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Ahead Of The Trail

The afternoon was ours! Rolling into finish our ride at the Eltham Hotel, where the beers are crafty and the vibe is cruisy. We wheeled our bikes up to the sunny terrace and already had that warm fuzzy feeling that this may very well be one of the best weekends of riding we’d ever had. Having just enjoyed a memorable 70km ride through the Byron hinterland and ready to settle into a solid session at the Northern River’s coolest pub (which also doubled as our boutique accommodation for that night), the day was ours and we knew it.   

At the time of writing this, like most, we’re sitting in lockdown. And whilst our lifestyle, among work and other things, has been fairly restricted as a result of this latest chapter of the pandemic, I can hardly wipe the grin off my face as I reflect on this recent 3-day adventure in our own backyard that I’m already comparing with cycling holidays in the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites. 

It all started one evening recently, we were in Byron eating an ice cream while watching the sunset across the bay, the distinctive layers of light on the mountain’s horizon creating an almost perfect silhouette of the hinterland with the distinctive peak of Mt Warning popping up in the centre of the postcard image. What a beautiful part of the world this really is, and how amazing it will be in years to come when this region blossoms into a world-class cycling destination with the development of a 130km rail trail running through Byron Bay

We began to commentate to each other what a detailed itinerary of the journey from Casino in the south to Murwillumbah in the north could look like if using roads nearby to the trail. It’s something we’d discussed continuously over the past few years and, after almost 5 years of exploring and learning about cycling around Byron, we realised that there was in fact a fairly impressive multi-day journey already there to enjoy, complete with overnight stops and must-do restaurants and cafes along the way.

Despite the solid serving of gelato that was now just digesting in our bellies, our mouths began salivating with the thought of experiencing this long weekend adventure. Perhaps it was the realisation that a lockdown on the Northern Rivers was likely imminent and we ought to enjoy our last moments of freedom while we could. We also realised that, despite having ridden every metre of this route back to front on numerous occasions, we’d actually never completed it all as one continuous journey and therefore there was in fact a ride in Byron that we had not yet done!

Byron being approx 70km from either end of the trail, we’d need transfers at the start and end of the trip. Alice’s dad Mike was all too happy to be our trusted support car driver, the deal clincher being that he was able to dog-sit our lovable 4 year old kelpie ‘Wally’ for the weekend as well. Given the ‘27 and sunny’ weather forecast expected all weekend we decided to pack light and carry our luggage so we wouldn’t need support between stops. Though I’m sure bike-packing is not everyone’s cup of tea, I can honestly say that it’s a fairly effective way of working out exactly what you need when you pack. Instead of saying “it’ll be handy” you instead ask “do I actually need it?” because you’ll be carrying it the whole time so you bloody well better!! We laid out everything on our bed and, after a fairly strict culling process, between us we ended up with a 10 litre saddle bag packed with clothes as well as a small 2 litre handlebar bag for everything else.

The most direct route, following roads adjacent to the trail, is about 147km from end to end. Both being self-admitted ‘foodies’, we opted to make a few detours along the way and ended up with what was essentially a ‘join the dots’ between a bunch of our favourite towns and cafes along the trail bringing us up to a total of 236km and 2500m of climbing over the 3 days. The added mileage also meant we might end up actually go close to burning off the inevitable degustation of mouth-watering culinary experiences we were about to indulge in. 

What started in the sprawling cattle-grazing outback of the Richmond Valley about 50km west of the coast, the route then took us through subtropical Byron hinterland hills before finishing in sugar-cane flat lands of the Tweed. It is a ride that certainly haS it all. Having grown considerably fond of the cycling in this region in recent years, we sometimes found it difficult to decide which route to take at some junctions when both options were equally as appealing. Though the rail trail will be without comparison in its enjoyment and suitability for all cyclists, travelling by road allows for modification of your route to suit your preference and ability level. Go a little further, take a shortcut. Either way, it’s just as beautiful. As well as now having a shorter and longer version of the 3-day tour mapped out, we’ve since created a ‘Dirty’ trail itinerary that takes you from end to end over 2 days of 100km/day+ riding along some more advanced road and gravel routes. 

To break the tour up into 3 relatively equal rides we opted to overnight at a couple of iconic Northern Rivers hangouts, Eltham and Brunswick Heads. Eltham, or more specifically The Eltham Hotel (arguably the centerpiece of the tiny hamlet some 30km south-west of Byron) was the perfect venue to satisfy our brimming enthusiasm typical of day 1 of a weekend getaway. We would have been happy with a couple of afternoon drinks, a nice pub meal and a few barstool chats, but this hipster ‘Aussie western saloon-style watering hole’ is not your usual local pub. And while all above boxes were sufficiently ticked, a savoury doughnut with smoked fish and caviar for entree and a live band playing in the beer garden took the prize for us. What started out as a noticeably solid set of covers from the clearly well-rehearsed 7-piece setup, grew into a performance that had us wondering whether there was in fact somewhere we were meant to buy tickets from on the way in. The highlight of the night certainly had to be when Luke, the publican himself, jumped behind the mic with his tea towel slung over his shoulder and donning a shiny black cowboy hat and gave a rendition of I’m on Fire that even ‘The Boss’ himself would have applauded.

