Last weekend saw another edition of the annual Boucle de Burbs in Adelaide, South Australia, brought to you, as always, by the good folks at Treadly Bike Shop. There are many mass participation, recreational rides in Adelaide throughout the year, but the Boucle de Burbs is unique among them. Rather than pointing you towards the vast wine regions and fantastic hills beyond the city and smashing PB’s on Strava, the express purpose of the Boucle de Burbs is to reintroduce you to the place where you live via the lesser traveled lanes and alleyways within Adelaide, at a leisurely pace, on the best form of transport ever devised.
The bicycle is easily the best way to engage with the landscape you travel through, leaving nothing between your senses and the world around you yet covering far more ground than would be possible on foot, while giving you the flexibility to stop and linger at wherever takes your interest.
This is usually associated with touring lush countryside in some faraway place, but in reality, most people never really know the place they live entire lives in. Why not, then, take a cycle-tour around the place you call home, while hanging out with old friends and new, and enjoying some great food and drink at some fantastic cafe’s along the way?
In its own words, “The Boucle is not designed to be a race, nor a grueling journey, but instead an outing with prospects for taking in the scenery and happening upon some perfect spots for a quick snack or a long lunch. The course has been mapped out not only to track as many lanes as possible but also to pass some of Adelaide’s best cafes that are peppered through the burbs.”
It’s weird how you can have traveled through a particular area before and have not really seen it, or just around the corner from somewhere you have been frequently you discover something that you’d never have seen if someone hadn’t told you about it. That’s what’s great about this ride.
That, and the atmosphere. It’s hundreds of people who have turned up to simply ride their bikes around town, which means it’s pretty chilled and everyone is in a good mood. They say it’s impossible to ride a bike and be in a bad mood, but it’s even harder to ride casually with dozens of other people who are in no particular rush, excited to be there, some in costumes, all anticipating an adventure, under blue skies, and not be in high spirits (yet it’s quite often frustrating and sometimes even stressful riding in a large bunch of competitive roadies who may or may not have adequate levels of skill, awareness, or courtesy).
So we set off, and immediately turned onto a cycle path I had no idea existed, which was kind of the point.
The route provided was complicated for a few reasons: the scale of the map was small enough to have only the larger roads named, street signs aren’t really considered of great importance in Adelaide, and it sent you winding through side street after side street only to come back to the same street you left just blocks before, simply to take you through a new section of road. I’m quite sure a large portion of the participants didn’t end up sticking to the route as mapped – getting a bit lost was the theme of the day.
Lanes and alleyways feature prominently on the Boucle, and that’s half of the fun. I don’t know if Adelaide has a higher than average number of these tiny escape routes, but it seems like it. Barely a handlebar’s width, they sneak through houses, offices, businesses, and parks, while on other routes you would struggle to get a 4WD through – not because of the width, but because they look like a dried-up river bed. There was a bit of everything.
I didn’t have time to take in the post-ride festivities, but what I did leave with was a desire to, now and then, just jump on my bike and wander through the back-streets of the city in which I live in. Over the last year I have developed more of a taste for exploring new roads, just seeing where they go and not being particularly fussed if I have to hike the bike through some sections, but the Boucle de Burbs made me realize that I don’t have to always take to the hills to do this – the (sub)urban jungle is full of adventures of its own.
All images copywrite The Sticky Bidon