Today we catch another Ferry. This time a shorter 40 minute crossing of the mouth of Port Phillip Bay. When the Tasmanian Ferry goes through the heads it bucks and dives about – what will this boat do?Continue reading “Mornington to Queenscliff”
So, after 12 months of thinking, 3 months of planning and wondering – here we go! Magnum and I are heading off away from the Spirit of Tasmania down the Port Phillip Bay trails heading today for a caravan park at Mornington. But theContinue reading “Station Pier, Melbourne to Mornington”
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.
Thursday 5th July
We headed down into Melbourne on Tram 11, disembarked at Spring / Bourke and Sue called into Pharmacy to get a prescription filled. Oh dear – one has expired. That’s OK we are told – there is a Doctor’s Surgery just round the corner. Sue got to see a Doc and when he saw the expired Prescription was from Longford and then saw our Doctors name he was beside himself. “I know her, she is the best GP in the world” he said. This Doctor was from Syria and apparently during his early days in Australia our GP had helped him get settled. So all was OK and Sue now has her complete set of drugs.
The trip across Bass Strait was the smoothest we have ever had, so it was a quiet night.
The Deck 9 bar before the music began. The area smelt like an Aquarium – odd
On arrival we disembarked at 6.30am and started to drive through Melbourne heading for the northern suburb of Coburg. The lady in the GPS waylaid us and sent us up City Link – a Toll Road. It cost $17.40 for a 7 kilometre dash along it. I recognised the road as part of the original way out to the airport which was not built as a toll road but was “given” to the company as part compensation for adding lanes a few years ago. We escaped from it’s grip and arrived at the caravan park at 8am and, true to their word, we were able to book in early and park up in our allocated spot. There was a frost in the air and on the grass but the sun was coming out and burning it away.
In the afternoon I set off on the Brompton to Velo Folding Bikes to have it’s mountain drive fitted.
Rows of Bromptons at Velo Folding Bikes.
I was using a map printed from Google and after a while I detoured to join the Merri Creek Walk/Cycle Trail and get away from the traffic.
The Trail, as it’s name suggests, follows a creek and I was heading downstream towards the Melbourne CBD. It turned out to be quite a busy trail with some cyclists and lots of dog and kiddie walkers on it. I think it might be school holiday time in Victoria. Some areas obviously flood in wet weather and numerous detours were signposted but not needed. It may be a number of trails that have been linked together as the width of track continually varies as does the quality of the surface.
After a while, although the printed Google map was not as detailed as I found I needed and certainly it knew nothing about Merri Creek Trail, I reckoned I should get off it and turn right, cutting across to Nicholson Street (NS) and the bike shop. On arrival at NS I found the buildings were numbered from 25. I needed 753. OK, now joining traffic and trams with sometimes cycling space and sometimes not, I pedalled up NS until it petered out after a tram turnaround and then another road name and the number 1 appeared. To quote Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, “Funny, I thought”. I spent the next hour or so cycling up and down numerous streets including the coffee mecca of Lygon Street trying to find other bits of NS hopefully containing number 753.
My thoughts exactly
Eventually I gave up, assumed the Google map was wrong and returned to the caravan park having covered exactly 30 kilometres of mostly Melbourne traffic on arterial roads while learning the do’s and don’ts relating to bicycles and Trams. I am still unsure of the turning right (across tram track) etiquette.
We then got the free park WiFi link happening and I found that NS does have several bits to it separated by other streets. Why not? However the first bit I came across is a long section that has two sets of numbers! If I had cycled towards the City just 2 more blocks I would have found that the numbers gradually counted down to 1 and then began again at 800+ and included 753 – the bicycle shop. How strange is that? As yet I have found nobody who can explain why. It just is.
On Tuesday we drove to the bike shop using the GPS (which seems to have forgotten all about toll roads now) and had the bike there by 8.00am ready for it’s surgery. The car was then taken back to Coburg and left in the caravan park while we spent the rest of the day travelling on trams in and around the city. Mrs C was delighted to find 2 pairs of proper quality shoes going for a bargain price at the Victoria Markets so the shoe cupboard in the caravan is now fully loaded.
In a Market cafe awaiting the appearance of Sue’s shoes
A long day. we started by catching Tram 11 to the city and then we separated for our days activities. I caught another tram (96) up to Velo Folding where they had my Brompton ready.
Number 11 Tram before it filled with commuters.
