I am just back from a family holiday in Sydney and took the liberty of hiring a road bike for the meagre sum of just $59 for the day. I joined my Sydney-based friend and headed out into the city's open roads early on a clear, but chilly, Sunday morning starting out in the shadow of the Opera House.
For the next two hours we headed up and down the city's major hills, took in the impressive beach vistas of Bondi and Coogee and hurtled around sweeping corners in some of the most glamorous suburbs that are home to the rich and famous. As we did so I smiled, nodded and politely waved to the other cyclists heading in the opposite direction --- only to be met with blank steely stares and be completely ignored. Not once did anyone acknowledge my existence. In fact, one person gave me some kind of 'death stare' reminiscent of the disgusted look many drivers give you as they pass within inches.
I had thought that cycling, and the etiquette of acknowledging a fellow lycra-clad individual, was a normal thing to do that would have been repeated the world over. I believed it was part of the 'thing' of being a a cyclist in the firs instance --- that people on bikes, no matter was race, religion, colour, profession, or social background, can be as one, and part of some unwritten club simply for having two wheels underneath you. It seems not in Sydney.
Instead, as the old TV advert once said, Australians really don't give a Castlemaine Four-X.