Cycling in Melbourne Australia
This happened to me last October but I'll never forget it. I used to live and ride in Melbourne until I moved to Wodonga in 2008. My friends and I run a blog to keep in touch and keep up with each other's cycling activities. Here's an idea of what cyclists up here have to deal with...sometimes.
I managed to get out for an arvo ride this past weekend. It was a beautiful day and I had been itching to hit the road after some weeks spinning indoors again due to cold weather (lots of snow up in them there hills).
I pulled (wrenched) the bike from the wind-trainer, cast away the rear 'trainer' wheel (almost in disgust) and threw on the road wheels before packing a protein bar and a couple of biddons and heading off. I decided to do the usual Indigo Valley loop as there was a slight 'nor wester' and I'd done it in reverse last time. Felt good to be mobile again and the legs were feeling great. I got the HR up quickly by hitting a few short but sharp hills enroute to Plunkett Road where my ride proper began.
The trip from McKoy Street to the quarry bend was quick due to the slight tail wind. I was just thinking what a great day it was and enjoying the sound of my tyres moving along on the road beneath me when all of a sudden there came a more sinister sound....CLACK CLACK....FUCKING MAGPIE! 'Bit early?' I thought, as they usually don't start until October. I adopted my old method of magpie defense, that being, lifting my head quickly every two to three seconds as I rode along. The movement is enough to put a maggie off on it's final approach and they tend to balk at the last second and not hit you (this is usually the case....but not always). Yes, you look like a bit of a goose to passing traffic, bobbing your head like you have a nervouse twitch, but it works and you get to keep your eyes on the road and don't end up as a hood ornament for any on-coming traffic.
After about 200 metres, the little buzzard quits so I resume my tempo and continue on. After about 100 metres I spot another one of the bastards zeroing in on me from my left. 'Fuck off?' I think, I'd just finished with one and there's this prick thinking that it's his turn. Oh well, nothing for it but to resume my nervous twitch which worked quite well for the almost 300 metres that this second prick chased me for. He finally quits and I continue on my way, releived somewhat that I had encountered two in quick succession. The odds were that I wouldn't get attacked by another one for a while so I relaxed back into my ride.
I reached down and grabbed a biddon and just as I brought it to my lips BANG! I felt a violent slap to the back of my helmet and almost dropped my biddon as a result. I'm all over the road trying to get the biddon back into it's cage while fending off a third attack. 'What The Fuck...' I couldn't beleive it, I start with the nervous twitch but BANG... he hits me a second time. I pronounce the movement so that I'm lifting my head as if I want to head but the little fucker but this doesn't stop him either, BANG...BANG....BANG.... he keeps smashing the back of my helmet without any regard for his own safety. I give up on the head bob and retrieve my pump from a back pocket. Fully extended, I start waving it around above my head thinking that this will help. I was wrong! BANG he hits me again...BANG...BANG...BANG. I swear, this little fucker just HATES cyclists. Apart from stopping and throwing stones at him (I contemplated it), there was nothing I could do but ride as quickly as I could on the lowers with my ears tucked into my shoulders and praying he didn't draw blood. Never have my earlobes felt more vulnerable.
After what felt like forever, he stops as abruptly as he began and flys casually back to his patch where I'm sure his mates were all sitting and laughing at his exploits. I ride on somewhat shocked at the ferocity with which this particular bird had attacked me. I knew one thing was certain, I wasn't riding back through that again. The skies ahead could have turned black with thunder, hail and lightning, I still wouldn't have turned back. Over the next five kays I cop it from another four of his friends but none of them were near as ferocious and my nervous twitching kept them at bay.
I get about 10 kays along Indigo Valley when I spot what I thought was a dead cockatoo on the road ahead. As I get closer I realise that it's a small lamb and decied to remove the carcass from the road anyway. I pull over and unclip before approaching it at which time I spot some movement...it then lifts it's head and looks at me as if to say 'A little help brother?' I could hear a car approaching from over the rise behind me so I quickly grab the little fella and carry him out of harms way. The car passes as I'm looking over the lamb to see how injured it was. It's lost some bark off one of it's shoulders and has a nice bump over one eye but that seemed to be all. It was probably only about two weeks old and could stand but not walk due to shock. I look around and can see no other sheep. The nearest farm house was about a kay back down the road so I pick the bugger up, cradle him in my left arm and jump on my bike.
