Set amidst the Southern Highlands with million-dollar views of the Shoalhaven coastline, we spent three days riding, eating great food with even greater company, escaping the daily grind. Welcome to Soigneur x Cyclist.
Words: Alex Malone
Photography: Damian Breach
For anyone not up to speed, we recently partnered with the guys at Soigneur for a three-day cycling trip in the Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven regions of New South Wales. Having been blown away by the Soigneur experience – as a guest – in Queensland and Victoria, we felt we had to join forces to host a trip closer to our home. A reccy last year and months of planning later led us to Cyclist presents Soigneur HC – Southern Highlands.
Held from Thursday evening through till Sunday afternoon (5-8 May), each guest was treated to the full Soigneur experience, with a little help from the team at Cyclist to develop a three-day riding plan that would (we hoped) expose the area in all its glory (and suffering).
So, without further delay here’s a little breakdown of Day 1 and Day 2’s routes.
Day 1: Berry Longo
Starting atop Woodhill Hill mountain this route ‘descends’ into Kangaroo Valley over the course of some 18km. However, what the profile fails to show is the significant amount of climbing while making your way off the mountain – just the thing to warm the legs ahead of the climb up to Fitzroy Falls.
Barrengarry Mountain (Fitzroy Falls) is one of the most popular climbs of the area and for good reason as it’s offers sweeping views of the valley below while steadily ascending for approximately 8km. Moss Vale road is a major artery linking the coast to the Highlands. With loads of space along the road’s entirety, there’s always room to breathe, something you’ll be doing plenty of along the road that touches double-digit gradients at times.
For those a little more adventurous, try taking Mount Broughton through to Exeter and then across to Moss Vale. The dirt road’s condition is largely dependant on when it was last graded. If you get lucky like we did, you’ll have smooth sailing all the way through. From here it’s onward towards Bernie’s for some well-earned shakes.
Once you pass Exeter, jump on the Illawara Highway for a few kilometres. To be honest, it’s not the greatest stretch of road but even in a bunch of 12, it was only necessary to single-up a couple of times to let any eager vehicles pass.
Taking full advantage of the stop at Bernie’s, fill up on milk/thickshakes. Or order something heavier like a Rueben and onion rings, if you’ve got the stomach for it and carry on.
Getting out of Moss Vale is as simple as following the Bong Bong cycleway all the way to Bowral. From Bowral there’s a number of options for the return journey. If you’re out for the day and not necessarily worried about breaking speed records then head north-east along the Tourist Road. With our caterers busy preparing what looked like being a very late lunch back at our accommodation (and our stomach’s hankering for food), we opted for a more direct route back to the top of Fitzroy.
Day 1 was always meant to be a tough one, so our lap would take the more arduous course home via Berry Mountain and back up Woodhill Mountain Road. Nothing like an addition 700m of vertical to finish off anyone with energy to burn.
A big thanks to the guys at Citrus Catering for delivering enough delicious food to satisfy even the most ravenous of bunches.