On a busy afternoon on the Twelve Apostles on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, I’m the one particular person not struggling parking angst. As four-wheeled motorists hunt for areas, I’m wheeling my bike down the paths in the direction of one in every of Australia’s most well-known views.
I’m three days into a motorbike experience throughout one in every of Australia’s most iconic touring routes and nearly 90 kilometres into my biking day.
On a spectacular street corresponding to this one, a bicycle opens up the views and the expertise. Pedalling west from Geelong, I’m all however poised over the drop into the ocean and I can cease wherever and at any time when I prefer to soak within the surroundings. It’s the freest type of street tripping I do know.
It’s an analogous story on roads and tracks throughout the nation – there isn’t any view or immersion like that from behind the handlebars of a motorbike.
Two many years in the past, I cycled round Australia’s entirety – a 20,000-kilometres lap – and within the intervening years, issues have solely continued to get higher for cyclists. But today you do not essentially have to go to such extremes, until, after all, your coronary heart needs.
Rail trails and mountain bike networks have proliferated throughout the nation and, as bike gross sales confirmed in the course of the pandemic, there is a fast-growing variety of folks on two wheels.
Today in Australia, there is a experience and a method of motorbike journey to swimsuit any bike owner and this is a step-by-step information, primarily based partially on my new guide, Ultimate Cycling Trips Australia, to point out you find out how to saddle-up from begin to end.
STEP ONE: ON YER BIKE (BUT WHICH ONE?)
All bikes will not be created equal. The bike you need for a experience throughout the Great Ocean Road is a universe away from the bike you may have to pedal a mountain-bike path.
The choices are manifold – street bike, touring bike, mountain bike, hybrid bike, e-bike, gravel bike, recumbent bike, tandem bike – and there is a shocking variety of concerns round even simply selecting which bike most closely fits a experience.
As the title suggests, touring bikes are the perfect all-rounders, constructed with lengthy cycle excursions in thoughts. At a look, they resemble street bikes, with drop handlebars to present your palms a number of positions.
They have wider rims and tyres than street bikes, together with eyelets within the body for attaching racks for panniers, and extra spokes within the wheels to supply additional power below loaded weights.
Road bikes provide the quickest approach from A to B – not less than on sealed surfaces – however have much less capability for carrying gear, so are sometimes unsuitable for lengthy excursions.
Hybrid bikes slot into the center floor between street bikes and mountain bikes – their tyres are wider than street bikes, however narrower than mountain bikes. They’re a superb alternative when you’re using on roads or rail trails, and also you desire a bike you may comfortably tootle about on again at residence.
The second you propose to depart the sealed stuff, a mountain bike comes into its personal. The four-wheel drives of the bike world, their broad tyres, suspension and upright using place are constructed for tough journey.
A more moderen upstart on the dust is the gravel bike, formed like a street bike however with the guts of a mountain bike. They’re nice for unsealed roads and long-distance off-road rides.
E-bikes are the brand new black in cycle journey with these power-assisted bikes accounting for round 5 per cent of all bikes gross sales in Australia (and a whopping 50 per cent within the likes of the Netherlands). They cross genres – street e-bikes by to mountain e-bikes – and ease the pedalling burden. You nonetheless should work in your kilometres, but it surely’s extra like informal labour than full-time employment.
STEP TWO: MOUNTING TENSION (OR GETTING READY TO RIDE)
If you are setting out on a multi-day bike experience, the following little bit of enterprise is deciding how you are going to carry your gear. Contemporary knowledge favours two set-ups: panniers and bikepacking.
Panniers are baggage that hold from racks over the wheels of your bike – usually, two panniers on the rear or, when you’re needing extra gear, two on the rear and two on the entrance. An additional handlebar bag is sweet for carrying valuables and small gadgets you wish to entry as you experience.
A slicker approach of transporting your gear is what’s generally known as bikepacking, which does away with panniers and as a substitute makes use of quite a lot of smaller baggage puzzled across the bike – a saddle bag hanging from beneath the seat, an extended roll of drugs hanging from the handlebars, a triangular bag comfortable into the bike body, and maybe baggage secured to the entrance forks.
It trims your packing and makes the bike extra compact, and it is the best set-up for off-road rides, narrowing the bike and limiting the drag and motion of drugs.
Australia has loads of multi-day rides that may be undertaken with out the necessity to stuff panniers or baggage filled with tenting and cooking gear, staying as a substitute every evening in cities and lodging.
In researching Ultimate Cycling Trips Australia, I pedalled by the likes of the Southern Highlands, Sunshine Coast and Great Ocean Road with only a change of garments and some bike spares in a saddle bag.
Even a four-day part (Manjimup to Northcliffe) of Western Australia’s distant, 1000-kilometre off-road Munda Biddi Trail could be civilised every evening with motels and wine and whisky bars.
STEP THREE: CHOOSING A ROUTE FROM EASY TO EPIC
The Blue Derby Mountain Bike trails embody among the most gorgeous landscapes in Tasmania. Photo: Stu Gibson
So, the gear is sorted. Let’s experience.
