Everything you need to know about Thunderbolts Adventure 2024 is on this page! It is updated regularly and is the result of 7 years of experience running this event so please grab yourself a beverage and read this carefully. Any further questions or suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to know what Thunderbolts Adventure is in one sentence? We think one of our riders summed it up pretty well here:
“I want to thank you for pioneering and building this great event, and your team of helpers for implementing your vision; such a terrific event, with a delightful balance of badassery, conviviality, community and unpretentiousness. Big words for big memories.” – Andy
Founded in 2017 as a One Day Epic, in 2019 the ride was changed to a more manageable 2 day Overnighter but do not be fooled. This is still a big weekend of cycling for all who answer the call of the Barrington Tops.
Is there insurance for this event?
What is the Thunderbolts Adventure and when will it be held?
The 2024 edition of the Thunderbolts Adventure will be run on 18-19 May 2024. 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.
Back in 2024, we also have a One Dayer option for those that want to just cruise and enjoy the party vibe.
Is it a race?
Yes and No
We have capacity for around 300 riders to join the 2 day event, camping at the Moonan Flat
Rodeo Ground on Saturday night. In this format, 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 the mates who you normally ride with and you are guaranteed to go home with some life long memories.
Is there support?
The spirit of this ride is always to be self-sufficient, but over the years, as the ride has grown, we have added more support to keep everyone as safe as possible.
With this in mind, you should plan to be self-sufficient.
What we will provide:
- Support vehicles are key locations along the course
- Some snacks and plenty of water at the Feedzone. We are planning to have secondary water drop available as well. Locations for these points will be provided in the event briefing and Rider Guide that will be emailed to you 1 week before the event.
- 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.
What you are responsible for:
- Carry your own trail snacks and hydration as if you are riding unsupported for two days. We would recommend carrying a minimum of 2-3 litres of water. You might consider bringing some water tabs or a filter in case you want to drink water from the creeks.
- You need to navigate your way along the course as there will be no event markings.
- 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. Don’t skip this…IMPORTANT!)
Who will be doing support?
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.You should prepare for this ride as if it is basically an unsupported ride…..BUT
Please remember to sign on and off at the start and finish of each day so we can account for every rider.
Are there checkpoints?
You will need to sign on at the following locations:
- Saturday: Event Start, Gloucester Bowling Club, Park St, Gloucester
- Saturday: Stage 1 Finish, , Moonan Flat Rodeo Ground
- Sunday: Stage 2 Start, , Moonan Flat Rodeo Ground
- 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 a total of up to 230kms with approximately 5000 vm of elevation over two days. You’ll summit the Barrington Tops range and descend into Moonan Flat on Saturday and return over the range via a different route to the start point in Gloucester on Sunday. The roads are 70% remote gravel roads. The course for the overnighter and the Elite race and identical for 2023.
We know the “Standard Course” is a big ride in anyone’s books. As such we’ve added a one day option for those who may be just looking to “dip their toe in the water” or you just prefer to ride “party pace”. This category to take place on Saturday, will start in front of Moonan Flat Pub and finish at the Rodeo Ground. This way you’ll be back for the party on Saturday night and you can enjoy your breakfast Sunday morning whilst scoffing at all those rolling out with sore legs Sunday morning. The clockwise loop is approximately 70km and 1600vm, still a decent ride!
When will I get the route?
See the button “Course Options” at the top of this page to download the routes.
As the course is unmarked, you need to be able to navigate your own ride. How you navigate is up to you. If you want cue cards or paper maps that is perfectly OK. Most will upload a GPX version of the route into their cycling computer and follow that.
We expect every individual rider to be able to navigate the route. There may be times where you are riding solo and this is a very big remote area. Do not rely on your mobile phone, as reception is often non-existent. You could use your phone as a backup as many apps allow you to download the route when offline and will then even work if the phone is in Flight Mode.
What do you mean by remote area?
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 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 an EPIRB or GPS Tracker is mandatory.
Is there mobile 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 GPS Tracker or EPIRB?
You are riding at your own risk but for this event a satellite-based tracker such as a SPOT or Garmin InReach is MANDATORY. You can also carry an EPIRB which is a single use device that you can activate in case of emergency. You will need to show us your chosen Emergency device at registration. If you don’t have something this at home, you might be able to hire one (from EPIRBHire) or borrow from a friend.
You can contact http://www.epirbhire.com.au/ or Blue Mountains Police Rescue or even the NPWS.
Note: If you are coming alone or are inexperienced in this type of riding, please consider using a SPOT Tracker or Garmin InReach. It’s also a good idea to ask someone who is not riding this event to monitor your progress and be available to accept any messages you send via your satellite tracker.
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 – run at least 38-42mm tyres with some good tread. This is NOT the ride to be concerned about rolling resistance. Big rubber rolls better anyway!
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 has a max gradient of 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 at least a 0.9 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.
