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CAMWEST Rides

Places to ride:

There are a number of fantastic parks around Western Sydney which are ideal for family excursions with the bikes. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • Sydney Olympic Park
    There are heaps of good cycling paths throughout Olympic Park. Sydney Olympic Park have put together three 'bike safari' routes, which highlight some of the fantastic paths to get you started. For details, see the link above, or download a pdf map of the routes. There are also a couple of locations within the precinct where you can hire bikes.
  • Western Sydney Parklands
    There is a fantastic network of walking and cycling paths within the Parklands. The main cycling path is the Parklands Track which, combined with the M7 shared path, runs pretty much the length of the parklands. There are a number of other cycling paths which link to or run close to the main path, which can be used to create some shorter loops. Some favorite family areas, which also have access to cycling routes, include: One of our self-guided rides, the 19km M7 and Western Sydney Parklands Track Loop, uses the Parkland Track through Narragingy and Bungarribee.
  • Mirambeena Regional Park, Lansdowne/Georges Hall
    There are a network of paths within the park suitable for riding. The main path which runs the length of the park has a couple of good hills, which inexperienced riders may need to walk. If driving, there is a parking area off Henry Lawson Drive.
  • Wianamatta Regional Park, Ropes Crossing
    The park has several kilometres of reasonably flat sealed and unsealed roads and tracks, with the only vehicular traffic to contend with the occasional National Parks maintenance vehicle. The main entrance is off Mainwaring St, Ropes Crossing, with access to a car park, restrooms, and walking distance to picnic areas. One of our self-guided rides, the Mt Druitt to Penrith route, passes through the park.
  • Parramatta Park

In addition to these, there are a number of shared paths with minimal road crossings, which are great if you're happy to ride up and back along the same path. These include:

Our self guided rides below use these and some other paths, and include route descriptions that should help you work out the suitability of the routes for your family.

Self-guided routes:

CAMWEST members are putting together a series of self-guided routes on the Ride With GPS (RWGPS) platform, which, together with the RWGPS app running on your mobile device, provides riders with a car-like GPS or Sat-Nav experience tailored to cycling.

Each route contains:

  • A brief description of the route, including start and finish location(s) and anticipated riding condtions. Our aim is to supply you with enough information to help you select an appropriate ride for you or your family's level of fitness, confidence and ability.
  • Cues (Directions) that are read out as you ride.
  • A POI (Points of Interest) map overlay, with facilities such as water bubblers, restrooms, food/coffe outlets, nearby railway stations or ferry terminals in case you need to terminate the ride prematurely, and in some cases, genuine points of interest!

These routes may appeal to riders who:

  • May be unfamiliar with the area, and want to enjoy a ride without having to worry about the navigation side of things;
  • May be nervous of getting lost if riding by themselves;
  • Want to ride on a different day or at a different time to when the group rides are being held;
  • Feel uncomfortable riding with a group.

RWGPS is both web and app based, with data exchanged between the two platforms. Access to the voice navigation function of the RWGPS app is a paid feature. However, through access to the CAMWEST RWGPS Club Account, we can provide this functionality for paid-up CAMWEST members at no additional cost. Joining CAMWEST is significatnly cheaper than taking out an individual Basic RWGPS subscription.

Once we accept and process your CAMWEST membership request, you will be offered the opportuntiy to join our RWGPS Club Account. Upon registering to join the club account, you'll be prompted to create your own 'Starter' account. While you have access to all the free RWGPS 'Starter' account functions, you will also have access to several of the features normally only available in the 'Basic' and 'Premium' paid plans. One of these features is access to the mobile device voice guidance prompts, which can be used with applicable rides in our database. There is also the option of enabling 'Premium' level route design and documentation features for members wishing to add high quality routes to the CAMWEST ride database. Please get in touch if you'd like to contribute in this way.

The following text is an edited version of a Bicycle NSW article:

As a bike is classified as a vehicle in NSW, it is illegal to use most mobile device functions while riding. This includes video calling, texting, emailing, social media, web browsing, and taking photos etc. Doing so can result in a fine of $349, or $464 if detected in a school zone.

