Some scenes from Lifecycle at Lake Macquarie

imageimageimageAll images by Gareth Brearley.

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Ride2Work Day


Ride2Work Day is next week! To celebrate, Newcastle City Council is holding a FREE breakfast in Wheeler Place. There will also be prizes, so do come along and meet fellow commuters, both experienced and beginners.

If you haven’t commuted by bike before, this is the ideal time to start as there will be more bike commuters on the roads and cycleways. Some more ideas about bike commuting here.

edit: the breakfast has now been postponed one week till Wednesday 22 October, same time and place.

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Checklist for women buying a new city bike

Woman cyclist Hunter Streeet Newcastle

Woman cyclist, Hunter Street Newcastle

I have a friend who is thinking of buying a new bike for riding around the city. She had been riding an old mountain bike and wanted to upgrade to something more suitable for her. I sent her the following checklist and thought that it would help any woman who it thinking of getting their first city bike, so here is the list…


Women’s bike, Hunter Street, Newcastle

Some things to consider: the looks of the bike. Look closely at the paint job and the quality of it, colour and style of the bike
Any special features such as a front basket?
Mudguards, if any.
Chain guard, if there is one.
How comfortable the saddle is, and you’ll only have a short ride to test ride, it changes for longer rides.
Seating position and handlebars.
Are the handgrips comfy? Are they made from durable material?
The pedals, what they are made from and are they grippy or slippery?
Wheels and tyres – are the tyres puncture proof, do they have reflective strips, how long wearing are they?
What do the wheel rims look like and would they be able to withstand some rough treatment such as riding down gutters and over stones?
Brakes – how easy to use and how effective? Coaster or hand brakes?
Side stand or centre stand? How easy is it to use and how stable is the bike when using the stand?
Gears if any? If you choose single speed or geared why do you make that choice?
How easy is the bike to mount and dismount? 
Can you dismount as you come to a rolling stop?

Womens bike, Beaumont Street, Hamilton

Womens bike, Beaumont Street, Hamilton

Can you ride it with a skirt?

How easy is it to adjust the saddle height?

Is there a quick release for the front wheel? Is it easy to operate? This is not a necessary feature unless you need to carry it in the car.
Rear rack?
Ease of riding/steering/accelerating? Does it feel heavy or unwieldy? Or light and fast? 

I hope this list might be useful for anyone contemplating buying a new bike this Spring. Enjoy riding!

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Green bike lanes

Cnr King and Stewart Newcastle

Cnr King and Stewart Newcastle

This green bike lane does not work as well as it might do as it causes danger to cyclists when a car wants to turn left…

Car turning Cnr King and Stewart, Newcastle

Car turning Cnr King and Stewart, Newcastle

Green bike lanes are a great way to define the space designated for riders on the road. They give a sense of safety to cyclists riding in them. It’s partly due to knowing that this is a bike lane and also a feeling that cars can’t impinge upon that space. But is that sense of safety just an illusion? I have been stuck next to a turning truck in this lane and it can be dangerous if you assume you have right of way.

This two way lane in Kent Street Sydney works much better…

Green bike lane Kent St

Green bike lane Kent St

You can see that the concrete strip gives protection to cyclists from the white car door opening on the right. It also separates cyclists from the traffic. The curve allows the bike lane to flow around existing infrastructure such as telegraph poles.

Another section of the Kent St bike lane, Sydney

Another section of the Kent St bike lane, Sydney

Black roads add to the heat island effect of cities, while green, as it reflects more light, will partially reduce this effect, another good reason to keep the green lanes. But we have to remember that the green lane doesn’t make us invincible.

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Riding through Richley Reserve


I was finally able to ride to the John Hunter Hospital via Richley Reserve last week, after the comments on an earlier post alerting me to this possibility. I was hoping that this would be easier than hauling my bike up a flight of stairs, and possibly a bit quicker.
It is certainly a more scenic route and riding through the bush, or pushing my bike up the hills, was easier and more pleasant than the stairs. In summer it would be even more so, due to shade from the sun.

From Google Maps

From Google Maps

The problems I encountered were that I got lost going in both directions. I took a different route each way, both times intending to take the shortest trip through the bush, according to the map. I had my iphone with me and using it could locate my position in the Reserve, but there seemed to be a variation between the paths marked on the map and the actual paths. It was not a huge problem however, I only had to backtrack twice, and if you head uphill you will eventually arrive at Lookout Drive and if you head downhill, you will arrive in New Lambton. There are some deadend tracks though, which is where I encountered the problems. On one such deadend I encountered this lizard, which I wouldn’t have seen had I been riding …image
The paths are quite wide and well defined with smaller and more rugged side paths going off them. Riding was never a problem. The bush land setting is beautiful and the tall canopy of overhead trees gives a sheltered quality to the ride.

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Vintage Spring ride report

Bob with his bike

Bob and his restored bike with handmade picnic box

What amazes me at the Vintage Rides is the diversity of the bikes there and the innovative and skilful restorations of old bikes. As well as the old bikes that are simply given a new set of tyres and ridden as rusty, much loved and practical means of transport or as showcases for other art works. Today’s ride was certainly an event which showcased all of these.

Chris with penguins on his bike

Chris with penguins on his bike

This artist who decorates his bike with his creations.

photo 1

Gareth, the creator of the Fernleigh Trackster, restored this kerbside find bike

This bike, a street find, with the upturned handlebars and bottletop bar-ends.

Bob's home made handlebars. Full photo of his bike at the top of the post.

Bob’s home made handlebars. Full photo of his bike at the top of the post.

This bike, meticulously restored, handmade picnic box on the back and handlebars crafted from an old wooden curtain rod.

Handmade cargo bike

Handmade cargo bike with baby seat and milk crate

This handmade cargo bike, able to carry two children which has been ridden to Nelsons Bay and back, a round trip of around 160k’s.

Rebecca's beautifully original bike

Rebecca’s beautifully original bike

This old and beautifully rusty bike ridden around for everyday transport.

Oliver Pink, MC

Oliver Pink, MC

And our MC with his leather helmet, goggles and waxed moustache!

All of the Spring Riders

All of the Spring Riders

Spring riders in action. Photo credit Peter McNaughton

Spring riders in action. Photo credit Peter McNaughton

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Bike watching around Newcastle today

Cafe racer

Cafe racer

It must have been the launch of the visionary Newcastle Bike Plan that brought out all the fabulous bikes today. The cafe racer above was there, I love the shiny black paint, cream tyres, leather trims and handlebars. Perfection! This is somewhat of the styling I was after with my Bennett restoration, but this one has really hit the mark with its handsome looks.

Van Moof in Beaumont St

Vanmoof in Beaumont St

And this one on the left looked like a Vanmoof. This was the best photo I could get of it, but to see such a beautiful high tech bike in Newcastle!



This Achielle was a show stopper too. My photo does not do it justice, the light was too strong to capture its features properly. It is all matt black with brown tyres, a heavy duty rack at the front, leather grips and saddle and a double top tube. Understated elegance! It had two of the biggest locks I have ever seen on a bike, its owner is certainly taking no chances.

Fantastic to see bike connoisseurs emerging in Newcastle!

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