Cycling in Sydney Australia
Yes, you read that correctly. On my 2011 Christmas-morning ride I saw a grand total of 66 other cyclists on a 77 km route from Artarmon to West Head via Roseville Bridge, Forest Way and Mona Vale Rd, returning via Pymble and Pacific Hwy. This is up from 37, on an admittedly different route in 2009, but actually rather similar to last year's count, on another admittedly different route.
So, you say, it's not a very scientific survey, is it? Well, I am not a scientist, nor am I a statistician, but what I am concluding is that, despite the massive jump since '09, still not many other riders bother to get out early on Christmas Day, probably because all the cafes are closed. Which is their loss, I reckon, because, up until about 9am, the roads are just about as empty of moving cars as they ever will be around Sydney these days.
That still doesn't guarantee you won't get some carload of Santa-hatted bogans blaring their Kingswood's horn, leaning out of the windows and yelling "Get off the f@#$ing road, ya p00fta" as they pass on an otherwise quiet Pacific Hwy.
No other incident had marred the ride which is sheer delight on West Head Rd. Especially if you like riding through low-flying cloud. Well, that's how it appeared as fog filled many of the dips on the way out through KCNP. On several occasions the thick airborne water droplets condensed on my sunglasses, adding universal fuzziness to the near-whited-out landscape.
As I arrived at West Head lookout, after very cautiously descending the last hill with its deceptive, tightening curve, the source of the mist revealed itself spectacularly. I wish I had had a camera to capture the sight of a river of cloud flowing out of the Hawkesbury mouth and wreathing Barrenjoey Headland in its tendrils. One of SC's resident meteorologists could, no doubt, explain the process more accurately but I think cold air draining down the river valley meeting warmer, very humid sea air was creating the thick fog.
The mist was gone as I returned along the West Head Rd and, despite it still being before 8am, the sun was strengthening, adding heat to the intense humidity of the morning. Yet it was still, as always, a great feeling to be heading back south along this now super-smooth road since, despite a few climbs, it seems to trend downwards. Or maybe it is just that one is on the homeward stretch.
Yes, West Head Rd is definitely one of my favourite rides and the lookout at its end is a must-visit location every time. Wildlife is another attraction and I seldom fail to see something interesting whenever I am out here. One night when I rode out there, the bush was alive with thumps as wallabies scattered. Last time two very large lace monitors were patrolling the lookout area. This time a lyrebird ran along the side of the road ahead as I climbed away from the lookout, only darting left into the shrubbery as I came level with it. A little further on a tiny (well, relatively) one-metre lace monitor was sunning itself beside the road, trying to pretend it was not there as I passed.
Where can I ride next to top this?