All About The Ride: Frankston to Melbourne

In all about the ride, bike, ozstraylia on March 28, 2010 at 12:55 am

After the hustle of the wed night ride, I’m determined to get some more miles in. I was hoping to go down the great ocean road, but getting there is a pain, if there’s one thing they don’t have here in Australia, its as integrated a train service as Japan offers. If there’s no train or metro, there might be a bus service, but that’s no good to me as they don’t allow bikes on them. And nothing is joined up, no interconnections, or if there are they are hopelessly disjointed. Best to just get a car then! So I’m told by Matt, friend of Tim’s (you’ll hear more from him when I tell you about the footie game I went to, Go! Magpies!) that riding from Frankston to Melbourne would be doable, get the metro out to Frankston, ride back down following the beach road. Two and a half hours in the saddle, three tops. I’m sold and find myself, rolling the bike through Flinders St station to platform eight and the hour or so journey it’ll make out to Frankston.

I sit and read, headphones have gone tits up and I’ve not had the chance to buy a new pair to replace them. You would have thought that some genius would have recognized that invariably the first thing to go in headphones is the cable, connecting earpiece to connecting jack. And it does every fucking time, and yet, no ones’ come up with a more robust way of connecting music player to music listener. I’m sorry, paying upwards of a hundred squids for great audio quality, and then getting shafted because the cable is as thin as the copper wire used in a plug fuse isn’t acceptable.

But I digress.

Headphoneless I sit on the metro, overland, through a couple of tunnels, sitting reading my book, doing a bit of research for the novel I’m supposed to be writing. I sit there very much engrossed, trying to wedge the bike along the line of folding down seats in the disabled area of the carriage, hoping it doesn’t get too busy and I have to start moving shit round. When an old man, big gut, white shirt, white hair, with one of those wheeled zimmer frames, the ones, with a motor and a brake lever gets on, awkwardly. All of us in that section of the carriage start to rise to give up our seat for him, but he waves us off and proceeds to the end and wedges himself down, as the train starts off, threatening to dump him onto the floor. He settles in, I think no more of it. Some people are texting on their phones, some are playing games, some are listening to music on their ipods, some like me are reading.

I think about getting my camera out and taking some shots of the landscape whistling past the windows, but don’t really have the heart for it, thinking it may look too much like the shots I took whilst in Japan. When old geezer declaims in a preternaturally loud voice, what did people do on trains before they had these phones, and these music making things? A woman beside him answers about her phone, and they fall into an awkward to and fro, with the woman restarting the conversation when I’m thinking its run its course, and I want to tell the old codger to quiet his buzz, can’t he see I’m trying to read here. I am the living embodiment of what people did before computers decided to dress up as phones. I’m. Reading. A. Book.

What is it with country folk and their need to speak to everyone and anyone. I don’t know you, I live in the city, where I’ll meet, come across, share space with twenty seven hundred different types of stranger (exaggeration for effect) in the course of a day and I’ll not want to speak to a one of them, this does not make me unfriendly, it just makes me selective.

The old codger slips into silence as he reads the large print in his hard back, and I await the end of the journey with the butterflies starting to rise.

The blustery wind, whips the waves into a frenzy, I’m hot but cooled by this confusing mixed up collusion of breezes, which is sometimes a crosswind, mostly a head wind and all you want it to be is a tailwind.

The static roar of it as I ride is accompanied by the dopplerised rumble of traffic coming past, sometimes lots of it, sometimes just one or two lone cars, like outriders for a larger platoon trundling ever closer.

Starting out from Frankston, once you clear the town and hit the never ending stretch of tarmac, all there is to see is brush and trees obscuring the beach to my left, but I know it’s there, the ocean just out of vision, I can feel it, taste it in the salty air. As the kilometers roll under me, up every road to my left, splitting the long runs of 5mins to the beach front properties, I catch a tantalizing glimpse of the blue of the ocean, and I’m eager to turn the corner, finish the houses and the scrubland and see nothing but blue, sky and ocean to one side of me.

