Hedlow Loop social ride
Finally, after an epic year of local cycling events, it’s the off-season (sort of), but that’s no reason to put the bikes back in the shed.
To keep life interesting, we’re kicking off a string of social rides through spring and summer, beginning with another ride down Cawarral way.
The last loop we did past Gawula back in July was a 20 km ride, and this time we’re going bigger – a much bigger 60 kms.
This is not a highly organised ride. Except for the course which has been ridden before, most other aspects of the ride will depend on the mood of the gods. No promises are made as to road conditions, the mental stability of other riders, the likelihood of attack by a swarm of crocodiles, and so on. Neither the ride leader nor CQ Offroad Cycling will accept responsibility for any peril that may befall anyone who chooses to join in on the day.
If you attend this ride, you:
- accept all responsibility for your own actions and preparations;
- acknowledge that you are riding at your own risk;
- absolve both the ride leader and CQ Offroad Cycling of all liability.
Departing from Cawarral State School, we have about 15 km of bitumen through scenic countryside along Dairy Inn Road, then across Yeppoon Road onto Artillery Road. At the big bend, we’ll turn north onto the gravel towards Lake Mary.
Following picturesque Hedlow Creek for approximately 15 kms, we’ll then hook east then south onto Old Byfield Road, crossing Yeppoon Road again at around the 50 km mark near the Puma servo at The Oaks.
If anyone needs to top up on drinks or snacks, we can do so there.
Then we’ll duck up Gravel Pit Road, and in a perfect world, the old bit of rail trail up to Mackay’s Road will be recently trimmed and we’ll cut through there.
Otherwise, we’ll head up the grass verge alongside Yeppoon Road another half km to Mackay’s Road and go that way instead. Naturally, we have to try the adventure path first 🙂
From there, it’s a series of low rolling hills down past Mount Wheeler (Gawula) where we’ll pull up in the shade of the cliffs and take happy snaps (beautiful country).
The climbs on Mount Wheeler Road aren’t huge but they are constant so you will want to keep some energy in reserve for the last 10 or so kms. The reward for your efforts – apart from the scenery – is a very cool sustained descent into Cawarral for the last few kilometres of our ride.
We’re envisaging 15-21 kph average pace. Allowing for breaks and slower riders, best guess is that we’ll arrive back in Cawarral between 10 and 11 am.
Be aware that apart from the Puma Servo, there are no shops, toilets, or water taps along the route. You will need to take everything you need to see you through. See the list of recommendations further down the page.
What kind of bike will I need?
After the first 15 km of bitumen, the rest is gravel. A cyclocross, gravel bike, or mountain bike will be best. The route is not suitable for road bikes.
The route we’re taking is all public road and tracks. There’s nothing particularly technical that you wouldn’t find on your average green-rated MTB trail.
Note that if there has been any recent rain, parts of Mt Wheeler Rd can stay quite boggy for a week or two afterwards. If we receive advice that Mt Wheeler Rd is particularly awful, then we will go down Tookers Rd instead.
What is the ride format?
This is a social ride, not a workout or race. If you’re looking for a hardcore Sunday sesh of interval training, this isn’t it.
The ride leader will be me, Andrew Thompson. I run the Tuesday night social rides for Rocky MTB and have a lot of experience herding riders. I also have a blue card, First Aid + CPR.
Depending on how many riders turn up and their fitness levels, the group may split up into smaller groups. I will generally stay somewhere in the middle so I can keep everyone within my field of vision. That means that faster riders may need to wait sometimes while slower riders catch up. Usually, there are other riders in the group who I know to be reliable who are happy to help out as well.
What preparations/supplies do I need?
- This should not be the first time you’ve been on a ride of this distance. If it is, spend a few weeks getting some serious kilometres under your belt so your body is accustomed to the kind of stress it’s going to face on the day. If you burn out at the 30 km mark because you didn’t prepare, there’s nothing but trees and cows. You will have to ring a friend to come and collect you;
- Riders under 16 yo should be accompanied by a responsible adult. I cannot enforce this as it is not my role or right to check the age of someone who chooses to tag along on a social ride. That said, I have had problems before with ‘drop-and-run’ parents mistaking social rides for daycare. If a rider does run into trouble and I learn that they are an unaccompanied minor, I will have no choice but to involve the police;
- No one likes that clown on the trails who feels they have to play music for everyone else to hear. We’re out in nature so let’s enjoy the peace. If you want music, use ear buds.
- Finally, don’t be THAT rider who has to rely on others to get them out of trouble. The following is a basic guide but every rider should at least carry:
- Personal safety gear, e.g. helmet etc, personal first aid kit, mobile phone;
- Heaps of water. The temperature will be mid 20s to low 30s even at this time of the day so don’t under-estimate your water/electrolyte requirements. As a guide, I will be taking 2 litres of water in my backpack plus a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade on the bike;
- Snacks for energy, e.g. bananas, muesli bars, etc;
- At least one spare tube or patch kit, plus pump or CO2, and bike tools. Zip ties and a spare chain link are also handy kit to carry. Ensure that your bike is serviced and in good condition before the ride;
- Heat fatigue, sunburn, and glare are going to be the big challenges on this ride. On many sections, there is very little shade. Sunglasses, sunscreen, and suitable clothing and shoes are essential. Bike shorts with a chamois (and cream) are highly recommended;
- A rear flashing light is recommended when on public roads;
The ride will not be cancelled if there are showers or light rain. If weather does turn extreme and forces the ride to be cancelled or modified, updates will be posted on the CQ Offroad Cycling page on Facebook.
I hope to see you there on the day,
CQ Offroad Cycling