Biking Through the Vines

Making Tracks through Margaret River's famed vineyards

Looking to do something a bit left of centre? Park the car and jump on a bike to experience a trail with a difference.

Combining cycling and wine might seem a strange idea – but it is a perfect way to experience the best of the Margaret River region. Paul Iles, owner/manager of The Hairy Marron (the go-to place for bike hire in Margaret River), says the development of a wine trial came about because of the realisation it was something tourists desired.

“We started sending people around to the wineries because tourists were asking for the option,” he says. “It is something available in other parts of the world and other parts of Australia and I think a bike winery tour is one of those things that tourists expect when they come to Margaret River.
“They know everything is here; it’s in close proximity to the town and they know that cycling around the wineries is going to be a great adventure to take part in. So we had to meet that demand and put something together.”

The result is certainly a treat, with the chance to really experience the back-roads of these incredible wineries, and notice the life cycle of the vine, as the seasons change.

Cape Mentelle is the first stop on the trail, followed by Xanadu. From there they make their way to Voyager,” Paul says. “After finishing at Voyager the cyclists can decide how they are going pedal-wise and how much time they have left. If they still have good pedal legs left in them we send them down the hill to Leeuwin. From Leeuwin they make their way on to the Wadandi track and on to a winery.”

If the thought of cycling to five wineries makes your legs hurt, not to fear – the trail can be customised to suit your requirements. “When people come in to hire a bike we do a quick Q&A with them to ascertain who is in the group, their level of experience on the bikes, how often they ride and what riding destination they are looking for,” Paul explains. “Many people say they want to ride to all the wineries and then we find out the last time they were on a bike was four or five years ago, or they haven’t got much experience. So we tailor the tour to suit the group. We want to give people the best riding experience we can, without over-extending them. We can also tailor the tour to two or three wineries if the tourists are time-limited. It is all part of the service.”

It’s good to hear from Paul that they haven’t had any issues with customers not being able to finish a tour because of intoxication. “The cellar-door staff at the wineries are very good at what they do with the responsible service of alcohol,” he says “And when you are on a bike, you naturally regulate your drinking if you know that you’ve got a decent ride in front of you.”

Paul says there is no typical customer for the tour – with something to suit everyone. “Sometimes it is a group of tourists from Singapore or some girlfriends down from Perth. It could be a family group or a few couples on a weekend getaway. Even people who don’t drink are keen to visit the wineries to see how they operate and get a feel for the famous Margaret River region.”

“It is relatively flat and we have a lovely mix of bush and paddocks and vineyards,” Paul adds. “The tourists get to ride past cows and karri forests; if you came to Margaret River and only had 24 hours, even doing the wine tour for half a day would give you a really good taste of what Margaret River has to offer.”

“Everyone has been very impressed with the quality of the wineries and the customer service they receive – they are very well treated at all the cellar doors,” Paul adds. “The good thing is it is a suitable activity for all price points with some wineries offering light meals and others full a la carte while some riders will take a picnic lunch with them on the bike.”

Paul says cycling tourism is the way forward, not only for wineries but for other like-minded businesses. “It is something we are going to see a lot more of as more people come for adventure tourism and want to interact with the environment,” he says. “Cycling tours are definitely going to be a staple of the future of Margaret River.”

“We think the cycling trails are a fantastic option for those wanting to get in a bit of exercise and fresh air and complement that with fine wine,” says Cape Mentelle estate director Cameron Murphy. “I think people are now looking for an experience when they visit a winery – it is not necessarily just about the tasting,” he adds. “They want to hear more about the history of the wines and the story about the wines more than just lining up at a tasting bar.”

Listen to Paul Iles talk about biking through the vines in episode three of our brand new podcast Wine Unearthed!

Images Elements Margaret River and Russell Ord Photography

Brooke Evans Butler

Author Brooke Evans Butler

Brooke Evans-Butler is passionate about telling stories. As a freelance journalist, two days are never the same as she gets to write across various topics including travel, health, lifestyle, home improvement and parenting. When she’s not working on a story, she’ll be enjoying time with her favourite people and constant sources of inspiration – her two sons.

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