My seventh – and last – ride of the eighth coffeeneuring challenge.
The challenge ends on Sunday and there are things I must do on both days of the weekend, so I’d been wondering how I’d fit in the last ride. Earlier this week I’d been intending to go for a lunch ride on Thursday or Friday, similar to the shorter rides I did last year. Well it didn’t happen yesterday, so that left today.
Despite it being almost the end of November we’re back to weather that feels like early spring – cold, grey, and raining. Mind you, after a very dry winter the rain is more than welcome, but it is a mixed blessing when the rainfall coincides with the commute to work.
With 7.5mm of rain in the rain gauge overnight, misty rain drifting over the garden and the thermometer showing an unpromising 12.1 °C I had a brain-wave over breakfast – take the shortest possible route to work and call in at the café at the end of Atherton road, another of the places that I’ve ridden past for ages, but never had reason to visit.
My usual commute to work is anywhere from 6-8 km, usually along the Station trail – or Djerring trail as it’s been renamed – then either taking the side streets through the semi-industrial bit of Oakleigh along the rail line, or continuing as far as Huntingdale station and using the back streets of Huntingdale from there to Dandenong road, cross over the footbridge and ride down the service lane.
The shortest possible route of around 5 km seems to be Willesden road out of Hughesdale, under Warrigal road into Oakleigh, duck through some alleys between a block of offices onto Atherton road, then straight along to the end of Atherton road, turn into Dandenong road and follow that down to work, turning off just after Clayton road and using back-streets for the last few blocks.
Very convenientiently for today, there’s a café almost exactly half-way along the route, a lozenge-shaped old house and shop squeezed in the narrow point where Atherton road meets Dandenong road. At various stages in the past it was a hairdressers and a vet – I think – but it’s been “Café du Coin” for a few years now and although I’ve ridden past many times, I’ve never called in. Today is the day.
The café itself seems tiny, there’s only just room inside for a few tables between the door and the display cabinets, but small and cozy was just the thing today! Good cheap coffee – $3.80 for my cappuccino – at the lower end of the prices for around here, and I suspect a steady stream of customers picking up takeaways to carry to work in any of the surrounding businesses, or to drink in the car on the way to work.
I could easily have had another coffee, or even turned around and gone home, but strength of will made me finish up and continue on my way to work. Out the door, onto the bike, step back as an idiot in a large ute drives over the footpath to get around the queued up traffic and get around the corner ahead of them, then ride 50m up to the traffic lights.
Unfortunately, at these lights at the end of Atherton road you join a large north-south east-west cross-roads intersection of Dandenong road and Huntingdale road, with Atherton road coming in at a 45° angle from south-west. Traffic has three options, “half left” into Huntingdale road, “half right” into Dandenong road, or “more than full right” down into Huntingdale road – the last one prohibited by a large sign, a large sign that is occasionally ignored. There’s a “Forward bike box” – frequently obscured by cars parked in it – that is intended to give cyclists more of a chance of getting across the intersection ahead of the traffic, but there’s nearly always a fair chance of someone trying to drive over you as you ride through, they usually turn left over the top of you, sometimes leanging on the horn, sometimes yelling.
That intersection, together with a poorly designed new bike lane the length of Atherton road combine to remind me why I don’t usually ride that way to work. Previously there was no bike lane so you just rode along a safe distance out from parked cars and the motorists passed you. Now the council has built a “bike lane”, but one that drivers are allowed to park in, and its so narrow that to ride in it puts you dangerously close to opening car doors. If you choose to not endanger yourself by riding in the bike lane and stay out over the white line, then a proportion of the passing drivers take umbrage and indugle in various forms of “punishment passes”, attempts to squeeze you back into the parked cars, verbal abuse, honks of the horn or combinations of these.
So no, I don’t generally ride that way, but today I’m glad I did and I’m glad I finally got to have a coffee in “Café du Coin”.
So that’s it, the 2018 Coffeeneuring challenge draws to a close. Seven different coffee rides in seven weeks to seven new locations. What will 2019 hold?
Clayton, Hughesdale, Oakleigh, Oakleigh East