Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cycling Tour comes to Perth

I went for a wander alongside the course from where riders entered Kings Park to where they turned onto Mounts Bay Road. Here's the course - 14 km x 8 laps for about 110km total. Except if you're an old bugger - 6 laps for 50 and over, 5 laps for 60 plus

Bikely link

MapMyRide link

Here's how it looked at the west end of the park. Malcolm St is a hill I normally make a point of only riding down. Watching riders struggle up it eight times would have been worthwhile. As would the finishes. Still there's always next year. And the year after.

Traffic management left a bit to be desired. Residents' cars were being let out onto Kings Park Drive to exit onto Mounts Bay Road heading west when breaks in the competition allowed. At the base of Kings Park Drive where the riders had a steep downhill followed by a sharp left onto Mounts Bay Road there was space for only two vehicles to wait to enter Mounts Bay. The traffic heading west along Mounts Bay Road from the city wasn't being calmed at all, this with the arrangement of the safety barriers made it difficult for drivers to leave an already hazardous corner for the competitors. There was real potential for several cars to back up in to the course here. It should have been alleviated by having a lollipop person stop westbound traffic on Mounts Bay. I witnessed one minor traffic accident involving a car that had left the course. Also saw a couple who were trying to visit a dying relative in the Mount Hospital. They'd come to the roadblock from the west having tried several other roads, all to no avail. They were moved on by traffic management personnel who were keen to free a buildup of cars behind them. The traffic management people were unable to advise them on an appropriate route to the hospital. Bad for the people. Bad for cycling. The organisers really need to get their heads around this for 2012

Get it together - Three Bridges Loop ~ 43 km

Hey, welcome to Perth... sometime within living memory we copped a tag - Dullsville. For aged crones like me this seemed a boon for the boomtown, it held the promise of a few more years living in blissful obscurity (I've been thinking of moving to Lake Grace if things get much busier). Even a hardened poetry reading addict like me will confess that if you measure our indoor culture; the visual and performing arts, food and nightlife, using the same criteria as larger less isolated urban centres like say, New York, Sydney or Timbuktu, Perth can look a little light on. 

This misses Perth's point though, to wit, get out of doors. Beaches are regarded by many as our strong suite, but that idea falls to pieces sometime between 10AM and 2PM when the "Doctor" comes tearing in. The Fremantle Doctor is Perth's Mistral. Except less delicate; exfoliation doesn't begin to describe the blast you'll get.

Riverside is where you'll want to be. It's a wide river, but it isn't deep; you can wander about in much of the Swan without getting your elbows wet. Who cares though? You're probably not thinking of swimming in it and the sailors look just as good bobbing round in the deeper bits as they do when they've run aground. One of Perth's flasher boating locales is Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and that is where this ride begins. Taking a leaf from DPI's safety first book these round the bridges rides all go clockwise to minimise risky right turns, feel free to ride upstream from the club rather than down.

If you live within coo-ee of the river downstream from Perth this ride is a must. It takes in some of Perth's best river views, a ton of parks (everything from swathes of sun drenched lawn to winding bush paths), great playgrounds, a swag of pubs, coffee shops, kiosks and restaurants.

For the south of the river sections you can choose between mostly very good bike path or quiet on-road riding all the way from Fremantle Traffic Bridge to Canning Bridge. From Canning Bridge to the city it's bike path only. The bike path is good, if busy. 

North of the river from the city back to Freo is spotty. Sticking to the paths can get you in a bit of a muddle especially as you ride through the City of Nedlands. Sticking to the roads can put you close to some fast moving traffic, particularly from the Narrows Bridge to UWA.

Most of the ride is follow your nose stuff, but there are a few options in the Fremantle to Point Walter and the Narrows to Mosman Bay sections. The other sections are detailed here; Mosman to Freo, Pt Walter to Canning Br and Canning Br to Narrows.

By bike, just ride in from home. If you don't live close enough you can find carparks with easy parking at or near Tawarri Reception Centre in Nedlands, Point Resolution Reserve, Dalkeith, McCabe St Mosman Park (by the tennis courts), East St Jetty and Point Walter. You can also park at these though they can get pretty busy in warmer weather; Matilda Bay, Keanes Point, Bay View Terrace, Minim Cove, East Fremantle by Zephyr Café, Barrack St Jetty and the Old Swan Brewery. The easiest train access is Claremont, Mosman Park, Victoria St, North Fremantle and Fremantle on the Fremantle Line. Take the Mandurah Line for Esplanade and Canning Bridge Stations.

