It’s the biggest bicycle riding festival of the city and starts this week with an extended program of events that will run over 3 months. “More than 20,000 people took part last year, and the expansion of our Sydney Rides program to three months will give families more opportunities to get outside, get active together and discover our city on two wheels.” said Lord Mayor Clover Moore on the festival’s eighth year.
Standouts this year including the annual scavanger hunt, speed dating, charity work and we also take a look book to rediscover the city’s past. Did you know it was illegal for women to ride bikes over a century ago???
An abundance of choice is on offer in this year’s program bringing together community and business hosts. From photography exhibitions, to a mass ride across Sydney Harbour Bridge, guided bike rides, workshops, social meetups, foodie tours and hidden spots revealed as you peddle your way through the city as it is transformed into an adventure playground!
1. Volunteer and help build bikes for Asylum seekers
Tuesdays – 1 October, 5 November
Sydney Park Cycling Centre – 410-416 Sydney Park Road, Alexandria – 6pm to 9pm (Donate your time)
Pedal Power is a Bicycle Garden program where volunteers work together to overhaul and repair donated bikes that are rehomed with Asylum Seekers through the Asylum Seeker Center. Every level of experience is welcome, even if you have never held a wrench before. Knowledgeable, friendly Bicycle Gardeners provide instructions and plenty of encouragement. Each bicycle is worked on in small groups with mixed levels of experience to encourage skill building and safe bike building.
Participation in this event is by donation. Donations are used to purchase helmets, locks and lights to accompany the bicycles.
3. Bicycle Scavenger Hunt
Sunday 15 September – Shop 17/17-21 George Street, Redfern – 10am to 4pm (FREE)
If you like bikes, scavenger hunts and crafty clues, join in on this roving two-wheeled adventure through the streets and laneways of the inner west.
4. Light the City
Mrs Macquaries Road, The Domain
Saturday 21 September – 6pm to 11pm (FREE)
Experience the beauty of Sydney’s spectacular harbour at twilight. A night of family fun at Mrs Macquaries Chair. Bring your bike, hire a ride or take the route on foot and experience spectacular lights, illuminated trees, gourmet food trucks and entertainment. Bring your dancing shoes for the ever popular silent disco at sundown.
5. Bike Film Nights
Omafiets Dutch Bicycles
17 George St, Redfern NSW 2016, Australia
Saturday 14 September – 4.30pm to 6pm
Ritz Cinema – 45 St. Pauls Street, Randwick
Wednesday 25 September & Thursday 26 September – 7pm
6. Sydney Rides Photo Exhibition
Paddington Reservoir Gardens – 1–31 October – 8am to 8pm
Discover Sydney’s secret subterranean park with a spectacular photographic exhibition in Paddington Reservoir Gardens. The display will highlight bike-based adventures and Sydney’s most spectacular rides.
7. Group Bike Rides
Decathalon Sports Warehouse – 634-726 Princes Hwy, Tempe
Sundays – 8 September, 13 October, 10 November – 7am meet for 7.20am departure
Meet the Btwin Team at Decathlon Tempe for a group ride. All participants also get 10% on any bikes and accessories purchased. This event is subject to change in case of bad weather or not enough registrations.
Sunday 13 October – Various Start times depending on distance – 6.30am, 7am, 8am
Various Locations – St. Leonards Park North Sydney, Sydney Olympic Park
Cross the Harbour Bridge car-free on Sydney’s biggest bike ride, the Spring Cycle. From regular riders to fitness freaks, there’s a route for all abilities – from a ride through the Rocks and Pyrmont, up to a 105km challenge all the way to Sydney Olympic Park.
8. The Big Adventure:
Saturday 9 November – Sydney Park, St Peters – 9am to 4pm (FREE)
An enormous screen-free family fun day with mountain boarding, rock climbing, sports clinics, dancing and even bike yoga. Bring your picnic rug for a food truck feast and watch breathtaking BMX stunt riders and roving entertainers throughout Sydney Park.
