2013-01-31 -37 145
A meadow about Kinglake.
I checked the hashes for the day at about 3 o'clock on my lunch break and decided to ride to this one when i got home from work, my plan was to leave at 5 and arrive at 7:30. I posted on this page that I would be doing the hash and with in thirty seconds I saw lightning and it started raining.
I got home from work later than I had planned and there was a parcel waiting for me so I of course had to open it and have a look at my new cycling shoes. I didn't end up leaving my house til 6 and there was a big storm forecast so I wimped out on the 60k ride to the hash and just rode to Westgarth station and caught the train to Hurstbridge. Two days I had bought a 70s/80s steel frame road bike from a guy on the side of the road with a front yard full of junk and bikes in various states of disrepair. I hadn't given the bike a proper ride yet so even though I had a much more appropriate bike for the trip i decided to take my new toy. By the time i got to the station which is only about 5km from my house I was completely drenched and I had found out that the brakes on this bike didn't work all that well in the rain. The train arrived at Diamond Creek on time but after a few minutes there was an announcement "As you may have noticed we've been waiting here a while, this is due to a train ahead having some problems, we'll be moving again soon" It was only 6k to Hurstbridge which I would have ridden if I'd know soon meant half an hour. When I arrived at Hurstbridge there was an announcement saying buses would be replacing trains for the rest of the evening, I was quite annoyed by this as the replacement buses won't take bikes so I would have to ride all the way home.
I started my ride to Kinglake from Hurstbridge at 7:40, it wasn't raining at all as the storm was mostly missing the norther suburbs. As i rode up toward Kinglake there was steam rising from the road forming tiny clouds, some less than a metre in diameter but thick enough to distinguish them. I've ridden through fog before but seeing small distinct clouds right next to me and passing in and out of a cloud in a second or less seemed surreal. Rain came and went as i climbed up to Kinglake but it was perfectly still.
As I reached Kinglake it went from light and thin patchy fog to pitch black with thick fog and heavy rain within minutes. The turn off for the hash was about halfway between Kinglake and Kinglake West in a village called Pheasant Creek. I turned off the main road for a very slow 2km on dirt roads. Riding along I was focussing so hard on making out the rough gravel road immediately in front of me that i didn't notice a cow on the road until I was right next to it. I saw something out of the corner of my eye and there it was standing perfectly still about 20cm from me. It took me a little while to process what it was and i almost fell off my bike out of pure shock.
I made it to the gate of the property that the hash was in, hid my bike behind a tree, jumped fence and made it to the hash. Completely drenched and quite cold i took a quick photo and left. Hash reached at 10pm. At this point i realised even if the trains were running instead of buses i was going to miss the last one and ride all the way home anyway.
Along the dirt road back to the main road I found a kangaroo that seemed to want to be my friend or at least make sure I got home safely. It was stopped in the middle of the road infront of me so I slowed down almost to a complete stop until it hopped away down the road. 20 metres later it was waiting for me again so i slowed down and it hopped away. This repeated 5 or 6 times until finally it hopped straight towards be instead of away and I swerved to avoid it.
As I rode back into Pheasant Creek the rain got much heavier and huge gusts of winds picked up making it impossible to see the ground in front of me or even my own hand and very hard to stay upright on the bike. The fog, wind, rain and poor brakes on my bike meant there was no way I could ride down the steep Kinglake descent to Hurstbridge alive, I decided my only options were to hitch hike or spend the night in a bus shelter so i pulled into the bus shelter. Knowing my chances of finding a car on a quiet country road at 11pm with enough room for a bike were slim I texted my housemate Ed to let him know i was hitch hiking and/or sleeping in a bus shelter but it was ok because I reached the hash. I waited at the bus shelter for about 20 minutes and stuck my thumb out to about 10 cars but none of them stopped and most of them were too small anyway.
The rain and wind died down so I started riding towards Whittlesea and then on to Melbourne as i thought it was the safer more gradual descent home. The relief from the storm lasted about thirty seconds but I kept riding anyway at a very slow pace, stopping whenever a car passed in either direction to stick out my thumb. In Kinglake West a fairly small four wheel drive pulled over and offered me a lift. I hesitated as there were three people in the car and i wasn't sure if we'd fit but we did. We exchanged pleasantries, the three of them were teachers on the way home from a school camp, as I explained geohashing to them it was obvious they thought I was mad.
The parallels to Felix's Noojee hash occurred to me 2009-08-23 -37 146 when I found out there were replacement buses. While my journey wasn't quite as epic, I kept thinking about it getting stuck on a mountain (well, big hill) Ill prepared for the conditions and hitchhiking home. When I saw a deer on the road I was quite thankful that our stories differed and that my driver slowed down and waited for it to walk off the road instead of getting out to shoot it.
I was dropped off at Ringwood station 20 minutes after the last train so I went to Maccas as I hadn't had dinner yet and headed off on an uneventful ride home to Brunswick. I arrived home at 1:45am after a quick stop in Fitzroy at 1:30 to check the new coordinates.
Edit 24/02/2013: I forgot to mention that my driver spoke a lot like Ringo Starr. There was no Liverpool accent but his mannerisms, sentence structure and pauses felt like he was narrating an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine.
My bicycle route is divided into three sections, home to the station which is 4km.
Hurstbridge station to Kinglake West via the Hash http://goo.gl/maps/V0viv
and ringwood to home http://goo.gl/maps/MdPpF total 70km.
| Lachlan earned the Drowned Rat Geohash Achievement
| Lachlan earned the Thumbs Up Geohash Honorable Mention
| Lachie earned the Bicycle geohash achievement