Having just wrapped up two highly enjoyable weeks of riding in and around Brisbane for the festive season, it would be remiss not to provide some observations. Here are my thoughts on riding in the River City – in summer.
1) Earlier the better
Yes, it’s humid pretty much all the time. But once the sun hits you as well it’s considerably tougher going, so start as early as you can. I was regularly rolling out the door at 4:30am (thankfully only 5:30am according to my NSW-trained body clock) and the latest finish was 9:30am. Mind you, there are still people out riding at midday. Crazy buggers. TIP: wear loads of SPF 50+ sunscreen.
2) West is best
Okay, I’m slightly biased as I was based in the western suburbs already. But without doubt for me the best riding was out near Brookfield, Pullenvale and Moggill. Quiet roads. Picturesque countryside. Good coffee. My favourite ride of the entire trip was the ‘Brookfield Fingers’, essentially taking you along three separate out and back roads before heading back to the Brookfield General Store for coffee. Brisbane’s bread and butter ride is the hugely popular ‘River Loop’ taking in West End, St Lucia, Indooroopilly, Tennyson and Dutton Park. It has a bit of everything and is a great way to start the day.
3) Showers forecast? Brilliant!
You don’t need to be genius to know riding in an electrical storm is a bad idea. But when the forecast is for showers, not storms, get out there! It actually provides a decidedly pleasant respite from the heat.
4) The bike lanes are good, and plentiful.
Aside from some of the furthermost points in my rides, there was an abundance of marked bike lanes pretty much everywhere. Inner city, outer suburbs, it was the same story. There are also several seriously impressive pieces of cycling-specific infrastructure, including the multi million dollar Moggill Road cycling overpass along the Western Freeway. The entire bike lane along here was pretty controversial when it was first built, all I can say is plenty of riders were using it every time I went through there.
5) The River City is a rather lumpy city
Again this observation is probably a little biased towards where I was based. But I’ve never climbed so much on everyday rides as I have the past two weeks. Just getting in and out of city, roughly a 35km round trip, put around 600m on my daily altimeter without even trying. While you really need to head out towards Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious to get those longer sustained climbs, closer to the city is just a never-ending array of short, sharp pinches. This even applies to the iconic Mt Coot-tha climb that begins just past the Milton roundabout. The view is magnificent, but getting there is really just 2km of upfront pain until you reach the lookout, followed by another 4km or so of punchy undulations. In summary, flat Brisbane is not.