The biggest difference between riding in Europe and in Australia is definitely the heat. People ride very early - get up at 5am and beat the heat. Noon in summer can easily top 40 degrees, and with high humidity near the coast, that's a tough mix. You don’t really want to be riding much later than 11am in summer as it can be well in to the high 30’s by then and the UV is also crazy over here.
RIDING DOWN UNDER
Taking the new Pro Air Jersey out for morning rides was perfect - when the rays get stronger, it's just that little bit more breathable.
This up early approach isn't too common in Europe - you'd probably get odd looks even proposing a time like that. The upside is that your day is longer - so more time to spend with partners and young families. You get your cycling fix and still spend the day with loved ones.
As a photographer - I can't not talk about the light at that time. You don't need an Alp to have a scenic ride...But, I wouldn't mind one.
With everything going on globally right now, Australia got off extremely lightly. It hasn’t really felt like there has been any lockdown at all - the cafe’s remained open throughout albeit serving espressos to go. Bike shops remained open along with supermarkets, and whilst there was a 2/3 week period where you could only exercise outdoors with people from your own household, it was eased weeks ago now and groups of 20 people can now meet and ride together
It's been odd, but it means that we haven't missed social summer spins - unlike the rest of the world. I count myself lucky, but, I hope everyone is making it through as safely and as best as possible. I can't wait to get back to work taking pictures at races - there's nothing like raceday!
Taking two bidons is also advisable as you drink so much more on rides, also, freezing the bidons overnight is also a top tip to keep them colder longer into the ride - it's a real treat, whether enjoyed on the go or splashed over your neck.
Of course, the other side to wearing exceedingly lightweight and breathable kit is paying attention to the sun - always wear at least factor 50 sunscreen so you don’t get burnt - It's the best option. Whilst heavier kit might offer more UV protection, the trade off in terms of heat isn't worth it. It's just better to have something light, and that you won't constantly be unzipping - unless you want that flapping look.
I've been across Europe photographing the Grand Tours, so, it's probably sacreledge to say this, but Australia has the best cafes in the world. An iced latte at the cafe stop, with quality coffee at every corner - you can't get it wrong.
Based near Perth, the local loops are pretty varied - there's a coast ride that literally just goes up and down the West Coast which while not particularly challenging does offer stunning views out onto the Indian Ocean. Then, there's a great river loop that goes around the Swan River around Perth. My favourite ride though is up in the Perth Hills, we ride for around an hour and a half out from Scarborough, through Perth City and out East to get to the hills, once there you get stunning classic Australian landscapes and proper actual hills where you can test your legs and enjoy the scenery and local wildlife, just keep an eye out for any snakes crossing the road as we’ve almost run over a few up in the hills.
Another main difference is in the bikes and kit that people own in Oz. Being a lad from Yorkshire and having covered WorldTour races and ridden my bikes in Europe, I have had to own a number of bikes and a whole wardrobe of kit.
I have a summer (best) bike that only sees sunny days and also a winter bike that I ride on salted roads in the UK or on muddy filthy roads in Belgium. Then I have summer cycling kit, kit for spring and autumn (arm warmers, knee warmers, thin gloves) then full winter kit like waterproof jackets and long thermal bibs.
Out in Oz you only need one best bike as it’s pretty much always sunny and they don’t salt the roads, so rather than needing to split your budget on two bikes you can just buy one super bike. Not a bad place to be in.
Thanks to Russ for speaking to us about the Australian riding lifestyle. You can catch more of his photography on his Instagram page.