It’s easy to overheat when we ride our bikes on long hot summer days. That’s why I was quick to say “yes” when Jason invited us to join him for a ride on the beach at beautiful Byron Bay.
We started at midday at Brunswick Heads. The clear aqua-colored water sparkled under the wooden footbridge as we rolled across the river to the beach.
The tide was still too high to let us ride on the beach, so we followed the coastal fire trail south along Simpsons Creek.
The trail follows the creek south for about 8km where it eventually meets a large system of freshwater lakes…
…but it’s never too far from the beach.
Like a long thin rind of melon, the tree-lined sand curved around to the rocky outcrop of Cape Byron on the horizon.
We stuck to the fire trail for now.
We arrived at the lake and took a quick dip. We weren’t in any rush – the longer we took the lower the tide would be, so we chilled out in the fresh water for a while.
One of my favourite parts of a fat bike ride is that first roll over the soft sand onto the beach.
We zipped down the dunes towards the water.
Our fat tyres howled as they rolled easily over the damp beach.
At Belongil Creek I hopped off and carried the bike over the creek entrance to avoid getting salt water in the hubs and drive-train.
Adam just ploughed through, his huge green tyres almost floating on the water.
The beach at Byron was busy with happy people enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
A couple were getting married on the beach at noon. Their guests looked very hot.
Other people did the smart thing and cooled off in the water.
The sand finally ran out at Fishermans Lookout – an odd-looking rock formation by the edge of the water.
Sometimes it’s possible to get round to Watego’s Beach over the rocks – but today the tide was too high.
We did a few loops on the sand before riding up the headland.
We visited a shell midden at Palm Valley beside the track which led up from the beach.
The traditional owners of this area are the Bundjalung Arakwal people, who have inhabited the region for over 22,000 years. During an investigation of the midden, archaeologists found shells, bone fragments and bits of charcoal which they were able to accurately date. The midden grew as a result of over 1,000 years of use and gives important clues about the lifestyle of the original inhabitants.
We rode up the headland, enjoying stunning views of Watego’s Beach below us.
Just before we reached the lighthouse, Jason took us out on a hang-gliding launch platform. Tallow Beach stretched south towards Broken Head. My knees felt weak – it was a long way down.
The road up to the lighthouse is very steep, especially on a heavy fat bike. We slowly mashed the pedals and inched our way to the top.
“Cape Byron Light” as it is officially known, is Australia’s most powerful lighthouse. The lens is so powerful that it even rotates during the day to reduce the risk of fire from sun rays focussing through it. From the ocean, the top of the lighthouse is visible from fifty kilometres away, but at night its light can be seen over the horizon from a much greater distance.
We relaxed at the top and enjoyed the view.
The roll back down the hill was spectacular. With Tallow Beach in front of us it was difficult to keep our eyes on the road.
As soon as we could we left the pave road and headed into Arakwal National Park to follow the sandy tracks towards the beach.
The National Park, named after the traditional owners, is a huge expanse of coastal scrub which sits on the dunes.
With Cape Byron (Australia’s easternmost point) behind us, we rode down the beach towards Broken Head.
The outgoing tide had left us a broad highway of beach to ride down.
The long hot day was taking its toll on me: I felt tired and dizzy. It didn’t take much to convince me we needed another swim – this time in the fresh water of Tallow Creek.
The cool water quickly raised my spirits.
After a few minutes of recuperation in the water, we followed a wooden footbridge over the creek.
Jason’s mum lived close by. We followed the grass track to her place to top up our water.
It was getting late in the day. We decided to start our journey back to the cars, following some easy bike paths through town.
People lazed in the sun, sat on the grass, drank beer and listened to live music. What a relaxing place!
We followed our tyre tracks from earlier in the day back up the beach towards Brunswick Heads.
This time, none of us could be bothered carrying the bikes – we just rode through Belongil Creek. I was grateful I’d booked the bike in for a service with my local bike shop the following day 🙂
We had started the ride at midday and ridden through the hottest part of the day. I felt tired as I monotonously pushed the pedals, working my way up the beach.
Gulls scattered as I ploughed my bike through them.
The sun sank lower, shadows lengthened, this had been a big day.
Eventually, we reached the rock wall at the mouth of the Brunswick River.
We followed a bike path along the river bank…
…then crossed an old wooden bridge, over the river and back into town.
Max elevation: 121 m
Min elevation: 17 m
Total climbing: 645 m
Total descent: -631 m
Average speed: 12.75 km/h
Total time: 06:55:19
We rode about fifty kilometres in seven hours including breaks. During that time I burned about 2,500 kcal.
For most of the day, the temperatures were in the mid to low thirties.
Even though this was a reasonably flat ride (less than 300m in elevation gain) the heat made it hard work. Seven hours in the midsummer sun is always going to be challenging.
I’ll rate this ride 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Jason for taking the time to organise an iconic ride for us in stunning surroundings.
Thanks to Adam and Jason for the company. Let’s come back here soon!