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New member here, I am moving to Canberra for work in July and due to what I can afford it looks like I will be renting around the Bonner / Amaroo area. I currently live in Wollongong but work in Sydney and catch the train up every day so I am looking to change that up and cycle to work every day, I am aware of the temperatures and I will be layering up and toughing out the conditions. Work is based in Dickson so I’ve plugged into Google maps that the ride from Bonner to Dickson would be 12km coming down Flemington Road or 15 via Horse Park then the Federal Highway. Driving around on the weekend it looks like the roads are cycling friendly so I was probably going to go via Flemington Road as it is shorter. 12km isn’t a problem, I regularly do 60km weekend rides but not in such conditions. What is the road surface like, I have a basic Azzurri Race Uno road bike, should I be looking at different tyres based on the conditions? Anything else I need to be aware of as a new cyclist to town?
Welcome to the 'Berra! You've picked a lovely time of year to move here (it's not that cold really, and things have been pretty mild so far this winter).
I don't commute, but I do train regularly on the roads and it's all fine. I have ridden down Flemington road in peak hour and had no dramas, I think there was a cycle lane pretty much all the way and there is a bus lane separating you from the cars as well so it feels pretty safe. The road is fine, you get the occasional patch of broken glass but that's the same everywhere in Canberra.
People who commute from that way may chime in with some more specific advice but the only thing I can come up with is to be careful once you hit Northbourne Ave because cars have been known to cut into the bike lane early to turn left at Swinden Street. Also you might find that you have a headwind on the way home fairly often, and a very slight uphill gradient (I think), but that's character building!
If you are interested in bunch rides there is a bunch that leaves from Dickson pool on Wednesday mornings at 6am (Bilbys) for a loop that takes around an hour which might be convenient for you.
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Bonner to Dickson is flat as and there are numerous route options. I would be ashamed if I lived in Bonner and didn't commute to Dickson. I commute to Hawker from Watson every day with about 400m climb and its fine. The cold will be a shock. We had a week of cold and since it has been mild, but it looks like its back. I took a couple of Sydney mates out for a spin in -6, and they nearly died. If they had the right gear, they would have been fine. A good pair of booties and a VERY good pair of gloves and a good thin beanie and you will brave the worst with no probs.
Yup - a good merino underlayer, gloves etc. I think its time for me to dig out my overboots as my feet were cold this morning. I also spend many an evening commuting home anywhere between 8 pm and 10.30 pm so good gear is a must.
I swear by Kathmandu 320's merino undershirts but only ever buy them on special. It's not the -6 that kills you, it's the -6 at 30 kmph (or 40 kmph for you fast boys!) equally minus 20 that does you in....
Flemington Rd would be my choice rather than Horse Park Dr. HPD has a steep kick up at the end where it goes up under the Federal Highway and then it can be hard getting across to turn right onto the Federal Highway. Coming back the other way I reckon going down HPD is a bit dangerous as it only has a pretty narrow "cycle lane" with loose gravel and has a wire rope fence beside it that would be extremely bad to crash into (motor cycling advocacy groups have been trying for ages without success to get rid of fences like these). Once it flattens out it's not too bad but it's a false flat and dead road surface so can be hard work.
Northbourne Ave bike lane looks scarier than it is but if you are only going to Dickson than you should be ok.
great riding in the Berra.. as others have advised, be wary of the glass and crud on the side of the road (have had 2 flats on flemmington near the recycling transfer station)... get some nice gloves and warm stuff.. (I wear 2 pairs of footy socks, skins, bibs, short sleeve cycling jersey, long sleeve jersey and another long sleeve on the bloody cold mornings - add some ear warmers and a pair of glasses to protect the ears and the eyes)... my commute is from Ngunnawal to Woden either up flemmington then on to Northbourne and up adelaide or the GDE all the way... just be careful on Northbourne with the buses and cars as the HRM useually goes through the roof!!!!
time permitting you can ride home via Federal Hwy, Sutton, East Tallagandra Lane and into Bonner via Gundaroo Drive. That you will enjoy when the days stretch out and it warms up. Plenty of weekend routes as well.
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Thanks for all the great advice, I feel much more comfortable with the plan to ride in. I ordered some thermal pants and top to go with my beanie, face mask and gloves so I will hopefully be all good to go. Can't wait to trade the 2 hour train ride each way for a 12km ride!
if you're used to 2 hours on a train, you'll be able to ride to work the longer way then. and a different longer way every day!
Re. face mask... buy some "Buff"s, but the heavier weight ones. I use two on the head and another one neck/face up to the nose. face mask/balaclava vents too much air under the sunnies and you fog up when you slow down. You will still fog up when you stop at lights, so you need to be able to slide the sunnies down your nose until you are moving again. Re. the gloves, ski gloves with less insulation on the palm side are the way to go, otherwise you won't be able to feel for the shifters. Shoe covers are mandatory as well - I've lost count of the times I've had to use the showers to get feeling back in my toes and that's WITH shoe covers.
As pointed out above, the intersection of Northbourne Ave and Swinden street is your danger point. The "keep clear" area means vehicles will turn down Swinden across the cycle lane without being able to see cyclist (and vice versa) until they are blocking the on-road lane.
I ride, therefore I am.
...real cyclists don't have squeaky chains...
And also watch out overtaking slower riders in the bike lane on northbourne ave in peak hour!
Thought I better loop back in and say thanks to everyone. I've been commuting for 3 weeks now mostly going down Flemington road. I've not run into any issues except a flat on the first day. Seen a few bike riders, most faster, some slower but I am amazed that everyone says good morning and the cars generally look out for you. I've been tracking myself on Strava and seeing major improvements to my fitness, the morning commute was a new PB 25 minutes in this morning. The way home is a bit slowerdue to the what appears every afternoon westerly winds and slight uphill gradient but I managed to big ring it all the way home yesterday for the first time.
Next on the agenda is Black Mountain and think about the 100km Fitzy's challenge!
Yay. Success story.
I think Gungahlin is a nice place to ride in and out from Civic. It's just the right distance—far, but not too far. The gradient is reasonable. I don't live there, but always have a good vibe going that way. Unlike going City-Bruce-University Canberra which seems too hard no matter which route I use.
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