love and thank all the people that have helped us. So much of our support has come from my mum, we would of never reached the positive position we hold right now without here unwavering support and love. When we leave her I believe it will be the saddest moment of my life thus far; to walk away from that woman is tough.