Monthly Archives: October 2011


Cycling Down Under


The following article is from one of our members and his recent trip to Australia.  You can find his website here

Cycling Down Under


I’m lucky enough to be in Australia at the moment (Port Macquarie, home of Ironman Australia), and managed to get a three-day pass from my wife to get out on the bike and into the countryside of New South Wales.

I’d looked into taking my own bike to Australia, but the excess luggage costs were prohibitive, and it worked out cheaper to buy a second-hand bike once I was in Australia. I found a Trek 1.1 with Sora groupset and alu forks (beggars can’t be choosers) on Ebay for $AUD350, and I was set.

Port Macquarie is on the Pacific coast, and there is plenty of picturesque riding on the coast road. My first trip out on the bike was a 45 mile round trip taking in the local high ground, North Brother, on a twisting forest road which climbs 480m in 5km. The stunning view from the summit was worth the tough climb, and I didn’t miss my triple chainset too much. The 47mph descent through the switchbacks shredded my brake blocks. Time to show my face in Gordon Street Cycles, the incredibly friendly bike shop and cafe in Port Macquarie.

What I really wanted to do was get away from the coastal towns and into the countryside. The problem is, there aren’t many roads in rural Australia, so you have to choose carefully. Many are classed as highways, built for huge trucks carrying freight thousands of kilometers from city to city. You can legally ride on them, but they aren’t fun.
The Wauchope to Walcha road is a much more pleasant proposition. It climbs 4000ft from the coast up to the “Table Lands”, a vast mountainous plateau and part of the Great Dividing Range of mountains. On the day I chose to ride this road, it was wet and cold, and a temperature inversion meant low cloud clung to the lower slopes of the mountains. Once above the clouds the views were temporarily spectacular, before the road wound up into thick rainforest. The climb never got above 10%, but the hours of constant uphill riding made this a challenging but exilharating day. The temperature at 4000ft was down in single figures and I wished I’d packed my fleecy bibtights.
Of course, every big climb has a payoff, and after a night and a day spent on the Table Lands, the ride home meant a day descending the plateau from 4000ft to sea level. I did this via the “Waterfall Way”, a spectacular, scenic road popular with tourists, which leads down from Armidale through Dorrigo and Bellingen to Urunga.

I rode 50 miles of the road, but the highlight was the 7 miles or so of steep, twisty descent, in which I lost approximately 3500ft of height. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this was the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike.
One thing has amazed me about cycling in Australia. Firstly, I met no other cyclists, at all, on the scenic mountain passes. If I lived in northern New South Wales, I’d be out on these mountains every weekend! As I say, there aren’t many roads in Australia. If Aussie cyclists aren’t out on these roads, then where are they?

My time in Australia is coming to an end, and it’s time to put my Aussie Trek back on Ebay. I have to say, I didn’t expect much from this cheap and cheerful bike, but it completely surpassed my expectations, This bike took on some of the roughest mountain roads New South Wales has to offer, and it climbed, cruised and descended perfectly for my needs. This has made me think hard about how much hobby cyclists like me actually need to spend on a bike. Perhaps we need to worry less about kit and just get out there and ride.

Thanks to John, Sorry it took me so long to get this up.

Neil out front setting the pace

Sunday Rides

Neil out front setting the pace

I’ll be oranising a Sunday ride every other Sunday, starting from this weekend, Sunday the 9th of October.  Rides will set off from Glusburn Institute car park at 8.45 and will be about 40-50 mile in duration with a cafe stop halfway.  All abilities are welcome, nobody gets left behind. More details on the Sunday rides page.