This is my 2nd year (last year's write up here and here - same write up, different links) and comparing the two days was like comparing chalk & cheese (mmmmm cheese).
So this year, I decided to leave the single speed "George" hanging in the garage and took "Betty" CX out for a spin. We decided to park the car at Abbotsford as it is approx the half way mark between Hawthorn (start) and Northcote (finish).
We left Abbotsford around 9am and rode down to Hawthorn H.A Smith velodrome ready to register and pick up our 2014 musette race pack. It started to shower but as we were moving, it wasn't too bad. The rain got stronger the closer we go to the start line.
The crowd at registration was not as big as last year, no one wanted to stand around in the rain as I found out 5 seconds after I opened up my race park, the map fell into pieces when it got wet just like the Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz.
|Crowd at registration|
The hill just out of the velodrome proved to be much easier with gears compared to last year when I rode George. The first manifest was an eye opener...when I say eye opener, I meant how cobblestones become slightly slippery when they are wet and I came down pretty hard on my sorry ass. Bleeding knees were hidden by my knee length knicks, a few "yes I am fine" to mask my total embarrassment, I got myself up and going again. Maybe too cocky to start out with - thinking that my bike skills have improved dramatically over the last 12 months with about 3 rides on the mountain bike and a Dirty Gran Fondo event? I was not the only casualty of that section, I was also there when a guy's tubeless tyre blew up like a grenade and also saw a guy with blood down his cheeks - ouch!
A friend of the Canadian, Adam, recognised us and being able to ride with him was the best! He not only could read maps really well, he knew his bike paths better than the Canadian, he was also wearing fingerless gloves so he could access his musette easily.
The second (or third, I forgot) section was memorable, it was NOT flat. I initially could ride up the steep laneway but when the cobble stone section appeared, I was too afraid that I was going to slip so I had to push my bike through the cobblestone climbs. Apparently, there were several falls on this section.
A few hours into the ride, we saw the Bank of Melbourne van and they were handing out FXYO bottles - grabbed one of the last pink ones - YIEWW!
My confidence along the cobblestones increased throughout the day but there were still some sections which were tricky to handle. I got a few "Don't Stop!" and "Keep Left" from other cyclists when I was riding along the cobblestone obstacles slowly but they didn't bother me, if they want to ride past me, they should have good enough skills to do so.
Similar to last year, we stopped after Manifest #9 for a lunch break and we stopped at the Old Bike Shop Cafe. I ordered a pretty big breakfast (again) of eggs, toast, mushrooms, bacon (I heart bacon), avocado and spinach whilst the boys had burgers and philly steak sandwich. We don't know if it was due to the cold and wet weather but the coffee there tasted a.m.a.z.i.n.g! So good that we had more than one each. As we had lunch from about 12:30, we killed nearly two hours in the cafe before we moved off outside. We only had 3 more manifests to go and they are pretty much within 3km, no point finishing too early as we would have had to wait around at the Brunswick velodrome for hours.
Once again the guys at health.com.au were at Manifest 12 for general cheering, photo and a Freddo Frog (which I had to grab quickly and held on with my teeth until the end). Disappointed that people threw so much of the wrappers along the ground in between Manifest 12 and the velodrome (stop 13) tho - tsk tsk tsk kids.
|Everytime I saw them - Potassium!|
|Mr and Mrs White|
- Instead of second guessing the right answers, there was just a single letter at the end of each pave sections, some were tricky to find. After about 6 Manifests, you could kind of guess what it spelt out.
- Another awesome musette!
- Picking up another 2 spare FXYO drink bottles after pack up - scoring 3 in total!
- Bike skills getting better
- The never ending rain
- I didn't win the grand prize (flights to Roubaix, France in May)
- Due to the rain, I wore my vest and you couldn't see my complete matching outfit
- The never ending rain
Will I do this event again next year? Hells Yeah!!! As long as I am in Melburn and I can still ride a bike, I will be there for sure.
Thanks again to the crew at FYXO - without them, it would have been another unmemorable rainy Melburn day.