Clarkes Gambit – FAQ

Nestled between The Budawang National Park and the banks of the Clyde River this event is designed for all levels of cyclist but will especially cater to families and those wanting to advance their skills, fitness and knowledge in bike-packing and the gravel cycling scene.

We like to see as many Mum’s as possible taking on Clarkes Gambit, while Dad entertains the kids with the plethora of local attractions. Depending on demand, we are also planning to run some fun events for the kids Saturday afternoon.

Is there support?

Graveleur events are officially “unsupported” because we think being self-sufficient and planning a successful adventure is all part of the fun.  That said, we will have volunteer support staff on hand to assist you in case things don’t go to plan.

This ride will be easier than Thunderbolts Adventure and will be aimed at beginner to intermediate level adventurers. It is probably not ideal for entry level cyclists who are just starting out. You don’t have to be a super fit endurance cyclist to enter this event, but you do need to:

  • Understand how to fuel your body for an extended ride covering up to 100 km in one 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 e.g., punctures, ripped tyres, broken chains, non-functioning gears.

Plan to be self-sufficient. You need to navigate your way along the course as there will be no route 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. Your bike should be 100% serviced and ready for a long ride in harsh conditions.

There will be a Feed Zone on each day at around the half way mark where you can refill bottles and get a snack to eat if you need it.

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 there as a backup for anyone who is in serious need of assistance.

Who will be doing support?

Keeping in mind that we expect a certain level of self-sufficiency from our participants, we are looking for people to help out. Give us a shout if you know someone or would like to volunteer yourself.  We will feed you and you get to be a part of a great event watching others extend their comfort zone while admiring the beautiful scenery. There is also a good chance you won’t have to buy a single drink on Saturday night due to grateful cyclists you helped during the day. We will need a team of about 10 volunteers for this event.

Are there checkpoints?

As part of our due diligence, we ask that all cyclists sign on and sign off at the start and finish of each day. In this way we can ensure no one is left out in the bush and all are safely returned to their families at the end of the event.

Stage 1 Start/Finish – TBA. (time and location to be determined)
Stage 2 Start/Finish – TBA. (time and location to be determined)

Note: Now that the event centre is locked in at the Nelligen Caravan Park, the start and finish of both days will be very close to this park with a start time of approximately 8am on both days. More info to follow.

What services are available on the route?

The majority of this event will take place in State Forests within a 50km radius of the Nelligen. There is some 4WD traffic on these roads and you may pass through camping grounds on each day.  There are a few odd remote residences but we would not advise you to rely on these for help. Please try not to bother the locals and stay off private property. They live there far from the madding crowd for a reason. There are no shops along the route.

Mobile reception (Telstra) is not too bad over most of the course but carrying an EPIRB is mandatory. A SPOT or Garmin InReach is even better! Think about what happens if you crash heavily, need an ambulance and there is no one in the immediate vicinity. Having an InReach will almost certainly reduce your waiting time for help considerably.

Is there phone coverage?

Yes there are some good patches of mobile reception (Telstra) but we recommend you do not rely on your mobile phone for navigation or communication. Your phone should be used as a backup to a GPS device being your primary device.

Do I need an EPIRB or SPOT?

You are riding at your own risk but for this event a satellite-based tracker such as SPOT, InReach is a worthwhile investment.  As above, you must, at a minimum, have 1 EPIRB between 2 people.

You will need to show us your chosen tracker at registration.  SPOTs are great for those at home to follow your progress. A Garmin InReach does this as well as being able to communicate via text to anyone using the InReach mobile app. An EPIRB is good in that it will directly contact AUSAR when activated. If you don’t have one, hire, borrow or buy one. You’ll use it every time you organise a bike-packing trip.

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 frame. As a minimum we would recommend at least 38mm tyres with some tread (ie. not slicks).

Please don’t bring your roadie, even if you have 28mm tyres on it. We are aiming to stick almost entirely to State Forest roads that are well maintained for commercial purposes. In the dry they are mostly very smooth and a joy to ride, BUT a turn in the weather can bring on a dramatic change in conditions for the worse.

Do not let the absence of a gravel bike in your stable prevent you from coming. A mountain bike would be fine and the routes we have designed should be quite manageable for an intermediate rider on an MTB.  It may not be as quick on the open roads, but you may be thankful for the MTB gearing at certain points. Note: This event is designed to be slightly easier than Thunderbolts Adventure and we are making it so that you don’t have to carry any luggage on your bike.

