By David Martin
Our dedicated bunch of Ride Leaders (RLs) excelled themselves in 2015 with a whole lot of interesting new routes and – most importantly! – cafes. Here are a few highlights.
We started on new year’s eve with a loop around the harbour from Concord to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and back to the Gladesville Bridge, the Seven Bridges ride, taking advantage of the light traffic and the chance for a bonus ‘Sunday’ ride on a Wednesday. The Incinerator Cafe at Willoughby has become a favourite. This Walter Burley Griffin designed building presents an eye-catching exterior and is a Sydney icon. The building functioned as an incinerator from the 1930s to the 60s and was leading-edge technology in its day; it disposed of rubbish while generating power for a workshop.
We had our summertime ride and swim outings again. Nielsen Park, Vaucluse is a charming harbour side beach with extensive park-like surrounds and sandstone headlands either side. Our visit there ended with a short ride to the wharf at Watsons Bay for the ferry ride back to Circular Quay – easy! Clovelly Beach has become a favourite too. Enjoying brunch in the Seasalt Cafe overlooking the long channel leading to the beach – does it get any better? Rolf and Colleen took their snorkels and masks and enthused about the sea life. Balmoral Beach is becoming a standard fixture in our calendar too. We had a superb sunny day, Sydney at its best, for a swim in the enclosed pool and brunch at the Boatshed Cafe; a little pricey and very popular but our persistence was rewarded with a superb hour or so by the harbour.
Parramatta Council is devoting more effort in providing good cycling infrastructure than any other council in Sydney. The riverside path the Western Sydney University campus opened, giving us a continuous route under James Ruse Drive all the way to Macarthur St. Another big breakthrough came with the opening of the portal under the Lennox Bridge (Church St). RL Kevin was anticipating this one for a long time. It was controversial: while the bridge was originally opened in 1839, it was extensively rebuilt in the early 1900s to carry the Castle Hill tramway and again in the 1930s to take increasing motor traffic. The portal has been beautifully created with a window down to the foundations of the very first European built bridge from 1802-04.
Our winter time rides generally take us to the west, with flatter terrain and the chance to clock up a few more kilometres. RL Mike took us on a new route through Fairfield to the little known Chipping Norton Lakes. It was a cool day with a grey mist hanging over us but we warmed up at the cafe. Short winter days and cooler temps make us keen to rug up and get out on our bikes for some exercise. Mike also took us eastwards in June on a City Explorer ride. The rain came as we reached the city so Mike steered the group to a superb cafe in a colonial era building in The Rocks. At Le Pain Quotidien we gathered around a long table in a room that had once been a prison cell.
The M7 cycleway is one of Sydney’s premier bicycle facilities and another regular event for us, usually in the winter months. It gives us over 40km of continuous, uninterrupted shared path, from Seven Hills down to Hoxton Park (near Liverpool). Another feature of this ride is the waffle cafe at Rooty Hill, a short diversion off the cycleway. A shortcoming is the lack of ‘comfort stops’ along the way. RL Rolf prevailed upon the Stationmaster at Rooty Hill Station for access – thank you, Sydney Trains. A further quest of the same nature in Western Sydney Parklands took the group to the top of Moonrise Lookout.
Yaralla Estate and Rivendell are extensive Concord properties, in the heartland of BayBUG territory, with over 160 hectares of land – truly anachronistic expanses in the 21st century. Yaralla is one of the last large nineteenth century estates remaining in metropolitan Sydney. RL Geoff took us on an informal tour through the grounds of these estates, where we were able to appreciate the grand 19th century buildings with their river frontages. Geoff gave us an informed commentary of the history of the estates.
Geoff also championed BayBUG’s participation in Canada Bay Council’s review of the 2004 Bike Plan, which regrettably recommended that a number of back-street routes in the original plan be stripped out. Geoff took Sunday groups on tours and created a video of these deleted routes. Sadly, Council accepted the revised, downgraded Bike Plan. But bike riders will continue to use those deleted routes because they are the best alternatives for bikes.
So, we had another great year of rides in 2015. We discovered new places to go, new corners of Sydney we didn’t know existed. And it has been another year of caffeine odysseys – ALL of them successful, I say! A few cafes deserve special mention: Lattecino at Concord West has been in new hands for a while and is a consistently high performer, and close to home; Runcible Spoon in Camperdown never fails to please and has a quiet back street location; the Post Cafe at Marrickville seems to burn down frequently but does a great brunch; Urban Bites in Newtown has a wide-ranging menu and fast and pleasant staff; Bourke St Bakery is a legend and has the best baked goods so the queues are worth the wait; they’re open in Marrickville and also in Parramatta – the latter not yet visited and definitely a destination for us in 2016.
Rides in 2016
We are making plans for Sunday rides in 2016 – next blog story coming soon. And you can view the rides planned for January, February and March by viewing the PushOn Rides Calendar by Bicycle NSW. Hope to see you in 2016.