Mullen Mullen Single Speed Urban Epic 18th October 2009
By Sunday, I needed a Mullen Mullen. A shit week had done it. So it seems did a mob of others. 80kms or more, 20,000 revolutions, of some haired, some shaven legs. I measured it after I rolled home before I fell in a heap, 4 metres to a crank revolution. I know we didn’t pedal that many by the look on innocent bystanders jolted out of their Sunday strolls by a swarm of buzzing White Industry Enos, Surleys, a Hope, a Spot and a King. Most of us on single speeds, some on full rigid believing truth lies in feeling every contour, every hole, every rock the track throws up. The few-geared guys gave up at Hans’s Loop and caught the train home. I’ve bailed at that point too; it’s the last moment before full commitment to a Mullen epic. After that point you can’t turn back. Don’t know about anyone else but the bald hill under the high-tension power lines always makes you feel like you’ve entered the guts of the ride. Yeah Hans’s Loop opens the lungs and burns the legs but up that hill I was grinding so slow I thought the bull ants I was rolling over would mount an attack and feed on a pair of mashed knees. From the top we looked back over the snaking trail, back to the Yarra. All the stuff we’d ridden to that point seemed a blur of quick tight single track intermingled with image flashes of trail runners, a dead rabbit, condom wrappers, greyed ramblers and a girl on a pink single speed. Catching our breadth and waiting for the mob to reassemble I downed my first gel, already having devoured two bananas and half a camelback. What’s next? A downhill slide to another hill up a cutting, to another up through trees, to another, and to another, somehow they don’t seem so bad. The single speed numbness kicks in, no gears to change, no big ring, no middle ring. You and the bike meld into one grisly being. Somewhere out there a promise rings in my head, I said to my wife I’d be back by 1pm, plainly I won’t. A quick call made, a grunt at the other end. Not much you can do out there, you’re stuck in transit; you’ll be home before dark. Spat out onto the Eastern Freeway bike track in one piece we attacked the concrete. There’s a buzz of happiness as it’s all down hill. Little dives into the scrub a bit like dessert. Long finger gloves and arm warmers prove there worth fending off the sharp brush through the slalom run by the freeway. The anointed leader decides another water shed needs to be crossed, so appears the Darrebin Creek Gorge. Down one side, through the creek, up the other side. Didn’t need that. Conversation now ebbed to guttural grunts as riders peel off following their homing beacons. The Single Speed Urban Epic under the belt, competed, done, now numbed and contented the demons from the week before dumped and forgotten somewhere out on the Mullen Mullen.
By Chris Haydon