Thunderbolt’s Adventure – FAQ

2nd chance! Some last minute cancellations have been made, and there are a few spots remaining, but get in fast!

What is the Thunderbolts Adventure and when will it be held?

The 2020 edition of the Thunderbolts Adventure will be run on 14 – 15 November 2020. It will be an overnight gravel adventure in the Barrington Tops in New South Wales designed for competent cyclists who are experienced in long distance riding.

You don’t have be be a superfit racing machine to enter this event, but you do need to:

  • Understand how to fuel your body for an extended ride covering over 100 km a day on remote gravel roads
  • Be experienced at navigating and following a GPX route
  • Have a reasonable level of mechanical know how in case you need to perform running repairs on your bicycle eg, punctures, ripped tyres, broken chains, non-functioning gears.

Is it a race?

No. But kind of. A few will aim for line honours and Strava bragging rights, but most will just enjoy the ride at a sustainable pace and look to team up with a small bunch of riders of similar ability.  This is a very social cycling event and you can be sure you’ll go home with some new riding buddies.

Whether you are racing yourself or others there is a chance you could be riding by yourself at times, so it is most important that you come fully prepared and self-sufficient. Better still bring your mates who you normally ride with and you are sure to have a great ride in spectacular country with friends.

Is there support?

Plan to be self-sufficient. You need to navigate your way along the course as there will be no event markings.  You will need to carry your own nutrition and hydration. We would recommend a minimum of 2 x 1 litre bidons.  You need to carry sensible protective clothing.  Plan for all four seasons in one day  You need to carry any spares that you feel you might conceivably need on the day.

(See Mandatory Gear to be inspected at registration.  The list is right at the bottom of this page.  Don’t skip this…IMPORTANT!)

There will be one opportunity to top up water bottles on each day.

  1. There is a water top up point at around the 60 km mark on Day One.
  2. Graveleur will provide water so you can refill your bottles.  Please consider others and save water, taking only what you need.

We will have a sweep car drive through after the event on both days, to make sure everyone is back safely, but you could be waiting a long time for this car to come through and it may not have space for you and your bike, so don’t rely on this as a sag wagon.  It is primarily to ensure the safe passage of the riders.

Who will be doing support?

This is basically an unsupported ride…..BUT

We are looking for people to help out. Give us a shout if you know someone or would like to volunteer yourself.  We will cover your  expenses and we reckon there is a good chance you won’t have to buy a single drink on Saturday night.

Are there checkpoints?

You will need to sign on at the following locations:

Registration Friday night at the Roundabout Hotel Gloucester

  1. Event Start, Gloucester Bowling Club, Park St, Gloucester
  2. Stage 1 Finish, Victoria Hotel, Moonan Flat
  3. Stage 2 Finish, The Roundabout Inn, 28 Church St, Gloucester

It is critical that you sign the sheet at each of these three points so that we can keep account of your whereabouts and safety.

What are the route options?

The event is going to be a total of up to 250 kms with approximately 5000 vm of elevation over two days. You’ll traverse the entire Barrington Tops and return  to the start point in Gloucester via a mostly remote gravel roads.

This is an Overnighter that will be a tough but enjoyable two days – the total distance was completed in one day for 2017 – 2018.

When will I get the route?

We will send you the route a couple of weeks before the event. We will send you a Strava route and GPX file. How you navigate is up to you. If you want cue cards, paper maps, topos etc that will be up to you to get.

We expect every individual rider to be able to navigate the route. You may not be riding in a bunch and this is a bloody big remote area.  Do not rely on your mobile phone, as reception is patchy at best, and often non-existent

What do you mean by remote?

The majority of this event takes place a long way from civilisation. There is little to no traffic on these roads and no facilities. Except for Victoria Hotel Moonan Flat Pub there are no shops along the route. There are very few residents available able to assist you. Of course, we, the organisers will do what we can to help should you be unable to continue and still a long way from the finish but having a PLB or SPOT Tracker is mandatory.

Is there phone coverage?

Not really, apart from in Gloucester. We recommend you do not rely on your mobile phone for navigation or communication.

Do I need a SPOT or PLB?

You are riding at your own risk but we think in this day an age a SPOT Tracker or PLB is a must have, and as we are making this piece of equipment mandatory.  SPOTs are not as useful in an emergency as a PLB which will directly contact AUSAR. If you don’t have one, hire, borrow or buy one.

You can contact or Blue Mountains Police Rescue or even the NPWS.  A Garmin Inreach would be another acceptable option. 

Note: The organisers will not be tracking your SPOT so if you choose to use one of these, you will need to ask someone who is not riding this event to monitor your progress and be available to accept any messages you send via your subscription.

(Really! Don’t skip this.  See Mandatory Gear to be inspected at registration.  The list is right at the bottom of this page.  IMPORTANT!)

What bike do I need to take?

The route is perfect for a Gravel Bike, Cyclocross or Mountain Bike – consider running the biggest rubber that will fit your stead – run at least 38-40mm tyres with at least some tread (ie. not slicks).

Please don’t bring your roadie, even if you have 28mm tyres on it. The Barrington Tops road is hard with large chunks of embedded rocks. A mountain bike would be fine.  It may not be as quick on the open roads, but you will be thankful for the MTB gearing at certain points.

There are two big climbs. This first climb is around 1000 vm and the second is about 800 vm which gets over 15%. Low gears would be nice. Some highly experienced riders ran 42 F x 32 R (ratio 1.31 with 29er Wheel) as their lowest gear in 2018 and found that quite challenging.

