A final ride for the 2017 coffeeneuring challenge and I almost thought I wasn’t going to make it over the weekend and would have to bend the rules. I’d thought I’d be going out for a longer ride alone, as it was we had a shorter one with the family. So over the three weeks, the rides were , , short. Which in Morse code is “U-A-I”. I’ve no idea what that symbolises, if anything.

A combination of household chores and other priorities had the last ride pushed further and further back. My intention had been to go for a longer ride on Saturday, then when that fell through, to do that on Sunday.

Saturday was consumed with chores, and with feeling nauseous from a combination of diesel fumes, noise and low-frequency vibration as railway trackworks took place from 7 am to 7 pm alongside our house. The street was a constant roar and beep of reversing concrete trucks and the staging area for the concrete pumper was 4m from the window. I tried to get out as much as I could, but found myself caught up in household chores.

Sunday and more of the same started, albeit a little further down the track, so after lunch we put the bikes on the car to go and explore the Koonung Creek trail – a bike path parallel to the Eastern Freeway that I’d stumbled on a few months ago while up in that part of Melbourne. Surely there’ll be a coffee stop, or more likely an iced-coffee stop, somewhere along the ride?

Drove up to a likely-looking starting spot in a park in Blackburn north and unpacked the bikes, then off along the gravel path on the south side of the freeway, thankfully separated by a large noise-blocking wall that completely blocks the view and reduces the traffic noise to a rumble. Then over the freeway to the north side and the Koornung Creek trail proper, and follow it through trees and bushland up and down for seven kilometres or so until we reached a park near the huge freeway intersection. A few grumbles from a nine year old as the path isn’t flat and he was on his own bike, rather than the tandem. The path rises and falls considerably, with some of the climbs up to the ridges of intersecting major roads causing dismounts and short walks. At Schwerkolt Cottage Reserve we’d gone far enough for the day, especially as it was still pretty warm and we’d have to make our way back.

Somewhere along the way the Koonung Creek trail becomes Mullum Mullum Creek trail, we’ll have to explore that further north towards Donvale on another day, probably when starting a lot closer to this end of the trail.

A check on the phone from the park showed that there was a geocache nearby, guaranteed to spark the interest, so after resting for five minutes we continued on another half kilometre where Mr9 promptly found GC1E5T7 and felt in a much better mood. Then back to the park, an exploration of the historic cottage museum – Schwerkolt Cottage, sadly lacking a cold drink shop – then asked where the nearest café was. Unfortunately the staff member wasn’t really sure, especially what would be open at 3.30 pm on a Sunday so we thanked her and made our way up to the road – Deep Creek road. Looking left and right showed no sign of shops, nor had we seen anything on the trip along the path, but a quick check on the phone showed a likely block of shops another half kilometre away up the hill. Fingers crossed, off along the footpath and up the hill until we found ourselves at a small oasis of suburban shops; a closed café, a milkbar, a pizza shop celebrating their first birthday and a fish’n’chip/takeaway joint. Spoilt for choice! Two of us opted for icecreams from the milkbar, I grabbed an iced-chocolate/coffee from the takeaway and we sat and ate and drank and watched a constant stream of people buying celebratory $5 pizzas. Can’t say I recommend that chocolate milk, a little too smooth rich and cloying for the weather.

Rejuvenated after the rest and sustenance, back on the bikes and back down the hill then this time follow the bike path along the north side of the freeway to the ominously named “Eastern Portal.” This turns out to be an enormouse stone chimney designed to vent fumes from the freeway tunnel, but looks as though its come from Lord of the Rings. Down some stairs and a bit of gravelly single-track and we crossed the creek back to the path we’d come out on, then followed it the rest of the way back to the car – Mr9 doing sterling work powering up the hills. One minor detour on the return resulted from us looking up and realising we were passing under the footbridge that we’d ridden, so for a change of scenery decided to continue on to Blackburn road and cross with the road this time. All up an hour and a half riding, 15.5 km and nearly 350 m of climbing – surprisingly high for what we’d thought was a fairly leisurely ride along a bike path.

So that seems to be the 2017 coffeeneuring challenge over for the year; seven rides in seven weeks for seven coffees. For all the light-heartedness of “the challenge” it was interesting to force myself to go out to places I hadn’t been previously, and to write about them when I did. Here’s to 2018!



Suburban Melbourne; Koonung creek trail, Blackburn north, Mitcham, Ringwood.