Ride - Ryde Bridge to Parramatta Park, Sydney
Distance - 27.9 km round trip
Terrain - Shared pedestrian path and cycleway with a couple of hundred metres on road.
Difficulty - Flat and easy.
Highlights - Having lunch in the sunshine sitting on the grass next to the Parramatta River.
Map - click here
Our first rule of cycling, apart from the obvious ones like, don't forget your helmet, is 'take your own lunch'. Cafe lunches are lovely, but it is an immutable law of nature that you will only find a nice little cafe fifteen minutes after you've finally given up looking and had lunch at the horrible takeaway around the corner. Trust me on this one, it never fails.
After today, our second rule of cycling is 'turn around and check the kitchen table as you head out the door', because if it turns out that having made roast lamb and avocado sandwiches on deliciously fresh wholegrain bread with mango chutney, and popped in a couple of mandarins for dessert, and you're half way into the ride when Number 2 son rings to ask why your lunch is still sitting on the table at home, you'll be really pissed off. And worse, being Sunday, you don't want to go to a cafe because it will be crowded and take forever to get served, so instead of fresh, healthy, homemade sandwiches you end up eating three day old rubbish from a 7/11 store.
Absent the sandwich saga, this is one of our favourite rides. Park on the northern bank of the Parramatta River at Ryde Bridge, unload the bikes and it's an easy, flat, scenic cycle all the way to Parramatta Park. There are a couple of short on road sections which can be a bit tricky during the week, especially around the 4pm factory knock-off time, but on weekends there isn't a car in sight. Cross the river at James Ruse Drive and you avoid a lot of winding about on roads and cruise into Parramatta on the southern bank of the river. A set of steps leading up to Church St is the only obstacle.
If you remember to pack the sandwiches then a picnic lunch on the grass at the University of Western Sydney Campus is a perfect way to while away half an hour or so in the Sydney winter sunshine. If you've forgotten the sandwiches, then Parramatta Park has a lovely little cafe and Church St is packed with them. Anything is better than sandwiches from the 7/11 - what were we thinking!
This is a great ride for people watching. The entire spectrum of wonderfully ethnically diverse Sydney can be found out and about on a warm winter's weekend afternoon, but do yourself a favour and slow down. There really isn't any fun in knocking over kids on tricycles and little old ladies in the quest to be Queen of the Mountain. This is not a ride for 'personal bests' or setting new records. This is a Sunday afternoon 'living life in the slow lane' kind of ride. Stop and enjoy the scenery; trust me on this one, it's worth it.
|Arriving at Parramatta|
|A fancy new fountain - this just appeared a couple of weeks ago.|
|There's nothing like a sunny Sydney winter's afternoon.|