Each loop (Saturday and Sunday) will be around 80-100km and up to 2,000 vertical metres. You will not need to load your bike with camping gear as we will start from the camping area each day where you can park your car.

What is the quality of the roads?

The roads are all good quality gravel roads with very limited bitumen. As we are mostly on Forestry roads they are well maintained. There may be a river crossing on each day. These will be assessed just prior to the event to ensure they are safe to cross.  There may be a short bitumen section each day before the gravel depending on the final route and the approved Traffic Management Plan.

As always, keep left and be on the lookout for any vehicles you are sharing the road with. Please take it easy on the descents; we know how tempting it is to stay off the brakes but this is usually how accidents happen. Obey all road rules and be courteous to all those you share the road with no matter how they respond to you. All roads will remain open for the duration of the event.

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 worst 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 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.

Our friend, Dan Baker from @thetrailmechanic will be on hand at the event centre to help sort out any unexpected issues.

What if I want to pull out of the event?

This is a two day event. If at any time you decide to withdraw, it is most important to let the organisers know as soon as you can. A simple text message with your name will suffice.  Just not turning up won’t do as we will come looking for you and waste a lot of time. Please let us know if you decide not to continue and remember to sign in and sign out at the start and end of each day.

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?

Graveleur works closely with AusCycling and obtain event insurance through them.  This provides Public Liability Insurance for the organiser Graveleur Pty Ltd.

For this event we are also asking riders to ensure they have some form of riding license.

If you join AusCycling, there are a number of licenses that are suitable for this event:

  1. “RACE OFF ROAD” license will allow you to race any Aus Cycling affiliated MTB, Gravel, CX or BMX event.
  2. “RACE ALL DISCIPLINES” license will allow you to race all of the above plus ROAD CYCLING EVENTS
  3. “LIFESTYLE” license social, Leisure of Commuting riding on any kind of bike
  4. “DAY LICENSES” can also be purchased as part of your entry fee.

NOTE: If you are racing in the 2 day Stage Race, then you must have either Option 1 or 2. Option 3 and 4 are unsuitable for the Race but are allowed in the social event. We expect most entrants will be taking part in the Social Event.

You can see a summary of the insurance provided to members here. Please review and choose the right license for your circumstances.

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.

Did you say “Race”?

This event is primarily designed as a social event and most of our riders come to enjoy the ride, as much as a good meal and a beer or two at the end of the day. That is how we roll at Graveleur. That said, it can be inspiring and a great opportunity to ride and even chat to a cycling hero and for that reason we are hoping to invite a small group of accomplished cyclists to compete in a race. We will have more details on this category soon.

What is the cost of the event?

The total cost per rider will be $195 and entries will be limited. More information about how to secure your place will be available soon. This is what your entry covers.

Dinner on Saturday night and breakfast Sunday morning will be catered for and included as part of the event entry fee.  We have left the accommodation for you to book yourself so that you can suit yourself. A fully vetted and tested course with a feed zone near the halfway point each day will also be setup.

Through the support and generosity of our sponsors we hope to be able to offer some spot prizes to some of you riding.  We also work with businesses who share our vision for getting more people on bikes. We reimburse any expenses for the support vehicles as well as 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.

We aim to keep expenses to a minimum. This helps to keep the cost down for you, the rider, and it also makes you think about how to be self sufficient. This is in essence the spirit of bike packing we want to bring to you.

Where do I sleep on Saturday night?

Please book your own accommodation in Nelligen or another nearby centre according to what you like. Nelligen Caravan Park are offering a 10% discount to Graveleurs who book in for two nights (Friday and Saturday). Please call them on (02) 4478 1076 on weekdays between 8:30am and 4pm to book. Please review the options before you call on their web site to save time on the phone. And review the cancellation policy to ensure you book with a full understanding of all eventualities that are beyond our control.

Unlike Thunderbolts Adventure, there is no tent drop required and you don’t have to carry a lot of camping gear on your bike. Spares, food, water, clothing layers for warmth on the bike, lights and emergency supplies will be all you need on your bike each day.

Can you tell me more about the dinner and breakfast?

As mentioned above, Saturday night dinner and Sunday morning breakfast will be fully catered for as part of your entry. Within your entry form there will be an option to add-on dinner and breakfast for your family members coming with you who are not riding in the 2 day event. We have some special surprises in store for Saturday night and we look forward to a fun family evening. Rest assured we are committed to ensuring that all patrons enjoy a healthy and delicious meal regardless of dietary requirements.