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 down-hiller. Make sure your brakes are in absolute tip top shape. Yes you should have them professionally bled and new pads installed before the ride.
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 chain quick link and a spare Derailleur hanger.
Suggested Spares kit: 2 spare tubes, a hand pump, a multi-tool, tyre levers, patch/plug kit, chain breaker, quick link and spare derailleur hanger.
Do I need to train for this event?
Yes you need to train for this event to make the time cut. 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.
What if I want to pull out of the event?
Please don’t rely on someone picking you up along the way. You might be lucky and there will be several support vehicles on course as well as a sweep, but they have limited capacity. Remember, there is no sag wagon. If you get to Moonan Flat and are unable to continue the next day, you need to find your own way back to the start. The locals are friendly – one rider was lucky to get a lift back to Gloucester with a local farmer one year, but you should have your own emergency transport plan ready to mobilise and come get you if your wheel’s have come off.
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 0408 420018 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. For 2024, ALL riders must have a suitable license from AusCycling. This protects you and those around you in case of an accident. When you enter, you can choose to enter your existing license number or purchase either a Day Licence as part of your entry or register for a free 4 week trial with AusCycling. 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 in remote terrain. 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 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.
What is cost of the event?
Included in your entry fee is the following:
- 2 days of riding on some of the best champagne gravel roads in Australia
- Your dinner Saturday night and breakfast Sunday morning in a quaint country pub
- Concierge Service to transfer your tent to and from Moonan Flat
- Professional event pics from ReadyAimMedia
- On course Feed zone and mechanical support
- Fully insured event with approval from local council and authorities
- Goodies bag including your own limited edition commemorative patch
- A huge cache of prizes kindly donated by our sponsors. Prizes will be allocated on a first entered, best prize basis. Enter earlier for the chance of a better prize!
- A nominal camping fee will also be included in every entry (whether you camp or not is up to you).
We will be 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 on a cost recovery basis and relies on volunteers for it to go ahead.
The total cost per rider including 3rd party transaction fees will be $225 (unchanged from 2023). Early bird pricing will be available in the first period after entries open. Note that the advertised price now includes 3rd party transaction fees.
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 Moonan Flat Pub.
The Roma Orchard 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 the orchard for further information.
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.
What can I pack for Graveleur to take to Moonan Flat?
Some clever people wrap up their sleeping bag inside their tent bag. So long as you are sensible and keep your belongings in one neat and compact bag, we’ll be happy to transport it for you. Don’t bring your swag or a 60 litre back pack. Keep it compact, one gear sack per rider with everything inside. Don’t dangle your flip flops on the outside, they are light so carry them on your bike.
Carrying your “tent” is a courtesy performed by volunteers and whilst we will do everything we can to ensure the security of your gear, no liability will be taken for any missing items. If you label your gear sack with your name, keep it to a compact size and ensure it is packed and left in the designated area at the designated time each day, we are pretty confident you will be reunited with it back in Gloucester at the finish.
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.
d.) First Aid kit – Including bandages, plasters, tape, gauze, whistle and a space blankets.
e.) An EPIRB/PLB/SPOT/Zoleo/Garmin InReach device. This entails a satellite based communication device 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 register together in Gloucester and always ride together.
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.
Below is the information relevant to COVID for the event. Bottom line is you MUST be fully vaccinated to enter AND do not attend if there is a chance you are infectious with the disease.
I acknowledge the contagious nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (the “novel coronavirus”) and voluntarily assume the risk that I may be exposed to or infected by the novel coronavirus by attending and/or participating in the event, and that such exposure or infection may result in personal injury, illness, permanent disability, and death.
I understand that the risk of becoming exposed to the novel coronavirus or persons with the COVID-19 disease at the event may result from the actions, omissions, or negligence of myself and others, including, but not limited to, other participants or the organisers.
I knowingly and voluntarily agree to comply with and adhere to all COVID-19-related safety and risk mitigation practices during my attendance and participation in the event, whether communicated verbally or in writing.
I confirm that at the time of the event, I will be fully vaccinated and will agree to produce a current valid vaccination certificate if asked to do so by the Organisers
I acknowledge and agree that my compliance with these safety and mitigation practices is not only for my own benefit but also for the benefit of other participants and the organisers of the event.
I voluntarily assume the risk that I may be exposed to the novel coronavirus or persons with the COVID-19 disease as a result from a failure to comply with such practices.
Further, notwithstanding the foregoing, I agree that I will neither attend nor participate in an event if I have, within the past 14 days:
(i) have a suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19;
(ii) experienced any symptoms of COVID19 including, without limitation, fever, cough or shortness of breath; or
(iii) have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 (or any known symptoms thereof).
I agree that the Organiser can pass on contact details as well as timing data to Australian Health Authorities if they ask for it.
In case newly introduced government regulations make running the event impossible my entry will automatically be transferred to a future event. No refunds will be issued.
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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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