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Ride of the Month: Old Princes Highway to Granites Road, Kepa
Gravel bikes provide a new experience for Murray Bridge cyclists.
Over the past few years, gravel bikes have taken the cycling community by storm as more road cyclists look to explore the side roads that branch off the normal bitumen strip.
Exploring the rubble-topped regional roads of Murray Bridge by gravel bike opens up an entirely different world for cyclists.
Positioned somewhere between a refined bitumen-friendly road bike and a rugged rock-hopping mountain bike, riding a gravel bike provides access to local regional roads that would normally be a bit tough on the tyres of road bikes and somewhat of a hard slog on a wide-tyred mountain bike.
While mountain bikes generally have knobbly tyres up to 56 millimetres wide and road bikes smooth tyres of 25mm wide, the tyres of gravel bikes are generally 35mm wide with lower pressures, providing a more comfortable and tyre-friendly ride on rubble road surfaces.
The frames of gravel bikes also provide greater tyre clearance and are often coupled with more appropriate gearing for riding on regional rubble roads.
As a start out to the experience of gravel bike riding, a simple route in the Murray Bridge region involves riding a bit of bitumen along Kepa Road prior to branching onto the gravel surfaces of Schulz and Orland Roads.
This ride extends fifteen-and-a-half kilometres one way, or 31km return.
For the more adventurous, at the turnaround point of the Orland and Granites Roads intersection, the ride can be further extended along bitumen via Granites Road directly to Tailem Bend.
The ride commences at the corner of Old Princes Highway and Kepa Road on the east side of Murray Bridge.
Riders head out along the bitumen Kepa Road for 7km until an intersection with the gravel Schulz Road is reached on the right-hand side.
This is where the adventure of riding on a gravel surface really starts.
Although the ride along Schulz Road is less than 3km of undulating gravel surface, the roadside eucalypt vegetation is a stunning example of typical Mallee country.
Schulz Road ends at a T-junction with Orland Road, and a decision then needs to be made whether to turn left and head along the gravel in the direction of Tailem Bend or right and head on gravel towards Monteith.
On this particular ride, riders opt to turn left onto Orland Road in the direction of Tailem Bend.
The roadside vegetation along Orland Road suddenly changes to be almost exclusively the bright green callitris native pine.
Orland Road features some hidden gems of Murraylands primary production.
Roadside signs indicate that vibrant poultry and pig production enterprises operate on the farming land adjacent to this road, providing employment and financial stimulation to the region.
The road surface is also perfect for cycling on a gravel bike, and it is interesting to notice the distinct lack of traffic.
During the 31km round trip mapping the route of this gravel ride on a normal mid-week workday, only one car was encountered.
Because of this, cyclists can consider this particular gravel bike route to be a relatively safe riding experience.
At the 6km point of riding Orland Road, the intersection of the bitumen Granites Road that leads directly into Tailem Bend comes into view.
At this point, a decision needs to be made whether to ride the bitumen to Tailem Bend, proceed deeper into the Mallee country straight ahead on a gravel surface, or turn around and return to Murray Bridge or Monteith predominantly on gravel roads.
Previous rides of the month
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