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.

What to do now?

  1. Book your accommodation at the Big4 Caravan Park, Nelligen ph (02) 4478 1076. All the cabins are now booked out, but you can still camp or find an AirBnB close by.
  2. Family friendly, 3 courses to choose from.
    • Short Course: 35km each day for 12-17 year olds and anyone who enjoy a more civilised pace!
    • Medium Course: 55km each day, not too short, not too long.
    • Elite Stage Race: 90km each day if you are a glutton for punishment
  3. Wide, safe, groomed gravel roads and no quad busting climbs. Cycling for fun and enjoyment.
  4. You entry includes:
    • High quality photos on course
    • Fully supported with feedzone
    • Fully vetted groomed gravel course with wonderful scenery
    • Sponsors and prizes galore
    • A few more surprises to come! Yes Excalibur the Dutch War Horse will be back!

Entries now OPEN

Weekend Schedule

Click here to see a schedule for the weekend.

Who can Enter?

This event is open to cyclists from beginners with some off road experience through to the highly experienced. You will need a moderate level of fitness. Riders who turn 12 years or greater before the event date are welcome to join in. Riders 12-17 years of age on event day must be accompanied by an adult guardian and should enter the “Short Course”.

Is there support?

Graveleur events are fully supported but we expect a certain level of self-sufficiency. After all, completing the ride under your own steam id always more satisfying.  We will have volunteer support staff from MUC 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 all levels of Cycling adventurers. You need some basic knowledge or at least be accompanied by someone who:

  • Understands how to fuel your body for an extended ride covering up to 100 km in one day on remote gravel roads
  • Is experienced at navigating and following a GPX route and understand how to stay safe and communicate without mobile phone reception.
  • Has 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 10-20 volunteers for this event.

Are there checkpoints?

As part of our duty of care, 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.

Note: Now that the event centre will be the Steampacket Hotel, Nelligen, just across the road from the BIG4 Caravan park. The start and finish of both days will be in the Hotel carpark.

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 recommended. 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 mean not having to rely on your mobile phone to call for help.

If you are not carrying one of these devices, consider riding in pairs and/or within sight of another rider. Be sure to attend the rider briefing. This will be held online in the week leading up to the event. We’ll also have a sweep and a roving Marshall on course.

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 navigation device.

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: Unlike Thunderbolts Adventure, this event is designed to be far more accessible with 3 different course distances and a central event hub so that you don’t have to carry any luggage on your bike. There is something for everyone at Clarkes Gambit, e-bikes welcome.

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, Kerry Staite from @klite_dynamo_power 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.

As a minimum you need option 3 or 4 above. Alternatively you can arrange a free trial license from AusCycling. We will also accept a license from another cycling peak body such as Bicycle NSW or Bicycle Network.

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.

Is it a “Race”?

It has been said that if you put 2 or more cyclists together on the same route, it’s a race. This event is 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.

Feel free to ride as fast or as slow as you like, it’s your ride to enjoy.

What is the cost of the event?

The total cost per rider will be as follows:

  • Long Course – $185
  • Medium Course – $165
  • Short Course – $155
  • One Day option – $125

Family and group discounts are available

Your entry includes 2 days of riding on a fully vetted gravel course, a professional photographer who will share the photos with you for free after the event, Feed zone on course, mechanical support, event insurance and all site access permits and a commemorative patch to boot! 

This year we are leaving the food to you. You can eat at the pub, take advantage of the food trucks at the caravan park or venture into Batemans Bay.

We have left the accommodation for you to book yourself as well so that you can find something that suits your style. We recommend the BIG4 Caravan park in Nelligen, just across the road for the Start/Finish area.

Through the support and generosity of our sponsors we hope to be able to offer some spot prizes to some of you riding.  At our last event we have over $20,000 in prizes to hand out! 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. A recommended list of gear on your bike would include:

  • Cycling apparel including Helmet, gloves, glasses
  • Spare tube and means of inflating flat tyre, multitool, spare hanger, chain quick link
  • Food and water (2L)
  • Clothing layers for warmth on the bike
  • Lights
  • 1st Aid Kit
  • EPIRB/SPOT/Garmin InReach device (optional)
  • GPS bike computer (Garmin/Wahoo/Hammerhead) and mobile phone.

