So here it is, a quite long and hopefully thorough post, covering most aspects of what is shaping up to be a wonderful Ninth Annual Newcastle Overnight ride. The wording and structure in this post was copied from the excellent Southwark Cyclists
website and were authored by Barry Mason. We have since updated them heavily to suit the antipodean setting.
What is Newcastle Overnight?
Simple. A turn-up-and-go challenging free-entry overnight 160km bicycle ride on-tarmac from Sydney Observatory Hill to Newcastle on the northern coast of NSW.
More? It’s not a race nor a charity ride. There are no follow up vehicles or support enroute. The distance is challenging. You must register via the Audax Australia Link.
You will feel amazing afterwards. You will be impressed by your own efforts and those of people you meet along the way.
Very minimalist. We are cyclists not event organisers. We will help you get there but you are going to have to do most of the hard work yourself.
There is a small organising crew that provides route sheets and some minimal catering.
How many people ride it?
We honestly have no idea. The first year saw just under 80 riders set out from Observatory Hill.In recent years that has grown to several hundred. From little things big things grow.
Who does it?
A lot of ordinary folk on perfectly ordinary bicycles. Last year saw the full spread, road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, tourers and fixed gear or two.
How long does it take?
Starting at 9pm, we expect most cyclist will arrive in Newcastle between 5 and 8am…so about 8 or 11 hours, depending on your pace and number of stops.
What’s it like?
It is like a exciting adventure with some new friends. Most of the roads are quiet, the hills are done in the first half and then its mostly flat and quiet. There is an almost full moon. The Fernleigh track is car free and an amazing experience in the wee hours of the morning. Seeing the sun rise over Newcastle Baths you will feel fully enamored with the world. You will likely feel buzzy for days afterwards, and the only downside is that you may also be a bit sleepy come monday morning.
Newcastle Overnight leaves from Observatory Hill, near the south end of the Harbour Bridge at 9pm. Riders will gather from about 8:30. There is often pre Dinner and Drinks at York Lane Bar.
Be careful out there…
Be aware that the first few kilometers follow very congested busy streets. Cycling can be dangerous but is made safer by cycling predictably, carefully and in a group. Look out for each other most people rode in a few large clumps until the roads quietened and then found their own pace.
How do I follow the route?
You’ll be offered a route sheet at the start, but the route is unsigned. The route is pretty straightforward but you will need to navigate yourself. We recommend carrying a charged GPS capable device like a Garmin or Iphone, but this is by no means necessary.
And follow the flashing red-lights ahead. That memory will linger.
A few short sharp hills and more steady climbs, nothing very serious. Tarmac throughout.
Are there prizes ?
We encourage camaraderie and a sense of adventure and the few prizes on offer are geared towards this. Nobody ever remembers the speedy whippets who disappear up Mt White but they sure will remember who helped them with a puncture at 3am.
Prizes this year are:
The award for Courage – to the rider on the most inappropriate bike-
The award for Perseverance – to the rider who is last to arrive in Newcastle Baths-
The award for Camaraderie – to the rider who most graciously aids another in their hour of need-
The Shoot for the Stars award – for the three riders for whom the distance of this ride (175km) represents the largest increase in distance for a single ride. (i.e previous longest ride was the shortest) –
Please send nominations for awards to Newcastleovernight@gmail.com
What do I need?
Lights. The Full moon will be up there, we hope the clouds don’t get in the way. There are significant unlit stretches. Flashing lights will help you be seen but wont help you see the road. If you don’t have a serious front light consider riding with a friend who does. Bring a pump, a spare inner tube or two (and associated tools), and spare batteries if you might need them.
Around 60 km in at Mt White, we will have a road side tea stop. Staffed by one of our lovely volunteers, tea, coffee and snacks will all be offered.
We may have a second tea stop around Budgewoi
Note this carefully please: This is a turn up and go ride. Even if we advertise a food spot there is every chance they could run out of food before you get there. Two bottles of water is a good idea, and at least a few things to eat. You should be taking on some food and definitely water at least every hour throughout the night.
Please make sure that you bring something to eat and drink with you.
The few all-night garages can be handy. Moths to a flame.
What happens if my bike or I break down?
There’s no following magic bus to sweep you up or mend your bike but fellow riders often work wonders. The ride is unsupported. You are on your own. If you’re in trouble, expect help from others but if you just get too tired or a knee gives out or whatever, then you’ll have to find a lift or cab to get you to the nearest station.
Cowan and Gosford are probably the best bets if you are having a bad time of it.
It is a condition of riding that you register through Audax Australia. As part of this you acknowledge that cycling involves certain risks and that you will not hold the organizers responsible for any injury or loss that may occur.
What happens at the finish?
Newcastle Baths. The beautiful pool or nearby beach make for a great cleansing wake-up swim. The hot showers are amazing.
The Newcastle Baths Cafe opens at 5am,
Once fed, most then snooze a little. Some then have a beer or two. The train station to get back to Sydney is just nearby.
How to get home?
The Newcastle to Sydney Train is pretty excellent. They run at approximately 20 past the hour.
Take your time on the beach or head straight home as you wish.
Be nice. Be considerate – of each other and the locals.
And do not under any circumstances leave litter.
Our Survival tips:
- Do some longish rides beforehand …
- Don’t overdo the alcohol, etc. for a few days beforehand
- Pack spare layers of clothes, it can be very warm or chilly or damp or wet
- Money. Always handy
- Phone: yes
- Most jeans have lumpy under-seams that you don’t notice for a few miles. Then you notice.
- Tools: at least a pump, a small multitool and a couple of spare inner tubes. Tyre levers too. Practice using them.
- Make sure your bike is in good nick. Give it a good clean, lube and service a few days before. On the day, give it another look, give it an M Check and, for example, flip it over and check the tyres for those infiltrating little sharp bits. If you’ve been thinking about getting new tyres, splash out before the ride
- Lights: you’ll need them. LEDs can last all night, but bring spare batteries anyway, tuck in behind someone with a beam for those tree-tunnel lane stretches
- Saddle? Apply Vaseline, chamois cream or similar if/before your bits get sore.
- Carbo-loading works for most: a large pasta meal the night before. Some swear by cutting out caffeine for a few days beforehand so that the 3am halfway coffee really j o l t s
- Drink water before you get thirsty, snack and nibble before you get hungry. That way you’ll avoid hitting the spirit-draining brick wall (or bonk) of no energy
- Don’t sprint off with the skinny greyhounds unless you are one. Settle into a group doing a pace you like. If it turns out slow, dance in the pedals and catch a quicker group. Bit too fast? Drop off the group and wait to be caught up
- Swim at the end (a change of pants is a good idea)
- Keep looking at our website
- Love it