The town of Brunswick Heads was the perfect accompaniment to follow the memorable, albeit slightly taxing events of the night before. We chose to stay at The Sails Motel, a trendy and well-located venue sporting an on-site pool, pizzeria and cafe/burger bar, giving it a confidently cycling-friendly feel. For a relatively small town, Bruns is flush with dining choices to suit every taste and budget, including the exclusive and very intimate Fleet, whose waitlist for a just 12 person sitting can sometimes be up to 4 months. Following a relaxing afternoon of cocktails and pizza at the motel’s Saint Maries pizzeria, we chose a casual but delicious Mexican dinner at nearby La Casita before an early night to recharge our batteries for our final day. 

The beauty of a self-guided tour, or any good holiday for that matter, is the freedom to do it your way and be in complete control of your journey. That being said, if you’re going to ride the Northern Rivers Trail we’d definitely suggest not rush to the finish line each day but take your time and enjoy the stops along the way. As Ferris says “Life moves pretty fast, If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” For us, the stops were all about the food and I’d be here all day if I went into detail about all the amazing meals we had along the way at Lismore’s Flock Espresso Bar, The Bexhill General Store, Bangalow’s Woods Cafe, Old Maids Burger Bar in Brunswick Heads, The Tyalgum General Store and Husk Distillery. At the same time, just being a tourist and observing a place as you casually stroll through and participate without overly impacting the community is satisfying as much as it is enjoyable. The whole region is oozing with not just the potential of what will become as a flow-on effect of the development of the rail trail, but also an already-existing saturation of quality tourism and hospitality. It’s not just isolated to the coastal towns but spread invitingly across the hinterland and countryside, ready to be explored

Want to find out more? You’ll just have to come and experience the Northern Rivers Trail for yourself. Contact us to start planning your own Northern Rivers Trail tour and discover the future of cycling holidays on the Northern Rivers. 

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Welcome to 2021, Welcome to Byron

What a time to be alive, and what a time to be in Byron! It seems as though overnight this little beach town on the NSW north coast, once known for schoolies, splendour and surfing, has become the place to be in Australia. And for good reason…

Turning back the clock to 2017, we knew we had plenty of learning ahead of us when we packed up lives in Sydney and decided to launch a cycling tour company in Byron Bay. Looking back now, it’s hard to believe we had the courage to make that bold decision, the only thing we really knew about cycling on the far north coast was an annual nude bike ride in Nimbin (still yet to make our maiden appearance at that one funny enough).

“That’s so Byron.”

But we believed in Byron, we still do. There really is no place like it, and whether you love it or not you can’t help be fascinated by it. People now say things like “That’s so Byron”, a reflection of how ingrained this place has become in Aussie social culture. 

Whether the Byron we know now is still here in 10 or 20 years time, who knows, time will tell. The important thing is that the Byron of 2021 is an absolute sell-out show. And hats off to everyone who has been a part of that success. The restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars, musicians, fashion labels, breweries, distilleries and the like. We’re pretty lucky to have such an amazing selection of people and businesses continuing to emerge here who we can work with and be inspired by on a daily basis. 

If one thing is for certain it’s that Byron is the place to be, and now is the time to be here. In 2021, we’re ‘keeping it local’ and, as well as staying true to our flagship tour The Byron Holiday, we recently launched The Beach House, a luxury all-inclusive beachfront retreat experience for private groups, and are now offering self-guided and bike-packing itineraries as part of The Road Trip series. 

So, what are you up to in 2021? If you haven’t already, maybe it’s about time you thought about coming to Byron…

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NEW Byron Bay Cycling Holidays HERE TO STAY

It’s long been said, the best thing to do is to get back on your bike.

At Lifecycles Travel we take that advice very literally. So when you’re ready, here is our new Byron Bay Cycling Holiday package which will remain a permanent fixture on our annual cycling calendar.

Holidays run once a month from February to May and August through to November. There are package options for you to choose from which enable you to really make the most of your holiday.

The length of stay is optional, you can stay for 4 or 7 days. All packages come with complimentary bike hire, so if you don’t want to travel with your own bike, you don’t have to.

The Northern Rivers has a varied and scenic mix of terrain, there is something for every rider. Choose the scenic route, endurance road riding or gravel road adventures. If you’d like to incorporate a rest day activity, you can! There is whale-watching, yoga classes, horse riding, surfing or massages available.

