When the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, road riders in Wagga began to notice a dramatic uptake in their sport.
With the newcomers came a perception shift for the often maligned past-time.
Though many of the city's long-suffering riders say they have thankfully avoided instances of road rage often directed towards their metropolitan counterparts.
"I've ridden a lot in Sydney and I lived in Brisbane for about 10 years, there can be a bit of aggression between drivers and riders there," said road rider and cycling competitor Gethin Thomas.
"Especially in those big cities, when someone is stuck in traffic behind a cyclist, there can be aggression. I personally haven't seen that too much here [in Wagga].
"I've seen a lot of accidents, but I haven't seen anything involving cars, thankfully."
Since the pandemic hit last March, Tolland Cycling Club president Will Silver said he noticed a dramatic, almost overnight uptake.
"I think back in March last year people started turning to cycling, bike sales went through the roof in Australia, and I don't know why exactly. But it's good," Mr Silver said.
"From a social aspect, we definitely noticed there was an increase in people on bikes last year."
Mr Silver has been riding competitively for the past seven years since his career on the football field came to an end.
Socially, he rides about five times per week and said he has never experienced any hostility from Wagga's drivers.
"We promote health and fitness on the road, we ride to the rules and we stay safe," he said.
"I haven't heard of anything happening to our bunch."
Next weekend, he will again ride in the Tolland Open, which is expected to bring 250 riders to the city. Last year, it was one of the last riding competitions to take place before the lockdown cancelled all large-scale events.
"Last year, we made it within a week. We might have been the last major cycling event in NSW, it was fortunate."
In other news:
For Mr Thomas, the passion began 20 years ago when a water polo teammate suggested he take up triathlons.
Since moving to Wagga about five-and-a-half years ago, he has joined the thriving - and now growing - community of fellow cyclists.
"Maybe once or twice here there's been someone who shouted out a word or two when you're on the road, sometimes they do have a point. Sometimes cyclists don't help themselves," Mr Thomas said.
"Some times you can forget you're on a public road, but thankfully I haven't seen a lot of aggression."
Mr Thomas believes the amicable relationship between riders and drivers comes down to familiarity. People in Wagga expect to see cyclists on the road because there are so many of them.
"I think most people in Wagga know a cyclist personally, so they give a bit more space and have a bit more patience," Mr Thomas said.
"People are a lot more relaxed here too, they're not rushing everywhere like they are in cities.
"Wagga has a strong culture of cycling, we have the numbers, there have been some national champions produced here."
This week, the council has also launched a survey to gauge the community's feelings towards cycling, which can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/cyclingwagga.
The information compiled through the 10-minute online survey will be used to determine where to funding should be devoted.
"Council, along with our partners at Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD), and The University of Sydney, has created the Cycling Survey to better understand cycling attitudes and behaviour in Wagga," said Ben Creighton, council's strategic asset planner for parks and recreation.
"We'll use the survey results to ensure we're working towards meeting community expectations for future infrastructure."
Competitive cyclist and mountain biker Adrian Hamilton welcomed the survey along with the council's ongoing investment in cycling.
"I think the new facilities Wagga Council is providing will help get families out and about," Mr Hamilton said.
"At the moment, people aren't travelling as much so they're able to spend more time and money on things like cycling."
Similarly to Mr Thomas, Mr Hamilton has been riding for the past 20 years, though he admits "I don't remember ever when I was not on a bike".
"Even as a kid I was on a bike, riding around," he said.
In other news:
When he's not competing, Mr Thomas will spend his leisure time mountain biking or simply riding around town, often with his 11-year-old son Rhys.
"I enjoy the challenge of going up a big mountain, it's the challenge of it," he said.
For the father-son duo, riding equates to a stress-reliever, and it is this phenomenon that he believes has attracted others to take up the sport during the high-stress COVID-19 lockdowns.
"It's a great release when you're going flat out, you don't have a chance to think about anything else. I have previously used it as a transport option, and it's a time to decompress from work when you're riding home," he said.
"There's a degree of collegiality in the cycling scene, and there's certainly an aspect of mental health to it. Most people are very supportive out there."
Wagga's long history of road riding, Mr Thomas said, has fostered mutual respect between riders and drivers, which he believes keeps both co-existing happily.
"Cyclists don't have to be in the gutter, we can use the whole lane if we wish, but we need to be considerate," he said.
"It's not always safe to be right on the side of the road because if you have to suddenly swerve away from debris, you're swerving into traffic and [motorists] can misinterpret that.
"We have a lot of communication going on, shouting out to each other if there's a hole or something on the road. A lot of people have had flat tyres because of potholes.
"Most people who ride in groups have experience on the roads and those that are inexperience, other riders will communicate with them about what they need to do. No-one wants anyone falling."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: