To paraphrase one of the greats … I had a cunning plan….

A couple of weeks ago I volunteered to help with transport to and from the the schools’ softball competition, but wasn’t intending to stay and watch all day. Initial plan had been to come home and work from home, then I decided to take the day off, finally I had a brainwave – take the day off, put the bike on the car, drive the kids to softball then go for a ride starting and finishing at Jells Park near the softball centre.

2019 Coffeeneuring no. 2 -- Monday mountain meander
2019 Coffeeneuring no. 2 -- Monday mountain meander

A warmer day than I’d expected, after some successful kid wrangling I was on my way at 9.45 am and heading north through the paths from Jells Park. Vague ideas had me thinking about getting to The Basin and heading up the 1 in 20 (sealed) or the Old Coach Road (unsealed), but I definitely needed to keep an eye on the time as I did not want to find myself in the early afternoon stuck in a maze of twisty bike paths, a dozen suburbs from where I needed to be and short on time.

The Blind Creek Path seems to have been generally improved over the years, although I rarely ride this way. The road crossings are a bit disconcerting, the path dives down through a spare culvert alongside the creek and signs warn simultaneously of a danger of flooding and of low headroom – they are not kidding with the latter, if I didn’t duck I would crack my helmet against the concrete roof!

Lots of birds along the way, from the ubiquitous Noisy Miners and Wattlebirds in the undergrowth of Jells Park to a small flock of Gang-gang cockatoos heard, but not seen, in the trees. Plenty of waterbirds too; ibis, ducks, herons and coots, then a flock of Cattle egrets in their colourful orangey breeding plumage stalking around, and over, a herd of cattle.

Council work crews out and about in many places, a creek rehabilitation project, path resurfacing, roadworks, and some major tree clearance around power lines kept me on my toes

Checking the map when I got to the end of the Blind Creek path showed me to be on the railway and part-way between Ferntree Gully and Boronia stations, so a quick kilometre to the north me at the junction with Boronia road and onto familiar territory for the ride to The Basin, cursing a few times at close passes by the ubiquitous tradie in a ute. I thought about a coffeeneuring coffee here, but it just didn’t seem right to have one before the hard part of the ride.

Check the map, check the time, off along the Old Coach Road and into the forest and up towards the ridge. Very little traffic, one cyclist passed on the way down, I met a mountain biker stopping for a photo op. on the way up then rode with him for a while until he turned off on a firetrail. Up and up, feeling unfit and wheezy and surprising myself on reaching Olinda – I think its so long since I’ve ridden up that road that I’d forgotten how long it is.

I think I’ve had coffees in all the cafes in Olinda so I turned back towards the south along the main tourist road through to Sassafrass, stopped for a piece of fruit, then dived on down the mountain – or at least my version of a dive. Definitely not one of the world’s great descenders, more of a gentle swooping cruise through the forest until I was back at The Basin and pulled up a the first cafe I saw – strategically being the first shop on the street and having half a dozen bikes in the bike rack out the front.

$8.50 for a large cappuccino from Svaks – not sure if there’s meant to be an apostrophe in there or not – and a croissant to dip and slurp with. A pleasantly buzzing little café, retirees, a group of cyclists, a grandmother-mum-baby combo and others sitting around talking drinking and eating.

From there it was mostly retracing my route along the Blind Creek Path, although I skipped the bit to Boronia by using Forest Road through the suburbs, accidentally getting caught up with a mob of 20-30 riders from Warbutton and nearly following them on around the hills towards Ferntree gully.

With impeccable timing I was back at Jells Park for 1 pm, plenty of time for a sandwich and an icecream and to sit and watch the last of the softball matches.

That’s two, that’s the week’s quota.

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