It's been a few years since I've indulged in the Tour de Breakfast on Ride2Work day. In the last couple of years I've either been off the bike or basically just plan disorganised, but this year was going to be different. This year there would be a plan, a route, and a strategy.
The official Ride2Work website doesn't list all of the community breakfasts any more…are they trying to discourage serial breakfasters perhaps? So, I needed to find the location of as may of this year's events as possible. Luckily I it turns out that foodie on a bike had already done the hard work for me.
Looking at the list, it seemed like a north-south line through the inner eastern suburbs could pick up at goodly number of breakfasts. Six looked very do-able, and eight or nine a distinct possibility.
So I plotted a route, more or less:
In the interests of timely arrival at work, I decided to skip Northcote Aquatic and Recreation Centre and Velo Cycles. Maybe next year, hmm?
So my starting point would be Boroondara's breakfast, which fortunately also appeared to have one of the earliest opening times at 6.30am.
The aim would be to pick up four in the north-east-ish area, two in the city, and finish off with two south of the River for a total of eight.
I settled on a handful of guidelines to keep me moving through the 'checkpoints' quickly:
- pace yourself: eat or drink one item at each breakfast.
- don't queue: forget trying to get coffee at the big inner-city events, just grab and go.
- eat/drink Audax-style: helmet on, glove(s) off, stay outside, don't sit down.
- collect loot: but only if it's shoved into your hands.
And here's how it turned out:
Breakfast 1: Main Yarra Trail near Chandler Hwy (Boroondara)
On the way to the first stop, I had an opportunity to sample some recent improvements on the Main Yarra Trail near the Eastern Freeway, which look pretty good.
I arrived a bit after opening, but things didn't seem to be humming here yet. Heaps of egg and bacon rolls being turned out (pass, at this time of the day) but fruity buns, scones, and bananas all sitting aside in trays not being handed out. Looking at the quantity of uneaten greasy rolls already prepared, I'm guessing they were physically pulling riders off the trail and force feeding them by closing time.
Overheard: police officer doing bike frame engraving to his mate, "Oh yeah, make sure you always ask if it's carbon fibre."
Breakfast: Coffee, a bit on the hot side.
Breakfast 2: Merri Creek Trail at the end of the St Georges Road bike path (Darebin)
On the way to this one I got reminded why "Heidelberg Road" is a swear word for Melbourne cyclists.
There was more of a party atmosphere here, with a couple of jaunty musicians (c'mon who can resist a piano accordion?) and plenty of food.
Breakfast: Sticky fruit bun (yum)
Breakfast 3: Fitzroy Pool (Yarra)
Cutting through Edinburgh Gardens, I barely had time to lick the sticky glaze from my fingers from the previous event before I was at the small breakfast beside the Fitzroy Pool.
Overheard: the barista calling the Mayor of Yarra "Lady Mayoress"—pretty sure that's not actually her title.
Breakfast: just a coffee here because I was looking forward to bakery goods at…
Breakfast 4: Abbotsford Convent
Possibly the prettiest stop on the route, with excellent food selections including vegan bircher muesli and a very fruity fruit cake. Obligatory coffee cart, of course. A very civilised setup, with chairs and tables set out for al fresco breakfasting—particularly fresco this morning!
Overheard: "It's not quite drive-thru but…"
Breakfast: Fruit cake. Oh go on, have another chunk. Don't mind if I do.
Breakfast 5: City Square (Melbourne)
Quite pleasant inner urban riding to get here, that is until coming down Macarthur and into Collins. Was this a special effort for Ride2Work or is Collins St always this crowded and shitty to ride on in the morning?
This event looked "official". And crowded. There's no joy in hanging around when it's like this.
Overheard: Mayor Doyle proclaiming that we should share the road. Thanks for the tip, Bob.
Loot: A reflective ankle strap (because this cycling caper is so, y'know, dangerous and all)
Breakfast 6: Docklands
Collins St was empty of bikes after Swanston, but the Docklands breakfast was another crowded corporate display. Forget trying to get your free coffee here.
Breakfast: A weird fruit bun thing from one of those bakery chains.
Loot: Tube of sunscreen (could be handy).
Breakfast 7: South Melbourne Market
Finally crossed the River. By now it was approaching closing time and the event at South Melbourne Market had probably been more fun earlier. A bloke here just about demanded that I "register" before I could get a token for a coffee, so I skipped that but overall the spread looked pretty good.
Breakfast 8: Albert Park Beach (Port Phillip)
I was running short on time but I wasn't going to drop the last checkpoint of the morning, so swung right towards the beach, and what a picture postcard Kerferd Rd is under blue skies and calm conditions—exactly the conditions we didn't have today, having been windy and overcast all morning. As it was pretty much right on closing time this event just looked cold and desolate, but being on Beaconsfield Parade I'm guessing it had been jumping an hour or so earlier.
Breakfast: Another coffee? Sure, why not?
Loot: Does a TravelSmart Map actually count as loot?
Best eats: Fruit cake at Abbotsford, closely followed by the fruity bun at Darebin.
Best coffee: The dude at Fitzroy Pool, although his service was slow he seemed to know his beans.
Best atmosphere: Darebin (and not just for the accordion, but it helped!)
Best loot: Not awarded—didn't see or get anything noteworthy.
Finally, a big thanks to all of the community breakfast organisers and workers. Great stuff you guys.