Pedaling the concrete jungle Down Under

By Sarah Hansing

Poor me, spending the winter in Sydney, Australia.

Poor me, spending the winter in Sydney, Australia.

I’ve been away from home for only about a week and a half now and already have realized that I am essentially a spoiled rotten kid. Not in the literal sense, mind you, but in the gluttonous options that our small mecca provides in the way of epic trails and sick dirt; in the variety of features and the litany of accommodations for different riding styles. I’m not proud of myself, but I have – without question – become the entitled brat of singletrack.

I’m currently in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Poor me, spending the winter in Sydney, Australia …  right near epic beaches and clear, warm water. Having awesome  adventures with amazingly rad people (in spite of the occasional language barriers). The weather is phenomenal, the beer is great, I haven’t been eaten by a shark yet, I have endless access to Vegemite, and overall (aside from missing my Epicenter Family like crazy) I couldn’t be much happier.  

But something keeps nagging at me. Something seems just a TEENY tiny bit wrong. I mean, something besides the proclivity to keep riding my bike on the right side of the road and nearly dying at least 3-5 times a day.  

The thing is, in those 3-5 times that I see my life flash before my eyes daily, it’s likely attributed to me spacing out. Just for a second, I’ll sort of drift off, because I’m thinking of riding the trails at home. Those miles and miles and miles and miles of glorious, snaking dirt ribbons that I can ride to from my house. Just ten minutes away from my front door, is where I find my sanity, and myself. It’s my Zen. I realize that now more than ever, I suppose.   

And I feel like a total ingrate for all of the times when I just didn’t appreciate it enough, while I was riding it. Didn’t always take full advantage of the times I could’ve done even just the shortest ride up Emma McCrary, and back down again. Those times when I was grumbly because I agreed to go on a ride that I found myself desperately wanting to bail on the next day. I really MISS mountain biking.  

That isn’t to say I’m not still turning the pedals over. I’ve been reduced to *shudder* riding a ROAD BIKE as the primary source of getting my fix, so to speak. But it just isn’t the same. Dodging cars isn’t the same as dodging trees, and avoiding potholes just doesn’t have the same vibe that picking a line through a rock garden does. Don’t get me wrong – the road riding here really IS beautiful. The roads are, for the most part, in spectacular condition and most drivers don’t seem to want to play chicken with cyclists too much – even in the city centers.  

Awake before sunrise in the 4am's, on a road bike and riding across the bridge. Photo: Cam Day

Awake before sunrise in the 4am’s, on a road bike and riding across the bridge. Photo: Cam Day

But again. The concrete jungle, for me, just doesn’t compare with being in the woods. I suppose you could equate it to someone who is used to swimming in open water finding themselves doing laps in an Olympic swimming pool, or vice versa. The motion is kinda similar, but the experience just isn’t the same.  

Fortunately, my partner in crime here has recognized that wistful (perhaps slightly insane?) look in my eyes, and has arranged for an Australian mountain biking adventure this upcoming weekend. I cannot even tell you how stoked I am to get out and get my tires good and proper dirty. Maybe even downright filthy, given the option. And I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it, too.  

Meanwhile, give the Cali dirt a kiss with your tires for me, will you? While you’re at it, whisper sweet nothings to the redwoods, and give a wink to the berms and the jumps, too.

We live in mountain bike paradise. And life is good.


​Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to ​keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singlet​rack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)