I gotta confess, the first time I saw Cuz Bro I didn't think a whole lot of him. There's a lot of kids getting into riding fixies these days, and when I saw him rolling around the meeting point for the Wednesday night ride I wrote him off as just another newbie. He was wearing short stripey shorts and a V-necked t-shirt that screamed the wrong side of the river, and had a bike that looked like it'd been cobbled together five minutes ago. But he was a mate of Matt's, so I gave him a go. It wasn't til the ride ventured up the Punt Road Hill that I realised how wrong I'd been. The kid didn't just beat me up that hill. He fucking destroyed me.
I've ridden around with him a bunch of times since then, including in his first alleycat, this Halloween just passed. He was dressed up as Spiderman and had no idea where he was going. I was dressed up as a rapper and was lugging a five kilo boombox in my messenger bag. I sucked his wheel and yelled directions at him over the hip hop blasting from my back. Matt was in the mix, dressed as Superman, and we both latched on. We thread our way through the traffic, weaving impossible lines and creating space from nothing, and eventually took first, second and third place.
This last Sunday, racing again, he got away from me a little bit, and I was able to watch him in amidst the chaos. Smashing it down the Collins Street Hill he didn't stop at Russell, didn't slow down, didn't even pause. He just thread the eye of the needle between two cars, with about five centimetres either side. I was keeping pace with Andy White at the time. The bloke has ridden - and won - alleycats on three continents, including a handful in New York. He knows his shit. So when he turned around and gave the international sign for 'crazy', index finger circling his ear, it was obvious that he'd seen something impressive.
And Cuz is impressive to watch. Thinking about the ride later on that evening I felt like Kerouac thinking about Neil Cassady, who later appeared in On The Road in the guise of Dean Moriarty. One bit in particular sprang to mind - when Kerouac is talking about Dean's driving, and how the gaps he found were so small, so non-existent, that he must have somehow factored in the moment of hesitation on the part of the other driver. As if he has made every possible calculation in a fraction of a second, and somehow come up with the precise answer. Remembering Cuz in the traffic that Sunday afternoon is to remember so many factors at play, and all of them coming together at once. Even if he did get lost and come in pretty close to last. Even if he did bin it. He may not have won, but fuck, either did Cassady.