Former pro cyclists Steven Cunningham of procyclingskills.com and ambassador for Coast to Coast gives us his 3 favourite rides. 

Welcome to the first of a handful of tips leading up to Boileau Coast to Coast. With the Tour Down Under fast approaching us, it’s that time of year where we welcome thousands of interstate riders to the cycling mecca that is the Adelaide Hills. Arguably THE best place to ride a pushbike in Australia due its is diversity, scenery and sleepy back-roads. 

If you want to get away from what is fast becoming the ‘ant trail’ of cycling leading up to the Tour Down Under, that being Norton Summit / Woods Hill Road / Mount Lofty / Freeway (or reverse) and by no means a shabby route! why not throw in one of these little gems.

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RIDE ONE  Norton Summit – Ashton – Basket Range – Deviation Road – Uraidla – Piccadilly Valley – Crafers – Old Freeway 

Most cyclists enjoy the classic ride of Norton Summit and down the Old Freeway, via Mount Lofty. But why not take this ride one step further by introducing Basket Range into the mix. The Tour Down Under is using the Adelaide / Lobethal Road to Basket Range as the King of the Mountain, so it has to have something about it! This extension will take about another 30 – 40 minutes from your usual ‘over the top’ ride, but the benefits are HUGE as you need to ride up and down a number of climbs on some incredibly beautiful landscape before finally arriving into Crafers and enjoying the effort with the greatest descent down the old freeway. Just be very cautious on the bike path toward the bottom and call out to wobbly riders on the up track!

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RIDE 2 – Montacute Road – Marble Hill – Ashton – Norton Summit – Magill

For those a little pressed for time,  why not try this route instead of your normal ‘up norton, down greenhill’ ride. I think Montacute Road is as close to an alpine climb as we have in Adelaide, it throws a few curve balls at you along the way, but it’s well worth the effort. Don’t use too much energy when riding the lower section of Montacute Road. Save yourself for the more challenging sections later on. For those with confident descending skills, going down New Norton Summit is a great chance to concentrate on riding with higher cadence so to try and keep your heart and lungs ticking!  Turn half a ‘hit out’ into a full one by also pedalling (when safe) on the gradual descents.

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RIDE 3 – Windy Point – Belair National Park – Upper Sturt – Lower Sturt Road – Stirling – Crafers –

I used to take this ride route a lot when riding home from the CBD. After climbing up Belair Road, head for Sheoak Road, but don’t climb it – now that’s a brute of a climb and should only be attempted with anger! Instead, enter the National Park on your right, by going through a small gate and over the railway line, then meander your way through the national park, around the lake and then up the guts of the park – feel the stress of day to day life fizzle away and enjoy catching a glimpse of an emu or roo. At the end of the park there’s a short and sharp climb that sees you pop out onto Upper Sturt Road where you will turn left. After 1km, turn right along Sturt Valley Road which along the valley floor has been resurfaced and widened and is one of the nicest roads going around! This then climbs up to behind Stirling where you can then decide to push on to Mount Lofty or head down the Old Freeway.

So there you have it – 3 great ride routes that are a little outside the norm, but I’m sure you will love. Of course you can ride yourself along the beach front, but hey – you can do that in any city!

Sign up to Steve’s tips here as part of the Coast to Coast Bike Ride taking place on Sunday 3 April.