It’s about 4.30 am and I’m up and about getting ready for the Cyber Riders Club 2009 ride of the year. The ride raises funds for the MS Society and the Oncology Foundation.
I have all the members in my basket and we’re ready to go. I’ve just eaten a bowl of spaghetti for breakfast and this is meant to give me energy. I cooked it the night before so technically it’s a ‘left-over’.
They say pasta is high in complex carbohydrates, which provide a “time release” of energy when needed during long, tiring exercise, like long-distance running or biking.
It didn’t taste that good so I can understand why you don’t see any Italian restaurants open for breakfast. Pizza or spaghetti isn’t good early in the morning.
My riding buddy, Shelly and I joined about 11,000 cyclists to participate in the annual Spring Cycle ride in Sydney.
We chose to ride the 40-50 kilometre ride from North Sydney, over the Harbour Bridge, through the Rocks and across the old Glebe Island Bridge through the streets of Sydney’s inner west to finish at Sydney Olympic Park.
We started from under the magnificent trees of St Leonards Park North Sydney which is the setting for the North Sydney Oval.
We then rode over the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge into Sydney’s historic old quarter known as the Rocks.
In 1788, Australia’s first European settlers British convicts and their overseers claimed the land here and built their camp atop the sandstone cliffs of this area. The Rocks eventually grew from an open-air gaol into a vibrant port community.
It had a colourful history of rough gangs and rough life but today the former warehouses, sailors’ homes, and dens of iniquity have all been renovated.
The grand old bridge is the world’s largest, but not longest steel arch bridge. Its total length including approach spans is 1149 metres and its arch span is 503 metres.
The Argyle Cut was hewn by convicts through the sandstone ridge of The Rocks to connect Sydney Cove with Darling Harbour and Millers Point. It was started in 1843 by convicts with hammers and chisels, and completed in 1867.
Darling Harbour is a waterfront leisure and entertainment destination. Its journey from derelict docklands to playground has been described as a marvel of inner urban rebirth.
The ANZAC Bridge is the longest cable-stayed bridge in Australia, and amongst the longest in the world. The bridge is 32.2 metres (105.6 ft) wide and the main span is 345 metres (1131.9 ft) long.
We get back on the bikes and continue across the historic Old Glebe Island Bridge which spans Johnstons Bay. It is significant because it has been an important part of infrastructure in the history of Sydney for over 90 years going back to 1862.
It’s a fairly windy day here in Sydney and when you’re heading directly into it, it is not only cold but it’s full power on the peddling. Notwithstanding this our many hours of training see us through and soon we are heading along James Craig Road past the heritage fleet and super yachts in Rozelle Bay.
We then point the handlebars westward along Lilyfield Road and onto tucked-away cycle paths along Hawthorne Canal. We speed through the backstreets of Haberfield appreciating some of Sydney’s old world charm in the traditional federation architecture and on through Five Dock Park to rumble through the leafy backstreets of Five Dock and Concord.
Our first big rest site is Brays Bay Reserve. It’s a great spot to stop to take a breather enjoy a drink and some light food. Most of the food was ice cream coffee and sandwiches. Funny no pizza or spaghetti so we stuck to water and an energy bar.
Our bodies are intact, we’ve done 18 kilometres and we are hardly sweating. At this point we discuss doing the 90k Wollongong ride in November or maybe the 2010 Tour de France, anything’s possible, then I remember I don’t speak French.
From the rest spot we cross the Ryde Bridge, and the Parramatta River which, along with Sydney Harbour, is the most significant waterway in Sydney.
I am cruising. I’m passing riders, riders are passing me, I’m ringing my bell and the road is melting below my tires. It’s fantastic.
A female rider close on my rear wheel misjudges the turn. She rides off the road into a hedge. Should I stop? I look back and see she is suspended in the foliage. She seems Ok so I ride on, Lance, Cadel or Alberto would have done the same; we all know the risks.
The route then links up with the John Whitton Bridge. This old railway bridge has been converted to a cycleway running alongside the train bridge. Once on the other side of the bridge we enter Bicentennial Park, which was created to celebrate Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988.
The cycle paths here take you on a magical journey through the parklands, wetlands and mangrove creeks which are some of Sydney’s most important woodlands and wetland ecosystems. We are only a few kilometers from the finish. I can hear the crowd roaring.
Soon we arrive at Olympic Boulevard. The finish line looms up. It’s within sight. At the 300 metre mark my much younger riding buddy, Shelly, throws out a challenge.
‘Want to race to the finish’ she says
‘No’ I say, but all the time I’m getting ready for a final sprint.
‘Come on let’s go’ says Shelly.
‘Ok’ I said and before she knew it I was off, jumping to a twenty metre lead.
But it wasn’t over she’s young and she’s tricky.
She yells out ‘Stop you’ve dropped something, something’s fallen off your bike’
She almost had me but I’m old and cunning. I wasn’t going to get beaten, I yelled back ‘I’ll go pick it up later’
Within a flash my arms were stretched up towards the heavens as I crossed the finish line a winner.
The racing all over we mingle with the other riders and rested for a few hours at Sydney Olympic Park before throwing our iron horses onto the train for the journey home.
The Iron Horses rest on one another in the train.
It was a great day but will the bike replace the BMW, I think not.
The City of Sydney Spring Cycle is organised by Bicycle NSW and presented by The Sun-Herald, with the support of the RTA, NSW Police, Sydney Olympic Park Authority, NSW Ambulance, St John First Aid personnel, plus hundreds of hard working and happy volunteers. We all work together to provide a fun and safe cycle-friendly route through Sydney.
research info from tourist site and spring bike ride site