Stage 1 Manly to Cessnock (145km 2153m)
With fresh legs and plenty of fuel in the tank the first day of the
ride shouldn’t prove too difficult. Departing from St Matts Church
Manly we cruise 30km up Sydney’s Northern Beaches to Palm Beach where
we catch the ferry to Ettalong. After a few km to get the legs
spinning again we hit the Cat 3 Woy Woy climb. The fun continues for
the next 45km as the undulating rural roads of the Central Coast
hinterland take us up to our highest point of the day, Kulnura, where
we will stop for lunch. The next leg should see us pick up the average
speed as we make the most of our altitude gain as we descend down to
Wollombi at the 125km mark for some afternoon tea. The last leg of the
day takes us over a number of short pinches before we cruise down into
the Hunter Valley and our destination for the night, Cessnock.
Stage 2 Cessnock to Gloucester (140km 1376m)
This should be a nice steady day without too much to damage the legs.
Leaving Cessnock we head North to Maitland then on to the charming
Patterson for morning tea after 43km. The undulating country roads
continue as we make our way out of the Hunter, stopping for lunch at
Dungog after 77km. Just after lunch we hit our one categorised climb
of the day the Cat 4 Stroud Hill. We descend into the Gloucester
Valley, following the Buckets Way North to our afternoon tea stop at
Wards River after 115km. We will take it easy for the last 25km,
spinning out the legs to get them ready for a good nights rest and a
BIG day on day 3!
Stage 3 Gloucester to Uralla (188km 2940m)
This is sure to be the hardest and most rewarding day of the ride.
Taking in the brutal Nowendoc and Thunderbolts climbs. Taking it easy
out of Gloucester we hit some short pinches to get the legs warmed up.
We’ll briefly refuel at the 30km mark before taking on the hardest
climb of the day, Nowendoc, at the 42km mark. With long stretches
where the gradient hits the teens this is sure to be a war of
attrition with riders having to dig deep into their suitcases of
courage to just make it to the top of this two stage climb in one
piece. Thankfully after the climb we have 20km of light undulations to
get the legs back before an early lunch at Nowendoc. After lunch we
take on the second beast of the day, Thunderbolts. at 8km and 5% this
one should be a pleasant effort compared to Nowendoc. Topping out at
1330m we then descend 200m over the next 80km as the undulations give
way to the open expanses of the Northern Tablelands.
Stage 4 Uralla to Bellingen (176km 2210m)
Traditionally it’s day 4 when your legs start to yell stop and after
huge third stage this day is going to be mentally very challenging.
Fortunately the first 80km or so are fairly flat and should give us a
good chance to get some good sensations back in the legs before the
Cat 4 Cathedral rocks climb. Most of today’s ride will be through some
of Australia’s most beautiful country side including four fantastic
national parks which should provide ample distraction from thoughts of
your weary legs. After Lunch at Ebor we drop over 1200m in 75km
through the Dorrigo and Bellingen National Parks. This will also give
us a chance to recon the Waterfall Way climb that we will be dragging
ourselves up on Stage 5!
Stage 5 Bellingen to Grafton (147km 1805m)
This is bound to be another day of sensational riding through a
stunning part of the country and with a bit of luck your legs will be
acclimatised to the punishment and starting to feel powerful. After
15km following the Bellinger river up the river valley we hit the Cat
1 Waterfall way climb that we descended on stage 4. After regrouping
at morning tea in Dorrigo we soldier on over 50km of undulating
terrain punctuated by a hand full of cat 4 climbs before we drop down
into the Orara Valley and on to our lunch stop at Nana Glen. After
lunch it’s an easy 50km roll to our destination Grafton.
Stage 6 Grafton to Byron (178km 1616m)
By now your legs will have come good and you should feel as strong as
an ox for our last 178km. It’s another day of beautiful undulating
roads through the lush countryside and beautiful bushland. There are a
couple of short climbs to contend with but with the altitude topping
out at 170m you can be assured the punishment is short lived. With
lunch in Casino and arvo tea in Bangalow we should Arrive at the
lighthouse in Byron in time to enjoy a little afternoon sunshine and
possible a celebratory beverage of some sort!