Kingsley visits Adelaide to watch the "Tour Down Under"
and tours for some 1000 Km. on his REACH-road folding bike
By Kingsley Burlinson, January 2011
Each year I have traveled to Adelaide to watch and enjoy the
Tour Down Under race, which last for about a week. Although
watching the professionals is interesting, the main fun is cycling
around the Adelaide region with its hills amongst many other
visiting cyclists and taking part in several of the organized mass
rides which now attract in excess of 8000 cyclists to ride on the
race route a few hours before the professionals ride it.
My bike with a home-made rack
In January 2011 I once again traveled to Adelaide during the Tour Down Under bike race as I have done in the past. And as I have done for the last 3 years since I bought my REACH folding bike I used it as it is so convenient to be able to ride it to and from the airport, fold the bike and easily check it in!
This time I used only a small bag weighing 4 Kg for my luggage for the 10 day journey. First add the computer, then the phone and power packs, then the bicycle spare parts and if there is any space left, add a change of clothes. So there were not many clothes and no spare shoes on this trip!
The first event was a cancer-charity group ride up into the hills for 120Km on the sunday morning before the first race that evening. My small-wheel bike surprised several other riders, one of whom jokingly suggested I was cheating because "that's not a bike!" Hah! but it sure went just as fast as his bike! Many other riders were curious about my unusual bike, particularly those whom I surprised by passing them!
After the evening race downtown I went (by car) to Moonta where I rode around the local copper-coast and Yorke Peninsula areas. These are uninspiring open wheat farmlands, not ideal for scenic cycling, but at least there was only light traffic and good roads. Then I headed east towards the barossa valley. Although I would not see the first 3 stages of the race I was more interested in doing a mini tour through the scenic adelaide hills. But first I had to cross the flatlands near Port Wakefield at the head of St Vincent's gulf, where the fierce head winds made cycling slow and strenuous. That evening I stayed near Freeling in the flanks of the Adelaide hills.
The next destination was to the south at Lobethal, in the serious hills some 100 Km to the south and beyond the barossa valley and several nice bakeries. This day was harder than I expected (despite the frequent bakery stops) - perhaps I was tiring already! That evening I stayed with Stan and Helen who were having a scottish party and we even had live pipers for entertainment. A most exciting overnight stop!
Friday was the day of the community ride along the race route, which passed through Lobethal. So I joined in with some 8000 other cyclists on the ride south to Strathalbyn, via Balhannah, the location of my favourite bakery, where I of course stopped for refreshments! Although the number of cyclists made this ride into a mobile traffic jam at times, it was pleasant riding as I passed many slower cyclists and watched the race finish in Strathalbyn, after which I proceeded south into another fiercely strong headwind towards Goolwa before turning north and west to reach Myponga for my overnight stop with a friend.
The next stage of the race was nearby and I watched it from the luxury of a roadside winery tasting room with a group of friends. Next morning I rode north back to Adelaide, some 80 Km away through mostly suburban sprawl, but through which there are some pleasant bike paths. As I arrived rather early I then rode up to Mt Lofty and back just for amusement. Yes, some crazy cyclists do ride 30 Km with about 1 Km of vertical elevation difference just for amusement! I did not bother to go and see the final race stage on that sunday - it is much more fun riding up mountains yourself!
So with 2 more days of riding around adelaide, and back up to
the Balhanna bakery again, and some Indian curry meals with my
friends, it was time to return to Darwin. This time it was a late
night flight and after arriving in Darwin at 2am I re-assembled
the bike in the airport and rode home in the warm rainy night for
a 4 am arrival at home after my very pleasant 1000Km of cycling
around the Adelaide hills.