This is the first of two stories about my 2-day ride along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) from Wulkuraka to Linville. In this post, we ride 67 kilometres from Wulkuraka to Esk.
Unless you know the outer Western tendrils of Brisbane’s rail network, then you possibly haven’t heard of Wulkuraka. Sporting bright orange Queensland Rail signage and pedestrian-friendly overpasses, Wulkuraka Station is 25 stops from Brisbane’s Central Station and serves the community of this Ipswich suburb. Time ago Wulkuraka Station marked the turning point where trains left the main line to travel up the Brisbane Valley. Now, Wulkuraka Station is a starting point for bicycle riders travelling along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT).
Our 2-day ride along the BVRT would see us start at Wulkuraka, lunch at Lowood and finish the day at Esk. After an overnight stay at Esk, we ride on to Linville. Another place you might not know and clearly others haven’t either with the Linville Hotel signature t-shirt emblazoned with “Where the bloody hell is Linville?”
For our 2-day ride, we used the Linville Hotel as our gathering point, stayed overnight, left our cars there and caught the Out There Cycling shuttle to Wulkuraka to begin our ride. The shuttle drive between Linville and Wulkuraka chewed a couple of hours out of our day but knowing that for the next 48 hours we’d be simply pedalling our bikes, the shuttle was time well spent. Plus the crew at Out There Cycling run a good service – on time, friendly, careful with loading and unloading our bikes – making it easy to make the most of the rail trail.
For me, riding the BVRT is not a race. I clock a slow average and stop often. I stop to take in the landscape, snap a photo, navigate the gullies where the old bridges can’t be used, read the information signs about the area’s history and soak in the space offered by acres of sky and paddock.
How was the ride?
The Wulkuraka to Esk section of the BVRT begins in a suburban setting on a well-signed concrete pathway, with the occasional street crossing. After thirty minutes though, the trail becomes less manicured and we’re enjoying sandy tracks lined with wild grasses and bushland.
Twenty kilometres into the ride we arrive in Fernvale, and being Sunday, the place is particularly busy with people in cars taking a Sunday drive and motorbike riders doing the same. Crossing the road was all about timing and the queue for coffee or food was long. Both removed us from our rail trail bubble, where we’d been free of fast traffic and crowds of people. In hindsight, we all agreed that riding the extra eight kilometres to Lowood would have been a better choice for our ride that day.
About six kilometres on from Fernvale, the rail trail is elevated above the nearby asphalt road. The elevation delivers a pleasant view of the upper reaches of the Brisbane River. From here, Lowood and lunch is only two kilometres away.
…the old railway line leads us to the centre of Lowood
Lowood greets us with a stretch of the old railway track to admire. Weathered timber sleepers topped with heavy gauge steel tracks give a glimpse into what once was. A gravel trail beside the old railway line leads us to the centre of Lowood where the old railway station and Clock Park makes a good lunch stop. With little open on Sunday, the Lowood Bakery wins the lottery as the place for refuelling with a gaggle of bicycle riders flocking to feed.
…the steady ongoing climb to Mt. Hallen doesn’t go unnoticed
Gullies, grasses and gravel, winter sunlight softening the edges of everything and a kangaroo bounding across the trail only metres ahead, entertain us for the remaining kilometres. The real signature feature of the section between Lowood and Esk is, undoubtedly, the slow but sure climb. The trail gains some 150 metres in elevation between these townships. Nothing is ever too steep (leaving aside the climbs out of the creek gullies) but after a long day of riding, the steady ongoing climb to Mt. Hallen doesn’t go unnoticed. And that’s why riding south from Esk to Fernvale is a more popular choice (and was my first BVRT ride back in 2016).
Nonetheless, we arrived safely in Esk, checked into the Esk Caravan Park and soothed a few tired muscles in their heated pool. What to do in Esk on a Sunday night? We walked to the Club Hotel for a post-ride drink by the fireplace and enjoyed an excellent meal at Esk Thai with cooking by the Lin Family.
Like every section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, riding Wulkuraka to Esk has its own appeal. With links to the Brisbane train network, some riders access the BVRT by bringing their bike on the train. The slow climb up to Mt Hallen is satisfying and arriving in Esk set beneath the stunning Glen Rock Mountain is a pleasant place to stay.
For us, that stay would be overnight. The next day we ride Esk to Linville. I know, I know where the bloody hell is Linville?
All my recommendations in this blog post are free of any financial or in kind benefit.
They are made because I had a genuinely positive experience using these businesses.
I’ve written an article for Bicycle Queensland’s Bike Life Blog that you can read by clicking here.
The article is a short piece about creating a bicycle lifestyle.
To read the article, click on the image below or click this link: https://bq.org.au/bike-life-blog/i-decided-to-use-my-bicycle-as-much-as-i-could-in-my-everyday-life-and-i-was-surprised-by-what-was-possible/
I’m planning a bicycle trip. It’s an annual ride that I do with my two bicycle-riding brothers. However, planning this year’s ride presented a new challenge. My foot is recovering from an injury and putting it under load is uncomfortable. I’d been worried about being able to ride the distances that we have planned. And had been wondering if I’ll miss out on joining in. At this point I decided to look into hiring an e-bike.
I researched online and realised that using an e-bike is an ideal solution for me right now. With the support of the e-bike giving me a little extra power, I can lessen the load on my foot and still enjoy the ride.
Some of you might be wondering what happened to the Gazelle e-bike that I bought a couple of years ago for my work commute. Well, after a change in work during 2020, I no longer needed an e-bike and sold it. Am I regretting the sale? No, this next trip needs something that will handle rough terrain.
