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Sydney Park Life
Sydney Rides the Park Festival in Sydney Park

Cycling in the city

The two wheel commute is the best way to get around.

On almost every day of the year you’ll find I Quit Sugar best-selling author and journalist Sarah Wilson cycling around Sydney. But she doesn’t stop there.

“In Paris, London and New York I also ride everywhere using the bike share schemes,” says Wilson. “Cycling is the most efficient way to get around a city and it is also a meditative process for me. I get to smell and see and absorb the realness of a city, even in my home town.”

Wilson is not the only Sydneysider who has discovered the joys of cycling. More people than ever before are pedaling to work or taking a spin on the weekend thanks to an ever-expanding network of cycleways and bike paths throughout the city, along with an increased appreciation of the benefits of cycling.

Sydney Park Life
The start of the MS Sydney to the Gong Ride at Sydney Park

“Cycling has enormous physical and mental benefits and it’s simply wonderful for stress relief,” says Fiona Campbell, manager of cycling strategy at the City of Sydney.

As more Sydneysiders are turning to two wheels to commute, the City of Sydney is building a network of 10 priority regional routes and has so far created 12.5km of separated cycleways, 60km of shared paths and 40km of other bike-friendly infrastructure.

To see how big a part of the culture cycling has become in Sydney, you only have to look at the popularity of its organised rides and cycling festivals, ranging from the Suits Ride (exactly what it sounds like – executives and corporate types in suits) to the Chocolate Ride (chocolate tasting by bike at a range of locations throughout the Inner West) and family-friendly affairs such as the picturesque Spring Cycle Ride over the Harbour Bridge. Ten thousand people took part in the MS Sydney to the Gong ride on November 6, and one month earlier on October 8 the Sydney Rides the Park Festival attracted over 3,000 riders to Sydney Park for a day of food, music, market stalls, riding and walking.

While Sydney Rides the Park is all about fun in the sun, the MS Sydney to the Gong Ride has a more serious side. The largest recreational bike ride in the Southern Hemisphere, it raises funds to support Australians living with multiple sclerosis and has raised more than $35 million since it began 35 years ago. Over a course of 90km (or 58km for those who start at Engadine), riders traverse diverse terrain and spectacular scenery from lush national parks to seaside towns, with plenty of rest stops for people to catch their breath and enjoy the scenery.

“It is a euphoric experience moving through coastal areas, reaching the heavens and peering across Stanwell Tops.”

- Angelo Lofitis.

The Dulwich Hill businessman is participating for the ninth year in a row in the MS Sydney to the Gong Ride and over the past eight years he and his team have raised over $300,000 for the event, which he began doing annually after his wife Megan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“My team and I experience many mind challenges throughout the grueling 90 kilometre event [but] the difference is we only suffer the pain once every year,” says Lofitis. “My wife Megan suffers from this disease which makes the ride even more special for me.”

Local company HPG Australia is the latest to support Angelo’s cause with a $4,000 donation, in line with its principles of fostering social responsibility, wellbeing and green spaces. Adrian Liu, Managing Director of HPG Australia comments, “We recognise the important role this race plays in raising awareness and much needed funds for MS sufferers. As a community minded developer we felt it was important to show support for Angelo who continues to work tirelessly in his fundraising efforts.”

Thanks to the passion and hard work of Sydneysiders like Lofitis, support for cycling in Sydney continues to grow.

“The Gong ride is my favourite yearly event,” he says. “I anticipate the joy of it just like a kid would Christmas.”

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