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Exploring the trails of Country NSW on an e-Bike.
Text: Michael Kennedy | October 2017
A quick getaway to recharge the body and soul always seems like a good idea to me, so when the call came from the Specialized Bicycles crew inviting me to explore the amazing network of trails around Orange’s Mount Canobolas aboard the new Turbo Levo e-mountain bike it took me all of about half a second to scream an over-zealous “Yes!” down the phone.
The trip to Orange isn’t a particularly long one, but it’s certainly enough to get the full drive experience. The network of suburban Sydney streets feed you onto the motorway, slingshots you over the Great Dividing Range with its stunning views via a twisting ribbon of asphalt and deposits you into the sleepy central tablelands with its tree-lined country highways, and finally onto the raw fire roads of our destination. The weapon of choice for this trip is the new Tiguan Adventure. A roomy and powerful mid-sized SUV, packed with technology, it’s the perfect vehicle for the trip.
The Tiguan Adventure comes equipped with two roof rack-mounted bike racks that look suspiciously like the latest and greatest from Thule, the gold standard for bike transportation. Lockable and solid, I won’t trust just any old rack with my carbon fibre pride and joy, the Volkswagen’s bike racks inspire confidence. Time to hit the road!
» After a while, my new mate Tig “Juan” suggests we take a coffee break. Good idea, Juan. «
Escaping the grind of Sydney, we let the Tiguan do the heavy lifting. Adaptive cruise control, Lane Assist, Collision Avoidance and driver alerts all came in handy. After a while, my new mate Tig “Juan” suggests we take a coffee break. Good idea, Juan. We catch up with the Specialized crew (and their matching branded Amaroks), get some good, strong coffee, and head off on our adventure.
As we cross the Great Dividing Range with its endless views, we envisage potential future rides through unexplored bushland, as our excitement grows. The kilometres tick by effortlessly as we cruise through Lithgow, grab a quick bite to eat in Bathurst and push on to Orange. With the music pumping and the excitement at fever pitch we roll though Orange and on to our first riding destination at the foot of Mount Canobolas. Located just 20km from Orange, Mount Canobolas is deceptively huge with an elevation of 1395 metres above sea level and about 50km of trail (and growing!). The terrain certainly has something for all riders.
Steep natural trails cut through ridges of granite up high and feed into flowing single track through the pine forest as you approach the bottom half of the mountain, it really is a mountain biker’s paradise. The variety of terrain here is incredible and the Specialized Turbo Levo is part of a new breed of mountain bikes, or e-bikes, that are the perfect way to explore the rugged beauty of the area. With a battery built-in to the downtube to power a small motor in the bottom bracket area of the bike, this is a proper mountain bike that gives you a little helping hand on the hills. This is what Specialized calls pedal assist - as you pedal, the bike seamlessly engages its motor to give you just the right amount of power to get you up the steepest of hills. No pedal, no power. It’s so simple and beautifully engineered that the only thing left to do is to ride.
»It really is a mountain biker’s paradise.«
Armed with our new two-wheeled toys, we set off up the mountain and shred the endless trails for the afternoon until low light and low batteries lead us back to the cars for an icy cold brew and the usual post ride debrief: complete with heroic tales of man and machine versus nature, and much laughter.
We pack up the bikes and head into town expecting things to be pretty quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth. Orange is alive and bustling with options for a late dinner. We settle on the Hotel Canobolas, and the variety of food available is top quality. While the pub even has a separate Thai restaurant, the lure of a great piece of steak cooked on the grill with a beer in hand is too tempting to refuse and didn’t disappoint.
Re-fuelled and weary from a big day, the crew happily retire to our rented cottage to share footage, photos and chocolate.
Sleep in a quiet country town always seems so peaceful and deep. Maybe it’s the fresh air, but we all wake up early and pumped to do it all again. A big day on the bike needs a good breakfast, and Factory Espresso has the goods. With several varieties of single origin beans and house roasts on offer, it looks like we’ve struck edible gold again. It is abundantly apparent that Orange is a serious, certified foodie destination. Why is this my first trip?
»Mount Canobolas it seems was just a warm up for todays ride. The raw beauty of the Mullions is something else.«
Fueled up with a proper breakfast, we jump in the Tiguan and head north to the Mullion Ranges for today’s ride. Mount Canobolas it seems was just a warm up for todays ride. The raw beauty of the Mullions is something else. From the moment we turned off the bitumen and onto the dirt it’s obvious we’re in for something special.
A few kilometres up a dirt road we arrive at the trailhead. Our local guide, Rod from DG Cycles, is ready to lead us on an amazing day trip around his backyard; taking in raw, steep, natural trails through the most incredible bush. Once again, the Turbo Levo gives us the legs to explore more trail than a normal human would think possible and we finish the day sweaty, happy and vowing to return for more soon.
We point the Tiguan for home with the warm glow of sunset behind us, and think about how lucky we are to have experienced these past few days; then I remember the driver’s seat has a massage function; and life seems too good to be true.
Michael Kennedy is a photographer based on Sydney's Northern Beaches, but like all Australians he loves to travel. Michael’s wanderlust has taken him all over the world. Recognized for his work as a finalist in the Hasselblad Masters multiple times, he has also exhibited works in the Olive Cotton Portrait Prize and the National Portrait Prize.