20/20 Vision of a 2019 Christmas Day Ride

Can you guess where I went on December 25, 2019?

I can hardly believe this is the 11th iteration of this fairly pointless blog. I've been banging on about the same thing since 2009 and nothing has changed...

I'm not sure what I was expecting to happen but, you know, something *coulda*.
Not that it hasn't been worthwhile; don't get me wrong. After all that time, I apparently have three (3) rusted-on readers, Bill, Dan and John. Plus Dabba, who seems ambivalent, truth be told, and Tony. 
Anyway, this is for you all; yes, all five of you! It's my special, not-so-secret-Santa offering for another year.
You know how this goes. I get up early on December 25. I ride somewhere I pick usually on the spur of the moment as I'm pedalling out of the driveway. I note that there are hardly any other riders and far fewer cars than usual, then I whinge about how you lot (except Tony who says he rode somewhere, too. YAY!), and all the other cyclists who never read this blog, are wasting the best riding day of the year, then surmise, based on zero actual evidence that it's probably due to the cafes all being closed and that cyclists are only into cycling for the caffeine hit, with the utterly baseless implication that you all like to pose in your lairy lycra at cafes more than to ride hard up hills. (True, though, innit?)
Before we get into the usual number-crunching and pseudo-sociological analysis of a totally unrepresentative survey of cyclist numbers on an arbitrarily selected course on the uber-wealthy, unaverage North Shore, let's take a short ride back in time to refresh our memories of previous research results. (I could laboriously include links to the previous years' December 25 posts but would any of you bother to click on them? No, of course you wouldn't. But they're all available via my page if you really wanna.)
In 2009, I saw a mere 37 other riders on a c. 67km circuit via Spit Bridge, Wakehurst Parkway, Church Point, Mona Vale Rd, and back down the North Shore line, barely over 0.5 riders per kilometre. (Riders-seen-per-December-25-kilometre, my chosen measure, has never, during the long research period, reached even 1/km, a benchmark I have unilaterally and arbitrarily decided is significant, perhaps magic. It's certainly elusive.)

In subsequent years, the score has been:

  • 55 on "One-and-a-half Gorges Twice", (out and back to Berowra Waters Ferry via Bobbin Head) (2010);
  • 66 to West Head and back (2011);
  • a pathetic 9 on a circuit to Sydney Olympic Park (2012);
  • 41, then 35, on the Church Point route (2013, 2014 respectively);
  • 73 to West Head (2015);
  • a tragic 20 on a ride to Bobbin Head (2017), and;
  • 45 on the Church Point loop last year.

No real improvement in the riders/km index over that time. For shame.

If you were paying attention in that bulleted paragraph, you'll be screaming at the screen now that I missed out 2016. True. I went to Brisbane that year without a bicycle. (Won't make that mistake again. The going to Brisbane part, I mean.)
But I was not derelict in my duty to my loyal SydCyc reader. I did count the number of Christmas morning riders over an hour, noting that they didn't reach my newly-minted benchmark of one rider per minute, scrambling only up to 45 in the time period. This in an area with lots of bicycle facilities. So Brisbane cyclists' attitude to riding on the best morning of the year apparently also sucks.
Righto, then. So what happened this year?
The envelope, please...
Since you've seen the picture at the top of the blog you've probably guessed where I went, so you might expect relatively good numbers of riders. The West Head route has provided the best numbers in an otherwise very poor turnout in two previous years (see above).
You'll be disappointed today, then, because I saw only 33 riders in my 77km journey. Only half the 2011 score. You bastards who never read this blog have learned nothing!

How is this dismal display possible? Conditions this morning were ideal. Fine, after a light overnight shower, cool, surprisingly smoke-free, with a bit of mist in the valleys, and very quiet on the roads. Only the humidity was a bit too much. There did seem to be a preponderance of garbage trucks in what traffic there was. One was the first vehicle I heard at about 0515, reminding me that today was also Krappenfest and I hadn't put the bins out! But I digress.

