The Cycle Route - Story Bridge to Harbour Bridge
A brief description of what to expect.
(Note that distances shown are approximate)
The following is currently a work in progress for 2020 - based upon previous experience. It will be gradually updated as planning for the event progresses.
It is suggested that by also viewing the slide show and photos/videos mounted on the website will round out the description written here.
Day 1 - 160 kilometres - (Destination Warwick)
Commencing at 6 am on the northern end of the Story Bridge, the route leads the riders over the bridge and then through Woolloongabba, along Ipswich Road through Moorooka, then to Archerfield, Inala and Springfield and on to the Centenary Highway through Yamanto. The path on to the section of the highway authorised for bikes is tricky through the Springfield area. Riders are advised to keep together and become familiar with the planned route before the day.
From the Centenary Highway the route leads to the Cunningham Highway. The ride follows this highway through Amberley, Willowbank (where we plan to have our first major refreshment stop at the garage), Warrill View, Aratula (where we usually have lunch) to ascend Cunningham’s Gap in the early afternoon.
Sometimes the ascent has been quite warm and we tend to cop the early afternoon sun for most of it. So take it steady and don't be afraid to have a drink. When you reach the Jersey barriers, you do not have far to go to the top and once you get there it is almost immediately downhill for a few kilometers to Tregony.
The group traditionally reassembles at the Tregony petrol station (Pacific Petroleum on left) before riding the last 40+ kilometres to Warwick.
Riders have often remarked that once setting out from Tregony that they seem to be going great guns and are making good ground only to be confronted by a Warwick 35km sign.
Some noises have been heard at this point.
The 'mastick' surface on these last sections of road can be hard on the old backside towards the end of the first day. There is a brief respite with a smooth 5km Odometer check section just before the junction with the Toowoomba Road.
From this junction it is about 13km into town which includes an initial climb. The shoulders along this section can be narrow and subject to the effects of running repairs - so beware.
(Note that this year we are considering the option of taking the Freestone Road (signed on your left about 20km out from Warwick). This route has the advantage of being shorter (albeit by about 2km) and quieter (Double D's are prohibited). However, there are a few undulations and some sections have narrow shoulders. We will probably decide on the day. (My money is on the normal route as people will have had a gutful of undulations by then.))
This year, the ride finishes for the day at the Jackie Howe Motel, where the organisers lay on a BBQ. (The motel is found, after coming down the hill and crossing the Condamine River, on the first street on the right (Victoria Street), about 200 metres up at the corner of Palmerin Street).
While the first day can be quite tiring, the BBQ offers an excellent opportunity for riders to ‘break the ice’ and compare notes.
Perhaps even a bit of team bonding over a few Brandy, Lime and Sodas or just Lime and Sodas for the abstainers. Hopefully the scented candles of 2017 will appear again in 2018.
Riders tend to sleep well that night.
While this day can be hard, it is important to keep moving. Ideally we should be past Tregony by 2pm. That gives us a couple of hours of daylight to get to Warwick (some 40km away) allowing for punctures and tiredness of some of the riders.
Day 2 – 118 kilometres – (Destination Tenterfield)
This day, while being shorter than the distance travelled on the first day, has been described by participants as fairly tough as well. This segment of the ride begins outside the motel at 7 am.
Sometimes, the riders are escorted to Stanthorpe by members of the local bike riding fraternity. Delving into Warwick, we should enjoy the advantage of riding down the main street early on a quiet Sunday morning. Then we turn left to pick up the New England Highway.
Following the New England Highway, there is a bit of a climb up past Canondale to Dalveen.
There is a steep section in the vicinity (you will see the quarry entrance on your left) of Braeside (known to riders by other names), that gives us hope that there is a good downhill on the other side.
Be informed that there is precious little.
We usually have a break at the Dalveen picnic ground (about 13 kilometres on from that many named hill) and shake hands beside the friendship monument.
The ride then goes under the highway and follows the relaxing ‘Old Fruit Road’ to the Summit. Along the way, we see relics of the old fruit economy with obsolete cold stores and loading sidings and generally take it all in.
Be mindful though of vehicles that may sneak up behind us.
