It was an intrepid group of Bike North Dashers, who gathered in the predawn light at Concord West, to join the 1,300 other women riding in the Bicycling NSW & Heart Foundation’s Gear Up Girl 60km ride from Olympic Park to Cronulla, with an out and back loop to Kurnell.
Eighteen had joined the Bike North Dashers, including two from BayBug and seventeen were there for the start but fair to say that was the last time the Dashers were together until coffee at the end of the ride. Some were lost at the start and most at the various road crossings to and along the Cooks River cycleway.
There has been some significant improvements to the cycling infrastructure along the route particularly along Botany Bay south of Brighten-Le-Sands and a new wide (but short) link from Cahill Park to Marsh Street. But the narrow path and even narrower ramps on Marsh Street remain and so does the conflict between cyclists and pedestrians along the beach.
For the Dashers, the ride was uneventful with only one flat tyre. But the route was littered with causalities from riders hitting bollards, overtaking on narrow paths, missing the narrow road ramps and touching wheels. While the stated aim of the event is to encourage women to cycle more, I doubt it has that effect on novices who received no safety information on advice on riding in a group. Apart from the Dashers and a few other experience groupetto riders, no one was calling bollards or other hazards and some even thought it was funny the Dashers were calling out the hazards.
Finally four Dashers cycled back to Tempe & Dulwich Hill before catching trains home riding over 90kms on the day.