Last week I wrote a piece on my cycling obsession. It raised a few comments re: lycra & biking culture. Today I’d like share some thoughts about beach road bike riding. Beach road in Melbourne has a variety of name changes along its length, but when the biking fraternity or Melbournites refer to it they usually mean the full stretch that goes from Port Melbourne to Mordiallic.
I have read a few reflections that seem to think there is quite a history of bike riding here. With the big uptake of recreation weekend riding it seems to have dramatically become much more prominent and a known Mecca for bike riders with thousands every weekend and an issue for locals and people passing by who have various opinions about it.
I have regularly ridden with a small group of guys there on Saturdays for around six years. It does take a bit of guts and confidence to initially start as it is a bit confronting. There are often large fast moving packs sometimes with bike shop jerseys or riding clubs or groups displaying what “tribe” they are from. They often whisk by and I mostly avoid such large groups. The majority of riders are a variety of mostly lycra clad mish mash of team colours, various branded, previous bike ride event jerseys, a sea of variety and colours. Riders come in all shapes & sizes, age, gender and nationality. Generally it is easy to blend in and out of various groups and it allows for the ability for drafting which helps you ride faster and with less effort.
The group I ride with are MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) and in various stages of work & life. Single, married, kids, various occupations very eclectic, a great bunch with good interaction that has grown via friends of friends over the years. Coffee and talk at the end help to bind the friendship as well as email interaction during the week and the various friendships beyond just riding together. We can ride quite well but don’t take it as seriously as some. There is a respect for fellow riders and an avoidance of the large fast groups. There is a feeling of belonging, but also of independent achievement.
A bit of mechanical knowledge is helpful, and having the tools to change the odd flat tyre is helpful. Accidents happen, and I have witnessed a few, but been fortunate to have not been part of any. You really are quite vulnerable on a bike. It is wise to be careful and look out for others, but things happen.