Options throughout Australia vary from street rides to rail trails, mountain bike blasts to prolonged off-road excursions. Road rides are the standard type of touring although the relative dearth of minor roads throughout a lot of Australia has at all times restricted the attraction of lengthy street excursions.
That mentioned, among the nation’s most lovely roads and areas make for glorious using, together with Tasmania’s east coast, the Great Ocean Road and NSW’s Southern Highlands.
Rail trails have changed roads because the routes of alternative for a lot of cyclists. Following the course of disused railways, these rides promise flat(tish) using, usually between cities. Queensland has the nation’s longest rail path, and South Australia has a thirsty number of rail trails by wine areas, together with the Riesling Trail and Coast to Vines, but it surely’s Victoria that leads the rail cost.
It now has greater than 30 rail trails, headlined by the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, stretching from Wangaratta to Bright (with arms to Beechworth, Wandiligong and Milawa), however unfold throughout the state. There’s a full checklist of rail trails throughout the nation at railtrails.org.au
Surpassing even the expansion of rail trails is the growth in mountain-bike trails. Since the north-east Tasmanian city of Derby rose to international mountain-biking prominence with the launch of its Blue Derby path community in 2015, trails have materialised in cities throughout the nation.
Among the best networks I cycled in researching Ultimate Cycling Trips Australia had been these in Alice Springs within the North Territory), Melrose. South Australia, Stromlo, Australian Capital Territory and Mount Buller’s well-named Alpine Epic.
Seeking the last word bike problem? Australia won’t have the gathering of continent-crossing trails present in Europe’s EuroVelo community or the United States’ Great Divide Mountain Bike Route but it surely does have a few well-designed 1000-kilometre epics on dust: the Munda Biddi Trail, stretching from close to Perth to Albany, and the Mawson Trail from Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges.
A shorter taster of this sort of off-road journeying by bike could be discovered on the 207-kilometre Goldfields Track, which weaves alongside tracks and previous previous goldfields between Mount Buninyong and Bendigo.
STEP FOUR: FULLY-GUIDED VERSUS SELF-GUIDED
Logistically, the best strategy to prepare a biking journey is to take a guided tour, of which there are a rising quantity round Australia. Typically, every little thing is organized for you, besides the pedalling. An different that is gaining traction is a self-guided tour.
Long standard in Europe, this type of cycle journey leaves you unbiased in each approach however all of the nitty gritty, corresponding to lodging, baggage transfers, maps and route notes, has been pre-arranged. You’re free to maneuver at your individual tempo, cease as you please by the day, and detour to something that catches your consideration.
The conventional – and nonetheless for a lot of, the perfect – type of cycle journey is unbiased, finding out your individual routes and preparations.
STEP FIVE: WE’RE ALL EASY RIDERS NOW
If you are biking interstate, or removed from residence, it is lengthy been the observe to move your individual bike, which has usually meant flying with it.
To do that, it is advisable disassemble the bike, eradicating the wheels, seat and pedals and turning the handlebars. After packing this puzzle into a motorbike field (which you’ll often get from a motorbike retailer) or bike bag and lugging it to the airport oversize-baggage counter, you see it once more at one other oversize-baggage counter at your arrival airport, and the reassembly begins. At this level, the biking forward can generally really feel like the straightforward bit.
Bikes will also be taken on many regional practice companies and a few buses, although laws and necessities range throughout the states. Regional trains settle for bikes in NSW, Victoria, Queensland, and on three choose companies in southern WA. Buses are essentially the most helpful strategy to transport bikes round WA, Tasmania and South Australia, although usually bikes additionally require some disassembly earlier than being loaded onto buses.
Cycling’s rising reputation, nonetheless, signifies that it is now not at all times essential to deliver your individual bike, with rental choices turning into extra widespread.
Most main cities now have bike-hire shops (together with not less than one which rents out touring bikes and panniers). True to the legal guidelines of provide and demand, bike rent can also be extra plentiful round busy rail trails and mountain-bike networks. There’s no scarcity of bikes on the likes of Derby and Stromlo, whereas standard rides such because the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail and Great Victorian Rail Trail up the consolation ante even additional, with shuttle companies and baggage transfers alongside bike rent.