Then it is under the highway and over the railway line to follow the ‘Old Warwick Road’ to recross the tracks and into Stanthorpe. Be conscious of stopping at the Stop Signs at the rail crossings, as they are apparently well policed.
The ride will probably have a coffee or lunch stop here. Leaving Stanthorpe, the ride rejoins the New England Highway.
There is welcome downhill just before Ballandean, where we generally have had a short break (or maybe even lunch - depending upon the day) in the park and get photos with the dinosaur.
Further on, we may veer to the Pyramids Road and the Old Wallangarra Road for a few photo opportunities (but there have not been to many takers in recent years).
Back on to the New England Highway, the ride works its way to Wallangarra.
The shoulder of the road around Ballandean is narrow and worn. Some large trucks go through that route, so be very mindful of the situation. The shoulder widens as the road curves around the eastern fall of a hill in the Wyberba area. Looking to the left, is the Girraween National Park containing an old train line. There is also a photo opportunity of a rail bridge on that line, just a little further along. However be careful here, as there is limited space between the barrier and the road (which can be busy) to get a good angle.
Just past this area is the start of another 5km odometer check, that includes 'that' climb up Saxby Hill. Once past the hill, it is only a couple of kilometres into Wallangarra, where the mandatory team photo is taken at the state border.
From there, the road surface, in general, improves. It is now some 15km (there are about 3 or 4 different signs all giving different distances) to Tenterfield. Along the way, another little exploited photo opportunity is presented in the form of the Old Railway Bridge over Tenterfield creek (on the right).
This year accommodation in Tenterfield is again at the Jumbuck Motel (left off the highway just as you approach the centre of town).
We usually slake the thirsts that have been built up during the day at the Royal Hotel, left off the Highway on High Street, opposite the Tenterfield Saddler.
If not too distracted by this stage, riders could sight see around a very pretty town.
Another tradition that has developed over the years, is to regroup at the Tenterfield sign just before the avenue into town. A 'cavalry charge' leader is nominated, who leads the squadron on a brisk but safe ride to the pub.
Remember, it will have been a trying two days for most.
You deserve it.
This year we may dine in the hotel itself or in the standard backup at the bowling club.
Day 3 - 92 kilometres (Destination Glen Innes)
Riding through and then climbing out of Tenterfield and its ‘Federation‘ style buildings (including that big red one on your right), the ride winds south taking advantage of another welcome, almost sudden long downhill past Bluff Rock. After the trials of the first two days, many riders see it as not long enough.
There may be a bit of a fog down at the bottom.
The road undulates around to the east of Bluff Rock, with a couple of short, sharp climbs and then over the Bluff River. Note, that care should be crossing this bridge as it has a relatively narrow shoulder and it is not the place to meet two semis.
Further long we may stop off to the side in the Sandy Flat locality for a recharge.
Winding along we climb up Rifle Range Hill, Primrose Hill and Purtles Hill and then access a little easier country.
Further south is a notable climb up Bolivia Hill, which seems to have a couple of peaks. A shrine to an unfortunate at the base of the hill serves to remind us to stay alert. The shoulder is narrow on some of the corners lower down.
Note, recently that a substantial realignment of the ascent described above has been undertaken and presumably road conditions may have improved.
Anyway we tend to catch our breath and tell each other how good we are at the very discernible top of the second rise. Then we enjoy a reasonable downhill.
Coming out of the hills, the ride crosses over Four Mile Creek with its old railway bridge and poplars with autumn leaves. A good place to take a snap. But be careful, the semitrailers seem to come out of the woodwork just as you try to get things into focus.
The ride then traverses sheep country, past Riverview Station, for a regroup at Deepwater, usually in the paddock next to the bakery (past the historic hotel). Travelers often rave about the pies from the bakery - but don't stuff yourselves as another BBQ bacon and egg wrap is on the cards.
We may take the opportunity again to have a look at the former railway station.
While most of the really hilly country has been passed for the day, there is a slight climb out of Deepwater and for some it takes a while to hit their straps again.
Further south the locality of Dundee is passed and we go over the Severn River.
After traversing more hills, the ride finishes, for the day, at Glen Innes. We seem to put on the pedal when we spot the town from about 5 kilometres out and then there is the long straight into it.
