Its 6.30am on Monday morning and I am so thankful to team FYXO and Andy White for persisting with this amazing event over the years. In years gone past I have been the person reading the stories - this year I managed to get a ticket and live the stories.
The ethos and values of the Melburn Roobaix are simple. Its about fun, adventure and creating memories. The main thing is that you're out there. As a child, that's the type of riding you do intrinsically.
Ironically, as I was thinking about BMX bikes and childhood when I entered the Hawthorn Velodrome. Right there before my eyes was my best mate from childhood, Tim. I have seen Tim once in about 15 years - he was doing the ride with a good friend Terry. Moments later I get bowled over by another good friend, Brad who was riding with his mate from childhood.
At this point, my mind was starting to switch. An hour and half earlier I was on the other side of Melburn trying to figure out how to get to Hawthorn before the 11am closing time for registration.
'Train then ride? Ride then train?' I'm thinking to myself. 'I better check the web to check train schedules. Probably should have done this last night...stuff it, I'll drive to the Botanical Gardens to park and ride the 7.9km or 32 minutes (thanks Google Maps) to Hawthorn.'
By the time I'd finished chatting to Tim and Brad I knew the maps and Google were going to remain in my bag. Brad took off with a bunch. I wanted to chase and have a chat, but I was halfway through my coffee. 'Sorry Bradles, I'll catch you for a yarn another day' I thought to myself. Once the coffee was down, I meandered around the Velodrome at a slow pace, before following a crew to the first sector in Hawthorn.
I must have been close to the first of ten sectors, but I just couldn't get there. Each sector had a question that could have been answered - ten correct answers would have put me in the draw for a flight to Paris. If you were doing the Melburn Roobaix seriously you would know how many slides were in that park.
For me, I got distracted by the masters football match featuring South Yarra and another side of men aged 50+. I was in awe of these gentlemen wanting to throw themselves at a football. The first injury (suspected concussion) signalled me to leave and head to the next stop. I was now riding and behaving in the spirit of Roobaix.
After almost 45 minutes of riding, it was time for another coffee!. I knew there was a stop at Coffee Supreme in Abbotsford, so I meandered along the Yarra to get there. But the lines were a little deep for my liking, so I went in search of another stop. Beer! Was the thought. So I meandered towards Brunswick East to get a Bicycle Beer from Temple Brewing.
It was on route to get a Bicycle Beer where I had my highlight for the day. I'd just departed Victoria Park in Collingwood where I filled my drink bottle and was cruising past the Fitzroy Pools. As I was riding, a lady was attempting to turn onto the bike path I was on. Somehow she ended up right in front of me, forcing me to brake and stop. She then politely asked 'Which way are you going?'. I pointed to the same direction as my front wheel 'That way.' Only on a bicycle can you get that kind of friendly interaction.
I eventually got to Temple brewing where I was entertained by the costumes and characters of Roobaix, while I waited for my best mate, Guy. Almost into the second beer and Tim and Terry arrived. They spoke of a similar story that barely involved completing a sector.
At some point we realised the brilliance of the proposed Roobaix route. After Temple brewing you could either do a loop to Kensington (the official way) or head several short kilometres to the finish at Brunswick velodrome. After the second beer, it was time for the velodrome!
The Brunswick velodrome was a carnival of characters, nice bicycles and pop-up food vans. For me, my body and mind were being called to another location. I had to get back to my car. I wasn't sure how. But I knew I wouldn't require Google Maps.
When I reached my car I knew Melburn Roobaix had worked. I didn't complete a sector. I barely followed the route. But I embraced the ethos, did plenty of meandering and washed my mind of the need to ride with a device or time restraints.