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Tales from the (gay) Peloton

Having a gay ol' time

Sydney in Spring
Photo ©: CN
Click for larger image

With the 2002 Gay Games road cycling events held in Centennial Park, it wasn't just your usual crowd of well-heeled socialites roaming about Sydney's eastern suburbs. Very far from it, in fact. With dykes on bikes, waxed chests and Errol Flynn moustaches galore, Anthony Tan stumbles upon a bunch of screamers having a gay ol' time.

It was unusually busy for a weekday morning in Centennial Park.

Sure, there was your usual crowd of yummy mummies, buffed runners and horse riders, interspersed with slim, blonde women walking their Chihuahuas. The cyclists were also there, but for some reason, there was a lot more of them.

Then it clicked. Today was the Gay Games cycling road race.

The demographic of the crowd wouldn't have been far off that seen at the Midnight Shift - the place to be seen, not heard on a Saturday night in Sydney - so long as you're you know what. Not that I'd know. Conversations revolved not so much on what was actually going on in the race, but more about planning where they were going tonight to paint the town red - or should that be pink?

As the loudspeaker announced that the participants for the second race of the day, the unlicensed women's road race, should begin lining up, there wasn't the usual frenzy normally associated with a world championship event. In fact, everybody kept doing what they were doing. Which was nothing much at all really.

Everyone got there eventually
Photo ©: CN
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After a third call was made, announcing five minutes before the gun, one lady, presumably a lesbian, decided to wander over to the start line. Clearly, timing was not of the essence.

It was only after the race had finished I discovered that for many, it was the very first race they had ever done. One of the volunteers, Kate, told me she won a bronze medal in her first-ever mountain bike race at Yarramundi the other day. I don't think it was that easy for Cadel Evans, even with all his talent.

Not that the racing wasn't hard. A race is a race. And the circuit wasn't an easy one - it used to be the course for the Metropolitan Road Championships before it was moved out west to Bankstown, and the circuit was also used as a stage during the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic - a challenging four kilometre loop, both technically and physically demanding, with a 300 metre-long ascension each lap.

The crowd was noticeably vocal. An American guy named Jefferson, sporting his official 2002 Gay Games Akubra and who was camper than Oxford Street the night after Mardi Gras (Sydney's largest annual gay and lesbian event) continually screamed out: "Put it in the big ring!" and "Sit on him!". I'm not sure if Jefferson was referring to race tactics or something else - I'll just leave that to your imagination. In the words of Austin Powers, Oh, BE-have!

With 16 races to complete in one day, all on the same circuit, people came and went as they pleased, often wandering over to the Centennial Park Café for a latte or a sugar brioche to break up the monotony, quite happy to leave their bikes unattended - markedly different to some of my friends, who take care of their machines better than their girlfriends.

Dorothy's a dyke?
Photo ©: CN
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At least that gave me an opportunity to check out their hardware. Bikes, that is. One of the machines had a picture of K.D. Lang on the top tube; others had fairies zip-tied to their handlebars - I even saw a Dorothy the Dinosaur on one, but no Justice Michael Kirby (a high-profile, homosexual High Court Judge) figurine just yet . Until 11am today, I never knew there was such a thing as a lesbian Tyrannosaurus Rex…

When the various winners crossed the line, there were a few cheers, but most were just happy to be there, soaking up the sunshine, relaxing with some new friends and having a good old-fashioned bitch session.

Now where were those strawberry daiquiris coming from?


Images by Cyclingnews / Anthony Tan

For full results from the 2002 Gay Games road race, click here.

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