With apologies to Britney.
You can probably guess from my last post what this is about. Yes, I went to Melbourne and came home with a Greenspeed Magnum recumbent trike. Exact age is unknown but it is thought to have travelled around 2,500 kilometers – so, if true, it is just run-in! This is the story of the trip.
The flight from Launceston was a bargain at $58! It started nicely too with fluffy white clouds over Bass Strait. As we neared Melbourne though it was a different story.
How is that? We went down and down through dark cloud and popped out just in time to land. It was raining.
By the time I had got the SkyBus into the CBD the rain had stopped and it didn’t restart for the rest of the trip. My visitor’s concession Myki (public transport card) from July was still useable and, when I checked at the Myki office, it had $8 on it. More than enough for 2 days travel I was told. Excellent.
The Magnum was some distance away in the northern suburb of Preston. We had agreed to meet at 2pm as the seller was working in the morning. 2pm came, he was there and after giving it the once over and setting up the boom to my leg length, I took it for a test run. First impression is of a smoother ride than the Anura. This is probably for a number of reasons. It has 20″ wheels (not 16″), a sturdy, large frame designed for America, a redesigned seat and Schwalbe Big Apple tyres. It pedals easily and the clip-in shoes that come with the trike actually fitted me quite well. I had a go at a reasonable hill and we went up OK. I do think I will have to research lowered gears before tackling any major rides though (more about hill experiences tomorrow!!). The top gear is higher than Anura and I made good use of this going back down the Raglan Street hill.
All good – I bought it. We arranged I would pick it up the next day as I was staying in Melbourne and catching the overnight Ferry on Monday.
Monday morning after a stroll through Southbank, Fed Square and past the iconic Flinders Street Station, I caught the tram out to Preston once more. What a delight the Melbourne tram network is. I bet they are glad they didn’t pull it out when everyone else was doing away with theirs.
The trike came with a range of spares and accessories and two huge yellow ex Post Office delivery bags. They were large enough for one to hold the extras and the other to take my travel bag. Possibly double the capacity of my Ortlieb touring panniers – but not as waterproof.
I had worked out a route down to the Ferry using the network of shared walking/cycling paths that Melbourne is famous for. It was a short ride along quiet streets to begin and then out onto a busier arterial road which sported a cycle lane. After a short detour ‘cos I couldn’t quite follow the map (i.e. got lost) we arrived at the Darebin track which follows the Darebin creek down to the Main Yarra Trail.
The sun was poking out every now and again and things were going well. Deliberately keeping a slow pace (not sure how the knees will go with this vehicle), down the creek we went.
The trail featured samples of Melbourne graffiti to brighten it up (?) and by now the sun had disappeared again. The wind was lazy so I ended up wearing a windproof jacket over a woollen jumper for much of the ride. At this stage there was quite a bit of gentle downhill which was very useful while I learnt how the gears worked and should be used. It has 3×9 = 27 gears.
In short order we met up with the Main Yarra Trail. This track follows the meandering Yarra River down to and then through Melbourne. From here the slight general downhill changes with the track now peppered by short climbs and descents that had me working out the gears. It is important to be in the right gear for each climb as there is little opportunity to change ’em once into it. On one little up I was set up in bottom gear but still ran out of speed, stalled and had to back down to the bottom and try again! As we strained to get to the top I wondered at what point the chain would break. It didn’t. From the stats that was probably the 10% hill. Note to self, need a smaller chain ring(s).
After a while I climbed yet another UP and cycled straight into significant roadworks and a CLOSED Main Yarra Trail sign. That was a worry. Across the road there seemed to be a footpath leading to a very narrow bridge (which the works were replacing) and the whole road as far as the eye could see was filled with static traffic and pissed off drivers. What to do? I worked my way across to the “footpath” and saw that it ran through a workers village of huts, trucks, machinery, concrete blocks, red plastic tape etc and with luck would run alongside the stalled traffic on the road. Luckily it did although access was narrow and I had to hop off and lift the trike over obstacles a couple of times. While going along there I asked a couple of workers how to get back on the Trail. None of them knew. Once past the works I hopped on the road and took some turns that felt right but there were no signs to the Trail and no signs of it. “Ah, what’s this? A bike shop?”. Yes, it was. The proprietor looked at me oddly when I asked the way to the Trail – it turned out it was running behind his shop!! Trail regained we continued along to arrive at a City Farm and Cafe situated on the Trail. Here I had a break and an early lunch (a dish titled “Spring Bubble and Squeak”). No coffee though as it was the second place I visited in Melb. where they had no skinny milk – only full cream or Soy.
At this point I knew I had to take to the back streets of Abbotsford to avoid the infamous Gibb Street Steps (removal much promised but not yet happened). I had climbed those steps carrying the Brompton in July and it was hard enough with that bike – I was not going to try with the Magnum. I had mapped out a route which took me on an interesting side trip at one point mixing it with large trucks entering and exiting a Brewery. I also found another section of Nicholson Road that I didn’t find in July!
After a bit of stuffing around (getting lost again!) I managed to locate the Trail as planned and off we went successfully avoiding the steps. By now, being closer to Melbourne, there was quite a bit of traffic in the form of family cycling groups, people walking dogs, people walking other people etc all to be avoided. The kids seemed excited by the sight of an old man on a red trike but others seemed to consider me a nuisance! Welcome to the world of tadpole triking.
I wanted to cross to the other side of the Yarra for ease of access to Southbank and the Sandridge Trail. The bridge to carry me across turned out to be a walking and cycling only bridge. It looked like the building of the CityLink tollway meant that the original road over the bridge had nowhere to go so Trail users get it. That was a nice surprise.
The trip from here was simply riding the open park areas alongside the river enjoying the experience until arrival at Southbank – which was busy as it was now proper lunchtime. Pedalling slowly through the crowds, nobody got hit. Other cyclists were impressive as they ignored the 10kph speed limit and carved their way through, scattering the crowd as they went.
From Southbank it was a short ride up to the start of the Sandridge Trail that runs through to the Ferry. I arrived at Station Pier early and so set off exploring the waterfront to the east. On the way I came across the remains of the original Melbourne Pier. There is a lot of history here with the Victorian Armed Forces from WWI and WWII leaving and then arriving back using this Pier. After WWII countless European refugees arrived and had their first glimpse of a new life in Australia from the pier. Although it is now a collection of supports plus a fancy section that forms a concrete open public area, the old wooden supports and the information boards give it life and the story was very interesting.
After an enjoyable slow, time passing pedal out to Webb Dock (Melbourne’s third and latest container Wharf) and back, I could see activity at Station Pier – the gates were open, people in yellow were working and the Ferry was loading. So I went and got loaded.
Spirit of Tasmania II Ferry in the background.
Next morning Sue met me at Devonport and, after a few minutes, we worked out how to fold the Magnum. We found it fitted in the back of the X-Trail without needing the rear seats down – that’s good!
It feels comfortable to be able to plan a longer recumbent cycling trip without worrying about the old technology gearing of the Anura. Although the Anura is a good machine and the transmission can be fixed if things break – it would be difficult sourcing the parts and getting them delivered if one was in the middle of country South Australia or Victoria. The hunt for parts would take time and getting that freewheel off would not be easy.
It will be necessary to think about selling a bike or two in order to refill the depleted bank balance. But first – a ride or two on the new trike once I have recovered from the overnighter in a reclining seat on the Ferry.