There should be ample time to wander around the town in the afternoon. One of the features of the town is its 'Standing Stones' - a sort Australian country Stonehenge. It is positioned on a steep hill on the left as you just come into town (first roundabout actually). We met the mayor there, in 2017, at the end of the day's ride. Don't laugh, it may be on again this year.
Accommodation is usually arranged at one of the fine motels in the town. This year we are staying at the Rest Point Motel which is basically found by following the highway through town.
It is on your right.
There is a statue of a Hereford next to it.
Can't miss it.
We usually select one of the excellent dining opportunities available (in recent years the RSL seems to have a magnetic pull).
Day 4 - 98 kilometres (Destination Armidale)
Usually the ride leaves Glen Innes on a fairly cool morning. Gloves are generally the go. There is also a possibility of fog.
The trek takes the riders through undulating sheep country, past 'Stonehenge' and then to Glencoe where usually photos are taken at Munsies Road (in tribute to the famous B2B support crew) and the Red Lion Inn (which isn't open at that hour).
Leaving Glencoe, there is a fairly serious climb up the Ben Lomond Range, where the ride reaches the elevation of 1410 metres.
The highest point of the ride.
It is all downhill from there.
A quick refresher stop is usually made at one of the viewing sidings. The ride then descends the range to Llangothin where the peaceful (8km) backroad (over the rail tracks) is followed into Guyra.
Watch out for vehicles sneaking up behind you here as well.
It has become somewhat of a tradition to stop at Rafters.
We have made many friends there over the years.
Following on from previous years, soon after leaving Guyra, we are incorporating a stop at the disused Black Mountain Railway Station. It is a nice ride paralleling the highway and a nice spot for a picnic lunch.
We then ride east, past the school, and rejoin the highway at the service station to take on a very welcome long (and steep in parts) descent at Black Mountain just after Thunderbolt’s Cave Road.
Just after the descent, the riding group may have a stop, before heading into Armidale after a short, sharp jump up from a relatively downhill road in.
This year it is planned to stay at the All Seasons Motel on the Uralla side of town. Follow the Glen Innes Road in, right at the lights at Marsh Street, over Dumaresq Creek, then right into Barney Street, left into Dangar at the roundabout and up the hill. The motel is on your right, just before the roundabout.
The team should arrive mid afternoon providing some time to take on any official engagements and have a look around town.
Note that Armidale is blessed with a very supportive bike shop - Armidale Bicycle Centre (just west of the CBD on Beardy Street). This support has been demonstrated amply in the past.
Likewise we encourage the riders to support them.
That night, in keeping with B2B tradition, it is planned to dine Italian style, in tribute to the various Italian brands of bikes used on the ride.
Day 5 - 111 kilometres (Destination Tamworth)
There is talk of a BBQ breakfast again this year, so be prepared to get out of bed early for your bacon and eggs, in 'wrap' form for the fussy.
Leaving Armidale (hopefully after breakfast), it is quite a pleasant early morning ride with the town with its churches and federation style schools and university fading behind us, while it is up onto the roundabout and on to the New England Highway.
After about an hour’s ride across an undulating and sometimes foggy landscape, the riders reach Uralla, with its early morning photo opportunities.
The riders usually have a cup of coffee here, in the renovated business house (The Alternate Route) in the main street.
Down the track from Uralla, we aim to get a team photo at Thunderbolt’s Rock.
After the Rock, it is back on the highway to begin pushing on through at times hilly, forested country to pass Bendemeer around lunchtime.
As always, be careful.
Be mindful of the situation.
One in particular is the relatively narrow bridge over Rocky Gully which is at the bottom of a good downhill run. The trouble is that semi trailers seem to appear out of nowhere (going both ways) when you want to cross. Have a good look around in places like this before committing.
We may even have lunch in the Bendemeer town precinct itself, in a quiet park overlooking the MacDonald River.
Then over the bridge and through the small town, riding along Caroline Street, we rejoin the New England Highway. Climbing up from the road junction, the ride crests the Moonbi Range before an almost 6km freewheel down the 2nd and 1st Moonbi Hills into Moonbi itself.
