Wet Wet Wonderful Wet


So it’s been a day or two but we have finally dried out enough to sit down and reflect on what was a very damp but rewarding Second Annual Newcastle Overnight Ride.

The pre-ride dinner proved a smashing success, and our only concern was that having gathered in warm dry confines, the ride itself might prove grim. Yet riders assembled with remarkable cheer at Observatory Hill, many remarking that they hadn’t really expected anyone else to ride but were glad of the company. We handed out just over a hundred maps at the start, making a reasonable growth from last year but a remarkable turnout considering the weather.


As for the ride itself the overwhelming experience was of heavy rain, interspersed with variations of light, steady and torrential rain. Some riders noted that after a while the only thing that got their attention were the very occasional periods where it stopped raining entirely, moments that were few and far between. On a positive note the rain did keep traffic to a minimum, with many stretched being entirely car free for up to an hour at a time.

Approximately 60-70 riders finished the ride, with the first arriving at approximately 3am and the last at 10:30am. Many riders abandoned before Gosford, the rain rather than the distance proving their undoing. Some under dressed riders were even spotted in Asquith raiding the Coles Supermarket fashion section before jumping on a city bound train. Riding at all in those conditions is commendable, but those who finished showed particular perseverance.

As organisers our massive thanks goes to all those who rode on the night but most particularly to our wonderful tea stop volunteers. This year our Sydney stalwarts were joined by a Newcastle brigade who set up a much appreciated second stop at Budgewoi.   In horrendous conditions of rain and wind they managed to erect tiny islands of warmth and cheer. Thank you again for your wonderful work.

Numerous stories were floating around of bravery and good cheer amongst riders. We thought three of these were worthy of particular prizes.

The award for Courage – to the rider on the most inappropriate bike-

This award goes clearly to Gareth (spelling?), nominated by Lyn at the Tea stop, as she puts it he ” turned up on a whim after hearing about it one week out. No pre-ride training, no fancy bike gear, no rain, no warm gear, no super-dooper energy food. Just a man, his shorts & t-shirt, some big ol’ knobbly tyres , an open-faced helmet, a pair of headphones fashioned on Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler video. After riding through terential rain & cold he trundled into the Budgewoi stop just before pack-up, looking surprisingly cheery & upbeat, in seemingly good shape…no shivering! His comment: “I feel OK actually. I’m from the UK so I’m used to this, but I’d love a cup of tea.Then when we stopped by on the drive home: “I’m not getting a lift now!”

If you can put us in touch with Gareth he has won a one year subscription to Treadlie Bike Magazine, courtesy of Treadlie.


The award for Perseverance – to the rider who is last to arrive in Newcastle Baths-

Gareth almost won this award too but was pipped at the post by Madeleine who arrived by herself shortly after even the organisers had jumped on the train home (much to our shame). Rocking an enormous fluro yellow jacket, some fetching mudguards and some very upright handlebars, Madeleine did an amazing job to keep riding in tough conditions for 13.5 hours to make it to the finish.

Madeleine wins a $80 voucher for parts and accessories from Cheeky Transport, Newtown.


The award for Camaraderie – to the rider who most graciously aids another in their hour of need-

We had a number of nominations for this award and it was actually really tough. Honorable mentions go to Andrew and Baz (Basil?)who both gave their own lights to help other riders who were lacking illumination.

But with only one prize on offer, we decided to give it to Jason, the stoker on the back of the hired tandem. Jason decided to ride this year on a tandem with his brother having ridden last year by himself. Not finding any tandems available to borrow, they hired one which proved in numerous ways to be rather ill suited to the task. Both riders showed remarkable courage to ride the ill fitting and distinctly weighty machine, further underlined by the fact that they had to hand change the front gears for each incline and constantly readjust their sliding seat posts. Being a stoker is no easy task, it requires utmost faith and commitment to the captain in charge of steering and braking the bike. When Jason’s brother crashed the tandem on perhaps the only straight, dry and illuminated section of the ride (the Fernleigh Tunnel),  Jason kept riding with his injuries to finish the ride. While in the photo he may not look particularly happy, he bore the experience and his injuries with cheer. For this feat of graciousness he deserves an award of acomplete Shutter Precision/Alex Rim 700c Dynamo Wheel from Omafiets Dutch Bicycles, Marrickville.

Jason and brother


To wrap things up, thank-you again everyone for an amazing ride. If you have photos, blogs, stories or questions please email us at newcastleovernight@gmail.com.

We will almost certainly be back again next year, for what we can only hope will be an even more exciting and wonderful ride.


The important things

So here it is, an almost final reminder of the critical aspects of this Saturdays Second Annual Newcastle Overnight Ride. We have one or two revised points at the top and then a repost of “the long post” which is more thorough. Everyone could benefit from reading it again.

Where to meet?

You should aim to be at Observatory Hill (south side of the Harbour Bridge) at 8:30 to be ready for the 9pm departure. There will be maps to collect, waivers to sign, old friends or perhaps new ones to meet. If you arrive at 9 pm or just after you may risk seeing a line of bobbing red tail lights disappearing into the distance.