Bike riders are only able to use a phone to make or answer calls, or play audio (including navigation). In order to do this, the phone must be:

  • Secured in a cradle, or
  • Used without touching the device.
Bike riders can use a hands free device (such as voice activation) in order to control their mobile. However, they must not touch the phone while they are moving.

Rider Distractions

Using a phone when riding can be a big distraction and can lead to serious accidents. A glance at your phone might mean you don’t see debris on the road/trail/path, or that you don’t have enough time to react to a motor vehicle suddenly stopping in front of you.

Similar to driving a motor vehicle, it’s important to not have your audio (navigation, music, radio, podcasts etc.) too loud. This is so you can hear what is happening in your surroundings such as the proximity of vehicles or a fellow bike rider calling out instructions.

Bicycle NSW encourages riders to limit phone use to the legal approach described above, and to recognise that all road users benefit when they can navigate safely.

Although ideally you shouldn't need to look at your device after comencing a ride, there are circumstances (like going 'off-course' and trying to navigate back to the route, or checking the map POI overlay for the nearest water bubbler, restroom, or food/drink outlet) where it may be beneficial to be able to easily check the device's screen. As noted above, legally you can only check the screen after you have stopped.

CAMWEST does not recommend using traditional earphones while cycling, as they may impact on the rider's ability to know of and respond quickly to events happening around them. In spite of being legal, for the same reason we would discourage listening to anything but direction cues while riding.

We believe the safest way to use your mobile device while cycling is to use a purpose-built mount or pouch, with the device's audio coming from either it's internal speaker, a separate bluetooth spreaker, or via bone-conducting headphones.

Mounts and pouches come in different shapes and forms. Some offer protection from the rain; some are 'universal' fit, while others have adaptors that are specific for certain popular phone models. Although not the cheapest, the Quadlock system is popular and widely available. It has adaptors available for a number of popular devices, or an adhesive mount that can be directly attached to other devices (case material dependent).

Note that a waterproof pouch, while offering some protection from precipitation, also potentially impacts the volume and clarity of voice-guidance instructions reaching the listener, as well as negatively impacting air circulation around the device. We're aware of one higher-end phone suffering overheating issues while being used in an enclosed pouch on a day with temperatures in the mid 30's.

Bluetooth audio devices:

One option that we've trialed is using the JBL Clip 3 waterproof bluetooth speaker. We purchased the speaker for under A$50, and tried both attaching it to the bike handlebar stem with cable ties (preferrably the reusable type), and hanging it from the top rear loop of a hydration backpack. Both options are usable, and may also be good if you'd rather carry your mobile device in a bag or pocket.

Please be aware that most modern bluetooth audio devices employ a ‘snooze’ mode where they go into a low power state if they haven’t received any audio signals for the last 6 seconds or so. When in this state, the first second or so of any subsequent audio is missed while the bluetooth device ‘wakes up’. To get around this issue, there are several apps available that generate inaudiable 'pulses' to the bluetooth audio device to keep it awake. One which we've used successfully on an android device is the ' Bluetooth Keep Active' app. We found setting the ‘Time Delay’ to 0.1 minutes worked well. Just be aware that by using these apps you are over-riding your Bluetooth audio device’s power-saving feature. Please remember to disable the 'Keep Active' function when you've finished your ride.

Choosing the setup which works best for you may involve some trial and error!

Here are the steps for registering for the CAMWEST RWGPS Account and installing the App. If you already have the app installed, skip that step.

Registering for the CAMWEST RWGPS Account:

Note: This can be done on any device that has access to a web browser (including PCs).

  1. Click on the provided link to join the CAMWEST RWGPS account. (If you don't have a link, please contact us).
  2. When prompted, enter the email address that you'll be using with the RWGPS app, and create a user name and password.
  3. Click 'Create an account'.

Installing the App:

  1. If you've completed the above steps, you'll be presented with a page with a link to both iOS and Android versions of the RWGPS app. If presently accessing from a mobile device and not already installed, go ahead and install the app. You can also install the app directly from the App or Play Stores.

