It’s not often you come across people who are so keen to share and showcase their region, that they’re willing to organise week-long bike tours for no payment.
But that’s pretty much exactly what Mick and Kerrie (from the Dubbo Bicycle User Group) have been doing for eight years through their Tour of the West and Mid-West Tours in heartland regional New South Wales.
Keen cyclists and passionate about their local area, Mick and Kerrie’s philosophy is simple – they like to take people to places they’ve otherwise no reason to visit.
It’s not exactly a hard sell, but it speaks volumes about the sincerity and authenticity of these rides; they’re designed by real people who want to celebrate the real Australia. An outback adventure devoid of marketing jargon, sponsorship's and ‘added value’ extras; these tours strip things back to give adventurers a taste of the true regional Australia.
And the humble sell works – Mick and Kerrie’s two tours a year are usually booked out in advance by riders who want to soak up quiet roads, little tucked-away towns, pastoral landscapes, bush scenery and just utterly pleasant, enjoyable riding.
Mick and Kerrie charge just enough to cover expenses so they can break even each time. It’s never been about the money, and never will. The Tours are run through Dubbo Bug for insurance purposes.
“The money charged goes straight into these rural communities, covering things like food, accommodation, bus hire etc,” says Mick.
So what’s on offer?
The Tour of the West – 16 people max, takes place in April
A seven-day loop of some 600km beginning in Dubbo and weaving through Wellington, Molong, Narromine, Trundle, Tottenham before returning to Dubbo. The flat to undulating riding takes cyclists through Mt Arthur Reserve, wheatbelts, some emerging cotton countryside, past abandoned churches and monster silos.
The Mid-west Tour – 16 people max, takes place in October
Another seven-day loop also of about 600km, this tour begins in Mudgee. It traverses wine country, cropping, sheep and cattle grazing and bushland, journeying through towns such as Gulgong, Coolah, Binnaway,
Coonabarabran, Tooraweenah and Dunedoo.
Both tours call on intermediate level riders who can handle an average speed of 20km/h and up to 100km a day. Everyone goes at their own pace, though, with morning tea providing a good stopper for those speedier cyclists!
There’s a real relaxed vibe on these tours – no such thing as a guide rushing everyone to their next destination, tapping a pinboard and counting heads. People meander at their pace not only on the bike, but off it as well. When the tour stays overnight in an area with great local points of interest (such as the Parke’s museum or the Wellington Caves), then Mick and Kerrie organise visits for those interested.
Meals are had in local pubs, local restaurants (including a great Thai stop-over in Parkes), or in the more remote areas Mick and Kerrie organise for food to be delivered in. A sag wagon carries everyone’s luggage as well as spare bike accessories etc.
If you’re after a slice of honest cycling through classic regional NSW terrain, you’ll want to join this queue! Touch base with Mick and Kerrie and see if any spots might be available.