Sandringham to Altona

posted in: Victorian Coastline | 0

Written by Ed

Sandringham to Brighton

A definite utility ride, this quick jaunt into a 30 knot headwind was only about 3km long, but it was 3km my legs knew about. I’d just spent half an hour pulling parts off my yacht and loading up my messenger bag for a cycle down to Anchor Marine, my local chandler. After 20 minutes of disappointment in the shop, I had the luxury of being pushed all the way back to the yacht.

Difficulty: Half awful, half easy
Start point: Royal Brighton Yacht Club
End point: Anchor Marine, Sandringham

Brighton to the CBD

Another utility ride, this was a lovely sunny day with the wind mercifully at my back. The prevailing southerley pushed me along the beach as I took my slow bike to go shopping at the South Melbourne Markets. From home I got to the beach at Brighton Beach station, then followed the coast up to Dorcas Street. A quick detour inland (I thought I could be forgiven for leaving the coast when it’s mostly docks and terminals along there) brought me to my destination. Just to make sure this linked up with an earlier ride, after shopping I rode up to Festival Hall. Turned around, discovered southerlies suck when you’re riding to the south and caught the train home from Spencer Street.

Difficulty: Ride in the park
Start point: Brighton Beach station
End point: Festival Hall

CBD to Altona

This was the first of the Adventure Gang’s official cycles for 2016. Patrice’s bike problems forced a quick change of plans and we met in Carlton for Caroline to find a spare ride for Patrice. A short ride through the city and around QVM revealed Ed as an insane person with no sense or respect for traffic, but no horns were sounded so it was probably okay. We took the safer route of riding on the footpath past Festival Hall and toward the Docklands, where we picked up Rick enjoying the shade. A little further on we discovered Julia, in the right place in spite of the faulty directions given to her.

Once the team was assembled, we headed for the waterfront. We negotiated Williamstown’s pedestrians deftly, but were disappointed there were no Sea Shepherd vessels docked at Hobson’s Bay. Struggling through the sadness, we rode on toward Willy Beach proper.

Turns out, popular suburban beaches on 40 degree days are popular! Who knew! Rows of tents, apparent snowbanks (possibly sunbathers) and leather-backed beach-bums obscured practically all sight of sand. Caroline valiantly led us through the teeming masses and we found a likely looking spot to tie our bikes, near a combined public toilet/change facility. As we approached, the queue for the change rooms lengthened. As we locked up our bikes, the queue for the change rooms lengthened. As we surveyed the queue for the change rooms, the queue for the change rooms lengthened. We decided discretion was the better part of valour, and so wandered off to find somewhere else to change. The queue for the change rooms lengthened.

Too many people at the beach!
Too many people at the beach!

We staked out a spot on a nearby groyne*, did quick changes under towels, swam, picnicked, and basked in the sun like the lizards we wish we were. Then, all too soon, Rick was away! Alas, he had a prior commitment of some manner. He instructed us on the best fish and chippery in Altona then was on his way. As a group we returned to the bikes, unlocked them, and mounted up. During each of these events, the queue for the change rooms lengthened. Some say it’s still lengthening to this day, but those people are probably wrong.

We continued our cycle, decimated but not demoralised, to the west. This part of the ride was fairly uneventful, but Ed and Patrice saw a palm tree. There was only one, and apparently it commemorates the downfall of the Ye Olde Williamstowne Racetracke. Instead of pausing to show our respect, we kept riding – in the time we’d been learning about a palm tree, Julia and Caroline had stopped being lost and started riding on without us. Another several kilometres of dodging pedestrians apparently intent on getting hit by a bike and Ed decided he, the only one without a bell on his bicycle, should probably not be in the lead. A few more kilometres and we arrived at Rick’s recommended reef-food restaurant. Turns out, potato cakes made with sweet potato are awesome. So is poutine. That was lunch! Another swim, some lazing and some reading later and we were ready for ice-cream.

Beach babes
Beach babes

During the ice-cream session, we met a small child whose only discernible words were “Excuse me”. These being his only discernible words did nothing to stop him saying other words – we just couldn’t discern them. Ed had a hex put on him by a small girl who was probably a demon. We moved on once we felt thoroughly re-energised by the younger generation. Back to the bicycles? Yes! To ride home? No! We’re much too lazy for that. Four beeping Mykis, two thoroughly obstructed train doors, half a dozen or so stations and we were done.

*Turns out those rock walls that poke out into the sea to stop the sand being dragged away by wave action are called groynes. The more you know!

Difficulty: Hot
Start point: Carlton, but let’s say Festival Hall to make it link up with the previous one
End point: Altona Beach

Trip summary

Total Ascending: 61m
Total Descending: 74m
Total Distance: 37km