A not-quite-so-lonely New Year's Day ride

Here's another lament on low cyclist numbers on low-motor-traffic days written due to overwhelming popular demand. (Well, actually only from Mr O'Rwelly who I suspect just wanted to post another link to 10 hours of sad violin music or, perhaps, some Elvis song. But at least four of you "liked" my Christmas Day blog so that’s good enough for me.)

Today’s was an 85km Three Gorges circuit between 0620 and 0950 on which I spied just 88 other riders. (That’s barely over 1 c/km, by the official measure of road-clogging-due-to-cyclists, which I invented last week as a Christmas present to myself. At least I get one that way. Sob!) A better result than last Wednesday but still pretty pitiful.

Are cyclists just not getting it? If you don’t ride at these times, you are wasting the best conditions you will ever have. Priorities, peoples! Staying up late for fireworks: same-old same-old. Getting up early-ish and riding on near-zero-car roads: priceless. It's no contest.

Today, between home (Artarmon) and Turramurra I had seen almost as many brush turkeys (1) crossing the road as other cyclists (2). Admittedly I was using my guaranteed-low-traffic Patented Back-Street Route™ at which sO’me have scoffed but on which I met and was able to converse with another rider heading to where-he-didn’t-quite-know-yet. As I approached the KCNP entry gate, rider numbers began to rise, as can be expected at this cycling hotspot, but still I had only seen 14 cyclists by the time I'd descended to the water. One was wearing a yellow Audax shirt (which may have celebrated a PBP-outing, I wasn’t sure), but was otherwise as unrecognisable to me as was the Christmas Day randonneur.

A bunch with Bike Barn roadshirts swelled numbers as they disembarked from the ferry at Berowra Waters, taking my count into the forties. A large number of pedestrians, who seemed to be participating in some sort of utterly insane long-distance running event, jogged onto the ferry’s pedestrian area, filling it to capacity, so I rolled onto the main deck behind the only two cars wishing to cross. The ferry cast off and, accelerating rapidly to its maximum cruising speed of 4.6km/h as measured by my Garmin, conveyed us all safely across the 150m watery gap.

As I climbed the other side of the Berowra Waters gorge, the odd cyclist descended, usually either pursued by a car towing a boat or pursuing one. Still b*gger-all car traffic to worry about; indeed no car overtook me for the next 6km. At Galston shops where I stopped to water-up (there’s a convenient tap in the garden outside the Bendigo Bank and a "soft" wooden seat to rest in, if desired) there were two riders lazing about, doin’ nuthin’. Resisting any urge to join them, I headed into my third gorge. Cyclists appeared in ones and twos coming the other way but I still had not seen any peloton other than the eight or so riders at the ferry.

It was only on Pacific Hwy that numbers really began to take off. Though car traffic was beginning to pick up by 0930, particularly in the north-bound direction, I saw numerous groups of riders, totalling perhaps 30, heading that way between Turramurra and when I turned off at Chatswood.

Shortly after arriving home, my wife returned from her own shorter ride through LCNP, Browns Waterhole, Bobbin Head and back via Asquith and Pacific Hwy, commenting that she had seen “thousands of cyclists”. When I challenged this assertion, she revised the number down slightly, saying, “Maybe it was about 80…”

So there you have it. Two exhaustive, scientifically conducted surveys indicating considerable under-cycling on a valuable, rare resource: empty road space. You know what you must do…


Views: 406

Comment by Edward Re on January 16, 2014 at 9:44pm

there ya go, another like for your blogging. Sounds like a great time to ride.


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