Dayna's Blog

Holidays, walks and who knows what


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‘Meet at Cow Up A Tree’ – Melbourne Brompton Club ride, 26 July 2015

If you’re not a Melburnian, or at least familiar with the place, receiving instructions to “meet up at Docklands – Cow Up A Tree” could lead to some understandable confusion. But it’s pretty straight forward. We were to meet where there’s a cow up a tree.

Cow Up A Tree

Ta-da! “Cow Up A Tree”

It was looking a bit touch and go in the lead-up to this ride. Not for the cow – it’s been stuck up there for years. Rather it was the weather forecast that was looking decidedly iffy, and it didn’t improve as the scheduled time drew closer. Given the bay-side location of our destination – Williamstown – concerns about storm surges were quite valid if the weather were to turn ugly.

Satelite photo forecasting bad weather for our ride, via Victorian Storm Chasers

Satelite photo forecasting bad weather for our ride, via Victorian Storm Chasers

Thankfully the weather dawned clear and not too cold, though it was a bit breezy in places. Nothing to stop the ride going ahead, so it was off to the rendezvous point.

The glow of a yellow high-vis top waiting up ahead made me think we weren’t the first ones there – and indeed, we were not, but as I pulled up I realised that although the cyclists were waiting for us, they weren’t on Bromptons themselves. What’s more, there turned out to be a whole group of riders waiting for the Melbourne Brompton Club to turn up!

Cyclists gathering at Cow Up A Tree

Cyclists gathering at Cow Up A Tree

As it turned, out riders with the Go Cycling Melbourne group had come to ride to Williamstown with us. Escorts or windbreaks? Take your pick! (as someone quipped). Either way, our group of five had just grown to 13! Six Bromptons, a mountain bike, an e-touring bike, and road bikes made up our motley crew for today’s ride. Fluro tops were trending, but on the whole our clothing was as assorted as our bikes. Once introductions had been made we were finally underway!

Once we left Docklands and crossed over Railway Canal, Stephen and I were breaking new ground on this ride. It was probably a familiar route for the others. We’ve certainly seen plenty of riders take this path before, and no wonder it’s popular. The design is very good; no tangling with traffic, no being left to wait for traffic lights without a button to press to ask them to change for you.

The wind was coming directly at us for most of it, but that couldn’t be helped. At least it wasn’t raining! Given the forecast, the weather was certainly cooperating very nicely! There are long stretches of flat straight road, and a few small rises, but on the whole it’s a pretty comfortably ride especially once you reach Stony Creek Reserve  – from there you follow the waterfront right around to the main street of Williamstown.

Williamstown didn’t seem quite as packed today as it has on previous occasions we’ve visited. (Maybe that’s because we weren’t looking for a carpark this time…) After another re-group we headed down to Gem Pier and the shelter of the HMAS Castlemaine. I have to say it made a pretty good wind-break – pity it isn’t particularly portable. I was already feeling the start of windburn on my face.

The Williamstown riders - photo by Cory (@baudman)

The Williamstown riders – photo by Cory (@baudman)

By now it was definitely time to choose a cafe that could accommodate our group and enjoy a nice warn beverage. I’m not much of a coffee drinker; a hot chocolate is my preferred brew in the cooler months! Despite the heart-sinkingly long queue inside we didn’t end up waiting too long for our orders – just long enough to chat to a passer-by who stopped to ask about our bikes. They are pretty striking, especially in a group.

Bromptons are just so neat! Cafe Cirino was a good place to stop for brunch - Melbourne Brompton Club & Go Cycling Melbourne

Bromptons are just so neat! Cafe Cirino was a good place to stop for brunch – Melbourne Brompton Club & Go Cycling Melbourne

With everyone fed and watered, we stood up to leave just in time to surrendered our places to a motorcycle group who had just parked their rides across the street. Another audience to impress with the convenience of the Brompton design, though I’m not sure we have any converts from their mob.

Departing Williamstown the wind was once again in our faces and riding along the foreshore was a slog. Conditions improved as we neared Newport Park and continued into Riverside Park where there are a few more trees beside the track.

Opposite the old Pumping Station behind Science Works is the Spotswood Jetty where the Westgate Punt collects passengers who wish to cross the Yarra River to Port Melbourne. Stanley, Elsie, Stephen and I bid farewell to the other riders here as we’d decided to take the shorter (and easier) route back to Docklands. Cory farewelled us from the jetty, but didn’t cross the river as it would have been the longer way home for him.

