Ken’s ‘Pedal for Prostate’ 2014

7.00am,Sunday 23rd Movember 2014 - kilometer zero.

7.00am,Sunday 23rd Movember 2014 – kilometer zero.

 The weather turned totally around for this year’s challenge as Ken (Rampo), Bill (Mulga), Barry (Baz) and Nick assembled at Marngrook Oval for the start of this 100km ride in support of Ken & Norm’s efforts in raising funds for “Movember – Men’s health” research. It was good to see Norm there again, official start photographer (think you now have the annual job Norm!) and Lyn (Bill’s wife) sending the team off with cheery farewells. The morning proved clear and cool with a promise of warmer conditions later and a gentle Southerly breeze for the return trip – ideal cycling conditions.
7.25am – a stop and a chat at Eltham adding Lindsay and Bruce, picking up John (now an honorary OM:NI bloke) a half kilometer further the peloton were now on their way to be joined by Bernie on the trail at Ivanhoe, making up eight. A leisurely pace was the order of the day travelling along the Eastern Freeway, over the Chandler Highway and stopping for IMG_1050 - Copythe panoramic view of Melbourne at the top of the Yarra Boulevard hill. Here the group was apprehended by the local constabulary who were not only determined to take photographic evidence of the ride but also to offer encouragement and take on the bragging rights for the bigger moustache! – it wasn’t grey either!
After the brush with the law ( or should we say ‘the law with a brush!) came a refreshment stop at the NMIT (now called, we understand, Melbourne Polytechnic) Nursery Cafe for a welcome coffee break, before heading on along the Yarra City trail through Collingwood, Richmond and Burnley, along the north bank arriving at Princes Bridge around 11.30am. From here it was one of those unexpectedly expected “Rampo’s Magical Mystery Tours” which took the boys over to the Hamer Hall balcony on the South Side for a scenic appreciation of this great city of ours – thanks for the experience Ken, and John for the photo.
JB2 - Copy
The next move was up to Alexandra Avenue and well-earned BBQ on the banks of the Yarra …… it was now kilometer 50.03.
Bruce unfortunately had to leave the peloton here to return by train (thanks for the support mate) but the remaining seven started on the trek back at 12.45pm on a clear and sunny afternoon. So, along the South Bank across MacRobertson Bridge onto the Yarra Trail, a pleasant and uneventful section back to the Nursery Cafe for a refreshment stop after which Bernie left six riders to forge on.

Kilometer 100

Kilometer 100

The afternoon was warming up but remained pleasant with a gentle, and at times cooling,following breeze. Somehow the group got split up somewhere around Heidelberg but fortunately regrouped before the finishing post. A record freewheel down the Westerfolds hill was duly achieved (probably just to show off for John – but maybe more so due to hard tyres and a following wind!) – John and Lindz were farewelled at Eltham leaving Ken, Bill, Barry and Nick to (tired but happily) complete the 100km at Marngrook and a welcome committee of Lyn, Lynda and Bonnie (the dog).

A huge thanks boys for your support, your legs, humour and camaraderie,  making it a memorable day in the saddle for the benefit of Mens Health.

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Tour de Cafe.

The “Tour de Bay” ride inevitably ends up at the ‘Tour de Cafe’ at Mordialloc & these guys made it (again) – this time a free do-it-yourself tyre inflation service was available with lunch.
Early drizzle, not much sign of the sun (until the return train journey), warm’ish’ conditions, a southerly breeze most of the way back – all in all a good riding day.

Up the Creek – Down the Creek.

