The weather forecast was bad but we scored the only good part of the day, setting off mid-morning to hire a pedal car and attempt to ride beside the lake. It was my idea. People riding along in pedal cars always look so cheery, and I thought it was a thing I might be able to do. Dac had been sceptical, warning of the sheer scary amount of pedalling involved, but gave in to my insistence.
He did request that there should be no screaming. Years ago, he put me on his bike in the back yard and whooshed me about, trying to teach me to ride. I was unable to prevent myself from screaming throughout. This time I did better – on that front, at least.
There was only one other car in the Mr Spokes carpark when we arrived, and we were soon sitting in our fully-paid-up pedal car, discovering that my legs barely reached the pedals. I admit that my legs aren’t long, but tiny people were pedalling by looking perfectly calm and in control. What was going on?
Furthermore I felt quite sure we were going to thunder down the slope from the hire place to the lakeside path and fall straight into the lake. “See what it’s like when someone else has the steering wheel!” said Dac, who was in charge. He kept us out of the lake.
The lakeside path near the hire place is quite narrow. It was full of unlooked-for hazards such as children running out under our wheels, and cyclists trying to hoon between us and oncoming pedestrians. We had to maintain a certain amount of speed in order to keep going at all, which meant that we overtook people (calling out to them in warning) once or twice. One man was outraged and made a point of speeding up and overtaking us in turn -and then of course slowing down and blocking the path. What an oaf!
Because I felt as if the pedals were going backwards when I tried to push them, and couldn’t keep my feet on them anyway, Dac did all the pedalling till we reached a point where we could stop. This was just under the bridge, at the start of the R G Menzies walk – we’d come possibly 800m. We pushed the pedal car off the path and sat on the seat while I panicked for a while.
It was clear to me that I couldn’t go on. Even on the couple of occasions when I’d managed to turn the pedals, my artificial knee had complained bitterly. The small bike seat wasn’t something I was getting used to, either. While we were sitting recovering, I saw several excellent dogs, including a standard poodle which I’m pretty sure I’ve also seen in Bowen Park and Kingston. I was too demoralised, though, to think of photos and cards.
Dac gave me some lessons in turning the pedals, but I just wanted to go back. I managed to help a bit with the pedalling on the return trip, but my left foot kept wanting to slip off. Stirrups like the ones on my old exercise bike would have helped! We had to keep way over on the narrow path, to leave room for the oncoming traffic. On the way back, this meant I was extremely close to the water’s edge. Nerveracking!
I’m sure I was a complete ingrate, especially as Dac hadn’t believed it was a good idea in the first place, and then got lumbered with nearly all the work. I was grateful to him when he suggested a small walk in the Botanic Gardens instead.
The nice man refunded us some of the hire charge. Even though only about half an hour had passed, the carpark had filled up completely. It was the first day of Floriade.
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The degree of dubiety I encounter when I attempt to show anyone the way to anywhere is probably justified. Nevertheless, I was right about the start of the Main Loop Walk at the Gardens. After all, I’d been there only a few weeks before, with Annabel and Helen. Where I went wrong was after the Rock Garden. I was still trying to follow the Main Loop Walk, when what was wanted was a quick route down to the cafe.
We were very pleased to see water monitors at the Gardens. These thumbnails are linked to bigger pictures:
Evidently they hide in the winter, and the spring has brought them forth.