A bit about me: I don’t drive. Actually, I can’t drive. (Fellow adult L-platers: we’re here. We exist. We are who we are.) Here’s the problem though – I actually need to go a lot of places. Especially now I’m getting back into the office, and a commute beyond my usual bedroom-bathroom-bedroom morning routine beckons.
A few months ago, I needed to go somewhere but my itty-bitty legs were tired from all the clomping around I’d been doing to get from A to B. So I remember thinking: “Gee, I sure do wish I could get around town in an efficient, stylish and cost-effective way that suits my dynamic inner-city lifestyle”. Or something like that.
That’s why, for a couple of months, I’ve been getting around via Bosch’s eBike Systems and Melbourne-based eBike subscription service Lug & Carrie, zipping around town on a swish new eBike. It’s a Tern HSD eCity bike, which is powered by a Bosch battery, and I’ve been having a blast with it.
So I’ve put together a guide to some of my favourite places in town, all within a scenic bike ride of one another, to show off what this thing can do.
Croissant and a coffee at Monforte
I chose this as destination numero uno for a few reasons. Firstly, I think Monforte makes the best croissants in Melbourne right now (but everything on the menu is excellent – viennoiserie alchemy exists, and it’s happening in Carlton North). Secondly, if you don’t get to Monforte early (and I mean early), they will sell out. Of everything. So start your morning here, get a honey and sea salt croissant and a filter coffee, plonk yourself on the nature strip, then whiz up the Canning Street cycleway and onto Nicholson Street to spot two.
Plants and another coffee at Ceres
I’ve been an adult for a few years now, and I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. Case in point: I bought a snake plant over a year ago. Old me would not have kept it alive. New me? I keep that thing barely alive. I’m damn proud of that. And misery loves company, right? So I like to go to Ceres, in Brunswick East, whenever I need a new plant or feel like I need to get my life together. These two things intersect often. It’s an urban farm, grocery, cafe, plant shop and sustainability centre – and let me tell you, you feel pretty darn smug and on-brand rocking up here on an eBike. Instant cool points.
Ride along the Merri Creek Trail
Ceres is also one of the entry points to the Merri Creek Trail: one of Melbourne’s best cycle paths. It starts all the way up in Fawkner and follows Merri Creek for 19 kilometres through the northern suburbs before hitting the Yarra. It’s trails like this where the eCity bike really shines: without your legs working so hard, you’ve got more freedom to enjoy the scenery around you. You get the vantage points afforded by cycling, combined with a vehicle’s power and ease of use.
Lunch stop: Just Falafs
Turn off the trail when you hit Rushall train station, and head over to Fitzroy North via Edinburgh Gardens. Park and lock up your bike (which comes with an ear-splitting alarm to deter would-be thieves) then head to Just Falafs for lunch. I’m a big falafel guy. Love the stuff. And Just Falafs is right up there with the best of ‘em.
Grab a book at Brunswick Street Bookstore
Lug & Carrie can kit out your eCity bike with clever attachments. You can add everything from saddlebags to spacious kids seating to your bike’s subscription (and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, either). I kept things basic, opting for an open-ended front rack that comes fitted-out with bungee cords. I usually keep a small wooden crate attached to the rack: the perfect size for grocery bags, wine bottles and some records (typically all quite hard to transport on a regular bike). Anyway, my point is that shopping trips with this bike are a piece of cake.
Brunswick Street Bookstore is one of my favourite bookshops. It has all of the blockbuster new releases you’d expect, but there’s also great curation, the shelves are well-arranged and there are always interesting finds there. Pick up a book, pop it on the bike, then ride down Brunswick Street to your next destination.
Black Cat (vino and a read)
Hand on my heart, Black Cat is my favourite place in Melbourne. It opened back in 1982, when Fitzroy was a very different place to what it is today. I love how laid-back it is. I love that all kinds of people congregate here. I love that, depending on the night, it’s just as likely to be crammed with folks whipping up an impromptu d-floor as it is to have a handful of people catching up over a quiet drink.
Come here in the early arvo, before things get hectic, and find a spot on one of the comfy old couches (which look like they’ve been here since day one). Order a drink – there’s coffee and booze – and get started on your new book. If you’re here on a sunny day, when light spills in through the huge windows, there’s no better place to read in Melbourne.
Dinner at the Great Northern
By the time you’ve gotten through a few chapters, it will be time for dinner. Cycle from Brunswick Street over to the edge of Carlton Gardens, where the Canning Street cycleway starts. Ride up into Carlton North until you hit Monforte, where our day started, and park your bike at the rack outside the Great Northern Hotel. Get a spot in the beer garden if you can, order a drink and get stuck into some classic pub grub.
I actually tried this whole ride out, to make sure it worked. And it was a hoot. The eCity bike is fantastic for a day out like this. But what surprised me most is how much this bike has improved my everyday life. I know what you’re thinking. An eBike? In a city as flat as Melbourne? Is that really necessary? Fair enough. But trust me, you think it won’t make a difference – until it does. Some mornings, hoofed up on caffeine, I’d zoom to work (which is much better than Zoom to work) with minimal e-assistance. Other times, after a long day’s work filled with colleague small talk (I’m still building those chit-chat muscles back), I’d notch it up to the highest setting and blissfully breeze my way back home.
Suffice to say, I think I’m going to put off getting my Ps. Again. What’s another year in the grand scheme of things?
Try out this path for yourself with Lug & Carries, Electric Bicycle Subscriptions
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Bosch eBike Systems. For more itinerary inspiration, Bosch eBike Systems are offering guided eBike tours around Melbourne between May 15 and June 5. See here to book.