Biking the bridge... and an unnerving experience
Caroline and I finally got bikes to ride around Sydney. Jeez... you would think this would be a relatively straight-forward process! But we panned the dockless bikes (the subject of an earlier blog), and when we found docked bikes at a nearby hotel, the check-out panel told us they were “in need of service.” That’s what we were told for 2 of the 3 bikes there... we didn’t try to check out the third because we needed 2.
So we walked downtown where Siri told us there were some bike shops. We found 2 opened during this holiday period. They were large stores, with a great deal of equipment and bikes, but no rentals. One shop employee suggested some vague possibilities for bike rentals in Manly, or Bondi, or The Rocks. The other shop gave us a name in The Rocks, and after consulting Siri, we finally walked into Bonza. Bonza seems to focus on tours, but Steve set us up with 2 great Trek bikes. Sweet!
We started off with a ride over the Harbour Bridge. There is a dedicated protected lane for bikes. Unfortunately, there is also no place to stop and enjoy the scenery. Commuters are rightful upset if visitors stop and gawk at the sights, and I am keen on not being the “ugly American.” But there was some construction going on that blocked about 1 bike width of lane for a few meters, so Caroline and I stopped there, looked in both directions for other cyclists, and snapped a photo. At the end of the bridge was a bike repair station. I’m sure this is appreciated by many commuters.
We ended up riding to Luna Park and Wendy’s Secret Garden, then back over the Harbour Bridge, through the Barangaroo Reserve, then faced the crowds of Darling Harbour. Bikes are permitted here, but you don’t see many in the middle of the day, because of the crowds of people. It was an awkward ride. Finally, we made it through and rode along the old docks around Pyrmont and Giba Parks.
It was in Giba Park that I got unnerved. Caroline was riding ahead of me, and I saw a group of a dozen tween boys at the edge of a pier jumping into Jones Bay. It looked like they were coordinating for a mass jump. Cool! I stopped, and asked if I could take a picture as they jumped. One of the boys asked if it was video, and as I was talking with him, another boy pushed hm aside and said, “You can’t take any photos of me. You could be a pedophile.” Well, that caught me off guard, but the kid (who was now seeming like the leader of this little gang) wouldn’t stop talking, and the one-sided conversation got more heated, and not in my favor. Finally, after the ninth “You will not take my picture,” I said, “Do you see a camera? (It was in my pocket). This is why I asked for your permission first.” I looked at the first boy I talked to, “Didn’t I ask for your permission?” Then, as far as I could tell, ALL the kids said “I don’t want my picture taken.”
Now, it probably didn’t help that I had recently watched the crime series” Deep Water,” on Netflix, about a series of murders at Bondi Beach committed by gangs of kids, but I have never experienced anything like this, surrounded by people who barely came up to my shoulder, acting and speaking aggressively. I pedaled off, and when I got about 20 meters away down the bike path, I gave them the Juli Briskman salute. There was quite a commotion behind me, so I know the message was received. I should have thought it out more, because the bike path actually looped a little back toward them. I caught up with Caroline, told her what happened (she had also watched “Deep Water”) and we pedaled back on the other side of Giba Park. Those boys were about 100 meters away, and I kept my eye on them until we rounded a corner, out of sight. I’m sure they had a big laugh about it, but it bothered me for hours later... what I said or didn’t say, how I could have or should have reacted, and whether I was that “ugly American” after all.
Well, we plowed back through the crowds at Darling Harbour, around the Reserve, and back to Bonza where Steve (and now Matt) were worried about us. Apparently Steve had never gotten our credit card imprint, so we were the couple that took off without paying for the bikes (they were really good-natured about it... we had filled out the rental forms and written our card info on it). If you make it to Sydney, I recommend the Bonza shop for bike rentals. They also have a tour over the bridge and to Wendy’s Secret Garden.
Caroline and I walked through The Rocks, through central Sydney’s upscale shopping area, and then back to our apartment. No cats, but I did see 1 rat. When we finished, I guessed it was about 86 degrees F... it was 75. But after 100 lengths in the small pool, I cooled down, physically and emotionally.