Spring in Melbourne is a cruel temptress. She waves the glory of a beautiful day in your face and then slaps you back into the depths of drizzle. Summer; now that’s a relationship we can (hopefully) bank on and it’s just around the corner. It is summer when we can finally dust the cobwebs off our poor, neglected bicycles. For those of you who have been giving eyes to the Melbourne rent-a-bike scheme or even own your own two-wheeled beauty, it’s time to don your best riding pants and check out some of the terrific bike tracks Melbourne has to offer.
The Merri Creek Trail
The Merri Creek Trail is surprising in its vastness. The path commences at Dights Falls and then winds its way following the creek to the Western Ring Road Trail. Parklands stretch as far as the eye can see and as you progress you might come across a Russian church (complete with golden domes), a velodrome, the Coburg Lake and a golf course. It’s an eclectic collection added to by CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies) where you could stop for a sustainable bite or some ethical bike maintenance. Merri Creek and surrounds are unusually green this year, so you may be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into Pleasantville – complete with kids selling lemonade.
Not technically a bike path because it’s still on a shared road with cars, Canning Street is a Godsend for commuters travelling to the CBD from the north. Starting at Park Street and ending at the Carlton Gardens, the road is broken up with pylons to stop an overflow of car traffic from Nicholson Street. You might feel a bit like you’re part of the Tour De Canning Street during peak hour, but the sense of camaraderie among cyclists, the tree-lined streets and the heritage listed houses bunched up against one another really make for a great start to the day. You might even get a parakeet or two flying overhead. Early morning riders will get the added treat of watching hot air balloons begin their ascent over Melbourne.
Capital City Trail
The blockbuster of Melbourne trails, this is the one you take your cousins from Patchewollok along on their annual visit. Bicycle Victoria suggests you tackle it in stages. The three parts of this epic trilogy, without getting too overdramatic, are: along the Yarra (starting at Federation Square and ending at Abbotsford Convent); over to the Zoo (starting at Abbotsford Convent and ending at the Melbourne Zoo); and the more city-based Docklands part of the trek (starting at the Zoo and ending at the Docklands). Any of these sections provides a satisfying cycle for people just starting out, and perhaps those who want to challenge themselves may wish to take a day and tackle the whole thing.
Forrest Mountain Bike Trails
For those of you reading through this list and thinking ‘it all sounds a little bit easy’, it might be worth taking your two-wheeled toy out of the city. Forrest is located about a two-hour drive west of Melbourne, just north of Apollo Bay in the Otway Rainforest. The trails here are more for the mountain-bike inclined but start at easy enough difficulty levels. One of the most beautiful, greenest and sparsely populated places in the Victoria is certainly not a bad place to begin a foray into mountain biking.
The Bay Trail
It wouldn’t be summer without the well-oiled bodies audibly crackling along Melbourne’s beaches, so why not take the Bay Trail? Whizz past rollerbladers and hungover backpackers and make your way along Port Phillip Bay, sun bouncing off the water. This trail actually spans 69km from Altona Meadows to Seaford but the less committed among you might wish to hop on around Elwood and cycle to Ricketts Point. There are gaps in the trail but keep your eye out for improvements because Port Phillip Council have recently pledged approximately half a million dollars over three years to renovate the part of the trail that falls in their municipality.
Of course, this list is but a toe in the ocean of what is available to cyclists in Melbourne. Check out Bicycle Victoria for more information on trails both in the city and country.