TOURING DOWN UNDER: EIGHT GREAT CYCLING ROUTES
SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS, NSW
The Southern Highlands might solely be a 90-minute drive from Sydney however on a motorbike they’ll really feel a hemisphere aside. Named by homesick Scottish settlers for a supposed likeness to the highlands of residence, the area is threaded with quiet nation roads that join completely for a two-day, 115 kilometres biking loop. Beginning in Berrima, the 2 days present a contrasting have a look at the Southern Highlands. The hilly first day focuses on the fantastic thing about the cities – Berrima, Bowral, Mittagong – whereas the longer and (barely) flatter second day is concerning the space’s pure options, corresponding to Fitzroy Falls and Belmore Falls. See visitsouthernhighlands.com.au
GREAT VICTORIAN RAIL TRAIL, VICTORIA
Victoria’s longest rail path skirts the state’s second-largest lake, dives into its longest rail-trail tunnel and rolls by Bonnie Doon, the city from The Castle. From the foot of the High Country to the shoulder of the Hume Highway, in true railway kind the experience adheres to the flattest course but it surely does rise into hills because it climbs 130 metres between Molesworth and Yea, burrowing by the highest of the hills contained in the 200-metre-long, brick-lined Cheviot Tunnel. The path stretches for 126 kilometres between Mansfield and Tallarook, however essentially the most lovely part is a 13-kilometre aspect path to Alexandra. Plan for 2 or three days of using. See greatvictorianrailtrail.com.au
LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN, ACT
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Canberra is Australia’s most bike-friendly metropolis so it is sensible that the lake on the metropolis’s coronary heart doubles as a digital velodrome. Cycling paths ring Lake Burley Griffin, making for a 35-kilometre loop that is all about nationwide treasures and icons, passing the likes of the National Museum, National Arboretum, National Gallery and myriad different “nationals” The circuit is nearly completely sealed, and predominantly flat because it skims previous the monumental buildings that rise from the lakeshore like prodigious reeds. The full circuit could be pedalled in a few single-minded hours or stretched throughout a day with the kind of sightseeing and eating stops. See visitcanberra.com.au
BRISBANE VALLEY RAIL TRAIL, QUEENSLAND
Carving its approach from Yarraman to the suburbs of Ipswich, Australia’s longest rail path at 161 kilometres finishes lower than an hour’s drive from Brisbane’s coronary heart, and but the experience is essentially by the kind of outback panorama that makes the proximity of city life appear fanciful. The gradient of the unsealed path favours beginning the experience in Yarraman, making for an total 350-metre descent, although the majority of the downhill is over early, on an extended descent by bush into Linville. Well-spaced cities line the path, which is often cycled over three days, making it simple to construction meals and nightly stops. See brisbanevalleyrailtrail.com.au
BLUE DERBY, TASMANIA
After making its temporary fortunes by tin mining, Derby has discovered new riches from mountain-biking. Opened solely seven years in the past, the Blue Derby path community – a set of virtually 40 trails protecting greater than 120 kilometres – has turn into the blueprint for high quality mountain-bike path networks. There are trails right here for all talents, from a delicate loop of the town-side lake to seat-of-your-padded-pants descents. Favourite embody Blue Tier, which plunges by moss-upholstered forest to a low-level loop that features the Derby Tunnel, a darkish, low-ceilinged shaft bored by the earth. Shuttles and plentiful bike rent make entry to the paths a breeze. See ridebluederby.com.au
COAST TO VINES RAIL TRAIL, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Trails by wine areas are a function of Australian biking and Coast to Vines is without doubt one of the easiest to entry. Setting out from a practice station in Adelaide’s southern suburbs, it begins with coastal views earlier than turning inland and leaving the city sprawl behind because it crosses to McLaren Vale and Willunga. Vines encase the 39-kilometre path, and it is a quick detour to a lot of McLaren Vale’s finest cellar doorways and to celebrated eating places such because the Salopian Inn. On reaching Willunga, there’s the possibility to deal with SA’s most well-known biking ascent within the type of Old Willunga Hill from the Tour Down Under basic. The three-kilometre climb rises 250 vertical metres by the dry slopes. Turn round beside the King of the Mountain crown painted on the street and it is about 4 minutes of freewheeling descent again to a glass of wine in Willunga. See railtrails.org.au
ROTTNEST ISLAND, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Photo: Andrew Bain
Watch fleets of bikes roll away from the ferry docks on “Rotto” and also you realise that Perth’s favorite vacation island is all however custom-made for bikes. The solely different automobile on the roads is the island bus, and the best level on the island is simply 46 metres above sea stage. It’s a easy process to pedal the 28-kilometre island loop, stopping at any, or many, of Rottnest’s 63 seashores, and nonetheless make it again for a late-afternoon ferry. No climb right here is steep, and seashores – that are solely ever minutes aside on a motorbike – are lined with bike racks. To experience right here is to pack a pannier with little however snacks, a seashore towel and a snorkel and masks. You’ll even spot cyclists carrying surfboards. See rottnestisland.com
ALICE SPRINGS, NORTH TERRITORY
From Alice Springs’ edges, there are two contrasting biking experiences. The sealed Simpsons Gap Bike Path cuts a easy path throughout the desert to its spectacular namesake hole within the West MacDonnell Ranges, making for a rail-trail-like day of biking. The city can also be surrounded by an attractive community of mountain bike trails as enjoyable as any within the nation. There are greater than 100 kilometres of trails right here, a lot of them clustered across the Telegraph Station, whereas the longest path within the community, Hell Line, ventures west to nice desert views and isolation. These trails have a real pure really feel with dry creek beds and rock outcrops and it is all the higher for it. See northernterritory.com
This cowl story is an extract from Ultimate Cycling Trips: Australia by Andrew Bain (Hardie Grant Books, RRP $45).