I turn left onto the beach road, via a sweeping roundabout at Mordialloc and suddenly IT IS THERE right beside me, and I’m able to look at it whenever I want… Glistening under the bright gaze of the sun. White capped waves encroaching on the beach, taking back the land, one crashing line at a time.

As the kilometers pass I become aware of the dampness of my shorts, the fact I should have worn those cycling shorts I bought with me rather than boxers, as the chafing gets underway. Plenty of time out here on the road, to examine each and every irritation, the balling of fabric where my thighs are rubbing the inside of my shorts, the growing dampness at my waistband, as first my underwear and then my outerwear gets soaked with sweat. It’ll be interesting to examine the tidemarks when I get home.

With every pedal stroke I fall more in love with the new White sidi’s I’ve got for the journey, more so as they get dirtier and darker with every days use, more scuffed and worn they are attaining that patina of use that I admire/desire so much. But damn these carbon soles are stiff and unyielding, if I stand on them for any length of time I get aches and pins and needles in my feet, and as I ride and my feet move within the shoes, sliding millimetres back and forth they start to ache, nothing major but enough to draw my attention and for me to understand that some sort of cushioned insert will be required in the future.

I’m not one for eating or drinking on a ride, I know I should be and I’ve become more aware of how my body requires nourishment, on the longer excursions, so I’ve bought four bananas and some muesli bars to fuel me for the 40km run. Whenever I stop to take a photo of the waves, a view, a hideous beach front property I sip some water, or munch on one of the muesli bars. Whilst wandering up and down the aisles of the safeway that I’d pulled into just outside of Frankston, I was disappointed by the lack of flapjack action, my favourite choice of fuel for a ride, not catered for. Australia must do better. Hordes of energy bars and nut based muesli bars – nuts (raises fingers in the sign of the cross warding off the nuts that assail me from every quarter. But they always feel evil to eat, even if they do the job, and far too professional for me. I’m not producing the kilowattage needed to require the recovery powers of an energy bar.

The legs feeling good though and I’m sipping from the water bottle whenever required… And there’s nothing to do but turn the pedals and ponder on the architecture of the beach front properties that are passing by on my right. Ponder on the lack of originality in their design, on their construction (brickwork over a wooden frame), and I’m assuming the land and the property don’t come cheap, why the owners don’t do something interesting with the design of their home. Don’t they get grand designs over here, shouldn’t Kevin McCloud be making a beeline for this country to follow them in their house building.

The houses that have any sort of modern look/feel, all appear the same, angular, sharp, glass and metal, like smaller versions of those super sharp and modern properties you see in glossy US drama’s set in LA or Miami. But these buildings feel anything but modern and glossy, they feel just derivative, copies of copies of something someone saw in a different country and transported over. Maybe I’m being harsh, but I’ve a feeling there is some really interesting architecture happening around the desire to combine sun and views, but its not happening on this stretch of beach front. As I ponder this I make the decision to take photo’s of the main perpetrators, the ugly, the eyesores, the same same, but not different, but there are so many of them, so so many. My heart sinks as I see them right beside each other, down the road, just passed them, that the thought of stopping to take photo’s of them is too much and I find that I’m picking out the ones which don’t correspond to the trend, which sit out from the crowd, and start taking photo’s of them instead.

This beach road is the main route for roadies to get the miles in, on the weekend, or as I’m doing a weekday afternoon, and as the ride rolls on, I am passed by roadies of all persuasions riding head to toe in Lycra. Expensive bikes, expensive wheelsets, each trying to pound the road into submission, they pass me as if I’m sitting still and I don’t mind at all. They’ll move at their pace, I’ll move at mine.

There aren’t any noticeable hills, on the route a couple of inclines, the kind I can generally get to the top of without getting out of the saddle but when I do get there I am not going at any pace that you could call fast, not by any stretch of the imagination. But as with all the uphill bits, they still hurt when you’re getting to the end.

But just being out in the sun, feeling the wind on my face, the sweat appearing and cooling on my forearms, the exertion required to keep the bike moving forward, is all I need, and makes this jaunt so worthwhile.

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