Smashing It!

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia on February 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

Went out with the Wednesday night Melbourne Ride that meets up every Wednesday (wouldn’t you know it) at 6.30 down by Fed Sq. About fifteen or so riders turned up, and as the sun sank and some conversation was had, as we waited for the last of the late arrivals, headed out towards south Melbourne.

As you do I had a couple of conversations with people as the pace was still sociable, little did I know it wouldn’t be like that all the way along. So I chat and hear that the ride is a random route, which is decided on during the days before by a couple of bods, and is sometime long, sometime short, sometime fast and sometime slow, sometimes big and sometimes small.

Its nice to be out with the people on a ride again, following someone elses, lines, watching how others ride, checking out their bikes in motion.

We head down close to where I’m staying, then turn left and head over to Albert Park, where they are preparing for the starting race of the Formula One season. And as we turn onto the half completed start finish straight, stands still being erected, barriers lining the track, some of the boys put the hammer down, and it stays down as they swing left and right through a chicane and out through the rest of albert park. I get kicked out of the back and try to keep my rhythm, traveling bike is set up for cruising, not for sprinting, and I’m struggling, but eventually the pace slows as we hit Fitzroy St and the St Kilda neighbourhood and pause for a quick breath.

Then we’re off again, pace back to what it was before, up an incline, Melbourne center doesn’t seem to have any hills per se, just long rolling inclines and declines, which don’t seem that steep until you get to the top and look back. So we roll through the just starting to be suburbs, down one long road after another and the pace is nice, high enough to make you feel like your working, but not so fast that you can’t talk. I jump on a wheel here or there and let them drag me along, as we’ve been fighting through a headwind for pretty much the whole ride, and there was much overheard discussion at the beginning about which route to take so that there’s a tailwind to get back.

I can’t take notes as I ride, don’t want the iphone to slip out of hand and shatter on the tarmac, but I want to remember the route so I can map it later, so I’m constantly  checking the cross streets, and looking for the names of the long, looking exactly the same streets we’re on. Mumbling the names under my breath over and over to try and remember them. Tennyson St. St Kilda St. New St. Grenville St, where we cross over some train tracks and I’d told we are in Brighton, I’ve ridden to Brighton even when I’m in Australia. Then its down the beach road back to town.

And the boys hit it, and hit it hard.

For those of you who were there or have heard me tell the story this sprint is as hard as the Cambridge ride, where the sun was out, it was the hottest day of the year and I toiled in the sun, alone and unloved, and wondered when the pace would ever slow down.

The boys in Melbourne like to find the longest straightest, emptiest roads in town and just sprint down it in a long, long line, swapping places, upping the tempo and generally racing like it’s the champs elysess. I’m kicked out of the back early and see them scampering off into the distance and I’m left to toil away, spinning my 64GI and watching the sun set to my left, over the wide expanse of ocean.

Massed along the beach road, on my right, angular and boxy, glass and metal beach houses with patio and landings on them. They are the same, but slightly different, they blur into one. The wind is behind me and it feels like your going downhill even as you crest a rise. Even though I’ve been alone for what seems like forever, kicked out the back like an unwanted puppy in a sack, I’m still riding as hard as I can, I’m getting enough air, my legs ache, but the good kind, and I’m wanting to see what I can still do. The road forks I can either go to St Kilda North or keep left and continue to follow the beach road. I shrug if they’ve gone to St Kilda North and I head along the beach at least I’ll know how to get home from there.

I carry on alone against myself up the beach road, watching the kite surfers get closer and closer, even as they skim across the waves out in the water. I’m back into St Kilda, Luna Parks roller coaster and big wheel on my right, and to my relief, the boys are parked up on the left by the beach, some boys doing running repairs, changing cogs or somesuch. I don’t care I’m just trying to get my wind back.

We stand and chat quietly amongst ourselves and I take some photo’s of the group and the sunset, which is amazing, orange and blood red smeared across the sky, Bolognese with one large meatball slowing slipping beneath the surface. I’m ready to go home, and as I take one last photo and put my camera away, the boys have split.

There’s three of us left, me, a guy called Ben on a nice red bike with no decals, and an older guy, on an ivory alloy frame, with record pista cranks and lovely black shamal wheels, which I find out are tubulars (glue on old shool tyres, rather than new school clincers), which he keeps cleaning with his gloves as he rides along, ala Gerald and Dwayne. We ride along chatting amongst ourselves, about peds not looking when they cross the road, and drivers wanting to take you at as you try and ride along. Old geezer spies the group ahead and says lets go get ‘em. And off he goes, I’m spinning up to full spin to win mode and can’t keep his wheel, Ben comes flashing past me, and I’m left at the tail again, spinning as fast as I can and seeing them edge away with each revolution of my cranks. And I wish I had a bigger gear, if I was at like 69 or 71GI I think I could be up with them, I could be a contender.

We head along the beach road, and end up at a fish and chip shop, like no fish and chip shop I’ve ever seen, and come across another group of fixed boys who have been out on a Wednesday night ride, none of the boys in my dwindling group know them and it’s a little west side story, with us each eyeing the other side up. They split and the rest of the group comes back and finds us and we head off again. Again I’m kicked out the back and a scorching pace is set as we whip down through the docks, past Corporate HQ’s for Ricoh  and others, Weird Scandinavian names ships, red cranes, looming out and over the water, still and silent and there’s just the wind rustling past my ears and the sound of my tyres on the tarmac. One of the guys I forget his name but he’s tall, rides a big bianchi pista with pink oury grips, drops back and takes pity on me and paces me back to where the group has congregated, just before Victoria Harbour.

We turn left, taking the pavement down towards Etihad Stadium, and for the last time I’m kicked out the back, good man on the bianchi waits for me and we turn right up along Latrobe, and then keep riding as it eases up. Then a left onto Elizabeth St and the boys are massed outside an eaterie The Rose Garden BBQ Shop.

I’m soaked with sweat, and my legs are a bit shaky but I’m good and tired. I enjoyed it and I enjoy the two cans of soda and the big plate of vermicelli with chicken and salted fish even more.

Route map image ( now with added web linkage to the scrollable map route) and some photo’s below…

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