When a weekend getaway becomes a weekend bikeaway
Our CEO, Christian Haag, shares some inside info on where take to your treadly on holidays in 2015.
Every year, Bike SA is fortunate to meet the many thousands of interstate and international visitors who hire a bike from us. And as we locals have heard time and time again, our state’s praises are (with near monotony), so frequentlysung, “What an amazing place; Everything is just so close – the beach,hills and those wineries!”
At just over an hour and a half from Adelaide, we’re going to take a look at SA’s most iconic (and first) rail trail experience, the Riesling Trail, which has been ridden on, walked on and run on since it opened in 1994. Some fast facts: the Riesling Trail starts in Auburn and travels north past Clare to Barinia, passing through Leasingham, Watervale and Sevenhill, all familiar names to South Aussies.
Across Australia, rail trails provide terrific economic benefits to regional communities and a key ingredient in the Riesling Trail’s success has been the way local business has supported it from the start. Business association Clare Valley Winemakers has long seen great benefit from having the trail meander past their members’ cellar doors. As the name suggests, rail trails run along disused rail corridors and, as we all know, trains don’t climb hills, which means trail cyclists don’t have to climb hills either. At little more than a gentle gradient, anyone can ride or walk comfortably along the Riesling Trail – from kids to grandparents.
And there is no better place to snake through the bush than in the Clare Valley – that “boutique little beauty of a place” as one of our European visitors once described it. All up, the trail is a little over 30km of unique bushland, rolling vineyards, some of the best wines in the state and quality local produce that will have you rolling up (literally) time and time again.
Two experiences really stand out when you jump on a bike in this area. First is the “slow-move” as we call it. When you dawdle along at 15km/h, the aroma of the countryside awakens the senses – at certain times of the year, it’s almost pungent. Second, the locals. They have a strong sense of pride in what they do and they really want to share their stories. It’s a camaraderie that deepens your holiday experience immeasurably. The trail is open all year round, but there’s no better time to visit than during Vintage, which is between late February and early April. Mid May sees the hosting of the Clare Gourmet Weekend, which this year celebrated 30 years of showcasing the regions’ outstanding local produce along with the more than 30 local wineries.
Of course, it’s not only about food and wine. If you’re looking for more places to ride, there are a number of quiet back-road loop trails that will guide you through the surrounding countryside. Or for a complete change of pace, jump on your road bike for the 40km to Burra then reward yourself with an authentic Cornish pasty. South of Auburn is the region’s younger sibling, the Rattler Trail.
This 19km route will take you through farming country to Riverton. When the canola is in flower there’s no better place to ride.
Join Bike on and a Gourmet Food and Wine Annual Tour or try our epic Outback Oddysey ride through the Flinders Ranges.
This article originally appeared in Bike SA’s Love Your Ride Magazine.