Accessing the CAMWEST self-guided routes:

  1. With the RWGPS app running, click the 'Log In' link on the Home screen. Note that you need to log in with the same email address as registered with the CAMWEST RWGPS account above. Unless you've separately paid for a subscription, you'll be logged in under a RWGPS 'Starter' account.
  2. From the Home screen, click the 'More' button near the bottom right hand corner of the window.
  3. Depending on which is displayed, click the 'Club' or 'Organisation' option. If you are a member of more than one Club or Organisation, select 'CAMWEST Bicycle User Group'.
  4. Select 'Collections' then 'Recreational Rides with detailed cues'.
  5. Select the appropriate route from the list.

Mobile Device Settings:

  • Voice pronounciation accent and speed are functions of the mobile device. The settings can normally be found under:
    Settings > Accessibility
    (Note that the iOS version of the RWGPS app also has a voice speed adjustment setting).
Note: Using a charged powerbank may also be worthwhile if:
  • Your phone chews through the battery as if there's no tomorrow;
  • The device battery is partially discharged before commencing the ride;
  • You'll be using the app for more than a few hours.

RWGPS App Settings:

There are at least three places in the app where various settings can be accessed:

  1. The Settings screen accessed from the home page:
    Home Screen > More > Settings
  2. The Settings screen accessed while navigating a route:
    Tools > Settings
  3. The map option icon, displayed near the bottom-left corner of the map, either while navigating a route or before you start.

Some of the options available in the two Settings screens above are the same, while others are exclusive to one screen or the other – just to confuse things!

Recommended App Settings:

  1. The main option which is exclusive* to the Settings screen accessed via the Home Page is the ‘Use Metric Units’ box, which is unticked by default. To change this, go to the Home screen and select:
    More > Settings > Account Settings > Tick ‘Use Metric Units’ box
    (*Note: This setting can also be changed when logged into the RWGPS website, by clicking the grey RWGPS bike icon near the top right of the screen, and selecting Settings > Preferences and ticking 'Use metric units?').
  2. Access the Navigation option from either of the above Settings screens. By default all settings are ticked. We Suggest you untick ‘Advance Cue Warnings’ and ‘Imminent Cue Warnings’.
  3. Another option is to get periodic spoken alerts. As well as providing feedback about how the ride is going, the alerts also offer assurance that the phone/app are still working during those periods when there’s a long gap between real cues. You can set alerts based on time or distance, and also specify which parameters you wish to have read out. The steps below outline a fairly basic alert every km.

    To set/alter, access the Logging option from either of the above Settings screens, and scroll down to the Interval Alerts section.
    • Tick ‘Enabled’
    • Tick ‘Tone’
    • Click ‘Type’ to selected ‘Distance’.
    • Click ‘Interval Distance Spacing’ and select 1km.
    • Click ‘Announcement Content’, and select ‘Whole Ride’ under both ‘Distance’ and ‘Duration’.
  4. When a map route is displayed (with or without navigating the route), click the ‘Map Options’ icon near the bottom left corner of the displayed map. Overlays and Map backgrounds can be selected here. We reccomend:
    • Turning on the POI overlay (Displaying locations of water bubblers, restrooms, food stops, railway stations close to the route in case you need to bail etc);
    • Turning off Cues (which displays icons on the map for each cue);
    • Having the 'Heat Map' layer displayed can be interesting if you want to see how many other RWGPS users have ridden sections of the route lately, but it can make street names and other map details blurry. Our preference is to normally disable this overlay.
    • Under ‘Map Type’, we prefer to use ‘OSM Cycle’.
  • The first cue in each of these CAMWEST routes is not specifically designed to be read out aloud, although that may happen depending on when you actually start navigtion for the route. They're meant to be read by the rider, to ensure the route is started at the nominated location.
  • There is no specific chime in the app to indicate that you are now following the intended route. In an attempt to mitigate this, CAMWEST routes will contain either a turn instruction or information cue within the first 100 metres of each route to provide audio confirmation that you are in fact following the intended route. This also serves as a test to ensure that your audio is working as intended.
  • The routes contain POIs (Points of Interest) and photos. The location and details of these are not mentioned by default with the voice navigation prompts. Prompts have been manually added to draw your attention to some of the more important ones. As mentioned above, we recommend enabling the POI layer so you have an idea of facilities around you.
  • While actually navigating a route, there doesn't appear to be any readilly accessable way of going back and looking at the ride description or photos. We advise looking at these before you start navigating, and identifying any of particular interest. While on the ride, it's always possible to use your browser and check these on the ride's webpage.

