Thunderbolt’s Adventure – FAQ

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

The 2022 edition of the Thunderbolts Adventure will be run on 14 – 15 May 2022. 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 super fit 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 and understand how to stay safe and communicate without mobile phone reception.
  • 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 carrying a minimum of 3 litres of water.  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. Locations for each water stop will be posted closer to the event
  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:

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

It is critical that you sign the sheet at each of these 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 by riders for 2017 and 2018 event.

Note that in 2022, a one day classic scratch race will take place on Sunday. Riders will be racing in this format, starting from Gloucester early Sunday morning and aimin gto finish late Sunday afternoon back in Gloucester, having ridden via Moonan Flat.

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 very 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 to assist you. Of course, 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 and limited Telstra reception at Moonan Flat. We recommend you do not rely on your mobile phone for navigation or communication, BUT do have the route downloaded to your phone (offline mode) as a backup.

Do I need a SPOT or PLB?

You are riding at your own risk but for this event a satellite-based tracker such as SPOT,  InReach or PLB is a must have and you will need to show us your chosen tracker at registration.  SPOTs are great for those at home to follow your progress. A PLB is good in that it will directly contact AUSAR when activated. If you don’t have one, hire, borrow or buy one.

You can contact or Blue Mountains Police Rescue or even the NPWS.  

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 steed – run at least 38-42mm tyres with at least some tread (ie. not slicks).

Please don’t bring your roadie, even if you have 28mm tyres on it. Many of the roads are 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 42F x 32R (ratio 1.31 with 29er Wheel) as their lowest gear in 2018 and found that quite challenging. We would recommend having atleast a 1.00 gear ratio available to use, if not lower.

What is the quality of the roads?

The roads are of varying quality gravel roads with very limited bitumen. Depending on when they were last graded, they can be very compacted gravel with large embedded sharp rocks which can be challenging to ride. There is lots of smooth gravel as well as some more washed out gravel roads. For 2022, we are hoping to return to the traditional clockwise loop route. This will depend on road repair progress since the landslides late occurred early in 2021.

There are two sections where extra care should be taken. The descent on the western side of Barrington Tops is fairly smooth and fast but with some very sharp switchbacks. 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.  In years gone by we have had a few riders come down, especially on the descent into Moonan Flat.  If you think you are going fast, PLEASE slow down.  If you think you are going about the right speed, you are probably still going too fast to be safe.  Please, if this is your first time, really be careful.  There are no prizes for being the fastest downhiller. Make sure your brakes are in absolute tip top shape.

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 with a local farmer one 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. (Text 0408420018 with your NAME and updated status)

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 will be aligned with AusCycling.  This provides Public Liability Insurance for the organiser Graveleur Pty Ltd.  If you have an AusCycling license this will also provide you with some measure of personal insurance.  For AusCycling, 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 are 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 our partner in Uganda – The Masaka Cycling Club.  The event is run of a cost recovery basis.

The total cost per rider will be $ 195.00 and entries will be capped at 150 riders. 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 remainder of the riders will camp at the Rodeo Ground near the end of Moonan St. If you are planning to camp, we can get your tent dropped off at the rodeo ground – 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.

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 entry fee.  Contact the Victoria Hotel for further information.

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 derailleur 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). Water purification tabs are also well worth bringing.
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.

Refund Policy

The following refund policy applies, unless strictly advised otherwise from the event organiser.
1. If you wish to withdraw from a Graveleur event up to 14 days prior to the event (or greater), you shall advise the Organiser by email A refund of the entry fee less a $5 administration fee will apply.
2. If you wish to withdraw from this event within 14 days from event start date any decision to refund any part of the entry fee (including nil) is at the sole discretion of the Organiser. If withdrawing for medical reasons (not including COVID-19), a medical certificate shall be provided to the Organiser by email, however please note that any refund made will be a maximum of the entry fee less a $20 withdrawal fee. Riders have 14 days following the event to provide the Organiser with the medical certificate.
3. If you need to withdraw for reasons related to COVID-19, namely:
– You tested positive within the 3 months prior to the event start date.
– You have been advised that you visited a possible virus hot spot, or you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms the week before the event date and you need to get tested for COVID-19.
– You are awaiting COVID-19 test result, on the day before the event start date.
– State-based restrictions have been set during the week of the event start date that make it illegal for you to travel to Gloucester, NSW from your hometown.
Then you shall advise the Organiser by email A refund of the entry fee less a $5 administration fee will apply.

If you have any other queries, please email us at