With the Amy Gillett Gran Fondo (120km – 1650m of climbing) less than three weeks away, I don’t have time to do things like recovery by halves. After last week’s chest infection floored me, I decided to break it’s back by going for a recovery ride with my neighbour. The target for Sunday was 80km (50 miles) with the added challenge of doing it on my dual suspension mountain bike (albeit with 35mm urban slicks shod on the wheels). I wanted to test how I would run by also finding whatever detour I could possible to climb a hill, so the route was not going to be direct by any stretch.

My neighbour MGO had been recently putting in some big kilometers of late with his last work trip to Canberra knocking down 450km (280 miles) in 8 days. So he was not going to be keen to hang around for a wheezing cyclist. We chose our MTB steeds because he only has a hardtail bike (also with slicks) and the weight difference and natural speed of my road steed against his bike is never a fair fight – bad lungs or not.

We set off, and  warmed up in Sydney City before we headed out to Parramatta. Anybody visiting Sydney will tell you it is bumpy, and before we were heading out to properly to Parramatta we had knocked on the head some 250m of climbing. Our route took us along the Parramatta River with many detours away from the shoreline. MGO had never ridden this route before and was quite impressed by its scenery – Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River is quite scenic. We got to the shoreline properly just East of Olympic Park and the route then took us on the Northern side of the river. A lot of people complain that there are not enough safe cycling paths in Sydney, and this is a valid point, but if people took their bikes out to the Homebush / Parramatta region they would find a whole set of off-street bike paths that take you through some pretty cool settings – my favourite is the Mangrove swamps around Ermington and Melrose Park. Next time I will stop and post some photos, but the map below tells the story – all the green lines (solid and dotted) are bike paths.

Cycling Paths Homebush - Parramatta

By the time we hit Parramatta Park we had racked up 40km – it was time for an intermediate coffee stop. But MGO was itching to set some PRs around Parramatta Park so off we sped. He brought out the hammer on one of the laps of Parramatta Park and my lungs were screaming to me to let them recover a bit more. But I couldn’t let MGO burn it up a lap at 36kph (22mph) so I had to chase him down. Good times!

We returned back to the city retracing our route out on the return. The only frustration being zoned out pedestrians with headphones walking on the bike path and a guy who decided he wanted to park a tripod on the descending ramp at ANZAC bridge.

Finishing up, a sweet 80km and a smile on MGO’s face that told me that he enjoyed the spin. Chest infection busted for the most part, recovery ride tonight – I am back in the saddle!