Two Bikely maps here;

The first is an on-road training circuit. It has a couple of short stretches that expose the cyclist to heavy traffic on Stirling and Canning Highways. And it's on shared paths between Canning Bridge and UWA, because it's illegal to cycle on the freeway and unless it's quiet it's crazy to ride on the de facto freeway that is Mounts Bay Road. 

The second takes the path option wherever it is available. Sadly the The Shire of Nedlands and the Towns of Claremont and Peppermint Grove planners have not seen fit to provide separated paths through much of their patch. You'll be obliged to ride on the road or footpath for several kilometres between the eastern end of Jutland Pde and Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. Where there is a choice between two paths, this route takes you on the one closer to the river. Where there isn't a path this route follows the road in preference to the footpath.

Canning Bridge to Narrows Bridge - City of South Perth

The watchword with this ride is weather. When the wind whistles in from the west the exposure of this path to the river is radical. Dear rider, on a quiet day, meteorologically speaking, your ears will be assaulted by the traffic from the freeway and, as you approach the ski zone near the Narrows, motorised pleasure craft on the Swan.

Other than that it's not a bad ride. It's flat as a tack and with the wind at their back any commuter with a computer could easily see their personal best speed along this straight well surfaced stretch.

If you're planning the biggest and best round the river ride that Perth has to offer, this path will form a part of it. If you're commuting direct to the CBD from south of the city, you will ride this rail.

Access by bike from Narrows Bridge or Canning Bridge PSPs as well as from five pedestrian overpasses at Hardy St, Comer St, Preston St, Thelma St and Cale St.

Point Walter to Canning Bridge - City of Melville

What's not to love about 11 km of almost unbroken shared path running between a 1 km sandbar in the Swan River and Perth's most imaginative riverside playground?

This path is flat, except for a little climb to Heathcote. It's continuous except for a handful of road crossings, all of which are associated with riverside carparks. These factors make it brilliant stretch of path for young riders.

Quiet roads with views as good as those on the paths mean that faster cyclists tend not to ride the paths. Massive swathes of lawn and limited beach access, particularly round Alfred Cove mean that dog walkers aren't a big issue, also most of them seem to respect the "dogs on leads" signs. Unlike areas like South Perth, the population density is low so there are significantly fewer pedestrians to contend with. Life in general seems to move at a rural pace round here.

On top of this, while most of the path is an older fashioned concrete one, you know, a little narrower than it probably should be and a little bumpier too, it is on the whole in very good condition. It's easy to follow and has a fun boardwalky bit round Point Dundas.

In my experience a half competent 4 or 5 year old can make it out and back in few hours as long as the day isn't too hot, they have plenty of air in their tyres, and they have a recharging icecream and play with their mates at the world's best playground at Heathcote. 

Access

By Bike; there's a good path from Fremantle (see here). There's a good path adjacent to the Kwinana Freeway (see here), and a good path on the west side of the Canning River, these last connect to the bike paths on both sides of Canning Bridge.

By Car; parking gets busy at Point Walter and at Heathcote on sunny weekends. Suburban streets in the vicinity of the start and finish points of this ride are pretty empty though and the streets reasonably quiet - not a great solution if you have littlies in tow. There is more parking where Alfred Cove is at its closest to Canning Hwy, and then again to the north of this point in Applecross on the foreshore.

By Train; Canning Bridge Station is the closest. If you're feeling energetic you could hop off at Bullcreek Station, exit to the west side and follow the path north from there to Canning Bridge - either cross the Canning River at Mt Henry Bridge and re-cross at Canning Bridge or head up the west side of the Canning River past Deep Water Point.

Bikely Map

Mosman Bay to Fremantle Bridge - Town of Mosman Park and City of Fremantle

Start point is Manners Hill Park / Keanes Point / anywhere in the vicinity of Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. Head south and stick to river. After politely meandering along Johnson Pde south of RFBYC for about half a k, you face a short awe inspiring hill. Most riders are advised to dismount and walk their steeds up it. Alternatively retrace your steps and turn west on Johnston St, then 1st left on Bay View Tce, for an easier climb. Either way once you reach the Mosman Park Bowling Club at the top of the hill the worst this ride has to throw at you is over!