What is the quality of the roads?

The roads are all good quality gravel roads with very limited bitumen. Barrington Tops Rd is very compacted gravel with large embedded gravel which can be challenging to ride. There is hero dirt and lots of smooth gravel as well as some more washed out gravel roads.

There are two sections where extra care should be taken. The descent on the western side of Barrington Tops is smooth and fast. It also lack guard rails at many points. In addition there is a very steep and loose descent on the northern return section on Stage 2.  These is not uncommon for riders to come unstuck at these two points so take care.  There are no prizes for being the fastest downhiller.

What spares do I need?

Everything to get you through the ride, but if your bike is well maintained then punctures are the main thing you need to be prepared for. Keeping in mind that there are no bike shops along the way, consider your worse case scenario and plan for that.  For example, let’s say you have been unlucky and had a few punctures. You are on your own, you are out of tubes and canisters. If you have a hand pump and a some patches you might be able to repair a tube to get you out of trouble.  A $5.00 note is always handy for blocking a torn sidewall.  Tubeless setup for tyres is recommended.

Other spares you might consider would be a chain breaker, a spare quick link and a spare Derailleur hanger.

In addition to this you must carry a basic first aid kit and space blanket.

What if I want to pull out of the event?

Don’t count on anyone picking you up. We will have a sweep vehicle, but there may not be space on it. The locals are friendly – we had a mate who was lucky to get a lift back to Gloucester last year!

Most importantly, let the organisers know as soon as you can if you are not going to make it to the finish line for each stage.

Do I need lights?

Yes. While you will most likely reach the end of the stage each day before it gets dark, lights are a good safety measure so please bring at least one rear flashing red light and a solid white front light with 4 hours capacity.

Is there insurance for this event?

Yes. This year we are taking the move to align ourselves with MTBA.  This provides Public Liability Insurance for the organiser Graveleur Pty Ltd.  If you have an MTBA license or a CA license this will also provide you with some measure of personal insurance.  For MTBA, you can see a summary of the insurance provided to members here

You should also consider taking out Private Health Insurance with ambulance cover. The route is entirely on open public roads. The route will not be marked. We expect that other riders will do what they can to help you should you suffer a misfortune, but in the end you’re on your own, and responsible for yourself.  

There will be a disclaimer releasing Graveleur of all liability when you enter.  You should read this carefully (it is not too long) and ensure that you are happy to accept the disclaimer as a condition of entry.

Is there a KOM?

There may be a few sneaky segments out there with some prizes at the finish for various achievements. To be eligible you must log your ride on Strava and have it uploaded by the time we have a beer in the pub at the end of Stage 2.

What is cost of the event?

Dinner on Saturday night and breakfast Sunday morning will be catered for and included as part of the event entry fee.  A nominal camping fee will also be included in every entry (whether you camp or not is up to you).

We will also be providing a little bit of event schwag, reimbursing expenses for the support vehicles as well a funding the ongoing development of the Graveleur Community.  Finally we will be making a substantial contribution from the Gravel Cycling Community (you) to a local charity related to drought relief.  The event is run of a cost recovery basis.

The total cost per rider will be $ 100.00 and entries will be limited. More information about how to secure your place will be available soon.

Where do I sleep on Saturday night?

Some people who get in early will have the luxury of a warm bed in one of the few rooms at the Victoria Hotel Moonan Flat.  The Hotel is our event centre for Saturday night. You can get food and drinks when you arrive and your dinner is included in the entry.

The pub are also offering a limited number of two man stand up tents with mattresses.  Again this is at your own cost and is not covered by the included camping fee.

The remainder of the riders will camp at either the Rodeo Ground or the Belmadar Camping Ground (same as in 2019). If you are planning to camp, we can get your tent dropped off at the Victoria Hotel Moonan Flat Pub – one less thing to carry on your bike.  This will be dropped back at the Roundabout Inn Gloucester at the end of Day 2 for you to collect.

Please note.  Carrying your tent for you is a courtesy performed by volunteers and whilst we will do everything we can to ensure the security of your trusty shelter, no liability will be taken for any missing items.  If you label your tent with your name, keep it to a minimum size and ensure it is packed and left in the designated area at the designated time on Sunday morning, we are pretty confident you will be reunited with it back in Gloucester at the finish

Mandatory Gear

You as a rider will be required to carry mandatory gear which will be checked at registration sign on:
a.) Helmet (AS approved)
b.) Warm hat
c.) Waterproof jacket with sleeves and tape sealed seams. We also recommend (not mandatory) Spare Base Torso layer, warm tights, full fingered gloves
d.) Spares kit: Must contain two spare tubes (if using tubeless you also carry at least 1 tube as an emergency back-up), a bike pump, a multi-tool, tyre levers, patch kit and a chain breaker. A speed link and spare deraillier hanger is also recommended (not mandatory)
e.) First Aid kit – Including bandages, plasters, tape, gauze, whistle and a survival blankets. We also recommend carrying pain relief medication for headaches, sunscreen and electrolyte replacement powder for cramps, along with other medications you might need (e.g. prescription or hay fever medication).
f.) An EPIRB/PLB/SPOT/Garmin Inreach device. Basically a communication devices that uses GPS to track your location and can activate an emergency alert if required.  We will allow one device to be carried between two people but you must remain in sight of each other AT ALL TIMES between the start and finish of each stage and you must nominate who your buddy is when entering the event.

If you have any other queries, please email us at