Riding on a car-free Yarra Boulevard

With thousands of lycra clad fittos (and some notsofittos), I twirled through a few laps of Yarra Boulevard on 12 March when Bicycle Victoria blocked it off to cars (the next “cyclovia” is on 28 May 2006: 4 km of Sydney Road in Brunswick for 6 hours). It is one of the world’s few events where the coffee is free but water costs. It was all good. There were free muffins, and an Oxfam stall where these wonderful bags made fruit juice packs were for sale. I wonder if everyone else was as ignorant as me about Yarra Boulevard. Did you know that by going to the river end of Gipps St, following the bridge across the Yarra, and continuing up the path straight ahead, you reach Yarra Boulevard, and can then ride along an undulating and winding riverside bushland boulevard which starts nowhere in particular, ends nowhere, and is seemingly only used by late model Mercedes?

It’s 6 km long with just one intersection (and couple of side roads, one to Galatea Point, and another, happily, to the Studley Park Boathouse). Once you hit the Boulevard, you can turn left and ride to the end at Calder Highway having crossed over the Eastern Freeway and then u-turn back to the other end, Walmer St in Kew, and then u-turn back to where you started. You can also turn off towards the Kew end and ride along the loop of road closed to cars which the gate to Galatea Point gives off.

I didn’t actually know where the Botanic Gardens’ bats had ended up, but great views of the huge colony are had from the road, as well as of the Collingwood Children’s Farm and Abbotsford Convent. It was all good. There were free muffins, and an Oxfam Store where these wonderful bags made fruit juice packs were for sale.

There are hills; when I said “undulating” before, I was speaking as a driver not a cyclist. The fastest cyclists were doing the 12 km loop in 18 minutes. I did it in about 30, and was pretty buggered at the end of it. Riders would soar past me on hills in a nonchalant fashion as if they were on entirely different machines. Some of them were of course, but I overtook plenty of galahs with more money than sense on $8,000 bikes.

Yesterday I thought a few laps before breakfast would be a good thing and rode 24km up and down the hills, so tiring myself that while visiting my mother in law I fell asleep.

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