It is a tradition for riders to get a snap of themselves next to the flashing warning sign just before the descent.
We may regroup at Moonbi.
From Moonbi, the ride follows the highway some 15-20 km (it seems to go on forever) towards Tamworth, where accommodation is arranged again at the Stagecoach Inn on the northern side of town.
A pleasant tradition, that could be followed, is to stop for some quick refreshment (a beer, a softdrink or whatever) at the Oasis Hotel (Ivor's Pub) found on the left hand side of the road about 1km just before our accommodation.
As dining is planned at the RSL in town, riders are encouraged to have a look around Tamworth that afternoon.
Day 6 - 142 kilometres (Destination Scone)
Riding into and through Tamworth, the ride departs from the New England Highway and follows the road (67 km) to Quirindi via Werris Creek.
This route is selected as it passes through some pretty landscape. However, especially when leaving Tamworth (when people are going to work and businesses are starting up), the road shoulders are narrow and patch repaired, Keep an ear out for large vehicles coming up behind and be prepared.
A brief stop at the park at Currabubula will probably occur for some instant coffee on what can be a cold morning.
Then it is on to Werris Creek for another look at the magnificent railway station and possibly a few photos.
Then it is a quite pleasant ride to Quirindi. Another town worth a 10 minute wander around.
At Quirindi, the riders usually have a coffee break at the coffee shop next to the War Memorial/Roundabout in the main street. This year, we may meet a representative of the council again.
Moving along through the ‘Liverpool Plains’ the ride rejoins the New England Highway just before Willow Tree (18 km) after which it crests the Liverpool Range at Nowland’s Gap, after a bit of effort.
The Gap, after a grinding steady climb, is another milestone where a photo could be considered as mandatory.
A short but steep descent (with a nice view) brings the ride into Murrurundi and a series of small towns associated with intensive agriculture and the horse breeding industry. As with the 'sport of kings' there can be a lot of money splashed around. Have a look at the scale of the Emirates fence for instance.
Along this stretch, there is a small range to traverse.
Good views of the cliff lines in Towarri National Park and Wingen Nature Reserve are obtained along this section. There may be a morale boosting stop at Burning Mountain before the last leg of the day.
After the last 20km+ of fairly flat riding (seems like 200km at that stage), the ride terminates that day at Scone with its Art Deco façade theatre.
Accommodation is arranged, as usual, at the Isis Motel on the southern side of the town.
There are quite a number of historically interesting sights to see in town, but by the time the riders get there, the battling of tiredness and thirst tends to take precedence in the satisfaction of needs stakes.
Traditionally, the riders march up to Golden Fleece Hotel for a look, after a quick orientation stop at the Thoroughbred (hopefully it has reopened). However recently, riders in a sheer act of self indulgence, have refreshed themselves in the motel carpark before an in house BBQ.
Day 7 - 164 km (Destination Morisset)
Be prepared, most riders have found this to be a long day.
Usually when the ride sets off from Scone in the early morning, it is quite foggy.
The traffic can be quite busy - people are off to work.
The ride passes through and ascends the little hill at Aberdeen and on to Muswellbrook, past the roadside Vietnam Memorial Park. The path then takes a left (Maitland Street) turn up the hill and on to Singleton.
The road in this section (almost 40 km) is well formed, has mostly wide shoulders and is quite quick. Needless to say, it carries a lot of traffic, especially in the early morning. It passes power stations (including the topical Liddell facility) and coal mines which provide different backdrops for photos.
However the stopping points must be well selected.
Past the Camberwell locality (watch the narrow bridges here as much as anywhere else), the road climbs out of the mine landscape, through a patch of forested country to crest at McDougalls Hill and Singleton Heights which provide some views of Singleton and the Hunter. Winding down fairly sharply and over the Hunter (use the bike path), the ride pauses briefly in Singleton.
As traffic through Singleton is quite heavy, we take a somewhat quieter road (John Street) where we may stop for a regroup - probably in a coffee shop.
Again on our way, we often ride down York Street to rejoin the New England Highway where some may succumb to MacDonalds or Hungry Jacks. However, as this year we have a local again as a rider, a short meeting with the council may be on the cards.
