Our journey starts at Homebush in the park. In order to go south, you have to start by going west. The grass is green, the trees are nice, the paths are smoothe and the bugs have a bad habit of flying into your mouth in certain locations. Like this one. I took this photo, then coughed bug for the next kilometre.
And then in order to go south, we do a U turn and head east. Once again, the grass is green, the trees are lush and the paths are smoothe. And the same bugs fly out of the trees on this side and try to lodge in your larynx.
It's not long before the smoothe paths expire and you're onto the root lifted bumpy paths. And this is where we meet our first "canal". I prefer to call them "drains".
Ooh, look at the lovely foaming scum on the "water" in that drain.
Amazingly enough, fish live in the water at this point. I think they prefer to hang out where the pollution is the thickest and the water shallowest for two reasons:
- if a bird dives on them at this point, it will embed itself in the concrete that lies six inches below the surface of the water
- any bird silly enough to come into contact with the stuff floating in this drain will catch fire immediately
And then the green and pleasant land starts again. The path meanders along mostly quiet back roads, through parks and up and down dales. Do we have dales in Australia, or are they a peculiarly English thing? The birds were singing, the magpies were dancing and not swooping, and life was good.
This is not necessarily in order by the way. I just took lots of photos of paths fringed by greenery. Most of the greenery in this shot by the way is weeds.
I just love the way the path curves back and forth though the trees. It really is very pleasant to ride along here.
Once the path gets past Rookwood Cemetary, it follows a golf club for a while. Did you know that the people living next to Rookwood can't be buried there? You know why?
They're not dead yet.
Finally, after riding for half an hour, I met another cyclist coming the other way. We are now riding right along the side of the canal/drain, which is that ugly grey thing on the right.
The reservation that the path runs through is not that wide, as you can see by the houses that back up against it on the left. But it doesn't need to be that wide to be pleasant. It's far enough away from main roads to have no road noise, so all you hear are birds going tweet-tweet-tweet.
I like how the path has underpasses at all the main roads, so you don't have to cross 4 lanes of traffic whilst risking your neck. All the underpasses have steep ramps leading into and out of them, so you can really hoon down into the dark underneath - hoping that there is nothing hiding in that shadow down there.
If you don't like high voltage power lines, now is the time to line your helmet with tinfoil.
At Canterbury, things get a little wilder. The path gets narrower and rougher, the bush is unkempt and off to the sides are warehouses and factories of various descriptions. Thickset men with large tattoos start to make an appearance. However, the factories are far enough away to not intrude on an otherwise lovely experience, and the men tend to nod and say hello.
And then - woops! Haul on the brake cables! Yes, I know that the road ahead is damaged - it is in fact totally crap. A sign is not really necessary to tell me this.
Except 10 yards later, I run into this - "use other path". What other path?
I backtracked to the other sign and found this. Because of the way the wind was blowing, it was completely unreadable as I approached it. Why can't they print this on a nice big sign that you can read from 20 feet away?
I backtracked some more and went over this bridge, searching for the "other path".
Hmmm. No path here.
So that was the end point of my ride today, which was about 20km short of where I wanted to be.
I'm told the Cooks River route is absolute mayhem on weekends, with packs of slow moving walkers, dogs, prams, bikes and so on, so I'm glad I got to do it on a weekday when things were quiet. It's flat, making it perfect for those seeking an easy or family oriented ride - and you can make it as long as you like, going 10km and then turning around or going 40km all the way to the airport before coming back. Getting to the path from Homebush is a bit of a challenge if you have kids, but that is the only drawback.
The thing is though, because it's so flat and has so few places where you have to stop or slow down, the temptation is to floor it. Which is what I did. And which is why I am now so utterly knackered, I can barely keep my fingers on the keyboard. Bedtime for moi.