We passed the Pumping Station - it was a location for one of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries TV shows in the first series

We passed the Pumping Station – also a location for one of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries TV shows in the first series

There's plenty on room onboard for bikes and pedestrians

There’s plenty on room onboard for bikes and pedestrians

And then there was one - via Cory (@baudman)

And then there was one – via Cory (@baudman)

In a somewhat surprising move, the punt operator offered me the wheel. I thought it was for maybe a minute or two – time enough to get a photo – but he didn’t move me on so I got to steer the punt the whole way across (it’s not that far). Docking was a different story – quite understandably so, though I was happy to give it a shot!

Dayna piloting The Westgate Punt across the Yarra River (photo by Stanley Tan)

Dayna piloting The Westgate Punt across the Yarra River (photo by Stanley Tan)

Returning to Docklands once on the other side is as easy as turning left and following Lorimer Street all the way back to Webb Bridge, though we did take the water side path in front of South Wharf Drive. The gardens along here are really quite lovely. (Thanks to a shower of rain that came through then I don’t have any photos of this section though.) As we came off Webb Bridge and turned onto Harbour Esplanade, who should we see approaching but the Go Cycling Melbourne group who we left at Spotswood Jetty! We weren’t quite back at Cow Up A Tree, but this was where the riders truly spilt up, after a really enjoyable day’s ride – to try to beat the rain home!

For more photos from this ride please take a look at Stanley’s photos or  Cory’s photos (note: both are FaceBook links). You can also check out the Melbourne Brompton Club on Flickr, again courtesy of Cory.

: )

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The Inaugural Ride of the Melbourne Brompton Club

The plan was to meet at Green Park (near Velo, Carlton North) at 8am on Sunday, 3 May 2015, for a group ride into and around Melbourne/Southbank/Docklands.

After an initial wince at the thought of an 8am start, I told myself it wouldn’t be any worse than a usual workday, and to grow a spine. But honestly, Stephen and I have been really looking forward to this ride, so there weren’t any grumbles when the alarm when off this morning – I even got an extra half an hour’s sleep compared to a weekday!

The ride started conveniently close to where we live, so we rode to the meeting point and found Stanley and Elsie waiting for us.

Meeting Stanley (left) and Elsie (centre) at the meeting point. Stephen is in blue on the right - Melbourne Brompton Club - Green Park, Carlton North

Meeting Stanley (left) and Elsie (centre) at the meeting point. Stephen is in blue on the right.

 

Our ‘maybes’ for the ride didn’t turn up, so with just the four of us making up the group and the whole day pretty much at our disposal, it was decided to follow the Capital City Trail (the bike path we were on – which used to be Melbourne’s Inner Circle Railway Line) west towards Royal Park where it skirts around Melbourne Zoo.

Heading off - rail trails make for a pretty cruisey ride

Heading off – rail trails make for a pretty cruisey ride

Crossing over the tracks at Royal Park Station, Capital City Trail then crosses Poplar Road within about 20 metres to continue following the railway line along to Flemington Bridge Station.

Here the cycle path does a sharp zigzag and drops down to street level. Capital Trail continues along beside Railway Canal, providing views of Citylink, old bridges and wildlife that the traffic rushing overhead won’t get to enjoy. Or possibly even suspect is there.

In addition to the very common Pacific Black Ducks and Australian Wood Ducks, I’m sure I saw some Chestnut Teals a pair of Black Swans, a few Great Egret’s last week, a pair of Purple Swamp Hens this week. Eurasian Coots are also fairly common. And they were just the obvious species! I’d love to take a pair of binoculars and stop around Royal Park to try to identify more of the passerines (perching birds) heard as we cycled by.

 

By the time we reached the intersection where Capital City Trail crosses Footscray Road we had been joined by quite a number of other cyclists. The previous weekend when Stephen and I had come this way we’d had it all to ourselves! I admit, both the rain and the fact that it was ANZAC day may have had something to do with that… Today, on the other hand, was a great day for riding.

We've got quite a crowd with us now

We’ve got quite a crowd with us now

After a quick photo with the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel (still working!) we headed around to the pier.

Bromptons of the inaugural ride in front of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

Bromptons of the inaugural ride in front of the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

Naturally we couldn’t pass up a photo at the pier. Or with the colourful buildings and strange – or should I say, ‘artistic’ – mountain-things around us.

