A Psycholist Report to Ivor Spillet, Tim Graham and Tricia Ho
by Rommel Pascual – 24 May 2003
It’s been two-weeks since I last hopped on the bike. Today, Bike North has organised a ride called ‘Pie In The Sky’, a 38km ride starting from Hornsby through to the Old Pacific Highway and to a pie shop called ‘Pie In The Sky’.
I woke up at 4:18am, perhaps my brain is saying that I did not set the alarm right. I’m to catch a 6:34am train from Rooty Hill to get into the 7:36am train at Strathfield to make the 8:00am start at Hornsby. I’ve reset the alarm to 5:15am and went back to bed. At 5:14:30am I got up and turned off the alarm before it could make a sound. (I’m not making this up).
As I went through an equipment check, the first snag hits – the red backlight has been left ON and the battery is spent. The battery is also a special one that is found only in the back street of Bangalore, India – read: it’s even more useless than a reflector. So I nicked Jeanne’s light, clipped it on the helmet, and off to Rooty Hill station.
The second snag hits, there are track works. The whole Western Line is being replaced by bus. I asked the bus driver if he will take me and the bike. He nodded. I’d soon realise that the half hour train ride to Strathfield will now take 2 ½ hours by bus. Then the driver announced in a British accent, “Not to alarm anyone but I’ve never driven this route before so if anyone can direct me to the next station …” I thought of directing him straight to the Hornsby Station.
It’s 7:02am and we are still in Tonggabie, a thousand stations away from Hornsby. I decided to get off and re-think the options. Then, did something that no self-respecting cyclist would do – phoned for a cab.
Me: “I’m in Wentworth Ave at the Tonggabie Station.”
Operator: “How many passengers sir?”
Me: “Just me and a bike.”
Operator: “What’s your name sir? – For our reference”
Me: “Err… my name … Ivor … Ivor Graham”
I thought I’ll take the cab just a tad short of the starting line, cycle the rest of the way and pretend that I cycled to Hornsby. Sounds good, except that it’s now 7:20am and still no sign of the cab – even if the driver got his license from Baghdad and has the Super V8 of Peter Brooke, there is no way he can get to Hornsby by 8:00am. That’s when I decided to vanish from the designated pick-up point leaving the name of Ivor Graham in mud.
I started heading home, feeling beaten. It is still a good 12kms ride to go home, enough to work out a sweat, I thought. However, as I approach Seven Hills, it occurred to me that in the cycle bag is a surgical kit, half the tools in the garage, scuba gears, fishing rods, Rambo’s hunting knife, etc. – I’m ready for most emergencies on the road and it’s not as if I never rode solo before (Actually I haven’t).
Anyway, I’ve been always meaning to go to Eastwood (about 50km return) to buy a Baby Vox CD for Jessica and to find out if that Korean Restaurant caters to vegetarians. I also wanted to time how fast I could get to Macquarie University. I’ll start my Post Graduates in July and intend to cycle for Saturday classes. There’s the motivation and off I went, swerved my bike towards the M2 Motorway.
I reached Macquarie University from Tonggabie in under an hour. Great – I thought, and for as long as Linh and Kosh wouldn’t mind seating next to a sweaty me, I won’t even have to shower before class.
By 8:30am – I’m in Eastwood, the Korean CD Store opens at 9:30am. I spent the time at the Homer’s Café where I had a Blueberry Bagel and a flat white. Time to check the Gregory’s to plot the rest of the way. That’s when I realised that I forgot the map at home. My option is to retrace my route and head back to the M2 Motorway. But the route to Eastwood is mostly downhill and to do all the work climbing back only to be faced with another boring 17km in M2,does not seem like a story for the Psycholists. Mental thought – Resolved to find my way to Meadowbank and Parramatta. From Parramatta I could get home without a map.
When the CD store opened, I was the first customer. However, they don’t have any Baby Vox CD, but the man wanted my $20 anyway and promised that he’ll get me a Baby Vox CD before they lose their popularity … in Korea … I handed the $20 when it became apparent that I’ve just been sucked in. He wrote Baby Box on the receipt. I quickly corrected him and gave him a look that says: “If I don’t see a Baby Vox CD in a few days, Frankie and the boys will come and visit you.” He understood and I’m on my way.
Without a map, I’m left to navigate the stars. Only problem is, its 9:40am and the sky is very cloudy and threatening to rain. Next best is to follow the signs. Not long into the journey and I’m lost. Why are there no signs on the road that says – ‘You’re Lost’? I quickly devised a way to get back to track, and it’s the most scientific idea. I took a stick and drop it – whichever way it points – that’s where I’m heading (unless it points uphill then its best of 3). The trick worked and I found the way to Meadowbank Wharf and to Parramatta. It was in Darcy Road, Wentworthville when I noticed a cop has aimed the radar on me. Instinctively I checked my speed and the posted limit, then as fast as my feet could pedal – I accelerated – thinking if it’s possible to be booked for speeding in a bike. As I pass the officer, he just smiled and said ‘Not Bad!’
I am now back in Tonggabie and have cycled 55kms. I’ve kept an eye for a pissed-off cab driver who may still be looking for a man-with-a-bike. At this point, I thought I could catch a cab home and redeem the name of Ivor and Tim. But a voice inside my head said – “You wosssh … you started the day with an aim to eat a pie in the sky and you ended up with a bagel at Homer’s. You parted with your $20 and didn’t even get a Baby Vox CD for Jessica. You tried to be booked for speeding and yet your fastest is 10km/hr less than the limit … and … YOU STILL DON’T KNOW IF THAT KOREAN RESTAURANT SERVES VEGETARIAN.”
Well, I’m feeling bad now and I need to do the right thing. As I approach Seven Hills headed towards the M2 Motorway – again. By the time I got back to Eastwood, I have cycled 75kms and resolved that on my next trip, I will nick Jeanne’s saddle (a Rolls Royce in the saddle world).
The waitress in “SEOUL RIA” (that’s the name of the restaurant), greeted me with a big smile. Then I ask if they serve vegetarian – her smile turned into a twitch as she ask – “Does fish count?”. I answered, “Technically – NO.” At this point she handed the menu with pictures and said “We could cook most of this without meat.” I said – “Fine. I would like a Bul-Gogi”. She’s no longer smiling and said, “… but that’s mostly meat, if I take it out you’re left with a few carrots, shallots and onions”. And in a voice only heard in Seinfeld I said – “Oh no … I want the meat … You see I’m not vegetarian – I just want to know if you serve vegetarian.” She nodded, pretended to understand, turned her back and said something in Korean – go figure.
The rest of the trip is uneventful – almost. I have now cycled 118 kms and just 3 kms more to reach home when the rain started to pour. Just 2 kms more and it’s bucketing. I reach for my bag to check if I packed the floaters and a paddle. Every part of my body is now soaking wet and experienced Tim’s squeaking shoes and Ivor’s trip to Atlantis. Just 300m more and the rain stopped. I am now standing in the porch waiting for Jeanne to open the door. There I thought – “I wonder if we’re having veggies tonight”.
This write-up was originally e-mailed to the Psycolist – Ivor, Tim and Tricia back when we’re so excited about cycling we wrote about our experience. Largely inpired by the humurous writing of Ivor. I kept a copy of this in my IDX site but eventually erased it by mistake. Then found the text again in an old e-mail and decided to keep it here in the blog – Rommel (26 Jan 2008).