All rise for the National Anthem
The new national anthem of Australia, which apparently is “Oooh, you don’t want to do that, you might get hurt.”
On the drive back from Jindabyne to Sydney, following the most direct route this time just for a laff, we decided to pause in our national capital of Canberra. Our capital at least politically, if not economically, spiritually, culturally or anything else that actually matters to the rest of us.
Jeez it was an eye-opener. The polis have really voted and funded themselves some lovely infrastructure, including a terrific shared walk/cycle path around Lake Burley Griffith.
“Let’s ride around it,” said Sprocketman, “I’ve always wanted to.”
I was more meh about the whole thing, I was still quite sunburned, it was the middle of the day and ferreting hot, peak skin cancer weather, I really wanted to get home, but I really couldn’t say no to poor Sprocketman as we were literally standing at the start of apparently one of his greatest life wishes, which I had never heard of prior to this, to ride around this lake. This lake right in front of us.
Argh, ok. We’re here, we’ve got bikes. If not now then when. A silver lining slowly revealed itself.
“You know Canberra was having that helmet free trial…” I said slowly. “We could do this sans dork hats!”
We grinned at each other. Let’s just quickly check the status of that trial …. Google was no fucking help and nor were the cyclists we stopped and asked as they went past.
“We’re from inter-state: is there a helmet free trial in Canberra at the moment, can we legally ride without helmets?” We asked this leathery old guy on a bike.
“Oh you should wear a helmet you know. I had a fall once and it saved my life.” He beamed back at us like a lunatic.
“Yeah I can tell you’ve taken a big hit to the head.” I said under my breath, “that’s not the question we asked you.”
I said nothing of the sort to his face, heaven help me I can be all snarky in my head but I just can’t bring myself to be out-loud unkind to people, especially those suffering from Stockholm syndrome.
We turned to another cyclist who shrugged apologetically and said she wasn’t sure. I said to Sprocketman, “Look it’s not nearly as big a fine as back home... and what are the odds we’ll be caught …”
Random woman coughed apologetically, “Ah, there’s a group of cops just around the corner of the track…” she said.
OH FUCK YOU I mentally shook a fist at the sky. We gave in; totting up the extra night of accommodation, new racing shoes and pedals - we’d had quite the expensive weekend already; two cyclist fines were all we needed.
So we sulkily donned our helmets instead of sunhats in 35-degree heat despite the fact that in Australia you’re more likely to die of skin cancer than a bike crash and off we cycled around what looked to be a fairly small lake.
“How far is this path?” – I asked Sprocketman, who apparently had obsessed over this ride since a small lad.
“Eh, I duuno.” he shrugged.
So much for lifelong ambitions.
About 6 km later in scorching heat I issued a BOLO for the next set of public toilets. Splashing water over my face and neck before I passed out from heatstroke, we asked a couple in the car-park there who sure enough confirmed we had yep, long since missed the turn to take the short lake circuit trip and were now on the looong circuit through the wetland sanctuary.
Of course we were.
The wetlands were lovely. The path was fantastic. The wildlife was gorgeous, swans approached the bike path and were left hungry as we had neglected to pack several large loaves of bread for feeding the birds. But it was like riding though a sauna and I could feel the heat cooking my already tender arms
At this point, with no water, no sunscreen, no idea of how much longer and utterly sweltering in my skirt, I lost it and just started to pedal as fast as I could to end this hellish ride. Let’s just say the final half-hour of the ride with a bastard headwind was not something that helped us bond together as a couple.
Through the troop of Segway riders who lurched out of a waterfront restaurant and into our path I saw the car in the distance, got down low and aero and covered the distance like a Tour de France winner on his last asthma inhaler.
As always, as soon as you actually successfully finish something like this, you're far more pleased with your efforts than you were at the time. I changed out of my bike gear into comfy car traveling duds, and we left Parliament House cheerily in our wake.
And that was the end of one of the things Sprocketman had apparently wanted to do his while life. Tick !
Next time, my turn, and I can tell you right now; it’s going to be strolling through an Italian piazza eating gelato.