 

Not much further along Elsie spotted a bike. Well, a bike-shaped bike rack, to be precise, so naturally that called for another photo. I was quite enjoying this ‘see and stop’ style of riding. The guys came back to check we were ok; reassured all was fine (our respective partners understand and have learnt to cope with our frequent stopping for a photo habits, it would seem) we set off again.

 

A bike-shaped bike rack. Neat!

A bike-shaped bike rack. Neat!

Leaving Docklands, we used the lovely Jim Stynes Bridge to connect with the distinctive Seafarers Bridge, where we crossed the Yarra River.

 

Although Stephen and I had eaten a light breakfast before setting off this morning, it turned out that Stanley and Elsie hadn’t eaten at all, so we stopped at The Boatbuilders Yard, right next to the Polly Woodside for breakfast. It seems to be a popular stop for cyclists and pedestrians. I was pretty happy with my toast; finally – somewhere that gives you sweet and savoury spreads!

Enjoying breakfast at The Boatbuilders Yard

Enjoying breakfast at The Boatbuilders Yard

Making our way up Southbank after breakfast was fun. There weren’t crowds of people (yet) so even though we were riding at a considerately slow pace, we could enjoy the plane trees, whose leaves are turning colour and falling at the moment, the artworks and easy ride along the smooth dark pavers.

We crossed the Yarra River again at Sandridge Bridge, continued under Princes Bridge (St Kilda Road), then road back up to the main street level using Princes Walk, after briefly stopping to greet some quite large, but very lovely, fluffy dogs (a Malamute and an Akita) and their owner.

 

This close to Flinders Station, it would have been ridiculous to pass up the opportunity to stop for a photo beneath the clocks at the main entrance. Lucky it wasn’t peak hour – it was hard enough getting a clear shot as it was!

Melbourne Brompton Club at one of Melbourne's best-known icons - Flinders Street Station (photo by Stephen Powell)

Melbourne Brompton Club at one of Melbourne’s best-known icons – Flinders Street Station (photo by Stephen Powell)

From here we were more or less on the homeward leg… with a small diversion to the Queen Victoria Markets. Setting off along Swanson Street, I was incredibly thankful for the bike lane. City riding is tricky enough at the best of times, what with trams, horse and carriages (for tourists), and – worst of all – pedestrians!

Riding along Swanston Street

Riding along Swanston Street

But we made it through; all intact and without incident, only to be laughed at – laughed at!! – by some bloke at the QV Markets when he saw me and my Brompton! That’s not the usual reaction I’ve had to-date, and my first thought was ‘Wait until you see there are three more following me!’ but he reportedly laughed at the sight of the rest of them, too! I’m not sure what he found so mirthful. Maybe we took him by surprise? Maybe he was delighted? I have to agree with Elsie, though – he did seem to be a bear-ish kind of a bloke.

Laughing bear-like men aside, we’d reached the donut van. Stanley and Elsie declined, but Stephen and I treated ourselves to a bag (shared) of piping hot, jam donuts. Oooh what a treat!

Stanley posing in front of the doughnut van - Queen Victoria Market

Stanley posing in front of the doughnut van – Queen Victoria Market

The MELBOURNE sign is very near the donut van, in the middle of the market. It would have been nice to have a fifth Brompton along for ideal spacing, but… maybe next time. Stanley’s shared a great panoramic photo of the bike from today on the club’s Facebook page.

Bromptons in front of the Melbourne sign at Queen Victoria Market

Bromptons in front of the Melbourne sign at Queen Victoria Market

Leaving the market, we rode one block up Elizabeth Street, then followed the green bike lane along Queensberry Street to the Carlton Gardens. Yep, you guessed it. Another group photo! This time in front of the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum.

The Carlton Gardens are one of my favourite places in Melbourne. Maybe because they’re so familiar – I walk through them each weekday and see the changes in every season. It could be that Melbourne gardens are just lovely. Riding your bike through the gardens is not allowed though, so we set off along the shared footpath on Rathdowne Street, then rode down the (slightly) steep and leafy Barkly Street to meet up with Canning Street, which would take us all the way back to Green Park and our starting point.

The leafy Barkly Street leads to Canning Street

The leafy Barkly Street leads to Canning Street

I believe we all enjoyed today’s ride. We were out for about 4 hours, but that included a lengthy breakfast stop, numerous photo stops and a riding pace that I would describe (overall) as ‘unhurried’. Estimated distance travelled was 18km (~11 miles).

I hope the success of this first ride bodes well for many future rides.

: )