400km Burra Loop
I crafted a ride up and back from Burra to take in some of my favourite roads, to bring up 400km, and to stay away from traffic—riding the last tired 100km of 400 along the Sturt Highway and Main North Road to get back into Adelaide is not only risky, it's also really unpleasant.
I took the bike paths to Nuriootpa which meant only 11km out of 80 was spent on roads.
There's a tunnel under Main North Road!
I'll just park out the front! (West Avenue bike path at Edinburgh)
Then I took the quiet route to Kapunda, guessing that after Kapunda there would be light traffic on the Thiele Highway to Eudunda, which was the case. From Eudunda I took the Julia Road out to Scenic Drive, which offers a spectacular viewing of the kind of country in which I grew up.
Kapunda – Eudunda Road
Scenic Drive. This is the area the Priors first settled after the mines at Kapunda.
The views from Scenic Drive
The surface on Scenic Drive ranges from good metal to bare bedrock and, this time, on Hills Road, summer grader repairs which are dangerous for bikes. They fill the runoff gutters with slush.
From Hills Road
Hills Road getting serious. Don't pull your caravan down here or it might push you off the edge.
I came down off the range at Robertstown, and headed up the bitumen past the pumping station to the old Burra Road. For a while the two Morgan-Whyalla pipelines flank the road.
The Burra Road
On the return trip used the World's End's Highway to Truro. Since the Sturt Highway was (rarely) quiet, I took a quick 6km down to Stockwell and then across to the Angaston Bike path, which meant my last 90km was off-road.
I love the way these two loom up in the darkness at the end of the Angaston bike path.
The bike path through Bolivar. It looks gorgeous, but is bounded by the Northern Expressway on one side and Highway One on the other. Constant 24 hour din. This is on the Tapa Martinthi Yala bikeway. (Kaurna for "pathway to embrace today.")
Every car that passes us is a small risk. One of my SAPOL friends said it's not the first car you worry about, but the third. The first car sees us, the second might see the car in front move out, but to the third car we are invisible. Using the bike paths and using the quieter secondary roads simply lowers our risk. It's longer to get to Kapunda via Nuri, but I know from experience that the Thiele Highway to Kapunda from Gawler is heavily trafficked and it's the kind of traffic that is not friendly to bikes, so why take it?
Even if you plan do an all bitumen ride, this is still a useful strategy. On the map below you can seek two routes to Kapunda from Nuriootpa. One takes the Greenock Road, and it's the route everyone takes to Kapunda from Nuri. The other one comes to a dead end at Milway Avenue and needs us to scramble over heap of gravel to get across the Sturt Highway to Belvedere Road. No one goes out the highway and back to Belvedere, so the traffic is way lighter than the main route.
Food and Drink
I drank 24 bidons of liquid in the 24 hours. That's about 17 litres of water. Even so, I was down 3kg in weight by the time I reached home. I find planning for water stops is crucial. Hopping over somebody's fence at 2am in search of a tap is risky business! The first time I went through Burra at night, I planned on getting water at the public toilets. Fat chance, they were locked! Fortunately, I've discovered the tap behind the BHP service station. Food is a similar issue. Little country towns tend to shut up shop around 4pm. Sometimes there's a takeaway food place, and the IGA, if there is one, is often open until 7. I would never count on getting food anywhere after 4pm. And even then, sometimes all they have is Pringles! I kid you not; in a small town in Victoria that was all the food in the shop. The proprietor was good enough to make me a sandwich, but said the passing trade was not worth anything more. I asked about the Pringles; there were a couple of dozen tins! She said, "George down the street really likes them, so I get them in." George was one of about 4 people and a dog who live in the place.
I had some sourdough sandwiches, chocolate, and missing my custom made Anzac slice, took some very nice cookies from our local Drakes, and some fruit cake. I normally make a variation on Anzac biscuits which is nicely loaded with sugar, but left a lot softer which makes consumption easier. The problem was that the weather forecast changed from 32 to 37, so I left about 12 hours earlier. Which meant that by the time I arrived in Kapunda it was already 37. (On road temperatures—all that black bitumen and direct sun— are often up to ten degrees hotter than the BOM readings.)
A bit later, I pulled out the cookies.
The fruitcake did the same. I've never had this happen. Yes, the chocolate bars go all soft and are just about drinkable, but cookies!? I guess it was all the shaking from the metal roads. It was as though they'd never been cooked!
I was chuffed to bring up the 400km inside 24 hours. As always, the last nine kilometres was the slowest and hardest!
Click image for a larger map