Some quirks to be aware of:

The behaviour of the RWGPS App Voice Guidance prompts is a little different from that of a traditional car-based navigation system. With a traditional navigation system:

  • Cues are automated and basic;
  • Cues are usually recalculated or adjusted if you miss a turn or take a different route to that originally selected.

With the RWGPS system:

  • Cues can be customised by the person creating the route. Instead of just the basic 'Take next Left turn' or 'Turn left onto George St' , cues such as 'Turn left onto the shared path immediately after passing the statue of Captain Cook' can be created.
  • Cues are not recalculated if you leave the designated route. Instead, an 'off-course' audio chime sounds once you're approximately 50 to 70 metres off-course, and there'll be a warning message on the screen that also tells you by what distance and in which direction you've deviated. The chime will continue to sound every 2 minutes or so whilst off-course, unless you manually silence it. When heading back to the correct course, please note:
    • The off-course screen indicator will disappear when you get within 50 metres of the correct course - even though you're still ostensibly off-course;
    • There is no audio chime to indicate that you are back on the correct route. The only real way is to check your position relative to the route via the on-screen map.
    • Under some circumstances you may receive a voice cue (but noting that as you're now approaching that point from the opposite of the intended direction, the cue will announce to turn the opposite direction to what you are now required to make), and in other circumstances you won't receive any voice cues at all.

Other things to take note of:

  1. Cues or Directions are often (but not always) read out a fair while before the turn/point is reached. While riding at around 15kmph, directions are often started around 70 metres before the turn. Unless the instruction is really long, it’s finished well before the turn, with no other prompts following.
  2. The ‘end of route’ audio notification occurs around 70 metres before the route is supposed to finish.
  3. There appears to be no way of testing the volume of the voice commands before starting the ride. If operating the phone on speaker, you may need to set the volume at or near maximum to compensate for traffic noise (depending on location).
  4. When cues are geographically close to each other, the system can get confused and read out the wrong cue at times. At points where this issue has been identified, we've combined two changes of direction into one cue. For example: 'Veer right and follow the shared path into the culvert under the road. As you're coming out of the culvert on the other side, turn sharp left onto another shared path.'
  5. As you need to be at least 50 metres off-course (as the crow flies) before the system alerts, it is possible to miss a road or creek crossing and follow on the opposite side to that intended, and still be considered 'on-course'. The missed turn or crossing may only become apparent later on when you receive a cue that doesn't make sense or the two courses diverge by enough to trigger the off-course alert.

Keeping these 'quirks' in mind, we hope you enjoy using the RWGPS App with Voice Guidance on the CAMWEST routes.

The following table is a guide to what the line colors on the CAMWEST Ride With GPS maps are trying to indicate. Please note:

  • Some of these definitions are subjective;
  • Definitions may be varied when riding in rural or semi-rural areas;
  • The colouring scheme is particular to CAMWEST rides. Other riding groups may use a different colouring scheme.
Shared path or bicycle-only path (off road or separated on-road)
Grassed area, possibly with unformed track
Gravel road/path/track, usually suitable for hybrid or similar bikes
Footpath or other area where cyclists should/must dismount
Quieter road (Residential street, Access road etc)
Moderately busy road, incl Industrial areas
Busier roads, maybe with high-speed traffic

Group Rides:

CAMWEST group rides are free to all, although riders 16 years and under must be accompanied by an adult rider. Please choose a ride that is appropriate to your level of fitness and ability. If unsure, please ask us! Each rider should be equipped with:

  • a well maintained bike;
  • a correctly fitting bicycle helmet in good condtion which complies with Australian Standards AS/NZS 2063:2008—Bicycle helmets;
  • a water bottle or two filled with water;
  • a spare tube;
  • tyre levers;
  • a pump;
  • sunscreen;
  • clothing appropriate for the expected weather conditions;
  • snacks and/or money for any food or drink you wish to purchase;
  • and of course a willing body!

You don't have to wear fancy lycra shorts and tops although regular riders find them more comfortable and because the tops are usually brightly coloured they are more visible on the road. Most rides are arranged so there is access to water and toilets along the route.

We don't currently have any planned group community rides.