Tuesday 17 June 2014

Getaways - Cycling holidays tips from the CEO

When I was a child, the school holiday family trip always started with carefully packing the car, followed by the exhilaration of hitting the road and, 15 minutes later, the obligatory first toilet stop. 

Futile attempts by parents to keep us kids entertained meant we would quickly turn our attention to finding the answer to the biggest question of the holidaying universe – “Are
we there yet?”

It seemed like the rest of the holiday passed as a blur seen throughwindscreen of the family car. But a holiday on a bicycle is like no other. When you pedal across landscape, what strikes you first is that everything slows down. And that’s a good thing because it means that your holiday as that never-ending feel. 

The second epiphany is the moment your senses suddenly become alive. Your nostrils are bombarded with local smells and aromas, you hear everything and you see things that are simply invisible when tearing down the bitumen at 100km/h. And because time is moving at a more relaxed pace, you find yourself talking to the locals. No longer the “how far to the next petrol station?” holiday banter, but the sort of chat you might have with a new neighbor, engaging but not too inquisitive.

As a package deal, riding a bike on your holiday writes a truly unique and memorable storyline that will have you doing it again and again. And because there are so many different types of cycling experiences to be had, no two stories will ever be the same. Whether for just the weekend, a week or longer, here are a few ideas to get you started.

The Weekender 

Grab your bike, a small backpack, your credit card, mobile phone, toothbrush, and a change of clothes and ride from anywhere in Adelaide to the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale. These worldclass tourism icons are ridiculously close to Adelaide, accessible almost entirely by off-road shared paths and are just a couple of hours’ ride away.

The newly completed Jack Bobridge Track takes you all the way from Gawler through the Barossa to Tanunda. Even if you don’t have a bike, numerous hire outlets will kit you out so you can ride from cellar door to local producer. Down south, the Coast to Vines Rail Trail will feed you directly to the Vale, where wisteria-laden verandas dare you to spend an idle afternoon digesting the local produce.

Check out the Jack bobridge trail at http://www.barossa.com/visit/attractions/experiences/cycling-tours-and-trails/jack-bobridge-track 

The Great Southeast

Mt Gambier is a great place to base yourself for a week or more, you’ll need it. There are several key features to the southeast that makes holidaying a pleasure. Its proximity to national parks and forest reserves, the rugged coastline and the nearby Coonawarra
wineries are addictive. Mt Gambier offers more that just a mysterious blue lake, the southeast is a destination that must be savored and it’s all within a radius of 50km from town, an easy halfday ride to everywhere.

Using town as your base, ride out and overnight in Nelson. Hire a canoe and paddle the limestone gorge on the Glenelg River, or BBQ your fresh catch on the beach. The coastal road to Port Macdonnell is a treat, as is a swim in the crystal clear waters of the Piccaninnie Ponds Conservation Park. And if all that has your muscles aching, book into one of Mt Gambier’s wellness spas for an hour or so because the next day, you’re riding out to Penola to lazily soak your way along the 30 cellar doors of the Coonawarra before retiring to one
of the many bed and breakfasts for a couple of nights.

Check out the 5 great bike routes around Mt Gambier on bikemap.net.

SA’s MTB Mecca

We’ve written about Melrose many times before and it never gets boring particularly at this time of the year when the town comes alive with the annual Fat Tyre Festival over the June long weekend.

If you love mountain biking, go to Melrose. If you love a wonderfully chilled community biking event with a couple of hundred like-minded folk, go to Melrose. Experience the Fat Tyre Festival. What makes this event so special, other than the trail network and the activity schedule for the street party, is that it’s a great family event. The Southern Flinders Ranges is the gateway to its ancient sibling, The Flinders Ranges. This region is a National Landscape best experienced by bike. 

For more information on Melrose by bike, contact Over the Edge bike store the best info you could imagine. http://otesports.com.au/ 

For those who haven’t gone on a cycling holiday, I encourage its addition to your bucket list – South Australia has some seriously good experiences to be pedaled.

This article originally appeared in Bike SA's Love Your Ride Magazine #6. 

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