Saturday, 31 January 2009

The good, the bad and the ouchy

The good thing about this week is that I managed to fit a number of long-ish rides in, totalling nearly 220km. For me, that's really good. Before I get too exultant though, it's worth remembering that Chook rode from Sydney to Goulburn a few weeks ago, taking the long road (294km) and did that in a day.

I will continue to persevere, weather permitting.

The bad is that I gave the Armoury Cafe in Homebush another go, and was not particularly impressed. The original cafe suffered an attack of arson a few years ago, and ended up as a crispy pile of tangled beams. It was rebuilt and re-opened not long ago. I dropped in last weekend, and without any exaggeration at all, I'd say there were a billion cyclists sitting there, drinking coffee and having a mid-ride feed.

I'm not a big fan of eating during a ride, but since I was there and needed some energy, I went with what I thought was the least offensive menu item - a bowl of bircher muesli.

I love a good bircher muesli. I used to go to Melbourne every year, and during that trip, I'd make a pilgrimage to a (now closed) restaurant called Halcyon, just to have their bircher. In my mind, it is still the Mecca of bircher. They served it with grated apple on top, together with some twists of thinly grated lemon rind.

The Armoury has not picked up that mantle. If anything, it is the Rwanda of Bircher. It is the Kazakhstan of Bircher. It was a thick lump of grains, held together by half a kilo of honey. It was like eating a molten honey-nut bar. I detected no yogurt, no grated apple and no lemon zest (three things I now put on mine when I make it at home, reminding me forever of Halcyon). Riding home afterwards, I felt like I had a brick moving through my intestines.

I always give a cafe a second chance, and sometimes a third chance, so I went back again during the week. This time, I had their special bacon and egg roll, simply because it was listed as being served with home made tomato chutney. I am a sucker for good home made tomato chutney, jam or relish.

It's great when you find a place that serves a great relish, but this place was not it. I know that a bacon and egg roll might sound like an odd choice for a mid-ride feed (and it was), but once again, for a place that gets a gajillion cyclists on weekends, they had nothing on the menu that was really suitable as a light snack.

The ugly part was when I left. Outside the cafe, there are half a dozen fountains that squirt water onto the footpath. I love them. Kids play in them when its hot, they're not some wanky modernist artistic "masterpiece", and they fit in well.

I decided to ride through them to cool down. In another park at Homebush, the fountain from the 2000 Olympics is setup on a big stand, and you can ride under it on a hot day and get hit by a deluge of freezing water - a great thing when the mercury is up around 40.

I rode through a fountain once, and it cooled down my left side, so I turned around and rode through again, hoping to cool my right side.

I was halfway through the fountain when both wheels went out from underneath me. The path is polished stone, flawless and smooth as glass. On a hot day, when water is added, it has a friction co-efficient close to zero.

I crashed down on one side, bruising my leg from hip to knee, and barking a bit of skin off one elbow. As usual when I hit the deck, I just lay there on my back for 10 seconds having a quiet groan. Since this was right in front of the cafe, about half the patrons stood up to see if I was ok, and a few came over to see whether I was conscious or not. There was nothing broken - just me lying there thinking "idiot". One mum had a little girl with her, and when the girl saw me hit the ground, she started crying (projected pain I guess). Even though my bruised leg was killing me, I had to hop up and jaunt around a bit to show her I was ok, and she stopped crying.

A minute or two later, I was back on the road, heading home. Once they saw I was ok, one table raised their beer glasses at me and gave a small cheer. Thankfully, no one called out "taxi!" That would have been embarrassing.

What sort of damn-fool artist designs a water feature (or an "ooh-ah" as I call them) in a public place where people are walking and riding by, and sits it on frictionless, polished stone? Only a creative type could be that thick.

The worst thing about typing this story is that my elbow is still weeping, and it sticks to the arm rest of my office chair every time I lean on it. And when I rode home, the blood that had run down my forearm immediately solidified in the heat, tangling itself into the (many) hairs on my arm. Every time I bent my arm to have a drink, the bloody crust would stretch and rip a few hairs out. Ouch. That's why very keen cyclists shave their legs - it is nothing to do with wind resistance. Rather, taking bandages off hurts less when you aren't ripping out leg hairs with them.

But apart from some aches and pains, I am fit to ride some more.

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