The Sydney Harbour Bridge is my favorite Sydney lankmark (The Opera House is artsy and interesting, but the bridge is dominant). This weekend, I jumped on my bike and decided to ride across it. Sorry, no pictures. I was occupied keeping vertical on the bike. (but I did find a video that a rider posted with footage of the path)
While some of you might be worried that this is similar to my ride up I-35 from San Antonio to Austin, the bridge in Sydney has a special bike corridor so there’s no mixing with cars. Essentially you’re riding on two lanes caged off on the Western side of the bridge: one lane for Northbound and the other for Southbound traffic.
Don’t look down
The ramp to get your bike onto the bridge going North is pretty steep. Then once you’re on the bridge, there’s essentially a steel mesh from keeping you from dropping off the bridge into the Sydney Harbour. But being 50-75 meters above the water while riding your bike is still an uneasy feeling, and there’s not a lot of room for mistakes. Once you reach the North side of the bridge, there are about 50 stairs going down. You can ride a narrow, steep path down, but I didn’t attempt it. I was hoping to see someone else give it a go.
I decided to keep riding and turn around when I hit 20Ks, to make the ride at least interesting. So I asked someone where cyclists ride North of Sydney and they said ‘Military Road.’ So I started riding, looking for Military Road. It turns out that a lot of cars like riding Military Road, but most of the time I had a partial lane I could ride in, and even a bus lane at times. The hill that drops down to the spit is a little sketchy; I could feel my back tire start to slide every so slightly as my speed increased and I began to lean more. Then crossing the Spit bridge is a pain because of a metal section where a bad reflex could send you horizontal – similar to riding grooved pavement on a motorcycle. Then you’re rewarded with a tough climb that was great on a beautiful Saturday. Eventually I saw a sign for “Manly, 6K”.
Sydney is a lot smaller than I think
The farthest we’ve been in Sydney felt like Manly. We have great friends in Manly, and we don’t seem them nearly enough as we should, which is totally our fault. But getting out there took a bus, then a ferry, then a decent walk. Usually we’d budget 75-90 minutes. When I rolled into Manly after less than an hour on my bike, I had to laugh. I’m pretty excited that I could get up early and be in Manly before the day starts. That’s a great thing. I need to keep discovering more of Sydney this way (by accident), because it seems to be the only way my bad sense of direction manages to build an internal map of the world around me.
The ride home was a mirror of the ride out, but now familiar. The climb out of the spit was tough but again it felt great to hit the top, even though looking at my Garmin it was only 100m from the bottom to the top. Definitely a ride I will be repeating.
And, wow have I lost all of my conditioning from last year. I’m getting my butt to spin class this week.