The 2019-2020 eastern Australian bushfires wreaked havoc on the landscape destroying farms and homes, along with wiping out a lot of the forest flora and fauna.
Home for me is the Shoalhaven in New South Wales, two hours south of Sydney and we are the gateway to several amazing destinations around the area.
The bushfires destroyed a lot of single track trails, mountain bike tracks, and fire trails, resulting in a lot of these areas being closed by the forestry commission for the time being. These now closed areas were a source for gravel rides that take the rider past scenic rocky outcrops, views of valleys and the vast regions of bushland (now pretty much burnt out)We gathered together a group of riders to go for a social ride into Kangaroo Valley, it was an area that didn’t escape the bushfires but still had fire-road access and long undulating gravel roads. We had a motley collection of gravel bike riders and mountain bike riders meeting up in various locations along the route, which was a scenic climb out to Mt Scanzi. Tarmac soon gave way to gravel, and recent rains had left it a little like an undulating gravel superhighway that wound through the burnt-out trees and past the burnt-out farms/homes. It was a bit humbling to see where those that were unluckier than us to lose their homes and everything within.
Gravel gave way to a water crossing and a tricky bridge crossing that had been destroyed by the fires, some careful creek crossing was done in order not to fall into the creek. The climb up Mt Scanzi was slow, and the group spread out as climbing abilities took over, and the summit was soon reached with a break at the top. The roll down the Mount was exhilarating, and as the ride went on, it expanded into an undulating bitumen ride into Kangaroo valley for breakfast.
My ride for this occasion was my 2019 Bombtrack Beyond, complete with Gevenalle shifters for that retro yet uncomplicated shifting on a mixed bag Shimano drivetrain. Braking courtesy of cable operated hybrid hydraulic brake calipers which for this setup has worked pretty well, coping on the hills quite nicely
WTB SX rims with WTB 29 x 2.1 Nano’s front and rear, for a gravel bike probably overkill but lots of grip on the trails and excellent grip on the smooth gravel superhighway.
After a tasty Pie and coffee at the Kangaroo Valley bakery, we rolled back out towards Mt Scanzi again, but instead of turning towards and upwards it, we rolled towards the Bugong fire trail and detoured around the Mount. Through trails surrounded by burnt-out trees and shrubs, some area’s looking like a moonscape; the trail was a roller-coaster ride that wound its way back to the burnt-out bridge.
Again another tricky creek crossing and the gravel slowly starts making a change back to bitumen, and the rollback into town starts, and people start breaking off to go home.
This is one of our favorite rides, it gets you away from the sometimes busy local roads and out to where the Lyrebirds make their unusual calls and dart across the roads The scenery rolls on forever, and some of the views are a visual canvas for the mind.
Words & Photos: Adrian and Sue