Leaving Singleton, the ride carefully follows the main track some 22 km to Branxton, along the upgraded highway then taking the well signed turnoff to the left and then right into the town. A right turn is made at the 'To Cessnock' sign (opposite the old Bank of New South Wales), leaving the New England Highway to follow the Wine Country Drive another 22 km to Cessnock.
The road here undulates through forest, farmland and vineyards, and you know when you are getting close when you crest 'that' hill.
Lunch should be organised close to or in the town, probably on the banks of Black Creek - which closely resembles a concrete drain.
Have a quick lunch and stay loose as we have another 40 odd kilometres to go to Morisset and some of us may feel that we have had enough by then.
Going past the School of Arts and then down the main street (Vincent Street) to leave Cessnock (left turn, right turn, left turn, right turn) and then along Lake Road, the track passes through farmland and forest (and over some sharp hills). Turn right at the 'T" intersection of Lake Road and Leggetts Road and head to Brunkerville.
The ride then negotiates a fairly steep jump up and then descends to a round-a-bout and into Freeman’s Waterholes. At that point, only the willing among us may choose to sample the excellent selection of fast foods available on our left.
Note that we have noticed a definite but brief rush hour (starting about 2pm on a Friday afternoon), so be careful particularly through the Freeman’s Waterhole area.
Previously the ride used the F3 to proceed to Morisset (18km). While this option is quite quick, the noise and the traffic can be wearisome to the riders. Besides there are two narrow bridges to cross that have been described as tests equivalent to the 'Dungeons and Dragons' game. We now prefer to rationally minimise our exposure to the freeway and take an alternative path that follows Freeman’s Drive to just before Cooranbong and then, by using some backroads (plot from the direction function on your phone), comfortably cut across to the Bay Hotel.
The ride should arrive there in mid to late afternoon. An opportunity exists to explore the nearby waterfront, although by that stage everybody is so tired that they are flat out getting off their bikes.
But make the effort, as the walk is quite relaxing and we will probably take a range of drinks down there to relax and watch the sun go down over Lake Macquarie.
The team dinner is usually held in the Hotel dining room, followed by an awards ceremony. Some of us usually sell some raffle tickets in the pub.
Day 8 - 126 km The Finale (Destination Dawes Point, Sydney Harbour)
Leaving early to get a start on the Saturday morning traffic, the ride will track some 5-7 km through Morisset, and then get to the Kariong interchange (41 km away). We use a combination of the Old Pacific Highway and the Freeway - to get the riders safety through this section within the current constraints of the law (see notes on the Freeway section below).
The permissions for access by cyclists to sections of the Freeway has changed over the years and any prohibitions are not well signed or downright confusing. 'No cyclists' signs on 'on ramps' are either no existent or difficult to see. The location of cyclist advice signs in non access areas does not make your legal position on the road any clearer.
In fact, there was at least one instance of a sign pole carrying two signs simultaneously - one indicating 'Cyclists Allowed' and one indicating 'No Cyclists Allowed' - we have the photo!
Going back to basics, we take the best advice from Cycleway Finder put out by the NSW Department of Transport.
The interactive website is located at https://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/maps/cycleway_finder.
The website indicates that the Freeway can be currently used by cyclists all the way from Freeman's Waterholes until the Hawkesbury River - except from sections from the Morisset off ramp until the Tugerah on ramp and from the Karoing interchange off ramp until the Calga on ramp.
For these non accessible sections we plan to use the 'Old Pacific Highway'.
(For the sections of Freeway that we use, the following general safety procedures apply.
Against the background of traffic noise, riders should be alert especially in crossing any on/off ramps and in a particular section where the pavement is designed to muffle road noise.
As usual, safety of the team is paramount. We arrange to safely cross the on/off ramps as a team, at 90 degrees to the road direction. At times, it will be preferable to cross the ramp dismounted.
Also watch for the joins in the concrete paved sections, they have the potential to cause some grief.)
It is important to keep moving on the Tugerah south Section of the Freeway, as traffic builds quickly on Saturday morning.
