Biking around Beautiful Belconnen

13 November 2017

By Melissa Gryglewski

Belconnen Community Centre is now a Tier One Bike Stop!

This means that if you are out and about on your bike and you need a spot to switch your outfit, somewhere to top up your water, or a way to put some air in your tyres – you are welcome to come and visit us at the Belconnen Community Centre. The Centre provides public access change rooms, toilets, a water fountain, and has a bike pump handy, just in case.

BCS has recently joined the ACT Government’s Bike Stop Scheme. The scheme supports local businesses to offer facilities to local people and visitors alike who are exploring Canberra by bicycle. Participating businesses display an official Bike Stop sticker on their shopfront, and can be found on CycleLifeHQ, a global website which connects cyclists to information about cycling.

To celebrate BCC’s bike stop service, and to encourage everyone to get outside and explore our beautiful Belconnen this month, I interviewed BCS’s own Bill and Katie for their inspiration and tips for getting around Belconnen by bike.

Bill

Bill took up cycling when he arrived in Canberra as an alternative to surfing, which was his main form of exercise when he lived down the coast. Having cycled between home and a number of different organisations across Canberra, from the Smith Family to Birrigai, Bill is a seasoned commuter. He is currently dedicated to a weekly commute between Western Creek and Belconnen.

M: When did you begin your cycling journey?

B: I started out riding cheapie bikes with a mate on the weekends in the hills. Sometime in the early 2000s we were in Kowan forest and we were following this dirt path, and came across proper Mountain bike trails by accident. Since then I have had a decent mountain bike and have used the mountain bike trails around Canberra quite a lot and that has been a lot of fun, including at Stromlo, but they are gone now.

I use a different bike to commute to work and have commuted between various jobs for years. Recently I bought an electric pedal-assist bike which definitely helps.

M: What do you like about cycling?

B: What I love about cycling is that I don’t have to spend half an hour looking for a parking spot – I can just ride up to the front door.

I also love the fresh air, and it puts you in a good headspace.

M: Cycling requires a lot of preparation. What tips do you have for other cyclists?

B: I plan ahead and block out several riding days on my calendar. I have a lot of meetings offsite, so I ensure I schedule appointments that allow me to get from one place to another on a bike.

I plan out my route on a circuit. Often this means finding places to meet people that are in between one meeting and another, as I don’t always have to meet people in their particular organisation for my job.

Factoring in time to leave and arrive is a very important part of planning my itinerary.

I think the Bike Stop Scheme is a great initiative as I really feel for people who might be working in a smaller business who might not have the facilities to get changed or do what they need to do when they get to work.

Katie

Katie grew up in Belconnen, and takes a route around Lake Ginninderra to get to work. She makes time on the weekend to explore new places by bike.

M: When did you begin your cycling journey?

K: I didn’t know how to ride a bike until I was 21. I taught myself when I was studying overseas and needed a better way to get around. Learning how to ride in downtown traffic in a foreign city was a new kind of terrifying!

M: What do you like about cycling?

K: Catching up on podcasts and audiobooks. Not being able to be on my phone. Not having to pay for parking.  It also gives time to clear my head and be ready to be home, which driving a car does not do.

I love seeing the life on Lake Ginninderra, seeing different people outside in our community using the amenities, smiling at each other. Being on a bike is a really cool way of engaging with the community.  As a photographer, watching the way that the light changes throughout the seasons and interacts with the environment. The other day I was riding under one of the Lake Ginninderra bridges and saw the light reflected as a caustic pattern onto a the columns…  things like that just make me really happy.

M: Cycling requires a lot of preparation. What tips do you have for cyclists?

I buy corporate clothes that I can cycle in and plan ahead so that I wear the clothes and shoes that I can’t usually cycle in when I have to take the car. Leggings are good for cycling!

I don’t like riding in the dark, so I plan my ride times to maximise light, so my routine changes at different times of the year. In summer I have a longer lunch so I can leave later in the day, when it’s a bit cooler.

Also, stretches! I found that stretching my quads is really important after a cycle.

BCC Bike Stop facilities are available from Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm. Visit the Transport Canberra website to check out the locations of other Bike Stops, or to learn more about the Bike Stop Scheme.

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