Saturday, April 10, 2010

On the other side of the tracks...

We live near a railway line, and our usual half hour ride, the before-breakfast or late afternoon one, sticks to our side of the tracks. We go down a shared bike and walkway (which works very well, it's nice and wide and those pesky pedestrians give you a decent berth) from Toongabbie to Girraween. We have to cycle along the roads a bit to get there, but it's a back way by the railway track and nice and quiet.

But today we decided to augment our ride by crossing the tracks after our usual ride, going via the railway station and exploring a track I'd found that I'd been considering as a route to Blacktown, where there is a large shopping mall. I'd had visions of cycling there, filling my panniers and cycling home through International Peace Park. I mean, what a pretty name, it has to be a nice ride, right? (Here's the route by the way). Wrong. Hmm, I don't think I'll be doing that ride on my own. For starters the shared bike and walking path is very gravelly and Petunia felt a little unsure of herself from time to time. And it's very secluded. Too secluded. You ride along behind backyard fences with the canal and then railway on the other side, with lots of bushes around, for at least half of it. I'd heard that a woman had been attacked and her bicycle stolen several months ago on the path, and wondered how on earth that could happen in broad daylight. On the maps the path looks great. In real life I can imagine it only too well. It's actually a bit creepy. I was glad t'Other Half was there with me.

We got a 20km cycle in, but it wasn't a rewarding one in terms of terrain and vista. I'll have to explore other bike paths we can access from our house. Blacktown City Council doesn't keep them as nicely as Holroyd Council, which owns the Toongabbie-Girraween path. The T-G path is nicely concreted, no gravel in sight. Visibility is excellent.

On the other hand, I felt fantastic after the ride - we both put a couple of sprints in along our usual bike path, the sun was shining, and I felt myself used to Petunia again.

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