Love wine but also like to earn those delicious drops of Cabernet? Don’t want to get stuck inside a car all day when the sun is out, and you are surrounded by rolling vineyards and native bushland? Not to mention the thought of being trapped on the timeframe of a bus tour gives you the shivers.
Well, it’s time to ditch the gasoline and power up via some pedal action instead. Cycle tourism is a growing in popularity around the globe and it’s here to stay. Not just for mountain bike enthusiasts and those training for triathlons, there are plenty of benefits to getting around on two wheels on holiday. Can’t ride? Well, now is the perfect time to pick up a new skill!
Do It Yourself
For the ultimate free-wheeling trip, start at Golden Jersey in Cowaramup, just ten minutes north of Margaret River. A bike shop and a café, fuel up with a coffee and start the day with a chat to the knowledgeable staff who will guide you towards the best option for your skill level and cycling plans. Choose from hard tail or full suspension mountain bikes, or for a completely leisurely option you can have an added boost with an e-bike (electrically assisted). Perfect for beginners, e-bikes will also help make easy work of those hills and any patches of gravel you might encounter on your chosen route.
Cowaramup is perfectly situated to hit the road. Just a few kilometres away lies the Tom Cullity Drive wine trail; complete with 8 wineries and local producers such as Margaret River Nougat, the Margaret River Chocolate Factory and Providore Gourmet Foods. Start from the top of the trail at Harmans Mill Road and work your way through a number of boutique, family run wineries including Ashbrook Wines, Heydon Estate, Thompson Estate and Peacetree Estate. Each of these cellar door experiences are intimate and will give you a chance to chat with the families that are behind the wine you are tasting. Finish the wine side of things with a different tasting experience at Vasse Felix, the regions founding winery. With an award-winning restaurant on site, it’s the perfect stop for a bite to eat too. The full loop is about 20km of cruising, but with pick up and drop off options from the Golden Jersey you shorten things to 12 or 4.5km.
For those that like to head a bit further afield, you can jump on the Wadandi track, or ‘rails to trails’ as it is also known. The route follows where the old railway used to run so it’s beautifully flat and very easy to navigate. Travel all the way to Margs and back (15km each way), or keep on going down to Witchcliffe – the crew can pick you up if the total journey is a bit much for weary legs. There are plenty of wineries an easy distance from the centre of Margaret River on bike. Follow the cycle path along Wallcliffe Road out to Cape Mentelle, or take Boodjidup Road along to Xanadu, Voyager Estate and Leeuwin Estate. The Darch Trail runs from the river along the back of the town and with a short detour you can pop by Stella Bella cellar door before finishing up at Watershed Winery.
Let Yourself Be Led (To Wine)
Map reading skills not your forte and prefer some personal guidance? Sounds like a bike tour is more up your alley. Due South will get you ready for a ride, picking you up from your accommodation anywhere in the region from Busselton southbound. They have a range of different tour suggestions, covering the beaches and stingrays of Hamelin Bay through to the epic forest canopy of Boranup, and of course a fair number of wine-centric stops along the way.
For those short on time, take up a half day e-bike tour which will keep the pace moving along pleasantly, without the huffing and puffing. Starting at 10am or 2pm, after a scenic ride through the pristine natural beauty of the region, you will have the chance to sample fine wines and local beers afterwards. Nothing tastes as good as a post ride tipple.
Get Off The Beaten Track (And Into The Cellar Door)
Those that like to get off the beaten track will appreciate the Sip and Cycle Tours run by local mountain bike tour company Dirty Detours. With access to private gated properties, the routes you take on a tour are not accessible to everyday riders. Slow down and savour the sights and sounds of bushland and vineyards as you roll through undulating paths between cellar doors. A leisurely ride, the 18km path can be taken via regular mountain bike, or an e-bike for those that might like to lighten the load a little.
Upon reaching your final destination, keep with the relaxed pace of the day and enjoy a private tasting accompanied by a lunch of gourmet platters filled with meats and cheeses. After all, refuelling is an essential part of any biking journey. But what about the wine you bought? It IS a day of tasting after all, and that of course means taking some home to keep the holiday feels alive until the next visit. Never fear, one of the best bits of this guided tour is that all of your purchases are scooped up by staff and delivered into your hands as soon as they are handle-free.
Do It Different
Finally, for something really different, try a cycle by night. It’s a different world once the sun goes down and the nocturnal wildlife comes out to play. Margaret River Mountain Bike Tours have a range of different tours on offer including bespoke days out, wine tours, caving and hiking alongside biking; but you won’t find anyone else offering a tour dans le noir (that’s for the Francophiles out there). Ride under the majestic canopy of Boranup Forest at dusk and reach the ocean spray just in time for a famous west coast sunset. Then it’s time to turn the helmet lights on and see the world from another perspective. With senses heighted, it’s next-level tranquillity riding under the stars amongst the giant karri trees. Michael, or better known by the local biking community as ‘Brooksey’, is a national credited mountain bike coach and is passionate about sharing his love of biking. Anyone can learn, and with the help of e-bikes it is possible to take families and ‘non-riders’ out to feel the joy of life in the saddle.
Whether you choose to hit the tarmac or trails, there is no doubt about it: a tour by pedal power has more perks than the gears on your bike. From the environmental benefits, health pluses, the post-exercise high, the sense of accomplishment from with trying a new sport…the list goes on. Above all though, cycling is all about slowing down and living in the moment. Exactly what a holiday should be made of.