17th March, 2014
Our first stop on the trip was staying with friends in Melbourne because I anticipated that I, at least, would need some space to recover from getting away from NZ with the Husband and luggage intact and the apartment and Daughters correctly set up. I was not wrong! The last few days have been bliss … good sleep, good conversation, good food, and good times.
Melbourne always pleasantly surprises me. It’s a lovely city with lots of amenity for people rather than just cars. There are many car-free streets that are a hive of activity and wonderful areas to stroll around with lots of people to watch … and, if you’re like me, bicyclist to watch.
Even since we were last here a couple of years ago, the number of upright city bikes has exploded. There is obviously a cheap source of these bikes somewhere in the city as we saw the same frames and colours repeated many times. Cool urban cyclists are a strong part of the mix and at times outnumbered the usual antipodean crouched-over mountain bike type of cyclist. From a casual glance, I would say that less than half of the cyclist I saw still believe that special cycling clothes must be worn when getting on a bicycle. Giant steps!
The Melbourne bike share seems to be getting more desperate in it’s attempt to lure people onto the bikes. They are now attaching free helmets to the front basket so that the farce that was ‘go to a dairy and buy a helmet, ride, then take it back to a dairy and get a partial refund when you’ve finished’ is no longer necessary. It still doesn’t seem to be working as many of the racks where full, but realistically, who wants to put on the naff looking helmets anyway and especially when you don’t know where they’ve been. I wonder how many have been nicked so far?
Now the hard stuff begins. Today we head off to Sydney and we will have to fend for ourselves. No more excellent hospitality and free food. This will also be our first experience of Airbnb so I hope it goes well.
I’m looking forward to seeing Sydney again as it’s about 25 years since I was last there … things will probably have changed. I’ve heard quite a bit about the new cycle infrastructure so I’m very keen to check that out and get some video of Sydney cyclists.
I am also looking for some photochromic sunglasses for when we get the bikes. My current eyewear process for cycling involves taking my standard sunglasses on and off as required, and because I’m not hugely coordinated, I have to stop each time. I think this will get pretty tiresome on long rides, plus the Husband is not known for his bounteous tolerance so for the sake of marital harmony I needed another more sophisticated system that eliminates the stop/starting. I looked extensively online for some sunnies that would do the job and eventually decided that the only option was proper ‘cycling’ glasses. I know this sounds obvious to some people but it did not initially seem the obvious choice as the glasses I have seen on the NZ lycra set are rainbow coloured and very futuristic … it was not screaming middle aged lady on a Brompton. However, having exhausted all other avenues, I ventured into the Oakley sunglass shop. The first few pairs I tried made me look like an uncomfortable cross between Lady Gaga and Dame Edna Everage! After further exploration, we did uncovered a pair that both fitted (most are made for male athlete types) and worked (I only looked eccentric rather than full on mad!) BUT they didn’t have them in stock. I also tried the Melbourne store. I have dealt with a range of cool looking but ‘not much between the ears’ sales assistants in NZ and Melbourne to no avail. Next stop Sydney, where I hope to find intelligent life.
18th March, 2014
Good news. Sydney provided two very helpful young men in the Oakley (Manly) store. What’s more, they actually new their stock very well. I exited the shop a happy customer with a pair of smart Oakley Flak Jacket photochromic sunnies that only have a hint of Lady Gaga and I think Dame Edna has been eliminated altogether!
We also had to make an unscheduled stop at a bike shop because when we got the trailers off the carousel in Sydney, attached the wheels and tried to inflate the tires, one of them didn’t … there are several hypotheses as to how this occurred but my money is on over-enthusiastic pumping technique.
Manly was a wash with cool cyclists, laid back cyclists and stylish cyclists …. practically all of them completely ignoring the helmet law … it was a thing of beauty.
Sydney itself was another story. Apart from the standard commuter type of cyclist and the lyra set, there was absolutely nothing … zilch, zip, nada. I couldn’t find anything … there was a serious lack of bike culture. I also tried very hard to find cycling infrastructure but came up with nothing. I will give it another go tomorrow but I even resorted to asking the locals where the cycle lanes were and nobody knew. Something is very broken with cycling in Sydney from what I saw today. BUT doing very well in Manly 🙂