Freedom and ideas of escape have become stronger for many of us over the past two years. As suggested by the increasing popularity of gravel riding and bikepacking, nothing captures this better than the idea of empty and open roads in the country, travelling by bike.
So any temptation to book a trip away to the country to do nothing but ride is an easy thing to give in to. The promo from goodnessgravel in Glen Innes was enough to do it for a few of us - now armed with a weekend in diary, two FiftyOne Assassins, and a Trek Checkpoint - we were away.
And of course you go the long option. 2 days of 100km 1300^m each…that will be enough to justify a hearty lunch and dinner following each ride!
Glen Innes is dead centre of a proposed Rail Trail that could run 210kms between Armidale and Wallangarra, following old train tracks traversing picturesque countryside in the New England Range of Northern NSW. A number of old railway stations have been preserved and refurbished by local community groups, but the rail trail is yet to be built or approved.
It makes so much sense for regional communities to promote events and cycling tourism to improve the likelihood for approval of this cycling infrastructure and also to help the local economy. You only need to look at Derby or Bright for what cycling infrastructure has done for tourism and local spending when a couple of hundred cyclists turn up to sleep, eat, and drink. Armidale, Guyra, Glen Innes and Tenterfield offer many accommodation and dining options for those travelling between towns or for town centric events such as this goodnessgravel event we signed up to in Glen Innes.
Weather forecasting has become less predictable than it was pre-COVID, and this last weekend had it all.
Saturday was misty and not per forecast. The rain overnight made the roads very messy but that had little impact on the quality of riding and the day.
Sunday was perfect riding conditions and not per forecast. The roads were dried out and not a drop of rain or breeze made for perfect riding in the countryside.
The 100km routes across both days intertwined each other, but nothing that made it too familiar. Good routes made out for a good challenge and beautiful countryside.
goodnessgravel put on the weekend in coordination with the local council. This included a rounded mix of cycling product sponsors, and local community involvement - the local Lions club, St John's Ambulance, and RFS for refill stations and lead out. This was a really well organised event with lots of information provided leading up to the weekend.
Participation was diverse across age, men and women, with people travelling from afar for it. There was a great community vibe amongst riders with most people there to enjoy the ride and country and less about race time to complete.
The bigger these events become, the better for regional towns, and the better for cycling promotion generally (and gravel promo naturally). There is nothing to loose if you are a cyclist - these are organised weekends with routes and not much to think about - so perfect for cyclists with an interest in going to new places and to simply enjoy riding. The bonus is that the local economies of these towns prosper.
If you want an easy option, get on a goodnessgravel event where the location and route and date is sorted out - all you need to do is get there for a great cycling experience.
There is obviously a lot to say about the amazing FiftyOne Assassin and Trek Checkpoint gravel bike rigs we took away. Come and check them out in store and have a yarn about adventure riding.