On the way I visited a Telstra shop to get a new card for our prepay Internet modem. This detour took around 1,5 hours due to the distance to walk and the incredibly slow processes involved in Telstra Shop work. I exited with what should be a working portable WiFi connection to the Internet for use during the trip.
Collected the bike, paid up and headed for the Capital City Trail. I thought I would cycle about ⅔ of it and then head north to Coburg. The first part was OK through to Melbourne Zoo and then I got lost. Pulling out the phone I found the Ride with GPS app was tracking me OK and pointed out where I slipped off course. This was to occur a number of times during the ride and taking it’s advice I could backtrack and make good.
Rusty old bike in water – Capital City Trail
The next section was very interesting as the trail runs under railways, highways and the Westgate Bridge. So much to see – bridges, cars, power lines, trucks, trains, buses, cyclists, walkers, lurkers, unsavoury river views and old bikes thrown into the water. Not a bit like the ride from home out to Bishopsbourne.
The trail then runs through Docklands. I hadn’t expected anything much from this section and was very surprised to find that the multitude of new high rises overlook river views and marinas. Lots of pedestrians out and flowing across the shared path so – look out. The route goes on until it gets to Southbank where the pedestrian traffic is full on and cyclists have to take great care (but you do mutter “get out the way you *&^%ing idiot” sometimes). Once under Flinders Street Bridge the trail immediately changes to an atmosphere of parks and rowing sheds, space and almost quietness. There are some moves to replace the sheds with “development” but any developer is taking on the top end of town as elite schools, businesses and citizen groups lease the sheds and really enjoy their rowing and really don’t want to move. To get them out the offer would have to be mega-impressive.
The trail now follows the Yarra River upstream via the Yarra Trail past famous cricket, football and tennis stadia. Very popular with joggers and cyclists and, as it is mostly a narrow track, care has to be taken. Further up the walkers acquire dogs and/or prams both of which add more hazards the cyclist must avoid. We then move through an exclusive area of terraced gardens leading down to the river from “manor houses” sited on high and flash looking Girls Schools c/w boat houses and ramps for launching their sculls.
Oh yes. I could live here! Just couldn’t afford the RATES let alone the purchase price of the houses. Thank you for allowing the cycle path to traverse your patch and us to have a sticky at an exclusive lifestyle.
It was about at this point the newly fitted mountain drive began to sound like a bird. The trail was very up and down with quite steep inclines. I was getting tired so the lower gears were getting a work out and the chirruping began. What to do? Firstly work out if it was the drive. This took a little while isolating the sounds (which came and went) to the drive and not other things on the bike. BUGGER. OK it has to go back to Velo Folding. I looked at “Ride with GPS” on the phone and found it wasn’t too far to the shop and continued pedalling around the route squeaking away up the hills. Sometimes walkers stared in surprise at the old fellow on a folding bike sounding like a Starling. Sooner than expected I arrived at the Nicholson Street crossing where I began my Capital City Trail experience and took the bike back to Velo Folding.
The mechanic who fitted the drive eventually had a look and a ride and found nothing. He thought I had mistaken the squeak in the seat springs as a drive problem. I sent him out again and on his return – yes – he had heard the drive making noise. The bike was left with him and I returned to the caravan, via trams 96 (back into the City) and 11 (out to Coburg), ready to get tired and emotional with a beer or three.
Thursday May 10. Arose early and Mrs C drove me to the airport. Trying Jetstar for the first time I put my carry on bag into the X-ray and it was rejected ‘cos it was full of bicycle tools, locks, pumps etc. Nothing sharp but it had to go in the hold. I hadn’t bought any hold space when organising the ticket so a charge was raised – $60. A good start.
After taking off through rainclouds the sun appeared and crossing Bass Strait the grey clouds changed to cotton balls.
That’s where I am going – Melbourne. Currently sunny but scheduled to have wind, rain, thunderstorms and hail in a bit.
Jetstar is a budget airline so it’s a step ladder off the plane and a walk across the tarmac for us. Then a hike for ages to get from the (cheaper?) suburbs of the airport into the main building and the baggage collection. By the time I arrived there I could see my bag about to disappear into the turntable exit but managed to grab it before needing to wait to see if it would reappear. An express bus into the city and a Miki card for the tram down to Luna Park and all was going well. Still no rain.
