Earlier this year I went for a bike ride with a friend, and really enjoyed it. I mused on the idea of riding to work, and so I looked up one of the “no excuse zone” maps that the city of Sydney council has put together.
I live a long way further out than even the 30 minute zone, and so I put my plans of bike riding on hold. I still wanted to be able to ride a bike, though, and I mentioned this to my brother, who had a spare mountain bike lying around that he hadn’t ridden in a long while.
I even tweeted about it – that it was way too far to think about. Someone else at work tweeted back that it was perfectly reasonable to ride that far, and so I formed a crazy ambition: to ride my bike to work for ride to work day.
It took longer than I was hoping to get a bike that I could ride, but once I had it (the spare mountain bike), it was a matter of getting the brakes checked at my local bike shop, and then – three weeks out – doing some practice riding. After a couple of trial runs, I rode half way to work (to figure out which way to go as much as anything) on the long weekend, and then did some distance rides with a friend out at the M7 bike path – I only managed some of it, and found out just how unfit I was.
Yesterday morning, I hopped on my bike and – disaster – the front brake wasn’t releasing properly. A sleepy Kel came out to see what I was doing, and helped me figure out that it wasn’t the brake that was the problem, but that the wheel nuts had been over-tightened. With that changed, the bike was working again, and I headed in, completing the 22km ride in a little over 2 hours (I’m hoping to get faster at riding as my fitness improves).
I felt a bit tired by the end of it, and was ready for a good night’s sleep last night, but was otherwise unscathed. If I can ride a bike that far, I think anyone can!
And yes, I took my bike home on the train last night rather than riding home again: if you take a bike on a train during peak hour (6-9am, 3:30-7:30pm) you have to buy it a child ticket, so overall, I saved $2 by riding to work. I can’t say that saving money was the aim of the exercise this time, though: it’s been more about building up fitness, and trying to accomplish a personal goal.
If you’re thinking about riding a bike in Sydney, have a look at the links above, and also at the RTA pages about bikes.