An article that I found very helpful in my decision to use an e-bike for my next trip is one by Australian Cycle Tours. They specialise in small-group cycle tours either supported or self-guided and have given close thought to the e-bike decision. With their permission, I’m reposting the content and hope that you might also find it useful. And perhaps inspiring too. The woman who bought my e-bike said that after doing an e-bike tour in Europe, she just had to buy one!
Should I Hire an Electric Bike for my Trip?
Once a rare alternative, electric bicycles – or e-bikes – are growing in popularity and can be found on most trips with Australian Cycle Tours. They can be a huge benefit, especially for those looking to ride cycle trails with confidence, and often without all the sweat.
The great thing about opting for this style of travel is that you don’t need to be a super fit cyclist to explore destinations on two wheels – thanks to the e-bike’s battery-powered pedalling ‘boost’.
The growing availability of e-bikes on cycling holidays, which kicked off in Europe, has now expanded to destinations in Vietnam, China, New Zealand, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Japan and Australia, giving less able cyclists the confidence to enjoy backroads and picturesque cycle trails they may otherwise have considered too tough for their capabilities.
E-bikes are perfect for cyclists that may require a little assistance on their adventure travels, so you can enjoy every enchanting side road you pass without physical limitations. But are electric bikes worth it, and how do they work? Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions on e-bikes and the benefits they offer.
What’s the difference between an electric bike and a regular bike?
An electric bike has all the features of a regular bicycle with the addition of an electrical drive system.
They are slightly bigger and heavier than an ordinary bike due to the motor, however, don’t get them confused with a scooter or electric motorcycle; they are quite different. E-bikes still need to be pedalled, shifted, and steered like you would any other bike, only with the added benefit of having a small engine to assist with your pedalling. So having reasonable handling to hold up an e-bike and the ability to balance on a bicycle is a basic requirement.
How does an electric bike work?
Designed to make cycling easier, electric bikes enable people of all different fitness levels to cycle together and tackle routes that previously would have been too difficult.
It consists of a battery, a motor, a way to integrate the motor’s power into the drivetrain, and a way to control that power.
The motor is your friend as it adds a speed boost when pedalling up that steep incline or taking on a more lengthy cycling distance. It won’t leave you exhausted halfway with that extra push.
When riding an e-bike, the display will show you how fast you are going and the distance you’ve ridden. Depending on the model, e-bikes can provide up to 120 kilometres of pedal assistance before requiring recharging. Simply charge the battery, attach it to your e-bike, turn on the power and adjust the pedal assist level to how much or how little ‘boost’ you would like on your journey.
Each e-bike has a range of pedal-assist levels (eco, normal and high) and can be easily charged up at night. Easy!
Who would most benefit from using an electric bike?
Built with comfort and simple operation in mind, and with unisex frames available, an e-bike makes it easy for anyone looking to enjoy the ride without the physical strain. This makes cycling trips around the world a viable option, regardless of one’s fitness level.
Want to tackle tougher climbs? An e-bike allows for that extra boost.
Have joint issues or recovering from an injury and not quite back to full physical capacity? The added support from an e-bike takes it easy on your legs and knees than when riding a traditional bike.
Choosing an electric bike is a great solution for those who are concerned about their fitness or physical capabilities, allowing people with varying levels of fitness the opportunity to cycle together. It’s not necessarily for beginners or nervous cyclists.
What are the advantages of riding an e-bike?
Apart from the above-mentioned points, there are many additional benefits of using an electric bike.
• They are eco-friendly and efficient.
• Easy to use. E-bikes are quick to master and make active holidays physically easier without taking away from the adventurous spirit of the trip.
• Make a great equaliser when different members of the family or friends have different strength and stamina levels. No longer will you have to worry about keeping up, but simply focus on spending quality time together. With a little extra power, rough terrain is no longer an issue, and daunting headwinds won’t slow you down.
• Can mean a more fun ride. For many, choosing an e-bike can mean a more relaxed journey where you can spend more time enjoying your surroundings than huffing and puffing. You can better enjoy your surrounds with electric assistance to minimise the physical challenges, so you focus more on taking in new places and welcoming new experiences. It just adds that extra comfort and ease on the trail.
• Are an added safety net. With less impact on your joints and reducing much of the cycling strain on your legs than a regular bike, if you have injuries or physical conditions, an electric bike allows you to still have a fun and active time. It also won’t make you feel like the odd one out.
• Get you achieving bigger goals! Tougher cycling routes seem more achievable and if you’re a newcomer to cycling trips, you can enjoy the benefits of an e-bike at handlebar level.
Why are e-bikes more expensive than a regular bike?
The added motor and the fact that an e-bike will require more maintenance means hiring an electric bike will cost more than an ordinary bike. So if the support and added ease of an electric pedal assist on your travels appeals to you, it may well be worth the investment.
Should I still train for my cycling trip even though I will have an e-bike?
Yes. If you’re looking to complete a multi-day e-bike ride, we still recommend riding practice on a variety of terrains and cycling regularly to make your trip more enjoyable.
So perhaps you can do that Australian cycling trip your friends want to do?
About Australian Cycle Tours…
Australian Cycle Tours specialise in high quality self-guided and guided cycling experiences in a selection of the most beautiful regions in Australia.
If you’re curious about being able to ride through stunning landscapes that you might usually avoid, Australian Cycle Tours have a number of cycle tours with e-bike options available.
Learn more: https://www.australiancycletours.com.au/