Cycling Sydneysider #2: Liane
Where do you live? What’s your usual commute?
I live near Gladesville so my usual commute is into the city, riding the bridges. I start with the cycleway under Tarban then over Gladesville Bridge and Iron Cove, either under Victoria Road and around The Bay Run, through the parks of the Inner West, or ANZAC Bridge to Darling Drive. I work at various locations in cycle education so really get to see the best of the city through linking green spaces and water views. I’ve also worked in Parramatta following a lovely cycleway besides the river.
Can you tell us about how you first got into bikes while growing up in the UK?
I started cycling in my teens when my older brother bought me a second hand bike and taught me to ride. To me cycling has always been about freedom, freedom to explore, have adventures, go where and when I wanted, without compromise. At that age my dog also came everywhere with me, a trusty mutt that ran alongside and shared in the adventures. Our family didn’t have a car growing up and the only option was walk or take public transport which was poor at best , so it was definitely better to get about by bike.
When I became a mum, life skills like swimming and cycling were very important to me. My boys became familiar with the bicycle much earlier than I did, progressing from child seats attached to bikes to tag alongs and then a tandem. We had many family adventures both in the UK and on holidays abroad. On weekends we often headed out across fields on our mountain bikes to a village pub in a neighbouring county, or took part in local group rides..
How do you find riding a bike in Sydney and any advice for people nervous about riding in urban environments?
I hadn’t lived and commuted in a city before moving to Sydney. The only city riding I had undertaken before living here was on holidays, exploring European city sights by bike, or enjoying group events such as London, “Pedal to Paris”. Given the opportunity to come and live in Sydney I really wanted to get to know the city and find my way around easily so I decided not to purchase a car but rather a bike. I spent a good six months just exploring and enjoying getting lost!
I followed other riders via local BUG ‘s (bicycle user groups) and the best decision I made was to sign up for the Cycling in The City Confidence course provided thanks to the City of Sydney council. Although I was already a cycle instructor in the UK I wanted to experience how the laws may differ here, and it is always helpful to get local professional advice.
You are quite the micro adventurer, exploring Sydney by bike. Tell us about your favourite route and the destination?
I think my favourite route is always a new route, I love exploring and although I now know the city much better I still often take a slightly different route home just to compare. I can’t quite get out of the round trip habit of leading group rides for British Cycling. Recently I’ve been exploring further with my e-bike but also multimode, catching the train to Newcastle for a rail trail or down to the Royal National Park & riding to Wollongong.
I have a pooch who’s in training to be a bike box, trail dog….. so adventures to local doggy parks & beaches on the horizon for my free days, so far we’re just checking out the best dog friendly cafes.
You spend much of your recreational and working time on a bike. Do you need padded shorts and all that lycra?
I use the bike & kit appropriate for the type of riding activity i am undertaking. I’ve taken part in mountain bike tours across Croatia in a bikini, shorts & trainers so it is easy to stop off for a swim! On a longer one day sportive on a road bike such as the 110k Cape Argus in South Africa I wore Lycra with pads & clipped in shoes, easier for comfort & long climbs. I love the Sydney climate and for comfort with commuting and work I mostly ride in shorts, vest tops & converse, layering up to jeans, jumper & waterproof or windproof jacket plus walking boots in winter. I think so long as your comfortable & nothing is catching on the bike it’s all good. I love the elegance of some women in the city in skirts & heels but still tend to go more for the mountain bike style of bicycle as preference, plus I’m a bit scruffy.
What are you currently riding and why?
I love my e-bike which I purchased shortly after my arrival in Sydney. The e-bike has made my life so much easier. Buying it was a conscious decision as I didn’t want a ‘second’ car in our family. I wanted to get to know this new city we had moved to and be able to explore further afield. I want to be part of the solution to a more liveable city and not a part of the problem. Traffic, congestion, pollution, these are surely the worst side of Sydney. Setting a good example for health and wellbeing also matters to me. I’ve been able to manage my Rheumatoid Arthritis with diet and with exercise, and have had very little medical intervention, which i believe is because of the benefits of cycling.