After a solid year of training and a few big rides in September and October this year, I have wound down the riding a bit in November. But I am already putting on some pudding around the waist and I had enough of it yesterday – so back in the saddle. I picked up a new riding buddy, GE, who is training for a sprint triathlon to raised funds for the Cancer Charity Can Too. GE is an old work colleague who finally got around to attaining a new road steed to add to his stable. He has been off the bikes for a while, so was a bit rusty. But it was good to introduce another cycling buddy to one of my routes – Centennial Park to La Perouse and back.
For those who don’t know both locations have historical significance for Australia. La Perouse was where the French Navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse landed in Botany Bay a few days after the First Fleet of British Convicts entered the bay before proceeding to Sydney Cove. Centennial Park was originally land belonging to the Gadigal people before European settlement in Australia, but in more recent times the park is significant as the site of official ceremony to mark the federation of Australia on 1 January 1901. The pavilion for the ceremony still stands today. While the whole area holds great history for Indigenous Australia, Colonial Australia, and the modern Australian Commonwealth – for me personally the area is great for riding with the two cool bookends.
For this ride I had installed a new piece of kit on my road steed, a K-Edge Garmin computer mount. I had been eyeing this piece of kit up for a while, through fear of crashing while bombing down the hill and trying to look at my Garmin for a speed check. What convinced me was the review by another blogger Alan Thomson over a Scarlet Fire who wrote up this article.
That is it in the metallic red paint and you can see it is quite a fair way in front of the stem headplate. I left the old mount on the stem as a comparison point and the viewing angle is greatly improved in terms of how far you have to look down (over the front wheel and not the stem). In this new setup, my peripheral vision is over past the front wheel – much safer for speed checks while bombing down hills.
This ride has a good downhill bombing segment that leads to Bare Island at La Perouse. I always conk out before the cul-de-sac at the end that swings around to return back. My goal is to maintain maximum speed all the way down this segment. For this ride with GE I grabbed a PR, but well short of the guys racking up 69km/hr. We were rewarded with a beautiful dawn view of the Tasman Sea and heads at Botany Bay. That is GE’s new Giant steed that you can see in the shot, cool ride.
It was also a nice calm view of the bay and airport runways too – in fact nice morning for a ride all round, given that it was sprinkling ever slightly when I left home.
And I suppose I have to include a shot of me in my riding gear (the cursed BMC kit that I wore for my only road steed stack). I am normally the one doing the shooting, so surprisingly I don’t have many photos with me in them.
At the halfway point GE was doing pretty well, as hadn’t done a lot of road riding. We started our return, and unusually there was a bit of traffic for that time of the morning. We returned through Maroubra along ANZAC Parade, and the traffic was really getting busy. I told GE to ride single file on my tail, but as soon as we did so another rider flew past both of us as he weaved in and out of the second lane. The other rider had got no more than 50m in front of us when, as he was sitting in the left most lane, he got cut off by a ute that decide it wanted to turn left – without the driver looking in her blind spot. He nearly got collected and had to come to a pretty much full stop to avoid being hit. In fairness, the rider had put himself in her blind spot, but nonetheless she would have been at fault. The challenge that I have in this case is that even she was at fault, the loser will always be the rider on two wheels. Crash adverted for him – luckily.
We approached the five ways roundabout at Kingsford where some the traffic signals had afforded us a clean run on the road without any cars alongside of us, but as I entered the roundabout with ample space and no traffic a single driver in a car coming from the south into the roundabout decided that he didn’t have to look and sped in on a collision course with me. I was readily anticipating this sort of stupidity and lucky for me there was no other traffic on my right and I could change lanes to avoid him. GE was watching it all from behind my rear wheel and started yelling at driver, at which point the driver finally looked and saw me less than a metre from his open driver’s side window.
Words were exchanged… politely.
He apologised profusely and took off, probably heart in his mouth at the crash that he avoided. At least I saw the “oh sh!t” look in his eyes.
For me this is all too common an occurrence on Sydney. Unlike some of Australia’s other capital cities like Melbourne and Adelaide, there is little acceptance of riders on the road. In Sydney, there appears to be an anger directed at cyclists – fueled by some idiots like Alan Jones on the radio. The focus instead needs to be on how everyone needs to ride and drive safe to avoid accidents and incidents like the one I experienced. Until the road safety situation improves, I will be driving my car to Centennial Park to go for a ride and not risking my life on Cleveland street to get there. The good thing is that young riders like a fellow blogger Alex are thinking about the safety situation, so the future generation and all of us riding now will have safer riding conditions all round.
We finished our ride back at Centennial Park with a few laps to dust out any remaining cobwebs, and apart from the near miss it was a great ride which I will repeat next week. GE is getting some good kilometers in his legs through his training and it can only improve. Looking forward to some good riding this weekend, and it is going to be a swelter on Saturday morning with a top of 38 degrees predicted.
Let’s hope I am not writing another blog about near misses again any time soon.