A car full of car-haters driving to a bike polo tournament and the bonding that ensued.
Benee, James and I left Melbourne several hours later than planned, not surprisingly. We stopped three times in the first hour, not surprisingly. Surprisingly, a series of corny word games were enjoyed by all and passed the time quite well. Though, I wasted a half an hour of the boys apparently precious time guiding them as they guessed my ‘O’ animal; made difficult because it’s apparently not even an animal. ‘EVERYBODY knows it, it’s common!’ I professed, and when they gave up and I triumphantly squawked ‘Ornithorhynchus’ (which in James’ version I say ‘ornithorhynchidinky’) the look in Benee’s eyes was one of murderous intent (or so I imagined, as I was driving). This gave me great pleasure. I suppose they could’ve made better use of those moments by gazing out into our surrounds (which by then were pitch black), picking their noses or snoozing. My bad.
The novelty slowly wore off. Thankfully, I was in the company of two optimists, and thus, reminded that ahead lay a magical land. A land so special that no one would confuse the sport for bipolar, polo-tongue was spoken, and meals consisted of colourful, vegetable laden spreads finely balanced with home brews, coffees and home-baked sweets. Whack THAT in a pyramid.
There was Benee and all his bikey bits in the back and James beside me as designated dj, exposing us to his enthusiastic deathcore. The three of us were compact yet comfortable in the two door Hyundai (shut-up, Hyundais are rad) and a bike rack strapped to the back held James and my polo bikes with Benee’s eat-a-dick beast in the trunk. While wheel covers may prove immensely useful on court, strapped to the rear of the car they act more like wind-breaks, or those parachutey things used to slow down planes, so we stopped soon after starting for some more strapping and caffeinating. We encountered a koala with glowing red eyes, a town with prison-like toilet blocks and several closed bakeries (painful, for the recommendations we were given to vanilla-slice ourselves). There were seedy men in servos who James was kind enough to befriend, and large chunks of road between towns with interesting names; Nhill, Ararat, Keith, and Bordertown which LIED and wasn’t even on the border.
When we finally arrived on the fringe of Adelaide around 11pm Friday night we were catapulted down an immense and windy highway like Alice into Wonderland. We drove to meet Jack (our host for the weekend at the Animal House) at an Adelaide Bike Kitchen event in a large warehouse artistically decorated in Mexican-themed graffiti; there were menus featuring ‘dick-tacos’ and rad skulls with various animals protruding from where eye-balls once were. James made friends by shooting hoops with some fellow flannel-clad men. It speaks of their character that when a fancy shot went awry (read: he tried to bounce the ball off the wall and into the hoop and instead it knocked over several bottles and a few free-standing doors…) he was commended and not permanently shunned. Bodies in indefinite chunks throughout the room were pulsing to the beats provided by a vinyl-jockey in the corner. The interpretive dance moves by this strange and wonderful breed of people could be best appreciated from the couches nearby, obviously previously owned. I was occupied by screen-printing one of my beloved turtlenecks with their logo helped by some friendly strangers. Benee was being skilful on bikes with similarly skilful babes, whilst an array of bikes circled them hazardously; bikes with buckets, trolleys and bikes seemingly injected with growth hormones, bikes with flowers, streamers, cloaked in colourful lights and ridden by equally colourful people. It was a hell of a welcome to Adelaide.
Animal house is a magical place. It feels as if 112 people live there (I think it’s closer to 12) and the bedrooms are strewn around the main communal space; a large warehouse with a beauteous bike-riding skeleton motif dressing the wall of a stage, for gigs such as Sunday’s, that hosted San Fran’s Ceremony (coincidentally one of James’ favourite bands). It was a warm and open place to return to each night after our tournament games. Saturday we joined the housemates in the kitchen preparing soup to feed 150 pierced hardcore music fans by chopping many, MANY onions and roasting trays of garlic to flavour what turned out to be very satiating nourishment for moshers the night after. I chatted with Louis (who’s mates insisted we call him Bluis to fuel hype over his recently sculpted blue mohawke) and realised we’d met previously through bandmates in Brisbane (but then again, who hasn’t previously met in Brisbane? Am I right?). The room where we slept swiftly transformed from soundproofed practise room into boudoir of champions by moving mattresses from the walls to the floor.
Sunday night after the tournament, James dashed off to catch the gig while Benee and I joined some of Benee’s courier mates, Dan, and ginger Dan and their lovely lady-friends for some vegan tucker at a new restaurant called Heaven Field on Gouger Street.
The drive back on Monday began after a hearty breakfast at ETC on East Terrace, apparently avocado on toast is a pathetic effort in the eyes of manly bike polo men but filled me just nicely. Though there were occasions of rain and dark stretches of road with few lights, there was a sufficient concentration of classic songs and chickpea chips to sustain the buzz we’d gained from the weekend. Key moments of bliss – when I (apparently a bit skitzy from all the driving) mentioned our bikes on the rear of my car resembled swans gazing lovingly at each other, only to be shut down by Benee (as his bike/swan); “stop looking at me swan.” I laughed, probably too hard. James’ commentary of the lady in the Chinese restaurant subtly flirting with him (so subtle you couldn’t tell…) was also pure comedy.
And here I’ll leave you with a few bits of advice; if you want to know what an aerodrome is, don’t ask Benee and then google it to check, unless prepared to feel the wrath of a strained friendship and his impressive lungs. But, if you want to drive to Adelaide with people who will chose music that makes your heart sing, periodically offer you Tim Tams, and let you stop to pee whenever your bladder desires, pick James and Benee. Top lads.
By Gemma Baxter
Gemma also writes for herbandlace. You can see her stuff here