Race to the Rock - Bike Packing Adventure - Sep 2016

July 16, 2015

  • When: Sat 3 September 2016, 6:00am
  • What: I'm (Jesse C) riding unsupported 2,300km from Adelaide to The Rock (Uluru otherwise known as Ayres Rock) via the Mawson Trail and Oodnadatta Track as fast as I can. The route covers some rugged, remote country in the Australian outback. Different to a lot of bike-packing adventures, this is not a "yeah two bottles will be fine" sort of a ride. The route demands respect, research and some caution.
  • Why?
    • I've never been to Uluru.
    • Matthew Lee, bike-packing pioneer and Tour Divide legend, told us that "life is too short not to take on adventures like this".
    • We owe it to those who are too sick, too immobile or just too lazy to get out there, explore the world and test our limits. In doing so, hopefully we'll convince others to take on challenges that might scare them a little.
  • Where: I'm going to start from Victoria Square, right in the centre of Adelaide
  • Who: Me. That's the only person I'm going to be organising. You're welcome to ride it too, but you'll also be on your own, and I will try my very best to get to Uluru before you! 2016 sign-ups have now closed. Check out the Facebook page here. Check out the Instagram page here. Tag your photos with #racetotherock.
  • How: By bike. By myself. No drafting. No help that others couldn't also get along the way. If you want to come along on this adventure I'll expect you to do the same.
  • The route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/15180278
  • Information night: On 9 March 2016, we ran an information night at Commuter Cycles. We covered some aspects of the race and also more general outback touring. We recorded it here (note the presentation starts at about 15 mins in - this is raw, live stream, footage). Here is the presentation we used.

There are no alpine climbs on this route, but it has its own set of challenges. The scenery, climate and terrain changes dramatically along this route. From the coastal city of Adelaide you'll ride through the scenic Adelaide Hills and world renowned Barossa Valley and Clare Valley wine districts.

From there the country gets more rugged. You'll pass historic homestead ruins, sites of Aboriginal significance with rock engravings and paintings, red dirt, salt bush, rocky outcrops and an abundance of Australian native plants and wildlife. Sunsets in the Flinders Ranges are magical and the night sky is the difficult to put into words; the absence of light pollution means that thousands more stars are visible and the Milky Way is a prominent band across the sky. For me, this night time sky alone is worth the effort of the ride!

Eventually you'll hit desert and the remoteness of the Oodnadatta Track. At times you'll feel like you've landed on another planet and with 200km, at times, between services you'll need to be prepared. Travellers must take care with food and water and have enough to get them through emergency situations. Heavy rains, causing flash flooding, can hit at any time of the year making the unsealed road impassable and rescue improbable. Bikes are difficult to push, let alone ride, in those conditions - the red clay sticks to everything and piles up fast.

Eventually Uluru, one of Australia's most famous tourist icons, will loom on the horizon. You'll finish at Uluru, hopefully at either sunrise or sunset for the best views, with the satisfaction of getting there yourself, under your own power, over 2,300km through desert to an ancient rock in the middle of Australia. I reckon that feeling will be pretty cool and it's one that I'd love to have as a memory. How about you?

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