Wednesday, 31 August 2011

You Yangs Open For Business

After the devestating floods of last summer the You Yangs regional park, a mecca of mountain biking in Victoria, is open again. I did not see it myself but the summer rains destroyed many of the trails and exposed asbestos. Over $1.5 million worth of re-building has just been completed by Parks Victoria, You Yangs Mountain Bike Club Inc. and many volunteers. Check out the Parks Victoria video below...

I headed there on the weekend with a friend and was blown away by the quality of the new trails. They are fast and flowing and so much fun. The park was packed with mountain bikers of all types and everyone had smiles on their faces, no doubt pumped to be able to hit the trails again.

I'm blown away every time I go mountain biking, it is just about the most fun you can have on two wheels and it's free! This blog tends to focus on road riding, which is what I do most of, but make no bones about it, I was a mountain biker first and am still a mountain biker at heart.

Being pretty average on the bigger jumps and drops I stuck to Cressy's Climb and the Boulder Track most of the day... well, for as long as my legs would get me back up to the top, to get another run in.

If you can go and check the You Yangs out, do it. You wont regret it. And if you are a regular, well... you know what I'm saying. I'll be there as much as possible as the weather starts to get better. It's only about 35 mins from Melbourne CBD, take the Geelong Hwy, and print off a new map of the trails here, before you go.

A = the You Yangs Regional Park

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Melbourne Welcomes Home Cadel!

Today Cadel Evans completed a one kilometre parade down St Kilda Road in Melbourne to be presented to a crowd of 30,000 at Federation Square. It was a triumphant occasion for the star and the crowd, who got the rare opportunity to show their appreciation for his efforts. I made every attempt to get as close as I could to see the great man, but my path was hampered on all side by mothers with prams! Why you would bring a pram into a large crowd I'll never know!

There were a few touches that embodied what a good-natured, humble bloke Cadel is. The acknowledgement of the 20 kids chosen to ride along side him, the extra effort he took to shake as many hands as possible, and the stopping to accept a sprig of wattle a fan passed to him. I saw so many kids around, some sporting custom made BMC jerseys, and some with slogans like 'the next Cadel' accross their chest. It was great to see and I couldn't think of a better role model for these young ones.

After the officials (including the Premier Ted Bailleu and the Melbourne Mayor Robert Doyle) had their say, Cadel was presented with a trophy from the state of Victoria and an enormous yellow jersey, handed down from the crowd.

Disappointingly, the compare and the big wigs couldn't resist an opportunity to talk about football, even on a day that was all about cycling, I counted at least seven references to bloody AFL in their commentary!

Cadel was then given the opportunity to thank the crowd and said a few words, in the form of an interview. He cracked a few jokes and spoke a little about what it was like chasing down Andy Schleck on that fateful day on the Galibier, and how it felt as he ate away at Andy's lead in the final time trial. He lightheartedly joked "none of us are getting any younger" when asked about the future, then went on to hint at plans to go on to defend his title next year.

Personally, it was great to see the man up close and 'Yell For Cadel'. Being a cycling fanatic I relished in the opportunity to see and cheer on the man in person, even if it was from a distance! I'm going to go and nurse my heels now - they copped quite a battering from those prams!
 The massive crowd at Federation Square

 The Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu

 Brilliant! A dog with a yellow jersey!
Cadel's wife Chiara, and his mum

Monday, 1 August 2011

Main Yarra Trail Finally Diversion Free

The Main Yarra Trail diversion in Burnley has finally been removed, to the delight of regular commuters, myself included! The diversion, which has been in place for well over a year was removed last Friday the 29th July. I wrote about the inconvenience this obstruction caused back in mid-March, I never would have thought back then that it would take another four months for the works to end, but it did! The trail was closed for a widening project on the Monash Freeway which flies over the cycle path.

According to what papers you read and who you listen to it seems the project may have been a complete waste of money. The extra lane has not eased congestion and groups such as Bicycle Victoria have argued that the money could have been much more wisely spent, particularly on upgrading cycle paths in the area. The project has finished massively over budget and the blowout has jeopardised other more environmentally friendly initiatives, such as the much needed expansion of Melbourne's public rail network.   

Personally, there's a few things I'll enjoy about the trail being fully open for business:
1. Not getting punctures as I ride through the Burnley underpass
2. Not having people ride into me as they turn the sharp corners of the diversion, and 
3. Not having cars, small children and mums with prams to contend with as I ride through the Allan Bain reserve!

This may in fact mark the end of the dark days of neglect by local governments! Cadel's win has brought the issue of cycling infrastructure and safety into the public limelight and cycling in Australia is bound to experience a post - Tour de France boom. Our infrastructure is already quite good on a world standard and I believe that over the next 10-20 years we will see Melbourne move to being a truly bicycle friendly city, similar to the likes of Copenhagen and Amsterdam. I just hope everyone doesn't start riding Dutch cruisers, they're kinda crap...