“Oh shit, watch out!” A cylcist with more confidence than ability had smashed into a girl, and she was lying down, unmoving. “Shit I’m going to be in an ODT article about dead students, aren’t I?” was my only thought as we rushed to her. Luckily, my fears were unfounded, as she was pulled back to her feet. With a slap of her goon and a quick slug for courage, we were off down the street again. Sure, there’d almost been a horrific injury, but you can’t let something like that stop you on the Tour de Goon, can you?
I’d heard about the prestigious annual Tour de Goon and knew I had to be a part of it. Yes, physical activity would be involved, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made. For those not in the know, the Tour de Goon is an event organised by the Otago University Snow Sports Club. You acquire the finest boxed wine money can buy, find some sort of wheeled transport that hopefully won’t kill you, and proceed to drunkenly wheel yourself around North Dunedin.
I briefly spoke with the President of the OUSSC, Jacob Jones, about the Tour de Goon before it kicked off. To him the Tour de Goon is “a way to put the fun in a serious event. Often you get caught up with the training – we’re competing, playing a sport, so the purpose is to have a good time”. It’s a fantastic way of making the OUSSC stand out from the other clubs. It’s pretty obvious that booze, coupled with the opportunity to dress up, is the best way to get Dunedin students to join your cub.
Just as every Tour de France needs a team of professional athletes in peak condition, the Tour de Goon requires a team of fellow boozebags to keep you company, so I decided to enlist the help of my flat. We nicked a trolley, secured ourselves enough boxed wine to feed a mums’ book club and set off.
As we arrived at the designated starting point, we were slightly worried. We couldn’t hear anything, which for a party is usually a bad sign. Had they left already? Had it been cancelled? Or was it going to be about ten people, awkwardly standing around peeling the labels off their drinks? But as we walked down the driveway we were confronted with more lycra and fluro than an ‘80s aerobics class. Goons were being slapped, Ocean Alley was playing and funnels were already being fed down throats. We were definitely in the right place.
The first hour was probably the most relaxed part of the day. People chatted, slapped some goons and mingled. I even saw our esteemed Critic editor, who held a camera in his hand instead of goon, and looked rather unhappy about it. As people filtered in we bore witness to the creativity at play with costumes and improvised vehicles, including a mattress that somehow had wheels attached to it in a feat of engineering genius that, at any other uni, would have manifested in a groundbreaking car engine or plane . . . thing. Thanks to the tightness of the fluro lycra, I also got to see just how confident the male Tour de Goon attendees were in the size and appearance of their genitalia. I can confirm for our avid readers and genital enthusiasts that there were no Lance Armstrongs that day.
Finally, just as everyone was starting to get a little bored of mingling with each other and ignoring the acidic taste of their goon, a sharp whistle blew – and we were off. As we peeled onto the street with more foreign substances in our bodies than the actual Tour de France cyclists, we all came to the same, sudden realisation. While our chosen transport seemed effective for getting us from A to B, goon cares nothing for what you think is effective. When you want to go straight down a hill, goon makes you go left into the footpath. And when you think you’ve got perfect control of your jury rigged mattress-mobile, goon makes you run it into some poor struggling journalist’s heels (thanks for that by the way guys).
But somehow, we made it to the second flat with only minimal injuries, aside from one girl who clawed her way out of her pram, only to be struck by it. It was here that things started to heat up. What had started as a friendly gathering had turned into a full rager. The members of the OUSSC produced a ski which had been outfitted with multiple shot glasses. While I doubt it was competition approved, it certainly did a fantastic job of allowing five people to do shots at the same time. I had the pleasure of witnessing one young man, who later told me he was “the fucking founding father of this event” elbow drop three separate tables in an act of carpentry violence that would’ve made the WWE blush. Bread and sausages were offered, first as food and then as missiles in a food fight which broke out shortly after the table homicide. I was lucky enough to avoid it, although much of the crowd found themselves pelted with sausage or covered in sauce. One particularly plucky lass found herself on the roof, unable to decide whether she wanted to return to the house through the window, or crowd surf her way back to ground level.
And once again, we were off on another leg of our tour. While previously the tour had been confined to the streets above the university, this next leg required us to drunkenly roll down Albany, past the Central Library. Traffic, hills and goon all served to make this the most dangerous part of the journey. I did get to witness one of the greatest things I’ve seen in my life, something my grandkids will hear about just so they know how shit their uni is compared to mine. A fellow Tour de Gooner yelled for me to hold his beer. Now usually this statement is followed by some sort of hilarious failure, like falling off a roof, or health sci students. Not so for this mad lad. Channelling his inner Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, he ollied down the set of stairs right beside the library, long blonde hair trailing behind him in the wind. My only regret is that I didn’t have the time to film this, as I’m pretty sure the dude could have earned a PhD in being an “Absolute Lad”™.
Shortly after the debut of the “Absolute Lad,”™ we arrived at our third destination. Here we proceeded to dance away inside, while the rest of the party did an impression of sardines outside. My flatmate decided that now was the time to pass out, only to rejoin the party, pass out and repeat this several times before he disappeared. Fortunately, he was found two hours later sound asleep back home, with no memory of how he’d managed to get there. Luckily he left behind a quarter of his goon for me to finish off, as I was sliding dangerously close to sobriety.
Off to the next flat we stumbled. However, our journey was brought sharply to a halt by the boys in blue. Apparently the trolley in which my flatmates were travelling in was far too dangerous to be allowed in the Tour. Undaunted, we set off to the final flat. Unfortunately, the sheer physical hardship of the Tour de Goon (and quite possibly the raw power of the goon) had taken its toll on us and we quickly made our exit in order to rest, compare our wounds, and slam back enough vodka to make us think 10 Bar could actually be a good time.
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the Tour de Goon may be even harder on the human body than the actual Tour de France. It took me in, slapped me harder than any goon bag was ever slapped and spat me back out again. But it’s safe to say, I’ll definitely be looking at joining the OUSSC. If they go half as hard at snowboarding and skiing as they do drinking, I’ll be a pro in no time.