The Crank – THE CHINA INCIDENT

Inviting idiot strangers into your lounge room is not something I’d recommend, but that’s what it’s been like at Bicycle Cafe. Every bicycle riding idiot in town comes to sample the famous Bicycle Cafe int roast. Especially after that girlie reporter wrote me up in the paper, everyone wanted a piece of Bicycle Cafe, she wrote “I do not recommend “Bicycle Café”…… for anything.” That was when the flood gates opened.

The place filled up with fixed wheel riding hipsters and the trendy carbon set. Some even turned up on half decent steel bikes and made out they knew things about bike racing. It was so popular, on Sundays mums and dads on bikes would bring their kids for a Bicycle Cafe “Kiddy Cheeno” … warm milk with dried and grated vegemite sprinkled on top, no IR for the kiddies. Besides International Roast is expensive, even when it’s on Special.

It didn’t seem to matter that I’d mixed up the Campagnolo white grease with the creamed honey on toast, the place was popular from the day it opened. The whole thing exploded after these blokes on old 1980’s steel bikes dropped in and asked me for some “advice”. They started by asking which was better, Super Record or C-Record, they reckoned that C-Record was worse than Shimano back when it was made. One said Super Record was more perfect because it was pantographed more frequently than C-Record and that made it more appealing! His mate argued that C-Record was something like Italian aero sculptural perfection and better than anything else he’d ever seen. Another one was dressed in a sad and repulsive knock off of the Cannibal’s Molteni jersey, he said that Shimano worked better than Campagnolo back in the 80’s and the entire pro peloton stuck with Super Record because C-Record did not work! That did not make sense and about then the trouble started.

All I’d asked was, if they raced hard enough until they were probably bleeding somewhere or vomiting, would it matter then whether the Italians or Japanese made the groupo? That just seemed to get them all angry and I couldn’t figure out why. So I asked the guy with the Molteni knock off jersey which side of China it came from. He said Ebay. I said that’s your problem, and it’s not even wool at which I showed him the real deal, a club jersey from the South Craxton Amateur Wheelmen that I was wearing. That made them all even more angry. I then reminded them that “they” were the ones asking for the advice, to which they replied ‘you’re rude dog and you didn’t even attempt to answer our questions’. I reminded them that wearing China jersey’s and calling me dog, did not make them HARD bike riders. The one with the China jersey tried to punch me with a sissy looking hay maker, I ducked and before he knew it I was behind his back and grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, then ran him onto the street. Everyone inside Bicycle Cafe cheered as they rode off, tails between their legs and here’s me yelling “see ya next time  China” .. now who’s the dog!

I’ve said this before, the advice at Bicycle Cafe must be solid because no one seems to need it twice. Problem is, Bicycle Cafe is even more popular since the “China” incident.

It just happened that on the day of The China Incident, that reporter was there, she wrote a new report the next week. More on THAT next time.

December 12th, 2000
“Bicycle Café”
23 XXXXXXX st., West End

My friends have been pestering me to go back to Bicycle Cafe. Months ago I gave a report on the treatment the owner dishes out to his patrons, he is smelly, loud, obnoxious and somehow seems to be unaware of his superior attitude, this being his saving grace. If the man knew what an animal he was he would not hesitate to close his own doors. This is the crux of the problem at Bicycle Cafe, patrons can’t get enough of the bad coffee (Int Roast as he calls it), this instant coffee used to be almost the only choice for our grandparents, but we are not back in the seventies now. The secret to the success of selling bad coffee however, seems to be the ‘bad’ attitude of the proprietor at Bicycle Cafe.

After the last episode where he unwittingly insulted me and anyone else who dared to cross the threshold into the Bicycle Cafe, I wanted to find out where this bike riding maniac came from. I managed to track down some older members of the South Craxton Amateur Wheelmen. These old bike riders only knew the Proprietor of Bicycle Cafe as “The Crank”. When I enquired into the background of The Crank, my quesitons were met with silence. If it wasn’t enough having to meet these old club bike riders at a bar at the wharves, filled with half naked pole dancers, above it all their silence was deafening. They countered my questions with “wan’ another drink luv“. It seemed as though they were afraid that if they said anything, it would somehow be used against them. We were onto our fifth drink when Morrie, a veteran cyclist in his seventies, and an old training partner of The Crank mentioned an incident from a race that was run years back. A club teams time trial. Morrie said that if I went to the Craxton nursing home and asked for an ex bike rider called Sandy Davidson that I’d find out more. Morrie and his mates did let it slip that Sandy almost drowned in a creek and The Crank insisted they, “leave him for dead” and that winning a race was more important than “your mates”.