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 $20 administration fee will apply.

    2. If you wish to withdraw from this event within 14 days from the event start date any decision to refund any part of the entry fee (including nil) is at the sole discretion of the Organiser.  

3. If withdrawing for medical reasons (including COVID-19), please inform the Organiser by email with an accompanying medical certificate. Any refund made will be a maximum of the entry fee less a $90 withdrawal fee.

    4. The Organiser, in its sole discretion, may delay, modify, or cancel the Event if it believes the conditions prior to the event day will be unsafe. If the Event is delayed, modified, or cancelled for any reason, including but not limited to acts of God or the elements (including without limitation, wind, rough water, rain, hail, hurricane, tornado, earthquake), acts of terrorism, fire, threatened or actual strike, labour difficulty, work stoppage, insurrection, war, public disaster, flood, unavoidable casualty, pandemic, event course conditions, or any other cause beyond the control of the Organiser, participants may request a refund of any participant entry fees or choose to transfer their paid entry to a future event. There will be no payment for any other costs incurred by participants in connection with the event.

    5. The Organiser, in its sole discretion, may delay, modify, or cancel the Event if it believes the conditions on the event day are or will be unsafe following the commencement of the event. If, the Event is delayed, modified, or cancelled for any reason, including but not limited to acts of God or the elements including without limitation, wind, rough water, rain, hail, hurricane, tornado, earthquake), acts of terrorism, fire, threatened or actual strike, labour difficulty, work stoppage, insurrection, war, public disaster, flood, unavoidable casualty, pandemic, event course conditions, or any other cause beyond the control of the Organiser there will be no refund of any participant entry fees paid. There will be no payment for any other costs incurred by participants in connection with the event.

6. Entries are non-transferable to another rider EXCEPT via the entry system.  A transfer fee shall apply to riders transferring their entry to another rider.  For riders who independently give their entry to a new rider outside of the entry system, the entry shall be invalid and the new rider shall not be permitted to start. Discount codes used in conjunction with an entry are subject to final approval by the organiser. A discount may be refused and an entry may be cancelled if it is clear a discount code has been used by an unauthorised entrant.

7. Note that Transaction fees included in your entry fee are not refundable

Do I need to train for this event?

Yes you need to train for this event for the longer distances. We’d suggest something like the following, starting 8 weeks out from the event, with weeks 4 and 8 being an easy/recovery week.

4 sessions per week

#1 – 1 hour on the trainer doing intervals targeting your threshold, say 2 x 20mins at your threshold HR or Watts, 5 mins recovery between efforts. Try and maintain the same average heart rate for both intervals.

#2 – Hill repeats, find a 10 minute climb (*) near home and try to do 5 repeats without getting slower each time, recover on the ride back down.

#3 – bunch ride for fun, 2 hours, just enjoy it, coffee ride.

#4 – a long ride on the weekend, at least 4 hours with a few efforts and hills thrown in, practice your eating and drinking on the bike. That will get you up to about 250km in a week. Do it for 3 weeks, then have a quiet week, then another 3 weeks of the same program. Leave a week recovery/taper week just before the event and that will put in in good shape to tackle Thunderbolts Adventure.

(*) The idea of hill repeats is to prepare your cardiovascular system for sustained climbing. Its also useful to do them seated at a low cadence, try 60rpm which helps to build strength. In terms of pace, you want to do it as fast as you can, but not so fast that you are blown by the 3rd repeat. So go a little easy on your first one, then try and do the same time for the next 4 repeats. By the end of the 5th repeat you should hit fatigue. If you can’t maintain the time for all 5, start a little slower next time. If you achieve the same time for all 5 repeats, then next time, try and go 10-20 seconds faster for the same climb. Your heart rate is a good indicator too. You should be able to do all 5 repeats at around 85% of your max heart rate. Any hill longer than 10 minutes is too long for this type of training, so just ride up the hill for 10 mins and remember where you get to, then turn around. Try and get to the same point in 10 minutes for the next 4 repeats.