Cycling in Australia, Day 1

Heavy breakfast. Yep, I managed at least this as I left hill city Melby, better known as Melbourne.

All packed and ready to go,

Cycling in australia

The stand gave up..

This really happens every (exactly two) times!! Anyway this time time I didn’t rush to get it replaced, I decided to just wing it on the road.

Then from there on stuff was simpler… Rode/walked to the Greensborough station and took a train for Flinder’s street. My train for Bendigo was from Southern Cross Station.

Oh yea and did I tell you – as I started riding my bike to the station… All of a sudden the chain jammed. I look down and the bright-orange-good-luck-type scarf tied on the bike, got caught in the chain and jammed it! What a start, but Indian culture prepares me for everything. Seeing the rip in the scarf I immediately thought “Shukan thayaa” meaning its auspicious. Like a bird shitting. ๐Ÿ˜€

I think that in our culture there is so much room for ambiguity – it is a good idea to see everything in our path as a support, embrace it & move forward.

Oh yea and skip the good luck scarf thingies for your bike ๐Ÿ˜‰

Train ride is fairly sorted in Melbourne. Smooth ride, playing #PokemonGo at times.

Cycling in australia & playing PokemonGo

Finding the exact platform & train for Bendigo was a bit confusing, but got someone to help. ๐Ÿ™‚

I was using the elevators to move between platforms but as it turned out the elevator for my platform was spoilt and the train was departing in 6 minutes. !! Oh yea, more drama.

Time to try the escalator with my 30 kg package – yea it is 15kg EnduroBird (I am trying some names for my cycle. No this name isn’t final, so expect changes) + 15 kg luggage. The escalator turned out OK, but I was freaked.

Finally boarded the train with 4 mins to go.

Melbourne trains & Cycle carriage: So basically the local city trains are usually empty and one can take their cycle in it for free. The Vline trains for longer distance like Melb to Bendigo have some slots for cycles. So while it is free we can take it only if there is space on the train. So as fate would have it,

Obviously one slot was full with two prams

And the second slot already had another cycle tourer’s bike and luggage. Ahem, yep another cycle tourer. So I was in a very Indian style planning to jam my bike in there somehow. But the Australian cylist came up and very helpfully rearranged everything so both our gears fit in well. I wondered about how rare this is that two cycle tourers in non peak season land up in the same Aussie Vline coach! So I made a new friend then. Aussies are friendly folks, one of the warmest I have met. ๐Ÿ™‚

And by the time all this was sorted the train was already off. You should know that this being Oz land – there isn’t any official necessarily around who can help. And anyway I came 4 mins before the train was departing so too late to track an official down.

All wells that’s ends well -Bendigo!

Cycling in Australia - Bendigo
Lovely feel of the city. Would be nice to check it out a bit. If you are around Melbourne drop in here for couple of days.

Wow, expected a small town. But this is a Nice small town. Worth visiting in its own right! Lots to see, lot of cycle lanes, many cafes, lovely park, vintage tram ride and so many camping stores. Might return, let’s see.

A lot of cyclists riding near Bendigo – were happy to see me. Chatted here and there. ๐Ÿ™‚

Should’ve been a simple 15 km to my camping/stay destination –Atisha Buddhist Centre.

But wasn’t entirely.

Firstly something was funny with my gear – front gear were not shifting properly. (This got sorted later when I went on a short ride)

Secondly, the G map route I took, led to a small dirt short cut – probably a path through other properties onto this one. There are many such in Australian countryside. But now clearly it had been fenced so I couldn’t go through. Yikes! Darkness was falling and I was just 2 km from the place but somewhere fairly random… So had to backtrack just a km or so to approach the place via the main road. Thankfully it was flat and I managed a good pace even at the weird gear combo. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It is at these last minute moments and especially when it gets dark that I freak out a bit. But the important thing is to keep some chanting going on and as Sadhguru says, Shiva Shambho. Let life become a pilgrimage – no complains just live. So while I set a quick pace, the situation was OK too.

And as it turned out, the folks at the centre were having a rare get together at the centre. And some food was cooked – vegetarian, wholesome stuff. So I was welcomed and we partook in the meal. I found myself talking while gobbling food and feeling pretty excited…. Not sure what a scene that may have cut. These foreigners tend to have much more refined table manners. ;D

There was one guy from England, other three were from Australia – Sydney, Melbourne and nearby Bendigo. We chatted about different things like India – caste system/cooking/future, karmic theory, Buddhism, Tibet and so on.

It was fun. In the dark I could make out an aesthetically built centre.

A small pond at the nearby monastery
Buddhist prayer wheels
Behind the Buddha – my campsite.
Steve cutting some trees. I have never seen anyone do this so I was clicking pics… ๐Ÿ˜€

The camping itself was a challenge – as it was so dark, a bit tough to set camp. But Steve actually got his car around and put on headlights so I could see better. As he was showing me around I happened to notice the amazing night sky and for the first time I spotted the Milky Way bands. I wasn’t sure about those whitey wisp, but he confirmed it. Finally with the crescent moon peeping into the tent I made to sleep.

Steve also got me a spare blanket because well *ahem* there were concerns that my camping gear may not be up to mark for the 5C temperature that was expected that night. I had planned for at least 10C+ temps this trip – in my defense it is Spring I was planning for not Winter! So with a backup blanket tucked I went off to sleep. And as I type this, it is 5 AM, I haven’t needed the blanket. It was chilly especially post 12AM but it was a good experience especially because it kept me uncomfortable enough to remain more aware. Making it spiritual.

Thanks the noisy insects and night life in general. I could also sense the planet under me snoozing away… Err or doing what it does best. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have not really sat down and thought about the focus of this trip. And I probably won’t. Everything in my life is done towards my spiritual journey so that is always the point. So as you can see when things get tricky, chanting through it works for me. An uncomfortable camping experience that enhances awareness also works.

The thing with spirituality is that lot of people often have very comfortable or pleasant ideas about it. But it is important to really look into what spirituality means. And then figure out what would be ‘spiritual’ from then on.

So anyway this is a good start to my trip, many small issues but let’s see how I work with it.