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Cycling 1500 Km. around the Adelaide hills, South Australia, Jan 2015

Each year the professional "Tour down under" race is held in January, based in Adelaide with 6 stage races in the nearby hills. Many cyclists visit this area to see the races and enjoy cycling around the hills to the many race events. This race event is unique because all the stages start and end within some 150Km of Adelaide and it is possible to ride to and from some part of the race event each day from a fixed location in or near Adelaide. I have often cycled around this area during the race event, although I do not compete at all and instead i cycle tour between the stage events, staying with friends, family and also at commercial accommodation.

Here is the route map (black track-lines) of most (but not all) of my rides over 2 weeks during and surrounding the race.

adeleaide hills route map

My first destination was Moonta to visit family members. Cycling from Adelaide airport to Moonta in a single day is possible, but it was 195Km. After re-assembling my bike in the airport, I departed at 07:30 and arrived in Moonta at 18:15. (I was not racing and stopped for food and drink in many places en-route.) Note that I went via Balaclava, which adds about 40 km to the journey. However, the alternative of cycling on Port Wakefield road (route A1) is extremely dangerous and is to be avoided at all costs!  It is necessary to use the main highway for a short distance near Adelaide, but there is often a discontinuous bike-lane or shoulder on the road there. This ends near the M20 freeway crossover / intersection and I suggest you take the detour shown (Angle Vale road) to reach Virginia. From there you can use the old highway (to Balaclava), which is now well maintained with modest and much safer traffic.

In 2015 the first race stage started in Tanunda and I rode to Kapunda on the previous day so I could be at the start next morning. Moonta to Kapunda is about 150 Km and there are few facilities between Balaclava and Kapunda. The route shown is mostly paved, but unpaved hard surface dirt for about 8 Km just west of Tarlee. In Kapunda the old railway station is now a comfortable bed and breakfast where the owner was very helpful to this traveling cyclist.

From Tanunda there are many great cycling roads south through the hills. I went via Williamstown, but the easterly route through Springton is also very pleasant. South of Gumeracha the hills are more serious but it is more scenic with orchards and vineyards everywhere.

From Mt Torrens to Balhanna there is a bikeway along the old railway line, the Amy Gillett bikeway. This is mostly OK, but pedestrians often fail to share the pathway. Many cyclists use the highway instead, although there can be considerable traffic.

Each year there is a mass-participation cycling event on the friday, stage 4, of the race and in 2015 there were some 8000 cyclists who rode all or part of the race route. I rode the opposite direction and it was interesting to see so many cyclists.

After several nights in Myponga I rode east to Murray Bridge, a pleasant ride through farm and vine country. There was little traffic as cyclists use the old highway and almost all the traffic now uses the freeway. Crossing the Murray river, I traveled north to Mannum where 2 (free) ferries transport you back westwards across the river. Mannum is a cute tourist town with paddle steamers to amuse tourists. From Mannum you must climb back up the east face of the hills. Although long, the climb is not steep and it is a pleasant ride.

After several more days in the Woodside area I proceeded to Adelaide. The 10 Km route from Crafers down to Adelaide descends 500 vertical metres and is great, as cyclists have almost exclusive use of the old 4 lane highway beside the freeway, with some sections of bicycle path. This is always fun, even when going uphill, which is a significant challenge ride.

After folding my bike into its standard-airline-luggage sized carry bag the airline checkin clerk was surprised how compact my bike luggage was. Apparently there were serious problems a few days before with too many cyclists with full size bicycle boxes trying to board a single flight and the plane (Airbus A320) could not carry all the bikes. Folding bikes make a lot of sense!