2022 was the second time I registered for goodnessgravel Gundy, but the first time I rode it. In 2021, rain wasn’t our friend in NSW, and while the event still happened (on a varied route & date), I wussed out of the - drive from Sydney in the rain, camping in Gundy in the rain, and riding in lots of rain and mud.
Gundy has a population of 200 and gravel roads are all around. A perfect location for a gravel party - gravel roads, no traffic, lovely scenery! This gravel paradise is inland, between Newcastle and Taree, 45 km from Tamworth (Australia’s country music capital), and 3.5hrs drive from MC. This is certainly rural if measured by lack of phone reception. But it is also horse country. You will see cattle and horses (and snakes), but don’t be surprised to see perfectly manicured lawns, tree-lined paddocks and neat fencing around the occasional thoroughbred stud farm and polo field.
With only 200 people, there are no hotels and not many accommodation options in Gundy. Locals are super keen to see gravelling in Gundy bringing visitors to their town (and economy), and so allowing camping in the field right near the start of the race is an easy step to create a nice atmosphere among other riders, with the Linga Longa Inn for food/drink nearby. We stayed in Scone (15 mins drive from Gundy) this time, which is the closest town and motel. Perhaps camping in the field next time!
Gundy attracted over 100 riders, half each riding the 75km 1640^m and the 135km 2700^m courses. Each route was a loop back to Gundy, alongside the beautiful Barrington Tops National Park (home to the Thunderbolts Adventure overnight gravel event). Riding offroad can have you looking at your handlebars and at what is right in front of you, but in such stunning countryside, you really do need to remember to look up at what is around you, to take it in and enjoy. And this we did!
The start at 0730 was a little fresh on the arms, but not for long. Gundy weather for the first weekend in December was glorious warmth (getting to 29’), and a broad cloud cover protecting from too much direct sun. While all causeways we crossed had a small amount of water flowing from recent rain (each providing a foot refresh), the ride was dry. The day was perfect for a gravel adventure with MC friends (Andy, Carlos, Dan, Karen, Sean).
The route is a serious one, but set on champagne gravel roads. It isn’t really possible to ride the 135km without support as there is no water available on route, so organised stops at 42km and 80km provided essential water, refreshments, and great smiles from the supporters. There was a main climb to overcome on the 135km route reaching 15-18%, but very rideable. That is, rideable with the right gearing, as Dan found out on his cassette choice which was probably meant for the road.
We all planned the 135km, but a few turned early and changed to the 75km route. That meant we had our own welcoming party on the return to camp.
After the main climb of the day, the second half of the ride was rolling, with a few pinches in the last few kms on the road back into town. We knew our friends were at the finish line waiting for us so we pushed on after the climb to lift our speed and get back to make time for some food and a shower before our drive back to Sydney.
The welcome back into Gundy was cool. Everyone was happy to have ridden or to find themselves relaxing in the grounds of the Inn. The atmosphere was nice and with a free sausage sandwich and “fake beer” (no alcohol) on the grass brought out some great stories of the route. “Did you see that snake on the road just near you?”
In addition to the barbeque and drink welcome at the finish line, goodnessgravel includes your personal ride pictures for free. We are convinced that all ride organisers should do this, even if that means hiding the cost in the entry fee. It means people get their action shots, sponsors get their name out in socials on photos, and more people do something with the photos without turning around at the photo paywall. Well done goodnessgravel!
Between a few of the riders at MC, we have now enjoyed each of the goodnessgravel events (Mogo, Glen Innes, Gundy). If you are interested in joining us on the next one, or want to chat on all things gravel, drop in to MC for a catchup.