Friday, 25 May 2012

Riding in 3 degrees

Helmet. Check. Baselayer. Check. Big grinning smile on the face. Double check.

It's a freezing 3 degrees outside, with a promise of sunshine and a top of 17 to come. I push my trusted old Apollo Evolution out of the garage and get ready to ride.
A little wave and a flying kiss to little V (my son) and I am on my way.

Cars whizz past me, drivers no doubt snug in their seats, climate control working overtime and a hot cuppa alongside. I ease onto the cycling/walking tracks and ride over fallen autumn leaves and under bridges, braving the cold. The air is crisp, fresh and with a definite nip to it.

As I pedal my way along Werribee river, the cold is biting, it's pitch dark and the only sound around is that of an odd insect starting it's day. On any given day, it takes me 16 minutes to ride from my home to the train station. The train station is the usual hub of sleepy eyed commuters - shift workers, early starters and school children. I put my bike on the train and catch a few breaths before I offload at Footscray.

From Footscray to the city, it's rush hour on the cycling path. Heavy trucks hauling enormous containers from the docks, livestock, produce and all that whoosh past me, but I am safe on the off-road cycling path. There are probably more cyclists on this track than cars on the patch of road between Footscray and the city, along Docklands Hwy. The cyclists move in a single file, against the backdrop of huge shipping containers bringing in supplies on the docks. The CBD looks splendid in the orange marmalade poured by the rising sun.A few cyclists break ranks on their ultra svelte bikes and race past me, while I try to focus on a steady cadence. No point getting to the destination in quick time, when you can enjoy the glorious views of the city along the way.

I notice a poor rider stranded by the National Flower Centre/Melbourne Markets, bringing out his bike repair kit. Another tire puncture then. I remember something similar happening to me last year.

I'd just got myself a Reid Condor and was thrilled to swoosh down the path on a much lighter and faster pushie. But it was not to be. I had 2 tire punctures in a span of 15 minutes and any ambitions of arriving safely in the CBD were dashed. To top if off, I was missing my bike repair kit and could do nothing except to call a taxi to transport me to the bike park. As it so often happens, the taxi company sent a taxi-sedan, in spite of me having explained my predicament and requesting a van/maxi cab so that I could carry my bike on it. So I walked. Walked a whole 40 minutes to get to the CBD, before I could get the puncture removed. Thankfully, I've smartened up a bit and carry my bike repair kit and have also bought a bike assistance (similar to car roadside assistance) product thereafter.

Closer to the city, cyclists branch out in various directions as I continue along Docklands, until I hit the mysteriously-yet-beautifully designed Webb bridge (also known as the Eel Trap bridge). (Image courtesy: Flickr)

The throng of cyclists falls to a trickle by the time I am riding along the Crown Casino. Over the Queens Bridge, I sight the familiar building of Bike Park ( - a wonderful idea of having a central bike storage/amenities in the CBD.

I hang my bike onto the bike stands along the wall, discard my bike attire and luxuriate a few moments in the shower, lathering myself with a invigorating mix of olive oil, eucalyptus, rosemary and palmarosa.
A quick change into work clothes, a short walk to my workplace, a hot and welcome bowl of rolled oats, a hot cuppa coffee and I am set.

The week begins.