Gravelling Bright

Published
Dec 8, 2022

Words
Erin Ferguson @ekfer

Photos
Tim Harris @timyeahtim

Bright truly has some of the most interesting, challenging and scenic gravel cycling in Victoria. But it might be worth waiting until you’re a bit more confident off road to properly enjoy everything our favourite cycling destination has to offer.

Gravelling Bright - the easy route

I often get asked what route around Bright I would recommend for a beginner gravel rider. The answer is “there isn’t one”. Located in a valley, every route in Bright eventually goes up, often steeply, and for quite some time. What goes up must come down. You want to be sure you have some descending confidence and skills under your belt, because the gravel is often chunky and loose. Very different terrain from the type of gravel you might be used to riding around Melbourne and the surrounding areas.

I find the trick is to over gear – the biggest tyres your bike can take, and the smallest gears you’ve got. I run 50c tyres, and my gearing is 46/30 and 11-40. Your comfort and safety out there is worth the investment.

What goes up must come down

Once you’re out, there’s so much to explore. Many of the roads twist through the pine plantations that surround the town. Climb up to ridgelines and enjoy the view – and therein is the real beauty of Bright. Unless you leave the valley altogether. When you’re done you just turn around and roll back into town. You can also join up many of the loops to make the ride longer. The loops click together like Lego. There are often many ways to do the same loop, so you could spend a whole day finding different ways up Clearspot.

Further afield

Further afield, you’ll escape the plantations (and the valley), and the sky is the limit. You can ride up or around as many mountains as your legs and lungs desire. Be sure to tell people where you are going, and use a satellite tracker if you are going on a long ride. There are areas that are very remote and wrong turns can be easy to do, and the consequences can be serious. I recommend carrying more food and water than you need, two of everything in your spares kit and a warm layer – no matter the season. Just in case you get a bit lost or have mechanical problems.

Erin's favourite loops

My favourite ‘easy’ loops include:

Clearspot/Mudhold Creek Loop       Clearspot via Dingo Ridge           Kancoona Loop            Mt Porepunkah

And for something harder:

Goldie Spur      The back way up Mt Hotham (absolutely for experienced gravel riders only, pick excellent weather and a shoulder season because it’s very exposed in parts.

You might also be interested in reading The Dirt on Bright here

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