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I'm 17 years old and a few friends and I want to ride our bikes up to Byron Bay from Sydney this November. We're all experienced bike riders but the thing worrying me is when we're on the Pacific Hwy massive semi-trailers are going to be zooming past at over 100 kmph on our shoulder.
Has anyone had any close calls when riding up the east coast? Are there any other routes to take?
Hey Felix, welcome to the site
Personally the Pacific Hwy wouldn't be my first choice - I've been for a couple of rides to the north of Byron Bay and while there are wide sealed shoulders, there is a lot of debris in them and the traffic was very heavy. If someone isn't paying attention after however many hours of highway driving and drifts over onto the shoulder, you have nowhere to bail out to. A local cyclist was killed there earlier this year in exactly these circumstances; the driver of a rental truck dozed off and drifted onto the barrier
There do seem to be plenty of laneways and b-roads parallel to the highway though - I'd be using these wherever possible.
All valid points and yes if you can take another route it would be worth looking at. Personally I have ridden the Pacific Highway b/w Sydney & Brisbane and had no dramas. You do need to be alert to schrapnel on the road/shoulder and a mirror to keep an eye on whats coming up behind you is very handy.
Most of all you will need to be HIGHLY VISIBLE.
I have found that major highways etc are "the devil you know". Quiet back roads are preferable but they all have their share of "locals" hammering along at break neck speeds absolutely not expecting to see cyclists in many cases.
Plan well ahead and get a good road map. Also, it pays to be highly visible and whilst you may look dorky a hi-vis vest only costs about $5 and it is a worth-while piece of kit. A good rear-view mirror might also be useful in giving you at a glance a view of anything coming up behind you. Also make a habit of looking back over your right shoulder every so often whether or not you get a mirror fitted.
When riding in a group on the verge, it also helps if you practice quickly getting into single file off as far to the left as possible. When I ride with mates, I yell out "SINGLE FILE!" when we need to get left quickly.
I've never got lost in that situation. And if you do happen to go the wrong way and come across a big sign an hour down the road telling you that you've ridden 20km in the wrong direction you won't make the same mistake again!
I have a very tiny little compass, the sort that can slide on to a wrist band. Its only about 2cm across and its flat. It is attached near one of my brake levers. Its a handy little thing to have and you wouldn't even notice it. I think I bought it at Rays Outdoors for about $14.
If you are planning on doing your ride in the next few months I would strongly advise you to stay off the Pacific Hway between Taree and Port Macquarie. There is a stack of roadworks and absolutely no room for cyclists in many places. Also the highway around Buladelah is much the same.
From Port Macquarie to Coffs should be fine. Not sure about north from there.
I am sure you will be able to find plenty of side roads that will be much more pleasurable and interesting.
Get one of these and you'll not only have a compass, but a bell to ring and warn the semis of your presence as they approach
just drove from Newcastle to Port Macquarie today. They have opened up a nice new section of dual carriage way between Karuah and Buledelah. It looks like it would be ideal for cycling with a nice wide shoulder. There is still a section from Mooreland to about 10km north of Kew that should be avoided for now. Roadworks, barricades and no room for a cycle would make for a dangerous and horrifying ride.
I just travelled up the Pacific Highway from Newcastle to the Gold Coast. Was good to see that the section to Bulahdelah had been completed and opened, but yeah, there were quite a few sections even as far up as Bellina where there were roadworks and no or hardly any shoulder.
Nevermind that, if you have the time/opportunity to stay off the Pacific Highway, do it. There were a lot of vehicles on the road all the time and even when it wasn't dangerous (most of the way there's a good shoulder), the noise just spoils a big part of the ride. Constantly having cars and trucks zooming past does not make for a very peaceful ride.
How do you propose to return to Newcastle ?
I couldn't do what you did, i find busy highways noisy and unpleasant etc.
But i think you deserve a medal for doing it.
BTW i have just been looking at a copy of Lonely Planet's "Cycling australia"
It features the Melbourne to GoldCoast ride, substantially but not completely avoiding the highways.
"Technology gives us much more information but Education is never be able to give us the skill to evaluate it"
Well, I'm back in Newcastle already, but that was a valid question... There are flights (one on a Friday at 16:05) from the Gold Coast to Newcastle, but it cost me $299 on Jetstar. $299!!! There are flights from Brisbane advertised for $78, so this was a bit of a shocker for someone who cut his trip short due to costs.
And... While we are on the cheap holiday topic, I got a bike box for $15 at the airport, but had no way of taking my pedals off. So a taxi took me to Miami to a LBS. The driver stopped the meter at $50 (return) after my colleague sent the third or so address of a LBS "close to the airport".
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