The OM:NIcycle boys certainly were “up the creek” last Thursday ride – in more ways than one!
Being Seniors Week it was decided to take advantage of the free transport and catch the train to Clifton Hill for a ride, much talked about, but never yet attempted by the group.
merri2 So a lovely but cool morning start saw Bill, Bruce, Lou, Lindsay & Nick head out from Clifton Hill Station towards the Merri Creek Trail which would take them north through Fitzroy Nth., Northcote, Coburg and eventually to the Metropolitan ring road at Campbelfield. After a bit of a confused start and a small diversion to Lindsay’s old stamping ground, the boys hit the first detour in the form of some guys having shut off an on ramp to the trail to carry out questionable alterations to the environment. merri7The trail could be clearly seen from above but it took some time to explore a possible way onto it – after that it was plain sailing (or more correctly riding), the day was improving and the scenery quite picturesque, showing lots of spring greenery. Plenty of interest on the way including the Northcote velodrome (no – the boys didn’t try it out), Russian Orthodox churches, a market garden or two with much envied soil (nothing like it in the Nillumbik Shire) and Coburg lake. It was quite amazing to see so much open country in the area and also so many tracks and trails, finished and unfinished – not too well signed resulting in many stops and discussions as to the best route to take. Needless to say everyone had an opinion, but eventually after about 20km they made it to tha ring road.

Next problem – to go back the same way or to ride up the ring road and down the Darebin Creek Trail – Darebin Creek won out with a promise of coffee at Bundoora Golf Club. 3 km along the MRR on the north side, and where is that turnoff for Darebin Creek trail??? OK, so a bit lost again – didn’t faze the boys as they were enjoying the day’s challenge – took to the main roads at High Street Thomastown and braving the Thursday roundabout traffic (thankfully with great success) turned on to Settlement road and finally discovered the “Lunch Box” for a well-earned coffee break – not bad coffee either.
Getting on to the Darebin Creek trail was still proving to be elusive but the way took them over some (surprisingly) open (and steep) parklands ending in a gentle downhill cruise through Bundoora Park and eventually finding the trail somewhere at the southern end of it. Great riding from here onwards, but of course a few more route decisions had to be thrashed out and Bruce just had to get lost one more time (we think just to prove he was better at it than the rest of the peloton!). It was actually a great ride, around 40km on a perfect cycling day, interesting and surprisingly scenic, considering the middle of a large city, and terminating at Alphington Station just in time to catch a Hustbridge train home.
Rated – four stars ****

Seniors Week Bike Ride 2014

Sunday 5th October saw the launch of 2014 Seniors Week at Federation Square – and the OM:NIcyclists put in another appearance this year sporting some new livery (see Tshirts).
IMG_0601 Bill, Ken and Nick caught the 8.59am train from Dimo and were joined at Eltham by Lindsay and Leon, disembarking at Jollimont on cool and clear morning to ride through the MCG grounds and Birrarung Marr to the Life Activities Clubs pavilion at Fed Sq. The Poker Bike Ride started here, along with free health checks, and the riders were given two playing cards to start. Along the 8km ride three other cards were picked up at various points, and the person with highest hand at the end was (obviously) the winner.
IMG_0610Well – it turned out that the guy who knew the least about the game of poker actually collected a “full house” of three kings and two threes which, to his great surprise, was Nick. Not only that – Lindsay followed up second with a flush (I think) – so the OM:NI boys took great delight in making a clean sweep for the day (is that a poker hand??) and received a couple of bike computers for their efforts.
It seems that the OM:NIcycle boys were well-remembered from last year for winning a $50 prize and for their participation in the event – so here’s to 2015 let’s see what we can turn up then!


The peloton gathers at the Eltham tennis courts at the hastily arranged time of 7.50 AM on a potentially rainy morning. This has arisen from the flurry of emails on the previous night. There is a need now to sort out the “spring/summer’ starting time.  Ken has cycled solo from the wilds of Diamond Creek, Bruce, Rob, Leon and Lindsay from the comfort of their beds at Eltham. Where is Brian? As usual at the hint of wetness this man is clearly still in bed.  How does he manage to have a shower if he dislikes water so much, does he get his head wet? The usual discussion – where to? Consensus is to aim for Tindals Rd via Warrandyte and stop on the way to show Lindsay and Leon the old Templestowe Hill Climb.

