Saturday, 6 September 2014


Murray to the Mountains tour
 I am going back a little in recent history to bring you what I consider to be 4 excellent organised cycling tours, two in Australia and two in New Zealand. Why?.....because I fully believe that if you are a recreational cyclist thinking about a week long bicycle tour, then these four tours are well worth considering. Each tour has been expertly organised and were a heap of fun.
If I may recap on some previous posts....each year, a group of recreational cyclists calling themselves U3A Peddling For Pleasure, of which I am a member, embark on an organised cycling adventure for approximately 5- 6 days. So far these tours have been in Victoria, Australia and on both islands of New Zealand. The original tour prior to my joining the group was on the Otago Rail Trail, on the South Island of New Zealand but unfortunately I cannot give an opinion on this particular tour. Having said that, I understand that it was also very enjoyable as I didn't hear one negative report from the people taking part.

Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail

Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail
My first tour in 2011 was the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail, in the high country of Victoria. This ride started in Milawa staying one night in Myrtleford, and onto Bright. On the return journey we cycled back to Myrtleford where we spent another night and then climbed the mountain rail trail to Beechworth. The next morning in drizzling rain we set off down the mountain to Wangaratta, a very exhilerating downhill, in stark contrast to riding up to Beechworth the day before.

This was a 5 day tour taking in scenic locations of Milawa - 1 night, Myrtleford - 2 nights, Bright - 1 night and Beechworth - 1 night. Included in the deal was transport from Tullermarine Airport to Milawa, all accommodation, transport of suitcases from location to location, first night's 2 course meal and backup service in the event of sickness or mechanical failure.

As this was the my first cycling tour it set the goal posts high and I have to say I haven't been disappointed with any of the tours I have ridden since. Each one has been vastly different and enjoyable in many different ways and I guess that is a good enough reason for becoming addicted to bicycle touring.

As I am unaware whether the original company is still operating,  I have included the following link for bicycle tour operators in the area
East Gippsland Rail Trail
2012 saw us back in a different part of Victoria riding the East Gippsland Rail Trail  from Orbost to Bairnsdale.

Once again, we were collected at the airport and transported to Orbost where the tour began. This was another great trip with the operator adding that personal touch. The accommodation was good quality and varied, the service superb and the variety of locations on this ride made each day totally different.
One day you will be riding through a forest of tall timber, another riding the banks of the Snowy River and still another where you are enjoying the Lakes district.
Most of the riding was on trails and non sealed roads but the Trek mountain bikes made each day seem effortless. Each night after a day in the saddle, we relaxed and enjoyed each others company over a fine meal and wine following a couple of ales just to wash the dust down.

For further information on the East Gippsland Rail Trail please click on the following link

Takaro Trails back-up service
The next tour in 2013 was international, well! across the ditch anyway. A three hour flight across the Tasman to Auckland in New Zealand with a connecting flight to Napier, our destination for the start of the Hawkes Bay ride.

Hawkes Bay collage
To highlight the service we received on this trip, I'll relate this little tale......When we arrived in Auckland we found that the service to Napier had been cancelled, if this was not enough, we then had to confront the the fact that my wife's suitcase had gone missing. We were then split into two groups, with half travelling on a later flight to Napier and the other half travelling to Palmerston North and then busing it to Napier.  A very pleasant flight on a Bombardier aircraft which flew at a relatively low altitude, low enough to have an exquisite view of the craggy, volcanic topography and then a bus ride to Napier which turned out to be equally pleasant and gave us the chance to view another part of the country. In the meantime our tour operator was on the ball organising the motel where we were staying, to have their kitchen and more importantly their bar remain open to accommodate our needs on arrival. Red wine has never tasted so nice!!!  To top this off Jenny our tour operator had managed to locate the suitcase and had it delivered by taxi to us whilst we were still dining. All was forgiven.
Hawkes Bay Collage
The next 5 days were spent cycling around the diverse scenic routes of Hawkes Bay. Although there were some moans and groans emanating from our group climbing some of their hills, it soon gave way to broad smiles and pleasant exclamations on reaching the top and taking in the most diverse panorama of views imaginable and of course the exhilaration of free wheeling down the other side. All of the providers of our accommodation went that extra yard to ensure our comfort and we enjoyed some first rate meals as well. If this takes your fancy find out more by clicking onto this link
In March this year, we were back in New Zealand, but this time on the South Island participating in the Alps to the Ocean tour. This tour was a little different from the others in that it was totaly organised and guided. We were so pampered by our two wonderful guides that it took on a surreal presence as though we were in a dream teleported  from one location to another without having to engage our brains at all. It is amazing that three islands in the pacific, Australia and the north and south islands of New Zealand, within a stone's throw of each other, could be so brilliantly diverse and different . Different topogaphy, different cultures, different lifestyles.
The Alps to Ocean Cycle Tour
The standout of this tour was the attention to detail such as having a basket of fresh fruit  and snacks placed on board the buses each morning and the preparation of the picnics.
The Alps to the Ocean Cycle tour
Everything that we read in the brochure was actually true, I truely believe that New Zealand is the most relaxing location on this planet. Providing you have the right attitude, you can expect the very best and actually get it in a very laidback way. Everything appears to work and when it doesn't somebody says "Don't worry, we will fix it" and it happens.
For details on the Alps to Ocean ride and others that they offer. please open the following link
If you would like to get more of an insight into one or more of these tours, you may wish to backtrack through my past blog posts as I wrote extensively on the following tours:-
  • East Gippsland Rail Trail
  • 5 day Diverse Hawkes Bay Trail
  • Alps to Ocean Cycle

Unfortunately, I wasn't writing when I rode the Murray to the Mountains Trail and if I were to attempt to write a post on it now, the information may not be accurate.

The 2015 tour has been decided and we are staying in Oz. next year to partake in the Coastal Escape Cycling Tour organised by Australian Cycling Holidays with the ride starting at Waterfall just south of Sydney and ending in Berri in the NSW South Coast hinterland and as I have driven this part of the coast previously, I am sure we are going to have an enjoyable trip providing the weather God smiles upon us. For more information please click on the following link

I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.

Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee


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