February 23, 2020
People & Places

“It’s the journey, not the bike”

One Small Step is our new weekly guide to better living in South Australia. Today, take your treadly for a leisurely guided ride around Adelaide, or leave the city to journey along one of the state’s scenic and relaxed bikeways.

Ride with Keith

“It’s the bike club with no rules, except there will always be a story,” says media veteran and cycling enthusiast Keith Conlon.

Conlon has been leading a Wednesday morning bike ride for the past six or seven years, with the regulars coming from all walks of life, ages and fitness levels.

Expensive road bikes are definitely not compulsory.

As he says: “It’s the journey, not the bike”.

Leaving from Bicycle Express in Halifax Street at 9am, the bike ride is free and open to all comers.

Conlon leads the group on rides that can range up to 25km, but the pace is leisurely and all kinds of fitness levels are taken into account.

He tries to get off the main roads as quickly as possible.

“We use bike paths quite deliberately,” he says. “It’s for people who don’t like being on the roads with trucks and buses passing by.”

Ride with Keith happens every Wednesday morning. Photo: Tony Lewis/Solstice Media

The riders also look out for each other along the journey.

“It’s a very friendly and caring mob – it’s lovely in that way.”

As you can expect from Conlon, one of the state’s most enthusiastic and knowledgeable history buffs, the bike ride will always include some sort of exposition of Adelaide’s history – from an anecdote or two, to a diversion at a significant site along the way.

There will also be a coffee stop at the end – of course.

Ride with Keith is free and open to all comers. The ride leaves Bicycle Express at 124 Halifax Street every Wednesday at 9am.

EcoCaddy Night Rides

Daniels Langeberg’s EcoCaddy runs Tuesday night bike rides around the city – again free, and again for all comers who have a sense of curiosity about our city.

“It’s very casual. People can wear lycra – we’re not going to say no,” he laughs.

“We want it be as inclusive as possible.”

Just turn up at the EcoCaddy headquarters on Pulteney Street from 5.45, and the two marshals will guide the group on a 10-15km leisurely ride, ending up at a local hospitality establishment for a drink and dinner.

Langeberg came up with the night ride concept a few years ago, with the idea of encouraging people to broaden their social horizons.

“Adelaide is a great place, but having lived away from Adelaide and coming back, I realised it’s actually quite hard to meet people here.

“The whole idea is to get people to mix. We’ve set it up so anyone can rock up and you can meet people outside your social circle.”

Another key to the concept is travelling to a different pub every week – perhaps somewhere that someone has passed dozens of times but never thought to go in.

“It’s another way to help people to discover something different,” Langeberg said. “As a businessman, I also know it’s nice for a business to get 20 odd people rocking up and buying a meal and a drink on a Tuesday night when it’s not busy.”

The EcoCaddy night rides depart 455 Pulteney Street each Tuesday at 6pm (arrive at 5.45). You just need a human-powered vehicle (usually a bike, but some people have taken the ride on rollerblades, even a mono-wheel), a helmet, and front and rear lights.

The EcoCaddy night ride crew. Photo: Supplied by EcoCaddy

Beyond city limits

South Australia has a growing range of cycling trails and bikeways beyond Adelaide.

Here are a few that any cyclist can try.

Great southern land

If you want a unique experience on two wheels, make tracks to the Limestone Coast. Ride along the water’s edge on the hard sands of Robe’s Long Beach, or explore the township on the Loop Trail that takes in the clifftop Obelisk and Guichen Bay. For serious bikers, head further south to explore the famed Blue Lake along the Mount Gambier Crater Lakes mountain bike trail. Options cater for beginners through to pros, and the narrow tracks afford spectacular views down steep cliffs. 

French connection

The Clare Valley has been a long-time favourite among cyclists of all levels.

The Riesling Trail offers riders a largely uninterrupted journey through idyllic vineyards and fields, and the next cellar door is never too much of a hike.

If you want more structure to your cycling tour, the Clare Classic cycling event is back in April this year, offering a range of courses, from a challenging 160-kilometre loop venturing the length of the valley and beyond, to a socially-oriented 50-kilometre option.

King of the hill

Encompassing Mount Lofty Summit and Waterfall Gully, Cleland Conservation Park has a far-reaching network of trails that can be explored by bike riders of varying levels of skill and fitness. There are spectacular views of the Adelaide Hills as well as down to the city, and the fire tracks are a popular option with cyclists. Favourite routes include the Cleland link trail between Crafers and Mount Lofty and the Wine Shanty Trail. Experienced riders can test their skills at the Eagle Mountain Bike Park, located a short drive from the city in Leawood Gardens. Approximately 21 kilometres of trails, with a downhill track and jumps park, make it a playground for cyclists. 

Going north

The undulating terrain of the Flinders Ranges makes it ideal for mountain bikers. At Melrose, you’ll find a 75-kilometre track around the town. Easily accessible from the caravan park and campgrounds, the purpose-built tracks are perfect for exploring the area’s natural beauty. Mountain Bikes can also be hired at Rawnsley Park Station, and the surrounding circuit stretches 200 kilometres from Wilpena Pound in the south to Blinman in the north. Expect to see plenty of local wildlife as you travel through the outback landscape. Fees apply. 

Coastal cruising 

Linking Victor Harbor to Goolwa while taking in the seaside towns of Port Elliot and Middleton, the Encounter Bikeway covers 30 kilometres encompassing some of the best coastal views in the state. The relatively short distances between opportunities to refuel make it ideal for families, and there are plenty of bike hire options for visitors.

It follows the same route as the historic Cockle Train, and there’s every chance you’ll hear the unmistakable sounds of a steam engine along the journey. Quality surfing at Middleton and Goolwa, and swimming at Horseshoe Bay at Port Elliot, make the region an attractive prospect for an active holiday. 

For maps and details, go here.

Take it easy in the Hills

For an easy and pleasant ride, head to the Adelaide Hills to cycle along the 16km Amy Gillett Bikeway.

Running from Mt Torrens to Oakbank, via Woodside, the mostly flat shared path travels through a range of picturesque towns.

Take your time to explore local cafes, playgrounds and other facilities along the way.

One Small Step is our new guide to better living in South Australia.

To read more in our series, go here.

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