Why was I there? What has this to do with cycling? I was buying the Greenspeed Anura Trike seen advertised on Gumtree and mentioned in my last post.
I met with Georgie at the entrance to Luna Park, tried out the Anura a bit – just to make sure everything worked and then we went to a more secluded spot to do the deal. It felt a bit like a drug deal ‘cos we were making sure nobody saw the cash changing hands – as Georgie said “This IS St Kilda, remember”.
My yellow and black Ortlieb pannier fitting nicely on a bar on the back seat and complimented the colour scheme. I had read on the ‘net that it would fit OK and it did. Luckily. or I would have had to carry the bag of tools some other way. We parted company and I cycled down to the bayside cycling track and took off towards Black Rock. There was 5-6 hours to fill in before the ferry started to load. On the horizon can been seen a white and red shape (just), this is the ferry to Tassie.
Riding the trike is a different experience. The turning circle can be very tight so care has to be taken not to lift a rear wheel. Steering is easy compared to the Bike E as, with the 3 wheels, you don’t have to steer to keep balance. The brakes felt odd but then either they began working as they should or I got used to them. The leg length definitely wasn’t right – too short. I tried to adjust the boom at the front to move the pedals further away but after loosening the boom and the steering arm it just would not move. Something to be checked at home but today I would just have to pedal gently to save the knees.
The cycle path was made up of concrete sections. The 16″ wheels made a bit of a business over each joint. All OK but a bit bumpy. The trike has no suspension and relies on a flexing frame and squishy tyres and a suspended seat. When a road cut across the cycle path the associated gutters and speed humps could be worrying – but I suspect soon they will just be ridden over without too much thought.
By the time I reached Black Rock I had the gears sort of sorted out. Although the cranks say they are a Schlumpf Speed Drive, the owner David had changed this to a Mountain Drive 18 months ago. This was to help him get up hills and I think this is a good change for Tasmanian conditions. What the combination of 8 derailleur gears and the two speed mountain drive gives is a set of very low gears and a set of mid-range gears and the best way to manage the mountain drive change point I still have to work out. It’s easy to end up needing to change through the entire range on the derailleur on changing MD.
I cycled off the path and down to a Kiosk for lunch and a coffee. The sign (which can’t be read) says something about being careful in the sun – which was funny given the storm clouds and rain and me in full wet weather gear. OK, you had to be there.
Lunch time. A coffee and an Alabama (something or other) burger. It was tasty and I was ready for a refuel. One thing I noticed on the way to the turn around point – recumbents are noticed. Lots of smiles, hellos, “that looks comfortable” and so on. The cars hooting may not be so friendly but I will assume they were.
Getting back up the quite steep hill from the Kiosk was another thing. I didn’t quite get down into bottom gear before hitting the steep bit. I did cycle up it but at the point where neither foot was actually powering things along I think the wheels actually stopped turning!
Along the way about a kilometre of the path was officially a “cyclists, walk your bikes” area. Bugger that – too hard. I cycled but kept coming across these pinch points. Most I could sneak through with the trike’s narrow wheelbase but with some I had to lift the back, hope the front wheel kept pointing ahead and carry it through. Still better than getting on the road.
On the way back I cycled Middle Pier. At the end the next squall could be seen heading our way. The wet weather gear worked a treat but I was glad to come across a toilet block with a tall and wide roof that I could shelter under. Now – a bonus. When waiting like that with the trike you have a comfortable seat to sit in and watch the rain. Doing this with toilet close by was doubly good with all the dripping water !!
From there it was up and onto Station Pier where I arrived just as boarding started at 17.00 hours. The round trip cycled was 22 miles (‘cos the on board computer is set to miles – which explained my seemingly slow speed being used to working in kilometers). Boarding was a bit of a busy time so no pictures. The ferry left a few mins early, the reclining seats were a bit more comfortable than I remembered and we docked and were released into Devonport by 6.30am.
The trike fitted in the back of the X-Trail which was really good as it was raining and I had expected to need to take the seat off and maybe the front wheel. A wet and windy drive home and the Anura is now in the previously spacious shed – now filled with 4 bikes. My birthday present to self on my 72nd birthday!!
Yesterday and today there have been storms in Tassie with some part of Hobart flooded. Ken the Bike E owner in Huonville has his back yard and shed area under water. Autumn has stopped being an Indian Summer. There will not be much riding this weekend. There has not been much riding this week,