Cycle Coffs Coast
Coffs Coast has caught the cycling craze, Sue Webber reports.
The beautiful Coffs Coast region of northern NSW has just gotten better—it’s becoming a great place to ride bikes. The Coffs Coast Cycle Club maintains an area of the Pine Creek Mountain Bike Park and the Coffs City Rotary group has launched an annual ride that has established roadies as a fixture on the regions roads.
The 100km road circuit mapped here gives you a taste of the Coffs Coast region starting at the beach and riding into the rural hinterland. There are a few small climbs and lots of fast, flat sections. The Cows with Guns section of the Pine Creek Mountain Bike Park also mapped, offers riders a variety of easy flowing singletrack trails stretching out to about 15 kilometres.
Distance 100km on-road loop; 15km MTB singletrack
Difficulty Medium; intermediate
Surface Sealed roads; groomed singletrack
Bike Road or touring bike; hardtail or dual-suspension mountain bike
Starting at the Coffs Harbour jetty you’ll leave the beachside surfers and picnickers behind as you follow Marina Drive over the main Sydney to Brisbane railway line onto Harbour Drive. A climb over Beacon Hill takes you to the Hogbin Drive roundabout and a long flat ride past the airport and the Education Campus—the Coffs home of Southern Cross uni—and on another three kilometres to Toormina roundabout. There is a bike path on the eastern side of Hogbin Drive if you prefer to use it. Turning left takes you down to the pretty seaside main street of Sawtell, with some cafes that are very popular with local bike riders. Sawtell is also home to the Coffs Harbour velodrome and BMX track. Both are well worth a visit as a spectator or competitor.
From Sawtell it’s a gradual climb back along Lyon’s Road to the Pacific Highway. You cross the highway on Pine Creek Way (the old highway, with much less traffic). Pine Creek Way takes you through Bonville, where the servo is a good place to stop if you need a drink or something to eat.
The road continues past the Sid Burke Rest Area with toilets. This rest area is one entrance into the Pine Creek Mountain Bike Park, following the Hunters Road fire trail into the bush. But as this is a road ride and you’re on skinny tyres you’ll continue on the sealed road up to the Mailman’s Track roundabout, with some great views to the rivers and hills to the south.
The route follows the bank of the Bellinger River and crosses over the old Bellinger River Highway bridge. If you want to make this a 60km ride, turn around now and retrace your route. Otherwise you’ll turn right and climb through the village of Raleigh, back over the Pacific highway onto the Waterfall Way. This is the direct route to Bellingen but it’s busier and shorter, so take a left onto Short Cut Road and then a right onto South Arm Road. This is a quieter, narrower road following the Kalang River upstream through the forests and rural properties. There is an 80m climb just before the right turn on to Bowraville Road. Then in just under 3km the road begins the biggest climb of the route—110m over 2.2km—and a satisfying downhill to the artistic and historic town of Bellingen. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in town if you need to refuel.
Crossing the Bellinger River over the low level bridge feels like the turn for home, although you’re just over half way through the ride. Turning right at the Wheatley Street roundabout takes you to North Bank Road and an undulating ride through dairy country. If it’s milking time you may need to wait for the Friesian cows to cross the road. This road returns under the Pacific Highway to the Old Pacific Highway. The route retraces the outward journey from here, and once you’re over the climb back up to the Mailman’s Track roundabout the rest is the same rolling and flat roads back to the Pacific Ocean and the Coffs Harbour jetty.
The NAB Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge—the main event of the Coffs Coast Festival of Cycling—takes this route in August. This new festival brings together many of the cycling groups in the Coffs Coast area to offer locals and visitors a chance to enjoy the great bike riding in the area in a number of supported events. July, August and September are the best months to visit this region for riding, with the weather usually stable and cool nights and warm clear days. The roads are quieter without the summer visitor traffic and there is plenty to do. The NAB Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge is run as a charity fundraiser by the Coffs City Rotary group and it brings bike riders from across Australia and overseas to ride in teams or solo over the 60km and 100km course.
Mountain bike action
The Pine Creek Mountain Bike Park is south of Coffs Harbour and easily reached from Pine Creek Way and the Sid Burke rest area. Riders can either park there and ride in along Hunters Road, a gravel road, or drive in along Hunters for about one kilometre and then turn right along Ross Trail to the gate and Cows with Guns trailhead. The Sawmill trails lie on other side of Pine Creek, but these are only prepared and groomed for Pleasure and Pain event in August.
Please be aware that there are black diamond features on the Sawmill side of the park, so if you choose to ride there be prepared to stop and check you are confident of your ability tackling these.
Pleasure and Pain is a mighty 100km mountain bike race and the final event of the Coffs Coast Festival of Cycling. It’s on Sunday 11 August and it’s open to all mountain bikers to ride in a team or solo over 25km, 50km or 100km. During Pleasure and Pain the black diamond features will have B line options, so all riders can complete the course.
Coffs Coast Festival of Cycling 26 July – 11 August
Coffs Coast accommodation and attractions
Sue Webber is voluntary Festival Coordinator and partner in Refusenix Racing.
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