On the way and the rain is holding off. A bit chilly but a nice day really. Starting around the back way alongside the station parking lot, Bruce has warned the magpie near the school crossing is extremely active! Wish the crazy bird would finish nesting and let us get on with our rides in peace.

We stop at the old Hill Climb. Last used in 1987, Rob as the historian of the group informs that this, together with the Rob Roy Hill Climb was the only hill climb in Australia with a sealed track. We peddle up to the start of the big steep hill, approximately 45 degree steep and on a sharp curve. It’s amazing how those old cars managed to get up the slope.  Bruce brags that he once peddled down the hill twice and lived to tell the tale. When challenged to repeat this today, his response is that he is now a lot older and a tiny bit wiser, so no thanks. Kind of sad to look at this site, and image what it must have looked like in its heyday, guys in old sports cars climbing up the hill, spectators standing right at the side on the track, now it’s a decaying relic of a long past era, in fact in twenty years the grass will have overgrown the track totally and it will be no longer recognisable as a once vibrant venue and an integral part of Victorian motor sport.

Rain looks likely so the decision is taken to just go on to Pettys Orchard for coffee.  Seems like some members have a fondness for the apple crumble, watch that waistline!  It’s a long coffee break, we have plenty of time to kill. In that leisurely time we manage to solve about half the word’s problems, which is not bad going.

On the way back, Bruce leads the peloton up our own hill climb. A rocky steep climb up a long and winding hill, then we pedal down again the other side and meet Westerfold’s park.  Personally I think it’s a silly thing to do, ie just peddle up a hill for no reason but to peddle down the other side, but I guess that’s what the chicken thought as he crossed and recrossed the road!

On the way home the men’s shed group takes over and Leon leads us to various sites which may be suitable for the shed. One worrying aspect is that at one site the council has informed Leon there was a building which could maybe be used, but there was only a concrete slab there, maybe this will be a virtual mens’ shed. Maybe a word in council’s ear to updated their property register.  We stop at the Eltham scout hall to check out some land there.

Finally we reach the tennis courts at about 12 pm, the same time we normally get there, but we only travelled a quarter of the normal distance. How did that happen?  But this has been a great “boys on bikes’ ride.  We   had fun side tracking in different ways and lots of laughs and fun.

A Thursday ride on the Aqueduct Trail

Aqueduct Trail at Allendale Road

Aqueduct Trail at Allendale Road

Having the residue of a heavy cold I decided today to decline the company of the peloton and stay abed for most of the morning in an attempt to get rid of it – notwithstanding the 4*C temperature at 8.00am and the predicted rain – which, in keeping with general Thursday forecasts, didn’t eventuate – thankfully, I thought to have a lazy day.
By mid morning I was up and feeling quite agitated about the fact that I really should be doing something – and the legs were telling me, loudly, that they needed stretching. The day had warmed up somewhat and donning four top layers, in deference to a wheezy chest, I headed for the shed to break out the bike, which I thought had lain idle (like me) for long enough, and struck out for the track.
The riding conditions were pleasant and 10.30am on the track seemed to be dog walking time with many and varying breeds of pooches out on the leash exercising their owners for the day. The plan was to head through Eltham towards Heidelberg in the chance of meeting the boys on their way back from coffee – on the assumption that was their original destination. Turned out that I met half the peloton in the forms of Leon, Lyndsay & Brent just before the Eltham lower park – the rest of the group having opted to push on to Fairfield – or somewhere else?
After returning to Eltham with the three fellow Omnicyclists I left them after our usual chat at the station and decided to head up Main Road to Research and return to Dimo via the Aqueduct trail. This is a rather pleasant ride, especially as up to Research is a lengthy but fairly gentle upward slope which lets the legs know they are working, but not painfully so, and on reaching the top it’s pretty much a down hill run all the way. You get on that part of the trail about a quarter kilometer north of Eltham Little Theatre (a short but “challenging” incline) and from there an approx 4km ride gets you back to the Diamond Creek Trail at Allendale Road.

