So, the new dates for the Melburn-Roobaix have been announced, and that's pretty rad. It's one of the funnest ways to spend a day in Melbourne, and certainly I understand why people fly into town for it. What better way to explore a city than by biking through it's dodgy underbelly, through lanes meant for nightwatchmen, with a thousand of your new mates? That's an experience that they don't give you on Contiki tours.
The Roobaix, of course, is all about the cobbles, due to the comparison with its namesake, the Paris-Roubaix. If you're reading this, chances are pretty good that you already know what the deal is. The Paris-Roubaix, however, is only one of five of the cycling monuments. The four others are criminally overlooked in Melbourne cycling, and I'm here today to rectify this. I hereby present to you Brendan's Guide To The Melbourne Monuments.
1. Melbourne - San Remo. Based roughly on the Milan-San Remo, which is famous for being a really, really long way, this journey from Federation Square to the San Remo Caravan Park is a straightforward ride from the city to the country, passing through such suburban wonderlands as Emerald and Narre Warren. Complicating matters is the rule stating that this ride may only take place when a certain brand of pasta sauce is on special at Coles, and the additional rule stating that riders must procure, on their journey, all the ingredients to make a traditional Spaghetti Napolitana.
2. The Tour of Flinders. Inspired by the Tour of Flanders, this is a far shorter race than the MSR, but by no means is it any less difficult. Riders are simply asked to don traditional costumes (either this or this) and attempt to board a 5.30pm Hurstbridge train at Flinders Street Station on a Friday night - with their bike. Good luck with that, suckers.
3. Melburn-Roobaix. Hey, I think there's a website for this.
4. Liege. Loosely echoing the Liege-Bastogne-Liege, this ride begins and ends at the Gasometer Hotel, mostly because there's a guy called Liege who works there. At the Gasometer participants will be asked to indulge in one of the establishment's fine mock meat treats - I recommend the "ribs". They will then cycle furiously to a number of the city's other fine mock meat locations, at each point indulgine further in a festival of soy and processed gluten. A parma at the East Brunswick Club... The lemon chicken at Enlightened Cuisine... Pies and Pasties from La Panella... The first to return to the Gaso will take the prize, but upon their return the toilets will be locked, and prizes will only be awarded if their bowels hold out.
5. Finally, the race of the falling leaves. The Gyro di Lombards, which heard of the Giro di Lombardia once, takes place in mid-Autumn. Participants will be asked to decorate their bikes with streamers, noisemakers, crepe paper and all sorts of other shit, in honour of the party supplies store the race was named after. They will then be asked to ride their bikes to a variety of food vans selling Doner Kebabs in such esteemed suburbs as Cambellfield, Broadmeadows and Dallas. Their aim at each of these vans is to purchase and eat a felafel sandwich without getting garlic sauce all over their decorated bicycles. Oh, and also to not get bashed.
And that's it. Start training now! I expect to see design tech features in Cycling News, outlining the imaginary concepts frame designers are implementing to enhance the cushion ability of their frames over Melbourne's tram tracks. I expect to see photos of teams doing reconnaisance at Northcote Plaza. And most of all, I expect to see folks riding their bikes out in the suburbs, dodging abuse, eggs, and occasional doorings.