My wife and I moved to Australia eight years ago. We live in the Eastern suburbs; a stone throw from the quintessential beaches of Sydney such as Bondi and Coogee.
About a year ago I joined a cycle club. Calling it a cycle club is overstretching it a little. It probably gives you the impression of a coordinated, motivated group of finely tuned athletes with dreams and goals.
We have dreams, there’s no doubt about that. Perhaps that’s why we’re called the Dream team. Unfortunately, despite our best intentions, our dreams mostly remain just that. Just a couple of days ago, we were celebrating the birth of one team member’s baby boy. Throughout the night – obviously with the drink talking – we firmly promised we’d do:
- a long bike ride down south in the next few weeks (probable)
- one night away for a long cycle on the Central coast (remotely possible)
- a weekend away in Wellington, New Zealand (a resounding yes from all, highly unlikely we’ll pull this one off)
- an adventure race (getting closer to zero per cent chance)
- a stage of the tour down under (Not 100% support for this. Might as well write it off)
- a stage of the tour de france (a dream will remain just that)
- a weekend away at the Rugby Sevens in Hong Kong (would take a lot for all wives to agree to this. More likely see a lunar eclipse)
- a parachute jump (not sure where this came from)
- sack all bankers (think I made this one up, I can’t really remember)
- a lot of work for charity (this one was obviously a joke).
Now, the last time we organised anything, the following happened. We all agreed that a night away would be good. We all thought it was possible to get approval from the wives. I then spent three days researching routes, locations, apartments and dates. After sending the results of my research out via email to the group, one bright spark thought it would be better to go skiing instead. Within seconds a flood of emails came through with unanimous support for skiing. An apartment was sorted (a friend of a friend), cars were organised, kits were borrowed and we had five excited guys chomping at the bit for a skiing trip. But that was as far as it got. The skiing didn’t happen and neither did the weekend cycle. I was scarred.
The next attempt nearly worked; everyone had got over the biggest hurdle and negotiated successfully with their better halves. But the absent minded Glorious forgot that on the very same weekend he was supposed be attending a whole day at ante natal with his misses. He knew which side his bread is buttered. Close, but that was that.
So for the most part, we have to be content with local rides.
Honestly, that doesn’t matter, because our local ride is challenging and has probably one of the most beautiful backdrops in the world. It’s our Saturday beaches ride.
We start at Centennial Park (a stunning park in its own right) and we make our way up to Watson’s Bay. The bay sits on the end of the South Head peninsula and is the entrance to Sydney Harbour. The cycle up heartbreak hill provides views across the harbour to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At that time in the morning, it’s a sight to behold. You’re mighty glad you’ve dragged your arse out of bed, because it’s exhilarating. The hill in and out of Watsons Bay is steep and hard.
Out of Watsons Bay we head towards the iconic beach of Bondi. We’re normally there by about 7 in the morning. At this time, Bondi is a mix of eager surfers bobbing in the sea waiting for the perfect wave, beautifully fit people and stragglers stumbling out of bars trying to make their way home. It’s a colourful, slightly edgy place to be so early in the morning.
Out of Bondi and into Bronte, another beautiful beach (as I write this, I’m starting to feel that I’m writing about beach after beach, but that’s exactly what this ride is like), but it has a very different vibe. Gone are the meandering and dangerously drunk backpackers. In their place are latte loving yummy mummies, joggers, yogis, gurus and boot camp fitness groups skipping and boxing their way to perfection. We don’t mind of course.
The hill out of Bronte is sharp – the first 100 metres or so is about 15% gradient and then it eases up for a kilometer. At the top of the hill we turn left and drop into Coogee.
It’s buzzing, but very often our mind is on the last and probably the toughest hill. It’s not long, but you have to ride it mostly out of your saddle. There are two roundabouts on the way up and you are hoping and praying that there are no cars so you don’t have to stop. Stopping and starting on a hill with clip in pedals is a recipe for disaster. One Shoe on more that one occasion has managed to fall off his bike in slow motion trying to get his foot out as he stopped.
Out of Coogee and into Maroubra, probably the best surfing beach of all. The sea is full of bobbing surfer, the swell is looking big and waves frothy.
From Maroubra we head into Malabar. For me Malabar is the most picturesque. The bay means the sea is like a mill pond and when the sun is shining, Malabar is a thing of beauty. It’s also not very busy, which makes it all the more appealing for me. The coffee shop right on the bay is one of the best in Sydney. We pass through Malabar, alongside the cliff top golf course and back on to the main road, Anzac Parade.
To this point the ride is constantly up and down. But once on to Anzac Parade, the ride is flat and fast into La Perouse. Depending on the day, we either think we’re doing a time trial or we’re happy to chew the fat at a slower pace.
La Perouse is the most southern part of the ride. Once we are there, we turn around and head back, as fast as we can to the coffee shop. The only trouble is which one?
It could be easy to take this ride for granted because we do it so often. But seeing places like Bondi I force myself to soak it up. We ARE very lucky. And yes, it would be nice to do a night or a weekend away. But if we don’t manage it, we do have one of the world’s most beautiful rides to fall back on. That’s why we’re the Dream Team. Because we’re living the dream.