Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shielas just Love Old Balding Men on a Bicycle

I might have a Buckley's Chance with the Shielas indeed.

Which brings me to my bicycle. I have been walking everywhere in Melbourne. And it is not because the public transportation is inadequate or expensive, but because I have lived in America for so long that I am uncomfortable using it. Strange that we become so reliant on having control over our transportation that I"d rather walk rather than rely on the tram and bus system that carpets the city. This insight also makes me realize how true it is when I write about older adults wanting control of transportation. I understand now how unique we are in the United States.

After a few failed attempts trying to get a call back from people selling their bike on, I eventually got someone who responded. He set a time to come and I agreed. I should have realized there would be a problem when I could not find the area of Oakleigh on the tram map. But I put that down to me being uncomfortable with the transportation system. I did not think much of it. Only when I boarded the v line train did I realize that this was not a tram but a long distance train. I asked for directions from the guard, and boarded the train I was suppose to on the platform that I was told. The train went around the city and then was heading west rather than south east. After 15 minutes I deluded myself that I was on the wrong train. I jumped off, only to realize that this was infact the right train, but the doors quickly closed and I was resigned to waiting ages for the next train. But I only had to wait another 8 minutes. This is a very efficient system.
Passing a number of stations and then out into the suburbs,I was again happy that I was sure that I am on the right train. Looking back,  I could not see the tall skyline of the city. I started to think about what I was doing. How far out of the city am I going? I have to cycle back. My buttocks twitched. Yeah, your turn to suffer.

A long way. When I got there I borrowed a spanner to raise the seat, paid him, and put on my dorky helmet. Put the end of my trousers in my sock, and rode off to the farewell of "good on ya' mate.".  I felt like Cadel. Speed master himself.

The bike worked well and I felt strong. My bum quickly informed me however that I have not ridden for more than 6 months, but I knew that it was only warm-up pains. Once it goes numb I would not feel anything.

I thought the easiest and most scenic way was to head towards the port to the east and then ride north alongside the port heading to Melbourne city. I realize when I hit the first major road that the port at Brighton was 15 kilometers away, and then another 18 kms to Melbourne city or in the local lingo CBD (city central business district.) However I was enjoying the ride. Pedestrians looking at me and waving. I thought yeah baby...speed master. Faster and harder I pedaled.

Once I tackled the busy North Road into Brighton I was rewarded by the beautiful vista of Brighton and Port Philip. Once there I forgot about the urgency of making it back to Ormond College before dark. I had no lights. The bike trial that meanders north through Brighton and St Kilda is peaceful and tranquil.A multipurpose trial shared with skaters and walkers, all obeying their designated side (left). An elderly woman in her 70's overtook me and gave me a smile. I thought yeah lucky lady I was enjoying the vista, speed master is resting.

It was getting dark fast. The vista was changing, as I was slowly making my way up towards the city skyline. It was enchanting but with the ebbing light the air cooled down significantly and I slowly started thinking about options. The worse case scenario is I have a puncture and I have to walk back.  I thought about walking the grand canyon from the north rim to the south, 26 miles. So I could walk the bike home. Once I realized this I relaxed again.

People waved, and I thought I must look a sight. Pedaling like crazy with a grin on my face. How happy can $25 make you? Buy a cheap bike and ride. By the time I made it to the City it was quite dark. The slight incline of the wide avenue going up to the University slowed my pace. I was thinking of a hot shower and dinner. Perhaps they will have a roast today. Pedaling past pedestrians waiting to cross the road, they waved. I wish I could wave back, but I was busy pedaling and maintaining momentum. Yeah speed master coming through.

By the time I reached Parkville, where I am staying, I had cycled over 30 kilometers. The road inclined steeper. As I came across a busy junction, shooting a furtive look around for Trams--which still confused me--a pedestrian stepped off the curb and shouted..."you can do it mate!"

Perhaps I did not look like a speed master but you should have seen me when I first started.

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