The bayside edition of the Autumn Harvest Ride was all about adventure… and coffee. Truthfully, the only way you could really say it was all about adventure was if aforementioned adventure was preceded by, regularly punctuated with, and then followed closely by coffee. Lots of coffee. So coffee - then adventure. Maybe. It’s a Melbourne thing.
Fittingly, and in what can only be described as a blatant act of spoiling, the baristas at the Corner Café in Hampton had opened extra early for us to ensure we didn’t begin our day without caffeination. Bless them. Bless also the team from Clif Bar who were there to make sure we were overflowing with nutritional goodness before we’d turned a pedal.
Unsurprisingly, our 63km ride started on Beach Road. Happily, there was a tailwind. It’s a Melbourne thing.
Such happiness would be short-lived, however, as the short but sharp climb up Oliver’s Hill laid waste to our cheery banter. Defiantly, the laughter soon returned, as the bunch headed inland and towards rolling farmland.
Next was a detour to Harrisons Road; a deceptively flat run until you hit a wall of gravel. We pushed on, some experiencing gravel grinding for the first time. It was not an easy stretch, but (thankfully) it was only short, giving riders a taste of what you can find off the beaten track.
Gravel successfully ground, and the final climb of the day conquered, we rolled down a quaint olive tree-lined drive, leading to our destination, Green Olive.
Nestled in the small community of Red Hill, Green Olive offers a delicious selection of local produce amongst a full farm experience. Our group of lycra-clad roadies were welcomed with warm blankets and tasty tapas, as if visiting old friends.
It’s a Melbourne thing.
Flora and flotsam
'Roses are red
Violets are blue
Bring your bike to Windsor
And we'll ride with you’
Easier said than done, apparently, on account of seemingly endless Sydney weekend ‘trackwork’ (am I the only one who no longer sees trains as a 7-day a week kinda thing? But I digress).
Still, over 60 women took planes, trains (sorry, not available) and automobiles out to a rather quiet and sheepish-looking Windsor train station, 1 hour (by aforementioned automobile) west of Sydney.
In Good Company seasonal rides are a great reminder of just how many cycling routes there are out there for the adventurous at heart. They are also an opportunity for the female riders of Sydney to not only meet other riding brethren, but explore new roads and destinations for the first time.
This 52km route was a mixture of open roads, undulating hills, a handful of challenging climbs and a fun little ferry trip across the Nepean River (which doubled as a handy snack stop). Being the Autumn Harvest ride, we found ourselves rolling by paddocks brimming with crops and livestock, along idyllic country tracks, and past broken-down tractors and other obligatory horticultural flotsam.
At the end of the ride, we were greeted with hot coffee and a delicious array of local seasonal produce - presented to us by the amazing staff at The Vintage Pantry. Sitting around tables, watching the chatter and laughter unfold, made all the hard work and careful planning worth it. To see so many women come together to undertake a new adventure was such a great feeling.