Straddie

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Sorry, no good excuses, just sheer laziness.

However, I have been out and about. Last weekend, I flew to Brisbane, and hopped on a bike for a short cycle tour.  We had a great combination of bikes – a tandem, a steel framed tourer towing a BOB trailer, a flat bar roadie, and a hard tail mountain bike.

 We loaded our bikes, and headed out from Taringa. We rode through UQ, over the bridge and wended our way down Old Cleveland Road towards Cleveland, making it to the ferry with enough time for a coffee at the ferry terminal before boarding the ferry to Stradbroke Island.   

Waiting for the ferry (sorry about the bins in the shot)

Waiting for the ferry (sorry about the bins in the shot)

The ferry ride was a very comfortable 45 minutes, with a cafe on board.  It cost us $30 return (including the bikes), which was a far cry from the $150 it costs to take a car across!  It was a beautiful day to be on the water.  Flat seas, blue skies, and we even saw dolphins.

Beautiful weather!

Beautiful weather!

The ferry dropped us off at Dunwich, on the westerly side of the island, leaving us about 20kms to ride to reach our campsite at Point Lookout. The going was hilly, however traffic was light and the drivers were all supportive.

We arrived at the campsite at about 2.00pm, giving us enough time to set up camp, and have swim. The campsite was right on the beach, which certainly made for convenient swimming!

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The next day, we ventured out to a cafe for breakfast, then had a look at Point Lookout where we were lucky enough to see whales and dolphins. It was then time to ride back to Dunwich, and head back on the ferry.

Whale watching

Whale watching

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Waiting for the ferry

We decided on a slight change of plans, and took the train from Cleveland back to Roma St where we rode home.

Great weather, good riding, good road surfaces and really fantastic traffic.  In addition to this, having the bikes on the island made it super convenient for getting around.  All in all? A great trip.

We looped the lake

So my apologies for not wrapping this up earlier ,however a few weeks ago, I did Loop the Lake at Lake Macquarie.  A fantastic event (super casual), that was organised by Rotary.  You just pretty much turned up, and rode.  No official start, and no timing chips – it felt just like a ride with (lots of) friends. So here are some photos from the ride

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Melbourne

So, after reading all about how good the riding is in Melbourne, I decided to go check it all out. 

The first thing you notice about Melbourne is that it’s flat.  Very flat.  One of the rides I did started in St Kilda and wound its way next to the water.  80kms feels like about 50, in speed as well as effort, and I averaged well over 28kph for the ride (something I wouldn’t even remotely come close to in Sydney).

Secondly, there are so many cyclists on the roads, it makes you feel safe.  I did some riding in bike lanes, lots of riding in non bike lanes and even some riding on highways.  No-one yelled at me, threw stuff at me, or did anything I felt was unsafe.  Now, admittedly I was not riding in peak hour traffic, but still – very pleasant.

Lastly, there is plenty of bike related infrastructure around.  A lot of the local businesses cater to cyclists, with bike racks outside.

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Bike parking outside a local business

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Sign in local cafe

All in all, I must say that riding in Melbourne was indeed pleasant.  I’d love to go touring there – the highways seem well geared up for it (most with bike lanes), and the local roads seem well maintained (lots of hot mix too).  This combined with the flat terrain, and the friendly drivers made for a very nice weekend.

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Other random photos from riding

NSW cycling policy

I had a bit of a flick through the NSW cycling policy.  Interesting facts

– 42% of Sydney households own at least 1 bike, but only 0.7% of people cycle to work

– the overall share of bike trips has remained relatively constant from 2001

– of all the capital cities in Australia, Sydney has the lowest % of bike trips to work and the lowest % of people who are regular cyclists

– there is policy in place to encourage cycling at every level of government

The thing I found most interesting, however is the policy recommendations (and the status of them in Sydney). 

Some of the recommendations seem so far out of what I can imagine the City of Sydney promoting (eg car-free Sundays on certain roads), policy that the motorists are assumed to be responsible for accidents, and courts and police that actively protect cyclist rights that I find it laughable.  However, what I think it highlights, is that all these changes require real will from our governments to happen.  They require funding, and planning, and require a systems approach – not just an ad hoc slapping down of a painted cycleway here and there, which connects to nothing, is mostly pothole and gutter and doesn’t go anywhere.

If you are interested, the entire policy is here.

I’ll post more on it later

Happy International Women’s Day!

Yes, I know, this is not really relevant to riding, but hey, it was too important to miss.  Today is International women’s day.   For those of you who don’t know, International women’s day has been observed since the early 1900s (although the day has changed a few times). It’s a global day of recognition and celebration across both developed and developing countries. It’s actually an official holiday in 27 countries (including Cambodia, China and Eritrea).

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Top tube bag

So, I’ve been looking for a while for a way to carry stuff on my roadie so I don’t have to wear a jersey.  Now I’m not trying to cart a week of groceries home, just some money, keys and phone.  However, pants pockets are next to useless if they don’t have a zip, so unless you are wearing a jersey, it’s pretty hard to carry anything.

Requirements: Not to interfere with my steering, not to require additional modifications to my bike (eg adding a rack), attaches onto the bike quickly, and has to look good off the bike as well as on.  Really, I wanted a bag that I could slip off my bike easily, and run into the shops with me, without looking like it had come off my bike.

Handlebar bags seem to interfere with my steering, and I don’t really have enough room for a large saddle bag.  So, I thought a top tube bag would be the way to go. I’ve had a look around, and most top tube bags are either huge (for touring), or pretty utilitarian (for triathletes).

So, with a few hours to spare, I decided to crack open the sewing machine, and sew myself a top tube bag.

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My ride today

So, in the spirit of riding more, I rode up to Pie in the Sky today with some friends.  For some of them, it was the longest ride they’d ever done.  Thankfully, the weather was a beautiful blue, and so, on an assortment of bikes (everything from roadies to Kmart specials), we headed off.

Despite 2 flat tyres, we all had a great time, and although quite hilly, everyone did enjoy the screaming downhills.

Here’s a couple of pretty ordinary pictures from the ride today.  Sorry, I should have taken better photos!

ride 1

ride 2

Confessions

I was riding home today, and I actually came to a realisation that is kind of scary.  Riding in traffic actually scares me.

Now I wouldn’t call myself a novice rider, but sometimes riding in Sydney can sometimes feel like an extreme sport.  Between watching right for drivers trying to squeeze up the right side, watching left for cars pulling out, doors opening, pedestrians running out in front of you and monster pot holes, is there any wonder that a short ride through traffic can sometimes leave you strung out and feeling as if you’ve just been in battle?

Some days, every car you pass seems like a win, and every intersection you successfully get past seems like a battle won. Oh, and any roundabout, where a car on your left actually gives way to you – wow – that’s like winning the lottery.

I mean, really, are drivers really trying to kill us?