Cycle Sydney, Road Ride, Manly to City Backroads
Manly, as the saying goes, is ‘seven miles from Sydney and a million miles from care’. It’s fairly true. Manly is a lovely place. It has a great beach, public artworks, cafes and shops and is serviced by the Manly ferry. And, if you know the back roads, then you can have a very enjoyable ride, avoiding the congested main roads between Manly and Sydney which can be quite treacherous, and not pleasant cycling, during peak hour.
This bike ride aims to get you to Sydney with as few main roads as possible. Should you bike ride this route on a weekday, you’ll have plenty of two wheeled friends to keep you company as it's a popular commuter route to the city. It’s worth doing if only to ride over the Harbour Bridge.
A hilly ride through mostly backstreets.
The best way to get to this ride is by catching the Manly ferry from Circular Quay. From the end of the ride you can ride back across the Harbour Bridge or hop on a train to your home destination.
We start off at the Manly Wharf, simply because it’s where you would start if you caught the ferry, and then turn left. Riding through The Crescent and Lauderdale Avenue is nice, if a little narrow at times. So as soon as we get the chance we turn off into Condamine Street. We ride through Dobroyd, simply because there are such fantastic views of Middle Harbour. While a nice detour, it isn’t essential. Clontarf is where the hills kick in. As soon as you pass Clontarf Beach, which is an excellent place for a picnic, you’ll be riding uphill to Seaforth, then it’s down to the Spit Bridge. If you’re there at opening time, it’s fun to see the yachts cruise through and you can choose one for yourself at the yacht brokers on the other side.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction they say, so once over the bridge, it’s time to go up again. But this route is much gentler than the one the cars take. When you get to the crossing point of Spit Road, make sure you look how the bike lane goes. It’s a bit confusing the first time round. After this we’re gradually making our way up to North Sydney. The only section where the planners have let us cyclists down a bit is the crossing of Ernest St so take care. We ride through North Sydney Oval, traditional home of the North Sydney Bears and head through the business district. This is downhill all the way so keep an eye out for opening car doors.
Once you’re into Milson’s Point, it’s time to hit the Bridge. The bike path is on the western side and you can see the obvious way by the large staircase. It’s mandatory for some of the younger crew to muscle their way up the central bike path, so feel free to give it a go. Remember, that while pedestrians are forbidden on the western side, cyclists are forbidden to go on the eastern side. Coming off the Bridge, we do a little loop around Observatory Hill and drop down to Circular Quay through the convict built Argyle cut. There you are. It’s a wonder why all those people drive from Manly every day, isn’t it?
Food and Drink
Apart from Manly at the beginning of the ride, the only real place for food and drink along the route is at the shops in Seaforth. Bakery recommended.
19.517 km / 12.127 mi
418 m / 1,373 ft
414 m / 1,357 ft
102 m / 334 ft
Traffic: Good, though many streets are narrow. Care needs to be taken at the end of the ride near North Sydney.
Side Trip: The best side trip from this ride is Historic Sydney. This would allow you to form a sort of figure eight and to combine the two would be a good option for visitors who are short on time and want to get a good look at Sydney. If you’re just looking for somewhere nice to go that doesn’t involve a bike, try Clontarf Beach. It is lovely and shady with a sheltered swim area for the kids.