The Twitterverse and various blog sites over the past week or two have been alive with discussion on the North Road Ride (Long) – a Melbourne bunch ride commencing at 6am and venturing down to do a loop of the Mt. Eliza hills.
I got along to it this morning and wonder… What’s the big deal?
Admittedly, the recent debate may have minimised the numbers today (a good thing). The group which rolled away from the North Road intersection was much smaller than I’ve encountered over recent months and the bunch peeling off to do the extended version from Mordialloc was also much smaller (maybe 25 today compared to up to 60 in recent weeks).
- The ride down to Mordy was a steady safe 35kph in pairs with no racing or hassling for the front. This was mostly due to the control provided by a couple of the Cycling-Inform boys who have set out to achieve exactly this level of safety.
- About 25 peeled off and commenced a much faster pace with 10 riders rolling nice smooth safe turns all the way to Frankston.
- The Two Bays loop was completed with the normal level of competitive adrenalin – never usually an issue no matter the bunch size.
- The return home along Nepean Highway and Beach Road was fast with 10 riders whittling down to 5 or so over the last 20k.
- It’s worth noting that all the pace-line riding today was as smooth and safe as I have ever ridden; the riders involved were all very experienced and there wasn’t one hint of danger or irresponsible riding.
So in questioning what the big deal is, I take into account that numbers may have diminished due to the current debate. Maybe it’s the big numbers that are the problem?
This ride has and always will be one of my favourites and I believe it is quite safe. The leadership provided by experienced and responsible cyclists today is to be commended and when addressing the debate around the safety of Melbourne bunches, I believe this behaviour is one of the answers.
Post Script to @NorthRoadRide – So before you (whoever you are – and I’ve asked) make a unilateral decision to change a culturally significant Melbourne ride by simply stating start times will be different, how about you consult. Clearly a significant number of experienced cyclists will still start this ride at 6am as they have over many years. Maybe you should identify exactly who you are, ask a few more questions of those with a stake – and then you might have a bit more cred.