I Love Riding In The City

"Sometimes the mountains are too far away and that is when city riding finds a life of its own."

Name: Niki Gudex Location: Sydney, Australia Occupation: Professional athlete

Where do you live and what's it like riding in your city? I live in Sydney, Australia. Riding in Sydney is fun, like most the city is busy and you have to stay alert. My favorite place to ride is out in the forest surrounded by trees and fresh air, but I love the thrill of the city. The track standing at lights and the sprints between them. Riding in Sydney city is more about short and fast accelerations, whereas out of the city center is still very busy but you can get a better rhythm on the bike. I train on the highways out of the city, there are still a lot of cars - I don't really like breathing in the pollution but I do love getting out on to the open road and away from the city cars that almost brush your side.

What's your favorite city you've ever ridden in, and what's special about it? My favorite place to ride is across the Harbour Bridge in Sydney around dusk, the light is falling and the city lights are becoming visible across the water. I love the mix of the ocean right up against the city. The trains fly by on one side and the cars are constantly buzzing past, but on the Bridge there is one side dedicated to cyclists. I like seeing the different cyclists on their way across the bridge. Some flashing by while others struggle to hold a steady line. The only stationary limbs are those of the security guards who patrol the edges of the bridge. I think riding across the Harbour Bridge is my favourite place to ride because I know I am home. I can feel it as I ride across the Bridge, feeling the huge metal structures above and catching glimpses of the ocean through the fence gaps beside me.

When I am on a bike in a city I feel content and happy, I think it is because I am so glad to be on a bike and not in a car, I don't feel tied down or restricted... The rush of the city seems to be calmed by the presence of the cranks... I know that every stroke is my own. When I ride my bike in the city I live in the moment completely. I can see, smell and hear the city. I can feel the cars breathing onto the hot tar. I know I want to stay alive and I have to be alert to do so. This alertness means I also get the chance to see the different lives people have as we cross paths. Some wonder why I am on two wheels in the pouring rain while I wonder why they stand there, under umbrella, crowded, cross and smoking.

The cars get my adrenalin going, because you do have to be very aware. I get so excited to be on a bike sometimes. Once I was out a borrowed kids pixie bike in Colorado and it was so small I couldn't even sit down. But it was so fun, I got carried away and took it down a set of stairs. It was a good laugh but without suspension on a tiny bike, I don't want to do it again in a hurry.

Night city riding is fun too, because the day shift is over and the streets take on a different face.Once I drove with my team from Mt Saint Anne in Canada (after racing a World Cup round) to the other side of Canada, to Calgary. We arrived in the city late but after three solid days and nights of sitting in a truck I wanted to spin my legs out before the coming World Cup round, so I headed out for a 1 am spin in the city. The rest of my team were racing DH so they didn't understand the XC need to spin out. They went to bed and I headed out into the city. I had no map or idea where I was, except for where I had left. It was fun to explore but the entire time I also hoped that I would find my way back.

Why do you love riding in the city? I love being able to get somewhere on my own. The bike has its own spontaneity, I can feel the city when I am amongst it. Whereas with a car I just get from A to B, a bike entices me to take a different route, to add in a little extra or to try and cut a little out. I love exploring new cities on bikes and I also love the comfort of knowing Sydney like the back of my hand.

I have so many memories from city riding. Once I spent NYE on a bike, it was surprisingly fun. We went from North Sydney to a frantic sprint across the Harbour Bridge as we realised it was closed... lungs and legs burning but made it across with some good tires and well timed dodging. Then across into the thick of the city, filled with happy people out celebrating. We explored the whole city, from the Cross to the Rocks, out to Bondi and back in. The city streets were closed off to cars and the energy around us was so high, it was lovely.


Profile with Jeff Guerrero for urbanvelo.org "I Love Riding In The City" Urban Velo May 2007 Issue.

InterviewsNiki Gudex