By Susanna Mills
Here’s a festive, condensed local bicycling rides guide with just a few of the routes we have covered in the G&G Community News Cycling Series over the last two years. We hope that it will get you out on your bikes at least once a week during December and January. This lovely area we live in is best experienced from behind bars… handlebars!
FOR THE MOUNTAIN BIKERS:
On the first trail: A bicycle under the Christmas tree?
Beginners: Fagan Park, Arcadia Road:
Avoid parking ranger danger and ditch the car for cycling to Fagan Park- a jewel in the crown of Galston. There is a choice selection of paved paths, dirt tracks and even a bit of single track through ‘Carrs Bush.’ Novices will enjoy linking playgrounds, gardens and three lakes whilst getting used to riding. When ready to progress, ride an outside park perimeter lap along the servitude tracks which follow park fence lines. On a clear day, you’ll find views right across to the Blue Mountains.
On the second trail:
Two brand new gloves!
Beginners: Scheyville National Park, Scheyville Road:
Familiar to the equestrian community, those who ‘pedal their horse’ will love exploring this national park on our wild western doorstep. The main attraction for mountain biking is a rare find in Sydneygentle, flat terrain! It’s the perfect venue to simply enjoy a nice, quiet cruise through the bush on bicycles while learning a bit about our immigrant history. There’s also interesting ride extensions with a touch of dirt along quiet (rapidly disappearing) rural roads like Midson and Avondale which border this park.
On the third trail: Three gnar Amigos!
Intermediates: Westleigh H2o, Quarter Sessions Road:
After a political hullabaloo with big words like ‘formalise’ and ‘endorse’ nobody is any more the wiser as to what, if anything, is going to be committed to re: the 34 hectare Waterboard site. So the 15,000+ riders per year who consistently enjoy this unsanctioned, volunteer-built and maintained mtb (and walking trails) hub in the middle of suburbia- still have until at least 2023 to enjoy riding technical features like ‘The 3 Amigos’ and navigating their bikes through, over and around some truly lovely natural features.
On the fourth trail: Four ride directions!
Intermediates: Springwood Ridge:
Winmalee Shops, White Cross Road:
It’s a lovely drive out to Springwood. For the mtb, there’s Grotto, Shaw’s Ridge, Blue Gum Swamp, Springwood Ridge and a superb little unsanctioned singletracks network between St. Columbs School and Hawkesbury Road. But the highlight of this ride is unquestionably the breathtakingly beautiful Grose South lookout. Make seeing it your New Year’s ‘Revolution.’ (because you’ll ride to it, right?)
On the fifth trail: Five black diamond runs…
Experts: OMV Bike Park, Quarry Road, Hornsby:
OMV isn’t recommended for beginner riders, and even if you do have some mtb experience, you’d better be on your game while riding here! It can be difficult and stressful for the unfit or unskilled who go off the limited ‘green’ graded trails. Expert riders however, will relish all the rocks, rolls, berms, drops and rad jumps that OMV throws at you around nearly every corner of each graded trail option. Intense trail gradients and the social vibe all along Quarry Road (and, of course, the jump spot) is quality time with bike & friends… and you can always ride up to Hornsby Pool for a post-ride swim if it’s set to scorch outside!
FOR THE ROAD CYCLISTS:
On the sixth ride: Six kilometers- no playing!
Beginners: Somerville Road, Hornsby Heights.
Park and ride from anywhere along Galston Road East. There are continuous, dedicated bicycle lanes in both directions. Somerville Road is a 4km out and back ridgeline romp through Hornsby Heights suburbia. This road is wide, quiet and safe, with high visibility. Be vigilant around parked vehicles, school pick up and drop off times- which would be infinitely less stressful if more local kids had parental consent to do what you are doing.
On the seventh ride: Seven gears- I’m flying!
Beginners: Bloodwood Peebles out and backs:
From Galston Village ride Arcadia Road down to Cobah Road. Pace yourself up the climb, riding straight past Northolm Grammar onto Bloodwood Road which takes you deep into beautiful bushland and the entrances to Murramurra National Park. Turn around and ride back to Northholm, taking a sharp right into Peebles Road. There’s pretty acreages and outstanding views across to Kurrajong Heights in the blue horizon. The return descent down Cobah is fast- control cornering where the road bottoms out at the S bend! Avoid school run times because of intolerant drivers along the narrow, twisty Cobah Road.
On the eighth ride: Eight coffees with milk in!
Intermediates: Sunday Ride: Maroota/ Glenorie Loop:
From Glenorie, ride the road shoulders of Old Northern Road until Maroota Primary, where you turn left (toward Pitt Town) onto Wisemans Ferry Road. This road has panoramic views, excellent road shoulders as smooth as silk and is mostly downhill. But it’s only a pleasure to cycle these roads on Sundays because the enormous construction trucks facilitating Western Sydney’s building boom, take the proverbial ‘day of rest.’ A fun descent past Riverside Oaks Estate brings you to the climb up Halcrows onto Cattai Ridge Road. Have a little left in the legs for a wicked little pinch climb back up to Glenorie and coffees.
On the ninth ride: Nine ladies out gravel riding?
Intermediates: Two Rivers Loop:
From Wisemans Ferry, take the namesake over Hawkesbury River turning left into Settlers Road. There’s plenty of tar to warm up on before you hit 10km of gravel road which feels sketchy at first for (adventurous) roadies. You’ll soon start to enjoy the kiss of sweet dirt resistance upon those skinny tyres as the road hugs the Mac Donald River Valley, quickly taking you into the remote hamlet of St. Albans. Grab yourselves a cold one (or a hot one) at the historic local pub and stop to admire the magnificent truss bridge. It’s sheer road cycling bliss to ride back along cool, shady St. Alban’s Road, to Webbs Creek Ferry.
On the tenth ride: Ten cars a-beeping!
Experts: Two or 3 Gorges: From Galston
Now Sydney’s most popular bicycle ride, road cyclists flock here from all over Greater Sydney. On weekends, this route reaches ‘critical mass;’ aka more bicycles using our rural roads and Berowra Waters Ferry, than motor vehicles! This ride is recommended for experienced riders with its steep, fast descents and big climbs along busy, narrow roads (Which inexplicably still have no warning signs for drivers re: hundreds of cyclists sharing these roads) If you aren’t that fit or experienced you’ll need to begin this ride well before sunrise. Always ride the 2 Gorges loop anti-clockwise from Galston: it is much safer! Cyclists are attracted by the challenge, exquisite scenery, the ferry ride- all centred around a Galston coffee fix!
FOR PUMP AND JUMP TRACKS:
On the eleventh ride: Eleven pumps and jumps in
Terrey Hills Pump Track: Thompson Drive:
Due to the lack of official facilities for mountain bicycling on the Northern Beaches, this reserve has developed into a meteorically busy mountain bicycling hub that riders and their families flock to every week. There is a fabulous pump track with one of the best views in the area, picnic facilities, the Manly Warringah BMX track and three short, unsanctioned Gravity Enduro runs (Green, blue and black diamond) which link via Deep Creek, with the so-called illegal mtb trails networks there.
On the twelfth ride: Twelve laps… I’m retiring!
Jubes Mountain Bike Park: Off Golden Jubilee Field, Esk Street, Wahroonga:
This is a great little purpose-built urban bike park, consisting of a bike playground to progress your skills, a beginners pump track and a fun flow track which, at only 800m, is far too truncated. The flow track does, however, have a few small ‘advanced’ features like a wooden wall ride, and boardwalk if you are up for this, having ridden all the park’s other features multiple times.