Caffeine Culture. Sydney, Northern Beaches
The Northern Beaches ride/s run throughout the week and caters to various levels of fitness and speed. There’s a central location that starts each ride but there is no defined finishing spot. This changes each day depending on weather and coffee demands. This particular map is from Saturday’s Manly to Palm Beach loop leaving at 5:30am. The ride can be downloaded to your Garmin by clicking on the map image (below)*.
Most of these rides are structured but the environment is welcoming for anyone new to the group.
Unlike most bunches, the Northern Beaches mob run a ride on the Monday, a 40km hit out that follows the most popular loop in the area, from Manly to Church Point and back. Wednesdays are the same, and while the bunch does roll turns it’s a pretty mellow affair. All the usual bunch etiquette applies, stopping for reds with easing the pace if the bunch splits. The schedule for Tuesdays and Thursdays is a little more intense, and with the increased pace “it becomes a little more every man for himself,” says Danny, a regular to the bunch and local shop owner. On these days the bunch won’t stop for punctures and there are some set sprints built into the ride. The first sprint occurs as the ride nears the turn around at Church Point, and at Long Reef on the return. While the terrain on the beaches is fairly flat, there are a few pinchy climbs over the headlands of Warriewood and Narrabeen, and the Tuesday/Thursday rides take them all in. The headland deviations also provide opportunity for shortcuts for riders who may be struggling to hang on and can rejoin the bunch when it descends back to the main road. Friday’s ride is similar again, but with a continuous paceline, though Danny assures us it’s not requisite to do a turn.
On Saturday there’s the “Coast to Toast”, once again from the corner of Pittwater Road and Oliver Street. This one takes in the full stretch of the peninsula, the whole way north to Palm Beach and is a longer faster ride. The pace tends to be easy enough to Newport, before picking up speed, culminating with a sprint to Palm Beach that can blow the bunch apart – “that’s pretty much the race of the week,” says Danny, “and for a while we even had a green arm band for the winner of the Palm Beach sprint, though it’s not around anymore,” he laughs. On the return leg the bunch will usually split too, with some of the crew heading up McCarrs Creek Rd for a longer ride and more hills around the National Park, and the remainder heading back to Manly for the “toast” portion of the Coast to Toast ride.
Mid-way through our chat with Danny, a man in chefs whites wanders in, an incongruous sight in a bike shop, the name Giovanni embroided on a spotless lapel. Giovanni, it turns out, is the man behind the increasingly popular Pilu ride – a social, laid back 40km ride to Church Point with an emphasis on shooting the breeze. “We have everybody roll through along the ride, so everybody gets a chance to chat.” The ride finishes up back at the relaxed Pilu Kiosk, right on the beach at Freshwater, where a $5 coffee and muffin special is served up. A kitty is passed around for charity too, everybody popping in a $2 coin. “Good riding, good food, good for the spirit,” says Giovanni, and we definitely agree. Up 50 riders regularly join the bunch, and that number grows every week. It’s a great initiative that’s designed to really grow the cycling culture in the area and to help encourage riders to take that next step and join in with a bunch.
Departs from: Monday-Saturday – Bike Addiction, corner of Pittwater Rd and Oliver St, North Manly, Monday-Saturday, 5:30am.
Sunday – BP petrol station, corner of Pittwater Rd and Kenneth St, North Manly, 6:30am
Tuesday (cyclocross) – North Head, corners of Reddal and College Sts, 6:00am.
Average: Monday and Wednesday, 25-30km/h. Tues and Thursday, 35-40km/h. Friday, 35km/h. Saturday, 35km/h. Sunday 25-30km/h
Difficulty: Various – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are hard rides. Monday and Wednesday are more relaxed. Sunday is a mellow affair.
Notes: The Northern Beaches bunches are very welcoming to new riders, but it’s probably best to turn up on a Wednesday at first, just to get the feel for the bunch and the terrain before joining one of the faster rides. We highly recommend coming along for the Sunday Pilu ride too; it’s a great start to your Sunday.
*A username and password is required for those wanting to transfer the course information to their Garmin head unit.