Over the hills at Byron Bay

Posted by: Richie Tyler on 2019-02-13 10:37:11 +1100

Words: Zoë Clayton-Smith, Photography: Bob Barrett

Bryon Bay is undoubtedly one of the east coast's most sought after holiday destinations

but as Cyclist Australia/NZ magazine discovered, the surrounding hinterland is very much a cycling haven.

Guided by local operator Lifecycles (sporting their custom Attaquer jerseys), Cyclist journeys inland to uncover a hidden gem of rolling hills, steep pinches, and enough gravel to satisfy an adventurer's thirst. As many a local will tell you, this tiny pocket of NSW has far more to it than beaches and music festivals.

Attaquer and Cyclist in Byron Bay

Here's a snippet of the full feature that can be found inside Issue #37, on sale from 11 February.  Read Cyclist's visit to Byron Bay by picking up a copy from all major newsstands.

95km, 1,600m vertical

My bag is filled with all manner of clothing and footwear. There’s enough here to combat everything the Aussie summer can muster, from an absolute scorcher to an absolute downpour. Yes, there’s lycra stashed away in there, although that skin-tight number forms part of my fancy-dress outfit for a multi-day music festival; there’s no cycling on my itinerary, unless it’s on the back of someone’s cruiser traversing to the next stage.

Cyclist and Attaquer visit Byron Bay Cycling

Lifecycle Tours Cycling Tours Byron Bay Attaquer

That’s how cycling fit into the itineraries of my previous visits to Byron, anyway. That is to say, there was little to none of it. But I had spied the luscious landscape on those occasions and vowed to one day return with cleats rather than party shoes. A year on, that day finally came...

Nature calls

The early Cape Byron Lighthouse roll – it wouldn’t be a trip to Byron if our ride didn’t visit here at some point – gives us a glimpse of Mount Warning through the moody clouds. It’s the beginning of summer, and with average temperatures often around the mid-20s, it’s a good idea to crack on before the sun really gets into the swing of things. At this time of year, you’d be forgiven for avoiding any sort of visit to this far north-east corner of the state, such are the dramatic weather forecasts. Storms today, storms tomorrow, storms after that; this little pocket of heaven regularly opens up in the later hours. But after a full day’s riding in the heat, chances are you’ll be grateful for the short-lived cool change.

In stark contrast to rides back home in Sydney, here the proper riding begins from the moment we clip in. The first climb arrives within what feels like minutes of departure as Possum Creek Road cuts its way up into the hillside. Calves and foals potter around in the undulating fields below. It reminds me a little of Yorkshire in spring.

Attaquer Byron Bay Cycling

Byron Bay Cycling Attaquer and Cyclist Magazine Lifecycle Tours

The views nearing the top stretch out and over the 23-million-year-old caldera while the ocean mist blankets the nearby shoreline over the back of our right shoulders.The views from the top, just after the turn onto Coolamon Scenic Drive, are barely 20km into the ride, but they’re worth the brief drink stop – if just to look at imposing Mount Chincogan, which forms part of the larger Warning volcano. From here, we head towards Goonengerry and quickly delve deeper inland into the hinterland. Up, down, up, down. There’s a theme unfolding here, and with no breakfast in the belly, I’m starting to think this could be a very long day...

If you're in Australia or New Zealand, subscribe to Cyclist for just $59 and never miss an issue.

Over the hills at Byron Bay