Ride on 12 April 2019
26 riders arrived at Craigieburn ready for the day's ride. On the train, I shared the dire news from Lynda that Le Petit Jolie, our favourite cafe, has permanently closed. Given that we were down to one cafe, I decided that it was definitely time to implement one of the solutions we had discussed to deal with the large numbers of riders - split into two groups. Discussion over coffee at the end came up with two names for these, the Harriers and the Ramblers. So after we got to the main trail we stopped and divided into two groups.
The Harriers (led by Bob)
At the beginning of the thrilling descent into Broadmeadows Valley Park, our leader invited the group to separate itself into faster and slower. Keen to see if my venerable steed could still clock up a respectable speed rating, I suddenly found that I had been declared au fait with the route and leader of the faster group. Fortunately all went well, with Terry riding as sweep. I concealed most of my uncertainty about the correct path at the many choice points along the way, and the steady tailwind and general downhill lie of the land allowed us to maintain a decent clip. At Pascoe Vale station it was apparent that people had different preferences for continuing the ride, and we decided that coffee should be taken at that point. To our surprise, Ferrovia Café, beside the railway line, turned out to have a large rear courtyard, which management were happy to place at our disposal when they heard another thirteen riders were following.
PS After coffee I could not resist finding out if the infamous O’Hea Street hill is as impossible as it’s reputed to be. It is! I was exhausted walking my bike to the top. The rest of the way to the Upfield path at Coburg is as quiet and undemanding as Penny described it. (However, after coffee, if you return back over the railway line and across the bridge to the trail, then turn left, you can completely avoid the hill.)
13 of us sat back on our bikes and watched the Harriers disappearing into the distance before heading off. Most of the route is downhill and at times we exceeded 30kmh as we whooshed down the hills. One of the great pleasures of this ride is that once on the track, there is only one quiet road crossing and we go under all the busy roads. At the top of one of the few gentle hills in the Broadmeadows parklands, we stopped for the promised break at a picnic table and broke open our snacks. One very well-prepared rider even had a thermos of coffee! After a longish break with pleasant conversation and joking around, we continued on our journey joining Moonee Ponds Creek and passing Jacana Wetlands before arriving at Gaffney St. Here we waited for 4 missing riders. Eventually, when they did not arrive we went to the cafe where we caught up with the Harriers.
It turned out that Luisa had come off her bike in some gravel soon after passing Jacana. Our sweep, Ross, in his inimitable way had competently administered first aid with help from Lynda and Richard. Luisa rode home after this mishap with tremendous support from Richard who made sure that she got home safely. Kevin also helped the two of them with wayfinding. This kind of support is what makes our group so fantastic!