Spotlight: Mountain Biking in Adelaide

Adelaide as seen from Mt. Lofty.

Adelaide as seen from Mt. Lofty.

I arrived in Adelaide, the capitol of South Australia, about a week ago and, like Perth, found the city to be a bit on the slow side.  In Asia, slow was okay because everything was so different than what I was used to.  Here, in Australia, the slow side tends to be a bit boring.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do however.

While seeking activities to make my stay here a bit more interesting, I came across a brochure for a cleverly named company “Escapegoat” offering mountain biking tours within the area.  I opted for a half day tour they call “Lofty Descents”.

While I’m proficient on a bicycle, I’ve never done the mountain bike thing. I figured it would be a nice introduction to an activity I’ve always been curious about while seeing an area of Adelaide I wouldn’t otherwise visit.

After a short drive up the hill, we were given our equipment and a briefing on how to use the bikes.  Following that we made a quick five-minute ride to the summit for a great view of the city and a few of the valleys famous for their wineries.

A rock Wallaby watches us walk past.  These shy guys are much smaller than Kangaroos and run as you get close.

A rock Wallaby watches us walk past. These shy guys are much smaller than Kangaroos and run as you get close.

There were two main draws for me taking the tour.  First, I wanted to see what mountain biking was all about and a half-day trip down the hill sounded like a good way to learn.  Secondly, the tour includes about an hour-long stop at Cleland Wildlife Park, which contained all manner of native wildlife.

We spent a while walking around feeding Kangaroos, checking out the rock Wallabies and Tasmanian Devils, and taking pictures with the Koalas.  A brief coffee break and we were back on the path through the park.

Escapegoat is currently the only company with permission to ride through the park, so while you may come across a small number of people walking the path, you won’t find anyone else on bikes to compete with.  You’ll probably see more wild Koalas in the trees than people on the path.

This Koala was named "Teddy" and was totally cool with pictures as long as he had some food to chew on.  The wild koalas we saw on the way down seemed much more curious about us (at least the ones that were awake).

This Koala was named "Teddy" and was totally cool with pictures as long as he had some food to chew on. The wild koalas we saw on the way down seemed much more curious about us (at least the ones that were awake).

The ride down took about an hour, with some stops before tricky areas so our guide could explain how to navigate those spots. Our group of three all made it out without a scratch – Go us.

If you’re new to mountain biking, I’d say give this tour a go.  I liked the mellow pace of the ride and that there were some challenging sections for a beginner but nothing I couldn’t handle.  If you’re a pro, you might opt for one of their other tours.  I’m told they do a two-week trip in the French Alps for those interested.

So far, my new experiences in Australia include some amazing gorges, swimming with a whale shark and now mountain biking.  Can’t wait to see what the next two months will bring.