Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sydney Olympic Park

One of our regular weekend rides is Sydney Olympic Park. If you get there early enough, the cycleways (shared with pedestrians) aren't too hectic and you can get a bit of speed and constant movement going. There are around 35km of paths in the park, and we typically do about 22-25km of them on our rides. More info about them can be found here. While the presence of families cycling slowly can be a hazard to navigation, the nice thing is that the paths are for the most part off road, and the scenery along the river is always cheering. You ride through bushland and smell the crisp eucalypts, or the heady scent of wattle. Birdsong trills about you, and aside from tracks that run beside the roads, there is no traffic noise.

The whole area is relatively flat,with a few hills and rises, some of them optional. On a gorgeous day like today heading out there after breakfast was a no-brainer. For Penelope, it seems these bike paths and the bike lanes on adjacent streets are her native territory. The winding, undulating paths are like any you'd find in the UK, just right for a British bike.

The whole area was developed around ten years ago, so the roads themselves are smooth and pothole free. Any bumps are treated with disdain by Penelope. I found my lovely Pashley just as easy to ride as Petunia this morning, quite light despite her steelness, and nimble in mid-range acceleration. Cycling on the shared paths can be stop-start, or slow-go as you negotiate pedestrians, dogwalkers and cyclists who just go too slowly. We generally ride on the roads for a little while as well, as this part of Sydney is geared for cycling and has a superb bike lane structure. She came into her own on one of the back roads - a long, sweeping bend, no traffic... I pedalled madly and was rewarded with a smooth, blisteringly fast (for my level of fitness :-) few minutes. Greg had to drop a gear and go like mad to catch me.

And - nice to know - I CAN stand up and pedal on hills. It feels rather precarious compared to a road bike or MTB, but it works. Greg led us down a wrong turn in search of a different entrance into the park, and it was up hill and down dale for a bit. The down dale was brilliant, and the up hill surprised me. Yesterday's ride must have done my muscles some good as I was getting up the hills easily enough, especially when I got the hang of standing up.

By the time we got back to the car it was getting madly busy; on weekends cyclists outnumber cars in this area about 10 to 1. Next weekend there's a special family cycling day at the Park so we'll give that a miss and head out into the country instead.

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