This section of the old aqueduct runs from Research to the old syphon on Allendale road Diamond Creek.

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The construction of what was known then as Watts’s River Water Supply commenced in August 1885 to bring an adequate supply of fresh water to the bourgeoning, but apparently polluted, Melbourne City. Less than six years later, in February 1891, it was in full operation and renamed as the Maroondah Aqueduct.

The bred brick bridge at Parsons Road

The red brick bridge at Parsons Road

Melbourne appointed a J. Hugh Davies, of the Railways Department, to locate a suitable catchment and cost of ducting a water supply to the city. He chose the Watts River at Healsville and commenced a survey to create an open channel through the hills delivering water to the Melbourne City holding reservoirs in Preston. This is presumably the origin of the suburb called Reservoir, situated just North of Preston.

Preston Reservoir circa 1910

Preston Reservoir circa 1910

William Davison, a Melbourne Supply engineer, designed and directed the project which was to become one of the three major water distribution facilities at the time, along with the O’Shannassy and Yan Yean projects. It was 66 km long of which 41 km were constructed of open brick and cement lined channels and pipes with a fall of 1 foot (30cm) per mile (1.6 km), 10 km of tunnels and 15 km of inverted siphons to carry the water over creeks and valleys.

Wrought iron pipes at Allendale Road - used for the syphons

Wrought iron pipes at Allendale Road – used for the siphons

Three of the tunnels were around 1.6 km each and the longest 1.9 km (or 97 chains) – a surveyor’s chain being 22 yards (or the length of a cricket wicket).

The aqueduct was designed to carry 50 million gallons per day (225 megalitres) but the capacity was only 28 million gallons on commission, so in 1908 its height was raised and by 1915 it was carrying 29 million gallons per day.

Interestingly, at the time, there were 900,000 residents of Melbourne and the cost of the project was 800,000 pounds – less than one pound per resident.

The syphon at Allendale Road which would have channeled the water over to St.Helena

The siphon at Allendale Road which would have channeled the water over to St.Helena

I think this rather remarkable piece of historical engineering is probably quite unknown to the greater part of the Melbourne population and it’s fortunate that some sections of the original 66Km remain intact – albeit some parts have been used for conveniently dumping rubbish by the lesser concerned citizens of our region. It’s also fascinating to reflect that it was actually completed in 6 years and all the work carried out without the assistance of modern-day machinery.
For anyone who would like further reading on the subject the following web site by Bob Padula contains much information, maps and photographs, old and new, of this project that most certainly played a major part in development of the great city that Melbourne has become today.

OMNICYCLE Ride – July 3

Omnicycle  circa.1884

Omnicycle circa.1884

Thursday arrived, and finally a reasonable forecast, with the 20-30km/hr Northerly winds left in the “small print”.

Bill made the running embarking Metro at Wattle Glen, followed by “Captain Nick”, BasOMNI, and rampaging Rampo at Diamond Creek. The usual passengers on this train couldn’t believe that 3 more fine OMNICYCLE Blokes could squeeze in at Eltham. Linz tucked his bike away with usual aplomb, leaving Brent and Lou to torment new embarkees at every Station with a well planned obstacle course to get past their bikes……..manly OMNI endeavours.

There was a muffled passenger collective cheer as 7 fine OMNICYCLE Blokes left the train at Jolimont.

By goodness it’s cold was the polite way to describe the weather when we alighted. Never mind, we travelled down the north bank of the Yarra, eventually past the Container Terminal, across the Maribrynong River, and against the collective will of our bikes, turned left instead of the usual right.

“Nick, where the hell are we going?”

“It’s OK boys, I have maps…..sort of”

After some smooth riding, and some unexplained detours, we finally made it to Williamstown, for a well deserved coffee at the Pier. Brent had the inspirational notion that we needed “internal warming” and escaped to the Fish & Chip shop next door sweating over the “warming oil in the cooker” for hot chips, while the rest of us huddled in the relative warmth next door waiting for our coffee. The coffee and chips arrived simultaneously, and both were consumed with elegance………and if you believe that, you need to come on an OmniCycle journey.

