I rode in Wednesday’s “Suit Ride” as part of the Sydney Rides Business Challenge, a competition to encourage more employees to cycle to work. The City of Sydney sponsored this event. I chatted with a number of riders afterwards and confirmed that many hadn’t ridden a bicycle for years or cycled for recreation only. Yet, I was pleased that so many had tried to cycle in the city for the first time.
Despite the fact that it was a “Suit Ride,” I wore a red lace Leona Edmiston dress. As a general rule, I don’t wear suits. For me, a suit represents a certain, “giving up,” “wanting to conform,” or dare I say it, “I still have to prove myself.” I will wear a jacket with a dress but that’s as close as I will get. My attitude is a result of having worn a suit for many years while working for investment banks.
As my husband Justin and I inadvertently led a pack of riders during a few sections of the ride, I was struck by the concept of “nature versus nurture.” With regards to cycling, having an inherent level of skill/fitness (nature) to race is one thing, but using those skills to ride in any environment can be learned (nurture). I believe that the link between “nature and nurture” in cycling is knowledge and practice, again both learned traits.
A few cases in point: I had an extended conversation with the new CEO of Bicycle NSW, who was an experienced mountain biker. However, I only spoke to him when we were at a stop as he admitted that he never rode in the city. I also spoke with the General Manager of the Hilton whose was simultaneously in a suit and having his mind blown by the Gazelle e-bike. I left him to it.
How was the ride? It was fun. As a group of fifty plus riders, we had enough critical mass to stop traffic and be safe, a luxury. I only had one moment when I was worried. While on King Street, a major East-West street with four lanes, the cycle path ends abruptly at Clarence Street, a one way street that takes traffic north. However, the ride included a right turn onto Castelreagh Street, four blocks away. Castelreagh is great for cyclists as it has a shared bus lane for taxis and cyclists. Cars are not allowed in this lane. I have ridden (and been photographed) down this street many times. Justin took off to the far left lane on King Street. Some riders followed him. I stayed in the middle lane as the far right lane was full of parked cars. My plan was to turn on Castelreagh with the group behind me. We had all stopped at the red light on Pitt Street. I shouted to Justin to remind him that we would be turning right after the next block. He nodded. He is an experienced cyclist and crossing several lanes of traffic is no issue for him. But for those with less experience, it can be harrowing.
I had pedal-assist on my e-bike at half power to keep pace with the riders behind me as there is a slight incline on King Street before the right turn onto Castelreagh Street. The light turned green at Pitt Street and our groups converged to turn right together onto Castelreagh. The few cars which were between our groups either turned off to park or continued straight up King Street. I could breathe again. I did my best to nurture. Ack!
Finally, I spoke with one of the organisers of the ride who had a camera mounted on his beautiful sky-blue cyclocross bike. Every time I saw him, he was close to falling off his bicycle. When I asked him why, he said it was because he wasn’t wearing his cycling shoes. I pointed down at my J.Crew booties. He laughed. Nature or Nurture?
Today’s ensemble: Leona Edmiston dress, Yakkay helmet, Cartier Santos, Dior sunglasses, Linus Eleanor Bag, eZee Sprint bicycle, gold cuff, traditional gold Indian earrings, J.Crew booties.