Cycling in Sydney Australia
"Good morning Dublin. Who wants a ride this afternoon ?"
That was how Lance's tradition of Twitter rides started. Since then he's put together rides in several cities, not so impromptu these days, police and ambulance are involved to make sure everyone is safe and the roads are managed.
Last years Twitter ride in Adelaide was such a big event that everyone knew it was coming again. Especially with Aussie sprinter Robbie McEwen recently joining Lance's RadioShack team for what will probably be his final year in the pro-peleton, at least as a rider.
So when the call went out that it was going to be on again, it was no surprise that thousands of riders decided to head to beautiful Glenelg beach this morning for what is for most a once in a lifetime chance to "ride with Lance".
And I do mean thousands!
The theme of today's ride was raising awareness and hopefully money to aid flood relief in QLD, the Aussie contingent of riders have been very vocal this week, even convincing the peleton to donate all prize money from this Sunday's Cancer Council Classic criterium.
We arrived in Glenelg by tram at about 9:20 in the morning. The cafes were all full of cyclists and the start line a few hundred metres away was already the scene of a pretty big crowd.
Shortly after 10 Lance and Robbie arrived at the scene, mobbed my photographers and film crews.
They took to the stage and were followed by other Australians Mick Rogers, now in Team Sky colours and Adelaide local Stuart O'Grady, wearing the brand new Leopard Trek team kit.
Lance, love him or hate him, is an inspirational guy, and handles a crowd well. Even stumbling awkwardly over some Australian-isms like "G'Day Cobbers" and the quite amusing Bris-Vegas reference. I was tempted to call out and correct him with Bris-Venice.... but it didn't seem like the place for it.
Robbie urged the crowd to consider donating to the flood relief efforts, a sentiment which was echoed by Mick. O'Grady finished up by asking everyone to stay safe. "Everyone wants to ride with Lance, but not everyone can. Stay upright, I know what it's like to break bones", which of course got a good laugh out of the crowd.
After that the ride set off with something like 5000 cyclists chasing the pros back to the city. Although I was a spectator, it looked like everyone was having a blast. It was a fun atmosphere even standing on the sidelines.
I'll leave you with one last photo, this got my attention and made me chuckle a little bit. A full carbon Look road bike, with deep dish Zipp wheels, and a trailer attachment towing a child along for the ride.
There is, especially on this site, a loud set of voices in the advocacy space trying to distance cycling for transportation and recreation away from cycling for sport. This scene, to me, says that the gap is nowhere near as big as some people would like to believe. and you know what ? I think that's a great thing!