I was halfway through turning around when I spot a gravel road opposite me leading to a small bridge. There's a couple of mail boxes as well so I head across the road and towards the bridge. It's slightly downhill and that's when I realise my mistake...I was riding a road bike on a gravel road, carrying an injured lamb with access to my front brake only. I play 'loosey goosey' all over the road towards the bridge, cross over (all the while thinking I would end up in the creek) and eventually come to a stop outside an old farmhouse about 50 metres on the other side of the creek. I get off the bike and head for the front gate.
I'm halfway to the front door when I notice two large pet beds on the front of the old verandah, I freeze....whistle loudly and listen.....nothing. "Here pup' I yell still expecting two large mongrel dogs to come out of nowhere...but nothing. Relieved, I make my way onto the verandah and to the front door. I reach out to knock politely...but pause just prior, my hand stopping just inches from the door. I look to my left and see old rotting horns from various cow, deer and god knows what stacked about three feet high just a few metres away. I look to my right and see a pile of fox and rabbit traps, some with the recent stains of blood from a number of unfortunate animals. I look at the door just three inches in front of my hand and notice that it's only about four feet high? I get a small chill down the back of my neck and look down at the little bundle of white innocence I hold in my arm. It looks back at me with fear in it's eyes.......'Yeah, let's get out of here.' I say quietly. I casually turn and stroll towards the front gate, all the while still expecting a couple of mongrel dogs to come snarling and snapping from nowhere....but they don't. As I clear the gate I quickly hop on my bike and head back to the main road. Of course, in my haste, I mounted the bike carrying the lamb in my left arm again so it was a sphincter twitching ride back down to the bridge, over it and onto sealed road without any dramas. I start pedalling back to the farmhouse I had passed earlier and just as I pull into the driveway, the little bugger decides to empty his bladder all over my jersey and nicks. Nevermind, I get talking to farmer brown (not his real name) and his wife who mention that a truck full of sheep had come past earlier and the little one had probably fallen out of the back. Their grandkids would love it if they had a lamb to play with when the visit so I hand over my new friend promising to stop in and check on him from time to time as I rode past. As I ride off I'm releived to see Mrs Brown carrying my new friend into the house and not to the back shed (life one way, death the other). I almost giggle in anticipation of the 'brownie' points I have just racked up with the wife once she hears of my rescue.
I hit Beechworth Road and head for home, chewing down a 'Mongrel Dog' protein bar as I hit the fastest section of my ride. Once I've finished eating, it's two hands on the bars as I hit over 80 km/h with a little traffic behind me on the long steep section. I'm almost at the end and still doing 70 km/h when I see a white work ute pull into my lane from behind a 4WD towing a camper heading towards me. I pop up and start waiving my right arm frantically as the work ute is lining me up. I have 8 feet of cutting rising up on my left and only about 2 foot of room. The ute doesn't give up and continues overtaking the 4WD??? I'm both hands on the brakes and onto the gravel doing my best to keep it upright, expecting to lose a wheel, bump into the cutting wall and be thrown into the utes direct path any second now. I hear a horn and realise it's the 4WD braking and trying to warn the overtaking ute of what was about to happen. I see the 4WD move over and give the ute more room but he doesn't move from his line, he just guns it and heads straight for me. I'm about to throw myself at the cutting when he finally moves over about a foot and his mirror just misses my right shoulder. I continue gingerly back onto the sealed road and brake but not before spotting a car abour 50 metres behind the ute, the driver, eyes wide open and shaking his head. I come to a stop and look back to see if I can get a rego but he's too far way. I manage to see that it was a white 4WD utility and then remember that the driver had a bloke beside him and they were both wearing flouro orange work vests. I get onto 000 and give them a rundown of what happened before collecting myself, geting back on the bike and heading home. As I jumped onto the bike I could hear the familiar 'beep beep' of my HR monitor telling me I was in the red zone. I look down and see 172 bpm, it was all fear.
As I get in the front door the kids greet me and I give them an extra hug. Beechworth Police call me to say that they propped the ute and it's occupants just as they drove into beechworth. As the Police finished getting their details, the 4WD with the camper pulled up behind them and the driver told them of my lucky escape.
Glad to still be here.
Those country magpies can be a shocker! I remember one chasing me for what seemed like half an hour up a steep hill on about the 20th of December one year.
As for the ute, sounds terrible but one big win, you got a positive result from the police out of it which seems to be a hell of a lot more than happens many times with incidents with some of our good 'ol Aussie country drivers and their attitudes to anyone on a bike.