Monday, June 18, 2012

Melbourne Cycling

Last week I had to travel to Melbourne for work for 5 days. That much time off the bike usually results in me putting on about 6kg so I decided to take my bike with me. I was warned that it was going to be cold, but it couldn’t possibly be that bad.

I arrived mid-morning on Tuesday to a warm, sunny day with blue skies. The taxi driver noted that I had a bike with me and said that I was lucky to have missed that morning’s weather as it had dropped below 5 degrees, the coldest morning so far this year. Blinded by the warm sunshine, I fobbed off his comments, convinced that it couldn’t possibly be that cold.

When I arrived at work, three other people told me that it had been stupidly cold that morning so at 6:30pm, when I had to ride to my hotel, I put on all of my winter gear. Within 1km, I was sweating bullets, convinced that Melbourne cyclists were a bunch of whining cowards. At my hotel, I was blessed with a heater, which I left cranked up through the night. So much so, that I woke up in the middle of the night and had to remove a layer of blanket because it was too hot. Unfortunately, this also gave me a false sense of security of the outside temperature.

During the week, I had researched some Melbourne bunch rides and was surprised that there was a large number to choose from. Even in the cold, there was a number of morning bunch rides as well as evening rides that went up to distances of around 100km! I chose to do the North Rd Ride which had a group leaving at 5:45am. I put on all of my winter riding gear and walked outside with my bike to be slapped in the face by a 5 degree chill. I rolled down to the starting point positive that no one in their right mind would be riding in these conditions and thought to myself, if less than 5 people show up, I’m going back to bed.

I pulled up and there was already about 15 people there. This quickly grew to 20… 30… 40 people. By the time we picked up all the stragglers, there was about 60 people in the bunch, all keen to ride in the freezing cold. We headed down the Nepean Hwy in a dead straight line. After about 30km, half the bunch turned off to do the ‘shorter’ loop. I continued on to do the longer 70km-ish loop. We continued on in a dead straight line for about another 20km and I started to worry about how far we were going.

I asked around in the bunch, and apparently, they had decided to try a new route that was going to be about 110km in total! So now I was 50km away and was supposed to be at work in 1.5hrs! Although it was just past 7am, I still had all my lights on and was absolutely freezing. We turned off the highway and one of the riders in the bunch punctured. The whole group stopped for him to change it, and as we got going again, another person punctured and I decided that I could wait no longer.

I took off alone and calculated that I could still make it back in time. Fortunately, Melbourne is stupidly flat, so you can maintain a good speed over long distances. At 7.25am, it was finally light enough to turn my lights off, however, it didn’t help that I had no idea where I was going. I took a few wrong turns and made it to work about 15mins late after doing 120km.

So I now have a new respect for Melbourne cyclists. The fact that so many people get out to ride in such cold conditions astounds me. For the rest of the week, I didn’t do anymore early rides. Knowing how cold it was outside made it all too easy to sleep in.

1 comment:

  1. Cycling is not only good for health purpose but also increases our environment acceptability and develops inner confidence. You have shared a beautiful experience about cycling in Melbourne.
    Melbourne cycling