Tuesday, December 23, 2008

TOUR OF MELBOURNE

A LITTLE TRAINING RIDE that gone out of control. My ride today was meant to be a quick 2 hour spin around the East Link bike trail ended up being a little epic ride around Melbourne's inner suburbs. And quite it ride it was, 95.21 kilometers was the final tally and almost entirely ridden on bike paths away from cars.


IT ISN'T VERY OFTEN that I get inspired to go for a bike ride that is devoid of dirt, rocks and jumps, but for reason of doing something a little different, I decided to make the most of today's cooler weather condition and go for a road bike ride. Well, not exactly a ride on a proper road bike, but instead on my trusty clunker that is my commuter bike. A 1992 GT Borrego that was converted into a single speed courier bike by the previous owner, complete with matt black powder coating, decorated with left overs from my other GT bike builds. A Shimano 105 rear mech running with a 11-32 SRAM 8 speed cassette (Yes it does work), and old FSA cranks off Damien's Cannondale coupled with a 36T chainring off my BMX bike finished off with a set of Shimano Deore wheelset that nobody wants. This baby looks like a mongrel but it does its job of churning away road miles admirably well, all without breaking the bank or attracting any attention as it gets left out on the street. It was as stealthy as it can get.

SO THE IDEA WAS TO RIDE SOUTH along the new Eastlink bike trail to Carrum then head back home as the weather wasn't exactly looking too promising, but as I headed South towards the beach, the head wind was strong so I gave in and turned around and headed North towards Ringwood instead. With wind behind me I managed to get to Ringwood in less than 20 minutes with out too much effort. So I thought, why not explore other linking bike trails? Armed with a water bottle and basic essentials, I headed deep North into Mullum Mullum territory not knowing what to expect.


THE SCHWERKOLT COTTAGE wasn't exactly what I was expecting to find smack bang in the middle of Eastlink freeway crossovers, but that where it was. A historic remain of early German settlers built next to the Mullum Mullum Creek, these cottages have been immaculately preserved by Parks Victoria and have become a bit of local destination for BBQs or taking the dog for a walk (and pee). Smoke barns & homes built from stacked stones, a cellar built from a disused mine shaft and a display centre showcasing the antique machineries the early farmers used were highlights of this cottage. Looking at my bike resting against the caged display of tractors, I can't help and think my bike has evolved much.

I DIDN'T KNOW THE OLD KOONUNG BIKE TRAIL was now linked with the Eastlink bike trail, otherwise I would have turned around and headed home, but by the time I realised that I was in Doncaster and heading towards CBD was when I first noticed the city skylines. Distracted by the very cool looking exercise machines lining along the trail, I stopped at each pockets of exercise points and had a bit of play. Fell off the step machine a few time too as it was tough to master, and got the obligatory weird look from other trail users, but I didn't care. I said it before and I'll say again, I'm a big kid when it comes to play time. What's the point in life it you can't have some fun?

PROCEEDING ALONG THE TRAIL I soon reached Studley Park junction and much to my surprise, my knee wasn't playing up nor was I feeling any ill effects from my impromptu ride that was now really turning into a bit of a major event. Rode past Dights Fall and not really certain where I was heading next, I accidentally stumbled across Collingood Childrens Farm and St Helier's Convent which my colleague Jen had been raving about. By now I was ready for lunch and the Convent Bakery made a perfect place to stop for a bite. Luckily my backup stash of $20 note in my road side repair kit was still in there, albeit a bit grimy, so other than getting a bit of dirty look from the waiter, a chicken & avocado bagel with drink was demolished in quick succession.

NOW FUELED UP AND SUN'S SHINING BRIGHTLY, I kept riding along the Capital bike trail and it took me through Kensington then past the Melbourne Zoo, before reaching the Dockland precinct. As someone who works in construction industry, I can't help but take the time out to checkout the scenery. A lot of money has been sunken into this place and it look all trendy and very flash, but I couldn't help and feeling this was all very pretentious and wondered if people living around here were really happy, as undoubtedly it would have cost a decent fortune live here only to be stacked like sardines in apartment complexes and to have to put up with all the people, noise and blinding lights daily, with the niggling knowledge that this isn't a place to raise a family and in 10 years time this place will become an urban decay like it did in Southgate.


BY NOW it was getting into mid afternoon and what started as a late morning training ride was getting a bit out of hand, so before my body packs in as it usually would, I thought I do the right thing and start make my way home. The odometer on the bike was reading 65kms and that's pretty much bang on my usual endurance limit. So with my last $4.50 I stopped at the Southgate foodcourt and got myself a chocolate bar for the road and headed down the Gardiner bike trail, a path which I have ridden many times before to commute to work. Leaving he noise and the traffic of the city behind and heading east, the harsh concrete jungle and roads soon turn into something that I'm more familiar with, surrounded by trees, dogs, kids and people who are out there for no other reasons but to enjoy their local parkland in the sun, and I for one didn't mind that the last 25km of my 95km epic ride was finished among these surroundings.

4 comments:

mills said...

Many experts suggest that stair climbers are more suitable for some people than exercise bike, treadmills or other at home fitness equipment. However, if you have been sedentary, a stair climber may not be the best piece of home gym exercise equipment to start out with and you should consult your physician first. It should be noted that stair steppers are not recommended to be used by people who have cardiovascular or orthopedic disorders.

Andrew Liu said...

Thanks Dr Mill!

Snuffy said...

Sounds like something I did some months ago.

BTW, we need to go for a proper MTB ride around the Mullum Mullum singletracks. Some pretty interesting stuff there and it's so close to home.

Hanyang

Andrew Liu said...

Sounds good, where do I sign up for that ride?