Image: Niels Juel
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New South Wales is renowned for its diverse landscapes, temperate weather and plentiful National Parks, making it a top destination for cycling. Many popular rides either start in Sydney or close by, so road cyclists of all abilities can enjoy exploring these tarmac loops.
Sydney and Surrounds
The Three Gorges is a local favourite for many cyclists. Starting in the CBD, the 97km loop takes riders north over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and through the Berowra Valley National Park. Not for the faint-hearted, this ride will test even the fittest cyclists by the time they reach the third gorge. Both scenic and challenging, cyclists will cross waterways and tackle a number of steep climbs as they travel through parts of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.
On route, riders are encouraged to grab a well-deserved snack or caffeine top-up in Turramurra. Upon completion of the loop, riders will have clocked up over 1800m of elevation.
The Akuna Bay loop is easily navigated from the CBD, again, crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The loop includes crossing the Spit Bridge, and then heading north along the coast, through regional parkland before a cruisy 30km flat ride to Mona Vale. Legs are rewarded with a descent down into Akuna Bay where the Driftwood café is perfect for a light lunch, snack or coffee to fuel the ride home.
While at Akuna Bay, West Head Road is a popular extension to this loop and is included on the course raced by the local Manly Warringah cycling club every month.
Image: Hamilton Lund
The 3.7km loop around Centennial Park, in Sydney, is a popular circuit for families, runners and cyclists. The smooth, flat road circles around the green parklands and has its own dedicated cycle lane. Riders can get a good rhythm going by doing laps for an hour of power, or see it as a cruisy way to ride with the family. Bike hire is available in the park.
Royal National Park
An hour's drive south of Sydney lies the Royal National Park. Riders will relish in the many native gum tree-lined roads that snake their way through the park. Starting at Cronulla, riders will enjoy the 70km journey through the oldest nature reserve in Australia. Taking in a number of climbs, the loop is an ideal way to spend a day, exploring the area on two wheels.
The Southern Highlands region of New South Wales is a favourite with both the Sydney and Canberra cycling community. Situated an equal distance between the two cities, there are a few gentle hills to excite riders who are wanting a bit more of a challenge.
There are multiple route options, with rewarding scenery and undulating terrain. A local favourite is the Four Peaks loop, which takes in a punchy 440 metres of climbing over its 35km length. Another highlight is the 8km stretch of smooth unsealed roads to the breathtaking Belmore Falls. Sign up for one of three Bowral Classic ride options. At this unique and renowned Gran Fondo event, riders can participate in either the 45km social, 120km or 160km event.
Byron Bay and Surrounds
Image: James Horan
Byron Bay has ideal cycling weather year round, and an assortment of ride options to suit all abilities. Head west and enter the hinterland, which offers myriad roads dipping in and out of the valleys. Expect short, sharp, climbs as well as flat stretches on country roads.
For a more leisurely vibe, cycle to Cape Byron or follow the coast north to the rural town of Mullumbimby, via a gradual climb up Main Arm and through the farmlands of Billinudgel. Finish this 73km ride with a coffee at Brunswick Heads.
The Byron Bay Cycle Club participates in weekly group rides varying in length and difficulty. A favourite of the group is the East Coast Beaches ride which is a medium-paced ride that starts in Byron Bay and heads south to Lennox Head. Riders can enjoy a coffee stop in Bangalow before completing the 70km loop back to Byron. Make sure to visit one of the iconic beaches on your return to cool down.
Image: Tim Bardsley-Smith
Bordering the subtropical rainforests of southern Queensland, Murwillumbah and its neighbouring townships are worthy of a few days of two-wheeled exploration. The landscape in the region takes riders through cane fields, on rainforest climbs and up rural hills along the Tweed River, which can make Murwillumbah one of the toughest cycling courses in Australia.
The Snowy Mountains
Image: L'Etape Australia
Arguably the pinnacle cycling destination in New South Wales, the Snowy Mountains is a network of roads that navigate through Kosciuszko National Park. A stone's throw from Australia's highest peak, riders in search of elevation will not be disappointed. Featuring a range of challenging climbs, exhilarating descents and fast flats, the roads are home to L'Etape Australia, on Saturday 2 December 2017.
Organised by the Le Tour de France, L’Étape Australia will showcase the mountainous region, and test riders over distances of either the Race (157km) or the Ride (126km) in a single day. The roads are closed to traffic, the climbs are brutal, and there will be yellow, green, polka-dot and white jerseys up for grabs for the most competitive, and yes, Chris Froome will be riding too.
For more information, and to register for L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France, visit, www.letapeaustralia.com or check out this guide on what to expect at this years’ L’Etape Australia by Le Tour de France.
Staff of BikeExchange Australia wrote this content with help from Destination NSW. Imagery courtesy of Destination NSW.