It’s been over two years since I’ve ridden with my good mate Carl. I’ve had a trip to Brisbane pencilled in since early 2020, but then of course that damn virus shut the entire country down and my flights have been cancelled, moved, and postponed more times than I can remember. Finally though, I got my ass on a plane and up to Brisbane for a weekend of riding!
First on the cards was a longer ride up through Brisbane’s Northern suburbs. I grew up around Brisbane’s Northside and we rode out past some old haunts from my teenage years. The Northside is fairly flat so it was bound to be a faster one. After a few early morning laps of the Nundah Criterium Track to get my legs warmed up, I met up with Carl and we headed North together.
Some fantastic dedicated bike paths have been built since I left, with millions of dollars poured into getting cyclists off the roads. 😂 It’s good though, as the drivers in Brisbane can be less than courteous to road cyclists. The pace soon whipped up as we made our way down the Bikeway, and heading out through Bracken Ridge and Brighton. With hardly a hill to slow our roll, I got on the front, low in the drops and locked into that tempo/sweetspot power zone.
We soon crossed over the Hornibrook Bridge (also with a separated cycleway) and rolled turns out to Scarborough for a well earned coffee and cake. The return journey was predominantly into a slight headwind. We made a detour along the Brighton waterfront, up past our old High School and around some backroads we used to frequent as teens. Good times. I took some big turns on the front on the way back to pull us home to the Criterium Track.
Distance: 111.6 km / 69.4 miles
Total elevation gain: 403m / 1320 feet
Average speed: 30.4 kph / 18.9 mph
Rolling back to the Crit Track we were both feeling the effort! The Northside Loop may be flat, but it means you’re pedalling and on the gas almost the entire time. Carl split for home, and I snuck in another couple of track laps before heading back to my hotel, ensuring I clocked over 110km for the morning. An absolutely fantastic first ride back in Brisbane!
Brisbane River Loop
Sunday saw a bonus break in the weather, so we got out early to hit up what is a Brisbane road cycling institution, the Brisbane River Loop! There are a few variations, but essentially it’s a jaunt around the Brisbane River on a mix of bike paths and roads. Sounds laid back, but it’s surprisingly lumpy, with a couple of punchy ramps at over 10% gradient to shock the legs.
We got going at daybreak and it felt like a quiet morning on the roads. Carl assures me that if you do this ride at any hour past 8am, you’re mixing with serious amounts of motor traffic. Brisbane’s city suburbs are hardly recognisable to me these days, but luckily I’d ridden the River Loop virtually on FulGaz before, so I had a rough idea of what I was in for!
It’s a clockwise loop around the Brisbane River (I guess you could do it in reverse also) starting and finishing in the heart of the city. Even though the weather was less-than-ideal, there were quite a number of other cyclists around the loop, including some club jerseys. We had a solid hit out, chasing down a few and giving it some gas up the short climbs. It was good fun, but a little too “city” for my riding tastes. One advantage of the city though, is excellent coffee at the mid-ride stop!
I would say that if you’re in Brisbane (and up early) the River Loop is worth a ride. I’m not sure I could have navigated the loop on my own. There were quite a few turns and backroads I would have failed to take if I’d not had Carl as my tour guide! There are some fast, flowing sections, some busier (and slower) cycleways, and a couple of short, sharp climbs.
If you’re super keen, you can even throw in a big climb up Mount Cootha for some added vertical metres! Maybe next time…
Distance: 64.5 km / 40.0 miles
Total elevation gain: 540 m / 1770 feet
Average speed: 28.0 kph / 17.4 mph