Australia 2016: The Final Ride – Australia Day & The Adelaide Hills

January 26 marks Australia Day, the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships, and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove. Sometimes referred to by other names, the day generally celebrates the diverse society and landscape of Australia, and is typically marked by community or family events. For those who don’t know, Australia is still recognis(z)ed as a colony of Great Britain.

The day also marked the final day of riding in Australia for JOM. To properly celebrate the occasion, a route was concocted based partly on the yearly H’Eroica event route, and the (Not the) BUPA Friday route. While I (JOM) have ridden most of these roads, there were a few I hadn’t traversed, so thanks to all concerned for sparking a little creativity in my route plan!

Any cyclist from Adelaide will recognise this view.
Any cyclist from Adelaide will recognise this view – Norton Summit Road.

My route started off from the suburbs of Adelaide, and headed east into the Adelaide Hills (which are more than just hills), ascending the legendary Norton Summit climb. Not an overly steep climb, it is a benchmark for most road cyclists in Adelaide. In fact, Chris Froome himself was spotted riding up it today as part of his preparations for the 2016 Sun Tour. Kudos to DurianRider for the Instagram video! At the top of the climb is the small town of Norton Summit itself.

If you take the time to look to your left while ascending the climb, there are some amazing views. Looking to the left is easier in this instance, because Australians ride their bicycles and drive their cars on the other side of the road – in case anyone forgot about that 🙂

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Hiking trails dot the landscape. Clearly I need to do some hiking.

I was out for a cruise ride today, so there were no records set ascending Norton Summit. As it was, I had knackered legs and there were no store options for a long way into the ride. Definitely best to conserve and take a heap of photos.

The fun begins.
The fun begins!

Shortly after rolling through Norton Summit proper, the real fun began when the first gravel road was encountered, Debneys Road.

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Gravel road #1.

With over 1,900 meters / 6,200 feet of climbing coming in 109 kilometres / 68 miles, this would be a tough day on the bike, no matter the speed. Many of the gravel road gradients were in range of 15% to 20%.

AustraliaDay2016-5The scenery along this route was arguably the best I had encountered during my entire Australian trip. Barring one gravel ride that followed suburbia a little too closely for my liking, every gravel ride during January has been pretty amazing. If you haven’t seen what I’ve been up to during the past month, take a gander through my post archives for the month.

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Gravel, vineyards and climbing.

Today’s route traversed Blockers Road. If you’re a fan of Adelaide gravel cycling, you will know this road well. With steep climbs, almost no traffic, and the Peugeot graveyard towards its end, it is a must-ride road in Adelaide. However, I highly recommend a cyclocross bike or gravel bike – while it is certainly doable on a road bike, the proper tool for the job makes the experience so such better – and safer.

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The early curves of Blockers Road.
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There isn’t a bad view to be found.

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The Peugot graveyard.
The Peugeot graveyard.

AustraliaDay2016-12Later in the ride, I rode Boundary Drive. While the first kilometre would be fine on a road bike, the descent is quite tricky with plenty of deeper gravel towards its end. I captured plenty of video during this ride, and hope to assemble that soon.

This road was amazing. Video was shot.
This road was fantastic, particularly the other end. Not recommended on a road bike.
Views along Boundary Drive.
Views along Boundary Drive.

AustraliaDay2016-15Later, the route passed through Mark Oliphant Conservation Park. If you recognize the name, Mr Oliphant played an important role in the first demonstration of nuclear fusion… and other projects. Thankfully, the park named after him is peaceful and tranquil.

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Evans Drive, which passes through Mark Oliphant Conservation Park.
You know it's Australia Day when...
You know it’s Australia Day when…

And to make this ride truly Australian, I had the great fortune to come across three Emu while descending a paved trail through the Belair National Park.

AustraliaDay2016-20The great Australian flightless bird gets a bad rap in the United States, because everyone there MISPRONOUNCES the bird’s name. Emu is pronounced “Eemyou”. An “E-Moo” would be an electronic cow! The Emu is Australian, so pronounce it correctly. Tell your friends! Moving along… :mrgreen:

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Food time for this Emu.

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Summary

My last ride in Australia was simply awesome. While my month-long trip to Australia seems to have gone like a whirlwind, I rode a lot, accomplished a lot, spent time with family, met old friends and made new friends. I apologize to those friends who I never got to see – I simply ran out of time.

My media work for my friends at BikeRumor,com for the 2016 Tour Down Under took a lot of my time, but was very rewarding – there is still plenty to come – I hope someone is noticing.

The coming months may be an interesting time for me, but regardless of whatever happens in the future, I will be returning for another trip to Australia in 2017. In the meantime, I am really going to miss my family and home town of Adelaide with its amazing cycling.

I captured high-definition video of this ride, so expect a nicely edited production in a future posting.

Strava Ride Data

For those so inclined, you can check out my Australia Day gravel ride HERE.

Thanks for reading!

4 comments on “Australia 2016: The Final Ride – Australia Day & The Adelaide Hills

  1. So glad you got to enjoy part of the H’Eroica route – it really is just the most amazing part of Adelaide. The solitude and dare I say “How’s the serenity?” of just you and the sound of your tyres on the gravel mixed with the sounds of the bush make it quite magical. It’s all about the vibe!

    Amazing that all those Peugeots survived the Cherryville bushfire without a scratch. The guy at the top of the first major climb was away at the time, and his house was obliterated – a huge shame. I’m not sure how cyclist-friendly he was though – he had 7 stackhats on pikes along his front fence!

    I’m extra glad it is as hard as it is – I love having it to myself, but I also love sharing it with other people.

    Bring on TDU 2017!!!

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