9. Bike Speed Dating:
Saturday 23 November – Grand Drive, Centennial Parklands – $20
Yes, you read this right, this is speed dating on bikes. Take the awkwardness out of regular speed dating and take in a few different Sydney venues at the same time.
Honouring Sydney’s cycling heroines, past and present
Imagine Googling your name and discovering you share it with an unusual heroine from the past.
That’s exactly what happened to 39-year-old Sarah Maddock, and it sparked a newfound passion for bike riding. Her namesake was instrumental in encouraging Australian women to ride bikes more than 130 years ago.
The Sarah Maddock of the 1890s played a key role in supporting more women to ride during the cycling craze at the turn of that century.
She led the first Sydney Ladies Bicycle Club and fought to eliminate discrimination against women in sport.
Quoted in the New South Wales Cycling Gazette on 19 June 1897, Sarah Maddock said: “There is a charm in cycle touring which appeals to us more strongly than any other branch of the pastime and few people who have once tried it will be able to resist its fascination”.
The original Sarah Maddock also became the first woman to undertake an epic cycling trip between Sydney and Melbourne 125 years ago, joining her husband Ernest on doctors’ orders to make a ‘complete change’ to improve his ill health.
The modern Sarah Maddock will relive this mammoth journey in August, leading a 14-day bike tour spanning almost 1,000 kilometres.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore will be patron of the modern Sarah Maddock’s journey. 125 years ago, the Mayoress of Sydney, Mrs S Lees, was patron of the first Sydney Ladies Cycling Club set up by the original Sarah Maddock.
“This surprising tale celebrates one of the most significant bike riding champions in Sydney’s history,” the Lord Mayor said. “The humble bike has been a popular form of transport for decades and remains one of the most cost effective, reliable and sustainable ways to move around the city. We know women are more likely to ride if they feel safe and see others doing the same. That’s why we’re building a safe and connected bike network as quickly as possible.”
While bike trips across the City of Sydney area have more than doubled in the past 10 years, a recent National Cycling Participation Survey shows the number of men riding still far outweighs women.
City of Sydney research shows only
13% of women residents in the
City of Sydney area ride regularly, and
60% of local women don’t think it’s safe
enough to ride on the road.
Sarah Maddock had not ridden a bike since she was a child, but was reinspired on discovering her namesake’s passion for riding more than one hundred years before her.
“I remember thinking it would be amazing to do that one day myself. I got back into riding to work, while also looking into the history of Sarah’s fascinating past,” Sarah Maddock said.
She tracked down direct descendants through an old obituary notice and got in touch.
“I really wanted to share my tour with the family. Eventually I found Sarah’s great granddaughter and gave her a call. It was a little strange at first as we’re not related, but they’ve become my second family. They shared memories of growing up with Sarah, but knew very little of what she had achieved, so it was wonderful to share her legacy with them.”
Gillian Appleton from Paddington spent much of her childhood school holidays with her great grandmother Sarah Maddock. “Sarah was fantastic character who lived well into her 90s. Although I knew her very well and she lived to a great age, I didn’t know anything about her cycling history – she had never talked about it,” Ms Appleton said. “When Sarah contacted our family it was quite a discovery. I subsequently spoke to a friend who was a great cycling enthusiast and mentioned my great grandmother was a great lady cyclist back in her day and he said: ‘good heavens, she was famous!’ It’s wonderful the other Sarah is drawing attention to this journey. It’s shedding light on a lost part of history.”
Gillian and several other family members will join Sarah Maddock in Sydney before the race, to wish her luck ahead of her memorial ride.
“I’ve been training for months and I’m excited about visiting some of the same old towns the original Sarah rode through 125 years before,” Sarah said. “I do feel like there’s a bit of pressure on my shoulders. But when the ride gets tough, I’ll be inspired by Sarah’s story of resilience. I still can’t believe she did the whole ride wearing a corset, with just a bottle of water and a spare set of clothes wrapped around the handlebars!”