Glen Innes is located in the scenic New England area of New South Wales, and offers idyllic country landscapes and rich history. For the second year, goodnessgravel hosted a one day gravel event in April with a selection of course lengths.
The roads around Glen Innes are a cyclist's dream - smooth gravel surfaces and undulating terrain offer a perfect balance of challenge and enjoyment. There’s nothing like the gentle crunch of tires on gravel on a fine and crisp morning in the country!
While it was crisp, it wasn’t as crisp as we had expected. The overnight temperature was forecast to be 3 degrees, and this made us think twice about the overnight camping decision. But as we got closer to the weekend, the forecast became warmer and warmer, to 7 degrees and more than twice as warm as we feared it would be! A short overnight stay at the local caravan park was perfect for this short trip.
Last year, the gravel event ran for two days and was a wet, muddy, slippery affair. This year it was a one day gravel celebration with courses running over three lengths: 35km (450^m) aka Piccolo, 75km (1,000^m), and 125km (1,700^m). The weather was dry and simply awesome.
It was a quick trip to Glen Innes for us this year. We were due back for a commitment Saturday night, so we booked for the shorter 75km course to pack it all in. We took off from the NSW mid-north coast on Friday afternoon to head over the Gibraltar Range on much the same route as the Grafton to Inverell cycling race.
The weekend camaraderie started Friday in the corner pub where registration attracted many riders for a drink and dinner. There is no doubt that the pub was dealing with a bumper crowd with the sudden influx of cycling-fashion-clad people. It turned out that there were twice as many people entered this year, which is great for cycling, gravel, the town, and goodnessgravel who make the hard yards for riding events like this.
We met many other cyclists in the all-cycling buzz at the pub. This included some locals who had given up their road bikes, to replace them with gravel bikes. They had literally discovered gravel in the last 12 months and sold their bikes to ride their local gravel roads. “These are our local roads, and we never knew how good gravel was.” It made me wonder what in the world have they been thinking all this time as gravel has been growing and growing around the world, and they are surrounded by gravel countryside. But they were in and loving it now.
The course was familiar from riding it last year and overlapped with the 125km course, but it was good to know we had a short ride today to make our commitments back on the coast. Despite that, the water stop was a welcome pause from riding. Volunteers from the Westpac Rescue Helicopter were manning the stall with everything we would need, including fresh donuts and homemade ANZAC biscuits! They were quick to advertise the free sausage sizzle at the finish, which occupied our thoughts from then.
One of the features of the Glen Innes landscape is the granite rocks proudly standing, as if randomly splattered in the countryside paddocks - and of course the Australian Standing Stones in town (inspired by ancient Celtic traditions). These (really) large granite rocks littered the course as we weaved back to town.
Crossing the line at the finish, Will welcomed us home and again promoted the quick lineup for our free sausage sizzle and a can of Heaps Normal (fake beer).
Another great event organised to enjoy gravel cycling with like-minded people. There is nothing like a coordinated course with assured water midway, bringing out the best of a local region. Events like this are fun to participate in, and to take in the local hospitality and countryside. The real value is the impact to local economies through cycling tourism. Events like this contribute to the local economy through visiting cyclists and their families spending money on accommodation, meals, transport etc. And the better the event and experience, the more people talk about how good Glen Ines is for gravel riding!
The next goodnessgravel event is Mogo on June 17. If you are interested in joining us on the next one with us, or want to chat on all things gravel, drop in to MC for a catchup.