Or, the coffeeneuring ride that almost wasn't
After finding out about the semi-humorous “coffeeneuring” cycling challenge in the Chasing Mailboxes blog and joining in the challenge in both and again last year, , I’d put it in my calendar to add some interest to riding over the next few weeks.
Seven rides to seven coffees in seven weeks… how hard can it be?
My intentions for the first ride this year were to leave work early yesterday, go for a ride, and call in for an iced coffee or cafe sua somewhere around Springvale, however when I got to the area I realised I was running out of time since we were expecting visitors around 6 pm or so. I cut short the ride and headed straight home, and of course the visitors were delayed and didnt make it to our place until 7.30 pm, apologising profusely.
This afternoon rolled around and the weather was near perfect, I’d finished all the chores I could think of, so I hopped on the bike for an hour or two, and somewhere along the way decided that I’d have a coffee and call it number one for this year’s challenge.
Westwards along the Djerring trail until I got to Caulfield, then avoid bollards and traffic management and frustrated punters all trying to get in to the Caulfield races.
Off down Inkerman street, where the local – Glen Eira – council is proposing turning the haphazard stop-start on-road bikelane that’s full of parked cars into a useful and usable bike route. Of course this has the local community up in arms, in proper Australian fashion they abhor the loss of their god-given right to park on the street outside their own homes, and claim that the bike path will bring undesirables to the area – presumably undesirables who can’t get there by bus or car or bike or foot along the existing road and footpath.
Through St Kilda and parallel to the bay until I reached the light rail line and the infamous Montague street bridge, up and over the bridge – nobody was driving trucks into it today – and a short ride to Southbank and along the river and into the malestrom of Saturday tourist hordes. Having carefully decided to route a major bike path through a major pedestrian tourist precinct, everyone decided that cyclists were “a threat” and so there are signs everywhere telling cyclists to slow down, to give way, to not exceed 10km/hr. I suspect that with the density of the crowd I was lucky to make half that, even standing still I had people walk into my bike and give me death stares for not teleporting out of their way.
Finally making it out of the Southbank tourist precinct I found myself where the rowing clubs line the river, and of course there’s a major boat race on today, so this part of the bike path is also blocked! Cyclists were directed off around the rear of the buildings, past the loading bays where trucks and trailers were parked. On the plus side, a number of caravans and marquees were selling food and… coffee.
Aha, a short macciatto from Oliver’s Vintage Coffee Van for $3.50 and a chance to sit and watch the rowing and tourist boats then on towards the Botanic Gardens to start for home.
I stayed along the south side of the river as far as the path went until it meets MacRob bridge, then under and up onto the bridge, perhaps I missed seeing the “Cyclists dismount” signs that are the band-aid applied to every piece of badly designed and badly built cycling infrastructure.
Back across the river to the north side, rejoin the Gardiners creek trail and a quiet ride through the suburbs to East Malvern station where I turn off to follow the old Outer Circle railway through the “urban forest” back to Hughesdale. Amazingly, where this crosses Dandenong road either VicRoads or the council have managed to recently make the difficult eight-lane road crossing even harder. Where previously there was a break in the traffic island from the east-bound service lane to the main three lanes of traffic is now a concrete wall, cyclists either have to walk a 100m back up the footpath to cross at a pedestrian-only two stage crossing, or lift their bikes over the traffic island.
Up through the second half of the urban forest & Boyd park, picking my way past the major drainage works that have closed off the park for the last year – nothing seems to be happening, just a sea of mud and dirt and abandoned concrete pipes. Then rejoin the Djerring trail for the last half suburb ride home.
One down, six to go.