The optional dinner is confirmed (for those that are keen) from 7:30-8:30 at Annex Espresso Bar, 56 Clarence St. We have had about 40 bookings so if you are coming please let us know. Make sure you arrive with enough time to eat and get up to Observatory Hill.


There is no charge or fee for riding Newcastle Overnight. In fact we ask little other than that you sign a waiver on the night.

This year we will however be charging a nominal amount at our tea stops to cover expenses.  If you want to keep riding and chase that $1 bargain coffee at 7/11 then that’s okay. Last year we just paid for things out of our pockets. We never really cover our expenses for organising, printing, materials etc but this year we hope to cover costs of feeding people. $2 for a cup of tea and a cake in the middle of nowhere at 3am sounds like a pretty good deal.

What about the weather?

The ride will be going ahead regardless of weather. On a ride this long there will always be times when the weather is not what you might wish. That’s part of the challenge and excitement. Pack smart, bring multiple layers including an outer waterproof and something warm for next to your skin. The hot showers at Newcastle Baths are pretty amazing.

Questions? ask us at: Newcastleovernight@gmail.com


The Long Post

So here it is, a quite long and hopefully thorough post, covering most aspects of what is shaping up to be a wonderful Second 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 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. 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 on Saturday the November 16th. Riders will gather from about 8:30.

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.

Topography/Contours/Nasty bits?

A few short sharp hills and more steady climbs, nothing very serious. Tarmac throughout.

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.

Any stops?

Around 60 km in at Mt White and at 120 km in at Slade Park, Budgewoi we will have a road side tea stop. Staffed by some of our lovely volunteers, tea, coffee and snacks will all be offered. Bring coins or small bills to express your gratitude.

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.

Small print:

On the night you will be asked to sign a risk waiver in return for receiving a route sheet and participating in the ride. This waiver is the means by which 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.

If you’re relaxing in Newcastle after the ride join in with the locals and be part of the National Day of Climate Action
11:00am Sunday 17 November at Nobbys (just north of Ocean Baths). If raining – Railway Sheds in Foreshore Park (SW of Nobbys). Full details here

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




Fuel for the fire

Somebody once said that the secret to being a long distance cyclist is just to think of it as a extended eating and drinking competition. The Newcastle Overnight organisers couldn’t agree more and that’s why we put lots of our energy into making food and tea stops happen en-route.

As well as organising for the Newcastle Baths Cafe to open early, we have pulled together tea stops for Mt-White (aprox 50km in) and at Slade Park (Budgewoi, aprox 120km in), which will offer hot tea, coffee and snacks on a donation basis. These will be marked on the map provided on the night. Riders should certainly plan to carry their own food and water for the ride, there are large gaps between tea stops and  with a ‘turn up and go’ ride we cannot predict numbers well enough to guarantee  supplies for everyone.

One thing we do need to gauge is interest in food before the start. An alternate function at York Lane bar means we will not be meeting out the back for coffee but instead are proposing a mass pasta meal in their front cafe, Annex Foyer Cafe, 56 Clarence St. Picture big long trestle tables, your bike propped against the wall inside, elbow to elbow with other riders. The deal is $10 a head for a vegetarian pasta meal. It’s a great chance to meet other riders and to fuel up for the ride ahead.

Before committing to the dinner we need to get a minimum level of interest, are there 2o riders who are keen for a pre meal? If so please email us before Wednesday at Newcastleovernight@gmail.com

Risks and rewards


So ten days to go and just a quick post where we attempt to sweeten an otherwise slightly cumbersome procedure.

Newcastle Overnight aspires to be the simplest and most painless of events to participate in, there is no registration, no fee, no booking. We ask nothing of you except that you turn up and ride. Well, except for one thing.

We do require that you read and sign the 2013 Newcastle Overnight Waiver.

You can print it and sign it at home, or sign one on the night. We will have a small table set up from 8pm at Observatory Hill.

Signed risk waivers will be exchanged for a printed map on the night. You do not have to take a map, but you do have to sign a waiver.


Now about that reward.

Nobody could really say that they rode all the way through the night from Sydney to Newcastle for some prize or trinket, for a start the prizes aren’t really that great and there are a lot more of you than there are prizes. But there are a few things that we have to give away and more importantly some virtues we would like to reward. Thus we would like to announce:

The award for Courage – to the rider on the most inappropriate bike- wins a one year subscription to Treadlie Bike Magazine, courtesy of Treadlie.

The award for Perseverance – to the rider who is last to arrive in Newcastle Baths- wins a $80 voucher for parts and accessories from Cheeky Transport, Newtown.

The award for Camaraderie – to the rider who most graciously aids another in their hour of need- wins a complete Shutter Precision/Alex Rim 700c Dynamo Wheel from Omafiets Dutch Bicycles, Marrickville.

All prizes are at the organisers complete discretion although nominations will be taken on the night.