A little over a week ago I was fighting manfully with a pile of huge boxes in Bangkok airport. As I struggled to get them through the thick crowds of people my fellow travellers (Marysia and Lisa) could not help but laugh at our situation. If the classical streaker’s defense is “It seemed like a good idea at the time”, then I guess we could all plead the same argument. In the bike shop at Kunming it was just so tempting to lash out and buy ourselves new bikes – after all they did look good and the price was just too low to resist.
Iin the airport, the stark reality of how we were going to get them back to Australia started to set in. We not only had the difficult job of actually getting them safely to the check in counter, but were worried that we could hit with a HUGE excess baggage charge. Fortunately for us, everything did go smoothly. We did manage to get them to the counter and the staff at Thai Airlines handled them for us free of charge.
After all that hard work I had been keen to see whether it was all worth while. Today was destined to be the day that I would get to try out the brand new HASA on the Warburton Trail. I had reassembled the bike in my living room, tightening and adjusting everything to the best of my limited ability. I had to admit that it certainly looked pretty good. With its big knobby tyres and fancy wheels I was confident that the trail would no longer hold any fear for me. I had even fitted a large rear rack and pannier (just to carry essential items in.)
At Mt Evelyn I unpacked the HASA and looked around for fellow riders. Although there was no sign of Crasher Lewis I was pleased that a few others were ready and waiting. I proudly showed them the new bike before racing off down the hill. For same reason Lex and Little John seemed determined to set an early speed record by immediately acclereating to over 40 kph. Since this was my first ride on this bike, I was a little nervous as to whether I had checked out everything properly. Nevertheless, I set off in furious pursuit.
I soon had to admit that the ride on the wide tyres was certainly much more comfortable than that provided by the narrow wheels of the red rattler. It was fun to feel the frontsuspension soaking up some of those wicked bumps that usually shake me to the bones. Although the higher rolling resistance meant that I had to work a little harder, it did feel good to be able to throw the bike about without worrying about pinch flats and bent wheels.
The high pace was maintained all the way to Woori Yallock, but did slacken off a little as we picked up some slower riders. With favourable weather it felt good to be back on the trail, even if so many of my memories were still connected to our recent China Ride. At least I knew that every time I was out on the HASA it would constitute an ongoing reminder of the great time we had experienced.
At Milgrove, some of the group stopped at the coffee shop, while the more competitive riders headed on up the hill to Warburton. This section seems to have become the new Settlement Rd, with riders trying to see just how fast they can reach the top. As our speed increased to over 30 kph I could only hope that we would not meet any pram pushers or dog walkers coming down the other way.
On the downhill section it was a good feeling to be able to bounce straight over the corrugations in the asphalt without a worry in the world. I was almosttempted to have a go at El Capitan, but the deep puddle of surface water at the bottom changed my mind. Maybe in the finer weather……..
After our coffee break, it was back to the bikes again for the return. The pace was again brisk back to Woori Yallock and then furious up the hills to Wandin and Mt Evelyn. With sweat dripping from my face I crested the final hill at the Mt Evelyn car park at 4.40 pm – about 20 mins ahead of schedule. It really had been a solid workout, but the HASA had passed with flying colours. I could safely now assume that it was $140 well spent.