Jan 20, 2011

The 'Manly' bike trip to North Head

The first time I learnt how to cycle was a year ago. I'm still shaky when I go slow, and I haven't been on a bike in half a year.

So of course, last week, instead of a flat, easy beach ride, I chose a 5 km ride up a hill.

Did I mention I lugged a 20kg kid behind me in a carriage?

Lugged isn't exactly accurate though. Half the time I pushed, cajoled and willed up the two vehicles, trying hard to ignore the sometime-sympathetic, sometime-incredulous looks of passerbys.

We were at Manly, and we were going up to North Head, which lies in the Sydney Harbour National Park and where the mouth of the Sydney harbour lies. We rent the bikes at Manly Bike Tours: hubby has one elder kid on a tandem and because I suck at balancing, I picked the carriage. It looks kinda like a modern, miniature version of the one Cinderella went to the ball in.

The good news is that the tag-along carriage is incredibly light, and its wheels add stability to the conjoined vehicles. I was no longer riding on two wheels, I had four!

Hey this is not too bad, I thought. Just had to remember i had a fat vehicle, and watch out for the turns.

Wait till you go uphill, said hubby.

I hate it when he is right.

Where we were headed was North head, at the side of a cliff. Where we start off is at the beach. The inclines are not that bad, at worst probably around 30 degrees tilt. But the sun was streaming mercilessly. It was cloudier and cooler early in the day, but I opted to go to Oceanworld first hoping the skies would clear later because grey skies made for ugly pictures. My wish granted, I was now baking away.

Halfway through, I was tempted to turn back. I did put up a disclaimer at the start of the ride, saying that 'well, we could try it, we'll just turn back if we can't'. But that is always easier said that done. Once you are in it, you are invested - invested in seeing the product of your trials, invested in winning, not losing.

When you make it, you are rewarded with an adrenaline rush and a boost to the ego. In our case, we were also rewarded with this:

North Head Manly Sydney
North Head, Manly, Sydney

At this view point on North Head, you can see jagged cliffs shaped by millions of years of erosion. The wide blue sea meets the horizon and aquamarine waves break into white foam as they gush on the rocky shores just below. At other view points, you can see the narrow entrance that is the mouth of the harbour, and the winding waterways that lead to Sydney city, with the Sydney Tower and Harbour Bridge visible if you peer hard.

On a high after the 'success' of the first trip (and because downhill is a much preferred way to travel), we proceed to do the beach trail too. The hybrid bike hire is A$19 for an hour, A$26 for two and A$33 for the day, so we take the day and make the most of it.

The ride back on the Manly ferry offers pleasant views, though you have to queue up early to get a seat right in front.

manly ferry view

I ended the day lighter, browner, with a happy soul and unhappy thighs.

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