Mountain Biking via Public Transport Part 1
When you live in and work in the inner city suburbs of Sydney, you don’t really get the chance to drive your car very much. Unless by driving you mean sitting in traffic for hours a day and paying exorbitant parking fees (if you can find one). I found myself getting around more either on my bike or on public transport during the average week.
The one major factor that had kept me from going carless was mountain biking. Sydney’s public transport isn’t as wide reaching for those going off the beaten track, especially outside off peak hours. So there the car sat for years 5 days a week for a few years only to be taken out on weekends. However after a number of major life events and decisions taken, I finally took the plunge, took a deep breath and sold my car.
For the last 6 months or so I have been getting around largely via public transport, my commuter bike and for special occasions (largely mountain biking related occasions), the use of a GoGet car share system. This entry however, is about getting to the trails either by public transport or by your own pedal power.
So here are some of my favourite mountain biking trails in Sydney and how you can get there by public transport, if you’re an inner city living mountain biker.
Manly Dam and Bantry Bay trails
Catching the ferry over to Manly Wharf is a highlight on its own, even better when you’re on it before the weekend masses have had their morning coffee. The Manly Dam circuit is probably one of Sydney’s most well-known legal mountain biking trails. It’s also the closest (as the crow flies) to Sydney CBD. We also have the hard work of local trail advocates such as Trailcare to thank for the additional legal single tracks of nearby Bantry Bay, just across the Wakehurst Parkway from the Manly Dam circuit. With the new tracks, Manly Dam’s estimation as a riding location improved dramatically in my eyes.
Manly Dam and Bantry Bay trails make for a good loop of rocky and fun riding. The trails of Serrata and Gahnia in Bantry Bay have been given what is called a “true intermediate” difficulty rating with some tight corners and steep rocky rollers. The entire network is a beautiful ride with plenty of natural features used and will please those who love slightly more technical descents. Just ignore the amount of climbing you need to do first.
How to get there:
- It’s a relatively easy 35 minute ride, from my home to Circular Quay in Sydney’s inner west via bike lanes and quiet streets. Faster if you’re a speedster of course.
- Alternatively, if you’re a slacker like me it’s also a quick train ride direct to Circular Quay on the Inner West line.
- Hop on the ferry to Manly Wharf at Circular Quay and it’s really nice 40 minute trip. If you have mountain biking friends who have never been to Sydney visiting, this is a good way to kill two birds with one stone. Additionally, with the new Opal ticketing system, changing modes of transport within a day will no longer cost you a ridiculous amount.
- Unfortunately, the ferry won’t get you straight on to the trail head. It’s a short ride up the hill on the main streets, to Manly Dam trail head or go the scenic route via Manly Corso and bike paths toward Balgowlah. I usually use a combination of Ride the City Sydney and Open Street Maps to map my way. I always take scenic route and it took me 30 minutes with a coffee stop. And there are plenty of worthy stops to make along the way. There is one big hill to get you up to Manly Vale School where the trail head pretty much start, fine if you pace yourself.
- It’s a beautiful commute.
- Designated bike parking spots on the ferry, unlike other modes of Sydney public transport, with the exception of the Inter City trains. But unlike the trains, I’ve never had trouble getting a spot for my bike.
- It’s definitely significantly slower than driving there, but with Sydney traffic being pretty horrendous even on weekends the difference is greatly reduced at times.
- The travel just costs a little more on the ferry and a little more again if you got lazy and caught the train as well.
- Transport NSW for train and ferry information.
- Trail information on Bantry Bay and Manly Dam.
- Trailcare page on trail advocacy, new developments and how you can help.
- Open Street Map and Ride the City Sydney for bike route recommendations.