The sequence of roads that we plan to use in 2019 will be as follows:-
Heading towards the F#, turn left into Wyee Road at the first roundabout after Morisset.
Proceed for approximately 7.5 km along Wyee Road to the 'T' intersection and then turn right into Hue Hue Road.
Follow Hue Hue Road for approximately 15km and then turn right into Yarramalong Road.
Follow this road for almost 2 Km and then left into Old Maitland Road.
Keep following this road until it goes under the F3 and taking the second exit of the roundabout to get on to the F3. This section goes for approximately 5km.
Proceed along the F3 for approximately 11km, to leave the motorway at the Somersby Interchange.
We will be then riding on Peats Ridge Road.
After 2km or so, leave this road via a ramp up to Wiseman's Ferry Road.
Turn left down Wiseman's Ferry Road and follow it for about 7.5km and then take the right at the second roundabout towards Calga. Ideally a refreshment stop is organised just ahead, where we will consume the last of the supplies.
The following applies if by May 2020 we are allowed to use the section to the Kariong interchange.
(After entering the authorised sections of the F3 at Tugerah, there is a challenge in climbing up and over what we mistakenly have labelled 'Peats Ridge'. A slow draining effort.
Leaving the F3 at the Karoing interchange (first veer left after the Australian Reptile Park sign on the F3) the riders have a welcome stop near the underpass (on the right of the T intersection.
Riding, in peace, towards Somersby (using the Kariong Interchange option), the track takes a left at the first roundabout, kicks up and then winds down to cross Mooney Mooney Creek and then up to Calga (11 km)).
Along this Calga stretch, the riders notice bike tragics coming the other way for their Saturday morning jaunt.
These people’s domicile is generally – Sydney!
Winding along the old Pacific Highway for another 17 km, then following the signs to Brooklyn, the riders find themselves descending to the north bank of the Hawkesbury River at Mooney Mooney. A special effort should be made here to take some snaps in this picturesque area – as some of the early rides had promptly forgotten.
Also there is an opportunity to use the Freeway from Calga to the Hawkesbury. It is a bit quicker but noisier. It may be useful if we get delayed. My money is on us using the 'Old Pacific Highway' route.
After crossing the Hawkesbury, over the old steel girder bridge, the route ascends through more ‘sandstone country’ to Berowra .
Not long after crossing the Hawkesbury (about 4+ km), the track goes past the ‘Pie in the Sky Café. A bit of a climb, but once you see the pine trees, you are almost there.
Riders have taken advantage of this spot to buy a drink, have a pie and survey the $ millions tied up in the motor bikes parked there by their middle aged owners.
Another 7 odd kilometres and we are at Berowra Railway station. You pass that famous sign on the way - Sydney 32 kilometers.
From Berowra, Hornsby is only 11 km away.
The traffic to Hornsby is quite reasonable. After crossing the Hornsby rail bridge and right up the hill to the BP, the riders regroup at the garage.
From there, we will determine tactics for the final part of the journey on Sydney’s Saturday afternoon roads. This may involve riding as a grouping on the inner lane with a support vehicle following discreetly behind. This part of the journey follows the Old Pacific Highway some 22 km to North Sydney.
This section is mostly downhill.
From North Sydney, riders should find their way to the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge ramp to regroup outside the Kirribilli Hotel. The route taken is to turn right into Miller Street at the North Sydney Post Office and then left into Lavender Street,
Just above Wendy's Secret Garden, we see the 'Bridge' in all its glory.
Then right into Alfred Street at the roundabout, then left into Burton Street and into the tunnel under the bridge where we dismount at the other end, opposite to the Kirribilli Hotel.
Here we may wait a little while (if we are early) as the standard advice for family, friends and fans waiting for us on the other side of the Harbour Bridge, at Dawes Point, is that we will arrive no earlier than 2:30pm. Generally, we get there on the dot of 2:30pm.
After the team dustoff and traditional toast, the riders make their way to the bridge bike lane for the obligatory photo. Then over the bridge find our way down to Hickson Road (once off the bridge, turn into Argyle Street and then turn left and head down to the water) then ride around to under the bridge (as a team) to Dawes Point for the inevitable reunions and small but meaningful ceremonies.