Interviewing Sandy Davidson highlighted how low The Crank is prepared to go to win a bike race. Sandy could barely get his words out and was confined to bed. Sandy told me that at a race back in 1975 Sandy tried riding through a deep creek crossing, The Crank and his other two team mates struggled to make it across. Sandy didn’t get to the other side. Tumbling off his bike into the fast running water Sandy hit his head on the concrete at the bottom of the crossing and was dragged downstream with the churning debris. All Sandy heard as he was going under was The Crank yelling “every man for himself, there’s a medal at stake here”. Fortunately for Sandy his bike was spat up high on a stump about a hundred metres downstream. The ambo’s had been working on an electrocuted turn marshall, revived him and were transporting the turn marshall to hospital when they spotted Sandy’s bike, they found Sandy jammed under a log on the river bank, barely alive, he was broken from head to toe. In a coma for weeks, multiple operations and years of recovery, his mental capacity diminished and Sandy never walked again.

The worst part of the Sandy Davidson story was how The Crank dealt with it after the race. First of all The Crank and his other two team mates became the South Craxton Amateur Wheelmen, team time trial champions for 1975. The trio won because the weather was so bad that all the other teams pulled out. The Crank kept Sandy’s medal and from then on insisted that “Sandy is dead to me”. If anyone ever dared ask The Crank about that race in the storm with Sandy Davidson, within months they would have left their job and the town for good, no explanation, just got out of town as quick as they could. Once I knew this I was beginning to understood why the old bike riders back at the pub had put up their cone of silence.

By popular vote I ventured down to Bicycle Cafe with a group of friends on a Sunday bike ride. If I was forced to be there, then my plan was to front up and ask The Crank about Sandy Davidson. We had settled in with all the other punters and were in the groove, the Int Roast and the comical machinations of The Crank all part of it. What happened next topped off the day, a group of riders came in on race bikes, parked them up and started asking questions. At first The Crank seemed friendly enough, going about his business making up a ghastly looking Faux Cino drink for a child, which had something that looked like dried and grated black tar sprinkled on top. Next thing The Crank was standing on the same side of the counter as the bike riders, quick as a flash the one wearing a Molteni jersey was thrown on the street, with bursts of laughter and cheering, the Bicycle Cafe punters erupted.

After the incident with the bike rider’s and the Chinese made jersey, it didn’t seem right to ask The Crank about Sandy Davidson. By now he’ll have read this story and I’ll probably never visit Bicycle Cafe again. On the way out I got a shot of the “Guest Book” at Bicycle Cafe, I noticed The Crank had even scribbled out one comment and replaced it with “NOT A CLOWN”.

Bicycle cafe "Visitors Comments Book"

Bicycle cafe “Visitors Comments Book”

Comments

  1. Ricardo Fiorelli says

    The hit you get from Instant Powder is spot on and value for the money. I tried int roast years ago and it tasted like old burnt thongs, then blow me down one time it was all I could get my hands on.The secret I figured out is to use six parts coffee to each cup, that’s six heaped tea spoons of the black instant powder and int roast will be your favourite all over again.. Ric

  2. skip nevell says

    I outdate all you guys. I rode my first race in 1958 and we would have had guys like the Crank for breakfast.
    Forget Campy vs Shimano, when I raced real men rode Simplex with a hand operated chain ring shifter.

  3. skip nevell says

    …..neglected to add to my previous post:

    I’m a Yank, Los Angeles, Ca but my first bike hero was Russell Mockridge. You whippersnappers remember him, of course.

    If you’re in the neighborhood, our Sunday ride concludes at my place where we sit on the patio and drink home brew, mine. All are welcome (even the Crank).

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