Perhaps I started too early. I was a bit like a kid at Christmas, waking at 0455 because of the excitement of my anticipated ride. I was on the road within half an hour, and had spotted my first rider soon after on the fast descent onto Roseville Bridge. I couldn't catch him, but felt unusually confident following him on the traffic lanes of Warringah Road all the way to Forest Way, such was the lack of motor traffic. I saw no other cyclist until the top of McCarrs Creek Rd and only reached double figures in my count as I turned around at West Head. There had been more wildlife to be seen than other traffic all the way out along the West Head Rd. Brush turkeys were in near plague proportions, a lyre bird scrambled up a bank out of my way and wallabies grazed in the bush at the edge of the road. Unfortunately the toll of wildlife killed by motor traffic was also evident. I saw possums and bandicoots lying lifeless by the roadside.

A trickle of other riders came towards me as I headed back to McCarrs Creek Rd and I caught up to the odd other rider on the climb. The biggest bunch I saw all morning, though, was a group of three going the other way.

By the time I was almost home, 0900, the traffic on Pacific Hwy was picking up noticeably, though it was still tolerable, but there seemed to be no more riders to count. No-one else enjoying the freedom of cycling on near empty roads. And yet there was that cafe at Lindfield which was open again this year...

Oh, well. I'm not going to sweat it any more. I did enough sweating in this morning's humidity. I think I'll just keep the secret of the best day of the year to cycle to myself.

Views: 142

Comment by Dabba on December 25, 2019 at 10:52am

Neil, you have aged in the last 10 years so maybe time for measuring number of riders is no longer appropriate. Perhaps number of riders per km ridden would be a better guide as it will not be affected by your slower speed and shorter distances as old man time takes you closer to your use by date where the thoughts and prayers of the congregation will be a tailwind for your trip to PBP heaven / hell (you choose). 

Comment by Dabba on December 25, 2019 at 10:54am

Like the bike. Must be time for another Lynskey sale. They haven't had one for a week or two! 

Comment by Bill Parker on December 26, 2019 at 9:20am

Thank you Neil, much appreciated. Hopefully I will get around to writing my much inferior contribution on my return from another round of feasting today although nothing involving sunrises as they seem to occur too early this time of year.

Comment by Dan on December 28, 2019 at 6:33pm

Lovely! Thanks!

Comment by Neil Alexander on January 1, 2020 at 1:31pm

I decided to postpone my unwrapping of New Year gifts and go out for another ride this morning.

It seems some other cyclists decided to do the same because there were more than twice as many other riders on my Church Point loop, 75 in 67km, exceeding the one-rider-per-km benchmark for once.

It was another ideal morning for cycling, except that the bushfire smoke had returned with a vengeance and I was afraid I might die hard (SWIDT?) from an asthma attack if I breathed the thick atmosphere too enthusiastically. There seemed to be even fewer cars (and garbage trucks) than on December 25, the temperature was an almost chilly 17 degrees (especially compared to NYE, when it was nudging 40, with fires almost everywhere around Sydney) and the wind blew a gentle, southerly zephyr..

Almost all the cyclists were close to the beaches over in the area formerly known as Abbott-land, with only ones and twos on the North Shore and Pacific Hwy. I guess that's understandable in case there's the sudden need to evacuate the continent because it's all burning.

Anyway, I feel satisfied that I have made a good start to 2020 with 67km under my belt on Day 1. If the fires let up, I may get to 5000 by year's end. But I wouldn't bet on it.

Comment by Dabba on January 1, 2020 at 1:47pm

I did pretty much the same thing this morning but only 25k's as I'll be doing another 25k's shortly. I don't recall seeing anyone else on a bike, but it was before 8.

I'm surprised at your 5000 k goal! Have you gone over to the dark side and will be using a stink box?

Comment by Neil Alexander on January 1, 2020 at 4:51pm

You may scoff, Mr Dabba, but I'll have you know I'm not OTH yet.

I added up all my Garmin-recorded rides for 2019 and they totalled slightly over 4100km. On top of that is all the rides on my commuter bike (trips done in civvies) which I don't record. That's about another 20km a week, so my '19 cycling-km tally is over 5k.

I don't need to add the distance I drive. I will admit to owning, and occasionally using, a car. NOW. But it doesn't stink. It's electric. (100%. Not hybrid.) And it's charged almost entirely from my rooftop solar array.

Comment by Dabba on January 3, 2020 at 1:35pm

Just think, you could have bought a Lynskey ebike for a throw away $10k-ish! My Bafang mid drive conversion on my old Trek 520 is paying for itself, and it IS charged ENTIRELY from my rooftop solar array.

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