Sydneyrides is over. Keep riding Sydney!

Sydney Rides The Night

Sydney Rides The Night

With the wet weather Ride2Work day was a damp squib, but the sydneyrides festival went out with a bang thanks to Sydney Rides the Night. The night ride festival attracted over 2000 people to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair to enjoy a spectacular event. People of all ages, and from all cycling ‘tribes’ were out enjoying the closed road loop, light installations and fun atmosphere, including a silent disco, roller racing and bean bags set up to enjoy some bike-related short films and docos on the outdoor screen.

Despite the occasionally bad weather, and the Telegraph’s feeble attacks on Ride2Work day, the closing event capped off a successful fortnight of events encouraging people to get out and enjoy riding.  The Spokespeople organised the Hill Climb and Gold Sprints for those with a competitive edge, as well as bike-themed film screenings. The Spring Cycle and Checkpoint Challenge got people out and exploring Sydney on two wheels, and bike maintenance workshops to teach people how to look after them.

One event that slipped under the radar was the lunchtime presentation ‘Reinventing the Wheel’ where the Dutch Cycling Embassy (that really is a thing) shared their knowledge about building cycling-friendly cities, and Australian delegates who had travelled over to see the Dutch example in the flesh reported on their experiences. Quotes from one delegate included “Roads aren’t just for cars,”  and we must work together to
“demand better bike lanes”… that particular speaker was from the RACQ.

Aletta Koster from the “embassy” spoke not only about the key features for building a successful bike network, but also the need for three things to make cycling accessible: hardware, software, and orgware. Hardware is the infrastructure, such as bike paths, parking, tunnels and bridges. Orgware is the ability for organisations at different levels to communicate and work together to make projects happen. Software is even less tangible, and could be expressed as the general attitude in the society towards cycling. As Koster pointed out, you can build all the cycle paths you want, but if you neglect the other two legs of the tripod, it will eventually fall over.

In light of that, I think it’s worth remarking that the sydneyrides festival isn’t just a council-sponsored collection of jollies for cycling types. It really is about building that software, encouraging people to get on a bike and reminding them of how much fun it can be; an important task given the hatred levelled at cyclists from the media and government offices. Every 10-year-old knows how great riding a bike is, but by the time people turn 30 many have been convinced otherwise. It was great to see everyone from 8 to 80 out and riding at Sydney Rides the Night.

The festival might be over, but it’s no excuse to stop riding, or inviting friends out for a ride. And if you need an excuse, you could do worse than Supercross this Saturday, the Gong Ride on Sunday, or the Newcastle Overnight next weekend.

Get Out Of Town: Cycling in Orange

Somewhere out of Molong

Cycling in Orange

Throw your bike on the roof-rack (or hop on the XPT) and head to Orange for a weekend of riding. 250km from Sydney, Orange is NSW’s food bowl and home to some fine produce and wines, making it the perfect destination for cycling along country roads interspersed with quality ‘refueling’ stops.

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner! or Magellan Cyclo GPS!

Sydney. On a bike.

Sydney. On a bike.

This has to be one of my favourite ride shots: nothing particularly special about the taking, just grabbed the smartphone and shot from the hip (ok, saddle – don’t try that at home kids). No time spent planning it or composing it, just a quick click as my buddy and I swung under the bridge after a morning spent riding along the coast under Sydney’s glorious winter sunshine. Continue reading

Even More Cycling Fun in Sydney in November

It seems my last post on upcoming cycling events in Sydney was published too soon. As Demtel would put it: “But wait, there’s more!” Continue reading

Spring Into Riding

Sydney_Harbour_Bridge_Sunday_RideAfter a rain-soaked false start, it looks like Spring has finally arrived in Sydney. Thanks to longer days and milder weather it’s a perfect time to get out and ride. Or perhaps take up riding for the first time! Continue reading

Rapha Does Holidays, But What Next?

Slate Olsen speaking at Rapha Sydney

Slate Olson speaking at Rapha Sydney

Years ago, during my ‘London phase’ I covered the opening of a cycling-themed pop-up store that I thought was a lot of fun, but would never last. And it didn’t since it was a pop-up, but that original Rapha Club was so successful that they’ve become permanent, and even made it to Sydney.

Wednesday night, I dropped in to Sydney’s Rapha Club to check out what CMO Slate Olson had to say about the Rapha Travel offering. You won’t be surprised to hear that it’s a) expensive and b) luxurious. If you’ve ever wanted to ride the great climbs of Europe, see the places where cycling history was made, and be treated like a pro complete with support vehicles and post-ride massage from a pro-peloton soigneur, then Rapha can sort that for you. The images that Slate showed and the experiences he spoke about on the rides made even this penny-pinching, hairy-legged non-racer want to sign up. Options range from ‘Retreats’ based out of a single location where non-cycling partners can relax at the resort while you ride each day, up to the ‘Cent Cols Challenge’ if you really want that glory through suffering experience. Most of the tours are in Europe, but according to Olsen there are plans to broaden the offerings, including rides with Team Sky personnel, and talk of giving it a go in Australia around the Tour Down Under 2015.

Sipping my complimentary beer and listening to the presentation, I couldn’t help but marvel at their success. Clearly, the cycling market is on the up (bikes outselling cars, more cyclists each year etc.), but Rapha seems to be particularly adept at picking new and disparate ventures while maintaining a cohesive brand.  From CEO Simon Mottram starting out wanting to make a better jersey and sell it online only, Rapha now has their own bricks-and-mortar stores on 4 continents selling their wares, print a hefty mag on actual paper (take that, print-is-dead brigade!), jumped into pro-cycling as the top levels of the sport reeled in the wake of Armstrong, and can now even organise your holiday for you… Clearly Mottram’s idea of a cycling emporium has hit a mark, and the luxury branding has been well maintained in everything they do… but what’s next? Rapha real estate selling time-shares in cycling destinations? Raphunerals to scatter your ashes atop Tourmalet? (If either of those come to pass, I want credit!) The 99u.com article linked to above mentions Mottram’s 5 year forecasts for the company, and how he predicted everything back in 2005 – I wonder how close they are to the 2015 vision… and what he’s planning for 2020?

The other big announcement of the evening was confirmation that Supercross will be back again in Sydney Park in November, bigger, better, and hopefully less puncture-y than last time.

Audax Petit Oppy Challenge 2014, 3 Guys & Lots of Gravel

Gravel grinding along the river

Gravel grinding along the river

On the morning of Sunday 16th March you may have spotted some small groups of cyclists on Sydney’s roads, perhaps looking more haggard than the usual bunch rides that got up at dawn. That’s because they had been riding for nearly 24 hours as part of the annual Fleche Opperman 24 hour trial and were rushing to the 9am finish at Parramatta Park.

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