Off again following the coast around to Altona, where BasOMNI declared he had a “reasonable” lunch stop in mind. An imposing parade of Omnicycle up and down the main street followed……….could have easily been Hell’s Angels on any other day, and the waters were parted as we returned to Melissa’s for lunch. The staff obviously didn’t see our street tour, and were underwhelming…….but the food was adequate, and reasonably priced……..important attributes for we the mega-rich Omnicycle.

The collective after-lunch decision was to go on, under Captain Nick’s guidance……with his dubious maps. Lou was not happy with the width of the bike track when confronted with “restrictive barriers” on the track so attacked them with suitable Omnicycle vigour……….and unfortunately came off second best, as did other cyclists judging by the heavy scuff marks on the barriers. His never say die attitude to push on was applauded by all.

The bike track around this Altona area stays close to the coast, and an astounding maize of wetlands that would never be seen other than on a bike. It was really interesting to see the opulent side of the once derided Altona. The cycling had been easy with mainly flat tracks, but the final push back to Point Cook Road, and eventually “Aircraft Station” was in to the stiff northerly, and reminded us of our limitations.

A platform change at Southern Cross, and a train change at Jolimont had us heading home after a great ride exploring new cycling tracks. A big thank you to Captain Nick for organising this ride, proving there are few bounds well-organised Omni-cyclists are not capable of taking on.



“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without a thought on anything but the road you are taking”………..                                 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

And so it was that we set out from Marngrook oval, Bill, Barry and Ken heading for the meeting place by the tennis courts at Eltham. Unfortunately, Bas suffered a puncture and decided to return home only having one spare tube. A good roll up there in Eltham, Bruce,Brian, Rob, Brent, Lou and we decided to head for the Caf at NMIT Fairfield. Apart from a dispute between one rider and his front tyre, (no names – initial Rob) the ride was pleasant and brisk. The multi-tasking abilities of OMNICYCLE Blokes is amazing. As well as keeping the pedals turning, conversations were maintained and hopefully, we all returned home enlightened! The coffee was good and a rousing version of ‘Happy Birthday’ was sent over the airwaves to David in Darwin.He was mightily impressed with the rendition and asked if we sang together as a choir! The return journey was without incident and the Group asked if Bruce might lead us on a trip up the Merri Creek on 19th June. Long range forecast – 17deg,sunny with a few clouds!

OM:NI CYCLISTS 15 May 2014

What a day for a ride. 22 degrees, sun shining, so lets’ go.
Only a peleton of 6, Bruce, Lou, Brian, Brent, Bill, Rob. Ken was away on Cota business, Leon on hols in America(and sending fine photos back) Lindsay away, and Barry was there in spirit, sending encouraging emails. Nick off sick recovering from a growth being taken from his leg, but we arranged to meet him for coffee.
The health conscious seemed to favour apples crumbles and pies at Petty’s Orchard. Beats me how a huge helping of these items could be considered healthy, maybe they cause a healthy mind! Was a great ride up the trail, (led by Bruce in an extremely competent manner, with only a couple of dead ends) then time to check out the new trail from Tindals Rd to Eastlink, had fun riding alongside the bridge still to be completed, but this section is just about completed, only some bitumen to lay, and Brian’s son has promised to sort this out. This section will allow us to continue on to the Eastlink trail, and we could do a big circuit going back to Heidelberg and joining the Yarra Trail and back to Eltham/Diamond Creek.
A rough offroad ride down Springvale Rd and back onto the Warrandyte trail, then a spring to Petty’s for coffee and cake. Yum, yum. Good coffee and better cake. Also good company because Nick did appear, having coming in via road. Good deep and meaningful conversation also, we reckoned if there was an OM:NI party, the country would be in great shape. Back home to Eltham and Diamond Creek, and a fun ride.