Settling in: Introduction to the Melbourne riding scene
For this trip on a budget, and tight for time, I never invested in a camera or large laptop or too much technology. I have an iPhone (not even the latest) and I borrow a laptop when I can to transfer photos to a portable hard drive as a back-up. That’s it. My biggest motivation to start a riding blog was to be able to download the photos I take on the trip, in case my phone goes kaput. Which has known to happen on occasion. As well as possibly drowning it in a toilet. Possibly being forgotten in a public place… possibly 😉 (so not proud). It’s all ‘just in case’. Also for 2 other reasons: 1) Because I have a memory like a gnat and can only really remember place names if they have a BIG thing built there and 2) this is one way overseas family members are able to see what Oz may look like.
Due to this, I was contacted by a fairly well known rider character in Melbourne, which is affectionately known as Uncle Greg. He came across my blog, was impressed at the cross country effort and invited me along to a Saturday ‘skills practice’ meet up. At this stage I didn’t have a clue where anything in Melb was so I agreed to come along. I thought it would be a great opportunity to maybe meet other local riders, get some pointers, tips and anything that was being offered bike-wise.
When I got there it was so nice to see quite a few riders, of all ages, doing slow rides, figure of 8s, emergency braking and other skills all in the confide of a beachside car park. I think it was around Elwood beach, but not knowing the area I could be mistaken. There I learnt that a group of senior motorcyclists are so appalled at the skill level that L & P riders are given licenses and let out into the traffic world that they got together and give free lessons to those who want. This is an amazing way in which to give back to the community – I was so impressed with this, that I vowed to start something similar at home, when and if I got back.
I had a bit of fun doing the exercises that they had set up. But soon my interstate number plate on the Lawnmower started getting all the attention, and rather than doing skills, I was just talking with other riders. I was then invited to go riding with a more advanced group of riders tomorrow Sunday. People were more impressed that this little naked bike was able to do such a trip, and then some! Also that I was wanting to ride some more, having already done about 2,700kms in the last few days – didn’t I want a rest!?
My butt was fine (got to love the gel seat), and I was not going to pass up an opportunity to get to know the area or be shown some of the nicest motorcycling roads around Melbs. So that was organised. Next day I was picked up by UG and taken to the meet up point where the advanced riders were going to be. And so it was.
Meeting other riders, checking out everyone’s ride before setting off into the hinterland. No idea where I would go, how far or how long. I was just thankful someone would be able to take the lead and I could ‘switch off’ my navigational brain cells (only 2) and focus in riding without luggage.
As it was, I wasn’t the only ‘new’ rider to the group, as another lady was picked up too. She was touring around Melbourne from Orange for a week but decided to come along too. Probably the same reason I was here. Once everyone was accounted for, a quick briefing on how the group operates, rides and navigates. A great idea as the traffic here in Melbourne is a weeeeeeee bit more than I was used to in the Gold Coast.
We stopped at the Noojee Hotel / Pub for lunch and a warm up. I was most delighted with this place or 2 reasons; the fire place and my first BIG thing in Melbourne – the Dinosaur.
Over lunch I got to meet more people and it seems like I inspired a couple on my trek, that they gave me their numbers and told me that they wanted to do more overnighters to explore this area. I gladly went along with this and became an enabler in the near future.
From this stop, next big one was the InLine 4 Café. A famous biker’s café full of interesting memorabilia, characters and of course motorcycle friendly designed. Things such as helmet and jacket hooks outside, a self-serve cleaning station for your helmet and mirrors, side tables or stands to put your other biking gear while you sit down for a great meal.
When we came to this stop, I saw everyone getting on the footpath, side curbs, and generally parking what it looked like a hap-hazard way to me. I was being nice as I was going to originally describe it as parking like a d1ck. I did a U turn and went to find a car spot, which ended up being across the road. Once I parked and I walked up to the café they all asked me if I was being anti-social. From the commentary that followed I realised that this is a thing in Victoria. Biker crazy Melbourneans.
Well there you go, this weekend I learnt that in Victoria you can get fined for parking in a car parking bay… And not the footpath!!!
In Queensland you get fined for parking on the footpath! Talk about flipping the rules. This will take me a little while not to feel weird doing it, but when in Rome…. went over and moved my bike to the footpath.
What ever the case, the day came and went. I met some new people. I got to see, in a flash, a whole bunch of new roads to add to my list. Made an impression with some and the best part was that I was invited to come riding with others next weekend. 🙂
For once I was feeling like a kid again, and even if for one day I allowed myself to just be happy and worry free.