The path east through Bay View Park offers one of the best elevated river views in Perth. If you fancy a biscuit break park yourself under one of the big sugar gums right down at the SE end of the park and take in the goings-on at Point Walter Spit.

From here around to Blackwall Reach you're mostly on the road or the footpath. Follow Owston St south and then Wellington St east. Near the bottom of Wellington on your right there is a narrow paved trail through some bush restoration. A detour down Caporn St and Chidley Way takes you to Chidley Point where you can watch stink boat wash erode a pretty little beach.

Follow Marshall Road south around Blackwall Reach, as it rises away from the river keep an eye out for a path to your left. This path takes you across a cliff front on a boardwalk and then drops you dramatically down into Minim Cove Park. From here you're on paths for a couple of kilometers around Rocky Bay. Follow the path as far as you can, it finishes at the end of Rule St in North Fremantle. Take the second left off Rule St and then right onto Corkhill. Another dramatic drop puts you back down at River Level near Pier 21. Heading west along John St takes you past Gilbert Fraser Reserve where you can often stop to take in a spot of local football or cricket. If you prefer to stay off the road you can get around the front of Pier 21 by turning left onto John St instead of right. There is public access along the foreshore but no path, so expect to walk your bike some of the way.

Almost there! a couple of little timber bridges take you through a tidal wetlands on the upstream side of the Stirling Bridge (AKA "New Bridge"), then you're under the bridge and heading across the fronts of the Northport apartments.

If you're going to carry on round the river you can chuck a right as soon as you're under the new bridge. A hundred metres up the path is a hard right turn that puts you on the bridge path. I strongly recommend ignoring that for the moment and completing the journey to the old bridge. For one you can see the stumps of Stick Bridge, the bridge that predates either of the extant bridges. For the other, the narrow plank walkway under the old bridge takes you halfway out into the river. If you're lucky enough to be here when the tide is running it is a wonderful reminder of power of water. You can also watch boats negotiate the narrow under-bridge passage at close proximity and get a reasonable view of goings on in the inner harbour.

Getting there. Crikey! you're spoilt for choice... By car. There is a reasonable amount of parking available around Manners Hill Park and RFBYC, it does get busy when the weather is warmer. Street parking and the carpark opposite Jabe Dodd Park are alternatives. Parking in Northport between the bridges is limited also. There is some parking available near Gilbert Fraser Reserve. If you don't mind starting a little further afield there is parking at Port Beach (just follow Tydeman Rd to the bridges) or across the river at East St Jetty.

By train. From the north end of the ride hop off at Mosman Park Station. Cross Stirling Highway at Glyde St and head north up the footpath to Stuart St. Head east on Stuart, 1st left on Monument, 1st right on Willis, left on Harvey, right on Swan, go to the end of Swan and then left on Palmerston and right on Johnstone St. It's the flattest, quietest route to the start point. At the other end, North Fremantle Station is the closest, but it has the disadvantage of being a kilometre up Stirling Highway. Better to cross the highway at Tydeman Road, head across the old bridge and head for Fremantle Station. Once over the bridge turn toward Freo and cross  at the first set of traffic lights and then turn right. 150 metres to the south west is the railway underpass, once on the other side you get cycle path almost to the doorstep of Fremantle Station. Alternatively cross on the new bridge, head for the river and follow the riverside or on-road path round to the rail underpass.

In addition to the arriving by train directions, if you're arriving by bike, you can come in from the The Esplanade on the north side.

For those that fancy a nibble before, during or after the ride you have so got it made. For icecreams, chips and other classic caff fare you can't go past the kiosk on Freshwater Bay. Post race chips and beer up at the yacht club bar are pretty good too. You'll have to dig considerably deeper (and maybe make a reservation) for lunch or dinner at Mosmans on Johnson Pde or Harvest on Harvest S N Freo. In North Freo you can also enjoy a gourmet burger at Flipside, (quality takes time so don't be in a hurry) or pub fare at the Swan Hotel. You'll be tripping over free barbecues thanks to generosity of the Town of Mosman Park; find them at Keanes Point Reserve, Jabe Dodd Park, Bay View Park (tucked away south of the carpark), Chidley Reserve and Minim Cove Park. Facilities like these and Mosman Park's clean toilets are notably absent once you cross the border into North Freo. Gilbert Fraser Reserve has toilets and a playground.