Breaking it down, this is how to book :

1. Choose the length of the trip and the time of year
2. Choose the bike, Checkpoint Gravel Bike or Domane Road Bike
3. Choose the type of terrain and experienc
e

Share this holiday with your friends and family, it’s something for you all to look forward to. You can travel solo by booking a private room. Or select twin share if you wish to share with a partner or friend.

Want to know more?

Upcoming dates :

August 24-30 BE QUICK | September SOLD OUT | October 12-18 | November 9-15

The Rides:
Ride the meandering and beautiful subtropical Byron Bay coast and hinterland with your own local guides. Whether you’re a beginner rider looking to gain some confidence and experience on the open roads, a seasoned road rider who wants to find all the best local climbs and cafes, or even a keen gravel enthusiast looking to get off the beaten track and pick up some new riding skills, let us and our professional tour guides show you the way. Each morning rides start at 7am and go for 3 to 5 hours.

Accommodation: The Atlantic Byron Bay

In the heart of town and walking distance to beaches and restaurants, The Atlantic hotel presents a luxury collection of individually styled guestrooms and beautiful communal spaces. There are complimentary McTavish surfboards for your afternoon surf, a swimming pool for post-ride dips and fully functional kitchens for your pre-ride breakfast each morning.

Post-ride restaurants and cafes:
You’ll spend the mornings riding and finish each ride with a lunch stop at our favourite restaurants and cafes. For the rest of the day and evening, you’re then welcome to enjoy all that Byron has to offer including the beautiful beaches, restaurants, retail stores and landmarks.

We can’t wait to welcome you to Byron Bay and show you our favourite routes. If you have any questions, we’d love to hear from you, send us an email at bookings@lifecyclestravel.com.

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Gearing Up For The Road Back – Cycling Along Not Alone with Lifecycles Travel

Taking it literally at Lifecycles Travel, we are travelling the road back and invite you along for the ride.

Like you I’m sure, we put the recent lockdown to good use. The slower life allowed us to reflect on what we had achieved in the last three years since starting Lifecycles Travel. We were able to reassess our goals. Inspired by the agility and innovation of so many local and small businesses, we decided to put our minds to ‘the road back’ and how we can bring safe, socially distant active experiences into a future of new local cycling adventures.

Corona virus has long been considered a battle on two fronts – the virus and the economy. 

Whilst we are now coming out of the woods in terms of the actual virus, we are all still feeling the economic effects of this situation. From many keen cyclists, that has meant the cancellation of their dream European cycling holiday in 2020 and with that a sense of deflation at not having that goal to look forward to, train for and continue to motivate them to be the healthiest version of themselves.

So we set out to offer a range of world-class cycling tours, in our home Byron Bay, that you can experience right now. With domestic travel restrictions about to be lifted, where else than the warm, tropical, ‘wellness’ capital of Australia would you rather be? The Byron Bay hinterland is arguably the best kept secret in Australian cycling and is the perfect addition to Byron’s famous selection of restaurants, hotels & AirBnb’s.

Cycling is a safe activity to transition back into travel.

Lifecycles Travel offers an impressive range of cycling tours and services, ranging from single day bike hire & guided rides to week-long fully supported cycling holidays. Beginner riders can learn new skills under the tuition of our tour guides and become confident cyclists whilst using our premium Trek carbon fibre bikes. For more advanced riders, there’s an endless amount of rolling hinterland roads within reach of Byron, and with the recent addition of our 3 dayBorder Ranges Gravel Adventure‘ tour, there’s no shortage of challenge for you to relish.

Introducing the Hinterland Overnighter Tour: this socially-distant self-guided experience is one of the recent additions to our tours. Starting and finishing in Byron village, spend 2 days riding quiet country roads, in search of coffee stops and local cuisines, tied together with a night of secluded cabin accommodation in the majestic Byron Bay hinterland, a gourmet dinner basket and your luggage transported for you.

All tours are based out of the popular north coast holiday town of Byron Bay, which is accessed via 2 airports as well as the recently upgraded Pacific Highway, so within easy reach of any Australian domestic traveller.

To book and find out more information on upcoming tours, visit lifecyclestravel.com

New Products:

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Staying ahead of the Covid-19 curve.

Life is not really operating like any other day right now. Impacts on travel and where and when we can go are still grey.
That’s why we have decided to introduce a temporary cancellation policy. It’s a policy to give us confidence in doing our part, organising great trips, and gives you the opportunity to start planning your next holiday. Actually have something to look forward to without financial stress or worry. Consider this cancellation policy your trusty spares kit for the somewhat bumpy roads ahead.

Here are the details of our cancellation policy. You can find this in full on our Terms and Conditions page here.

Covid-19 ‘cancel at any time’ Cancellation Policy

Due to the circumstances of COVID-19 and its impacts on the travel industry, Lifecycles Travel has introduced a temporary cancellation policy.

The policy will cover:

Any purchase of domestic travel including rides, holidays or bike hire purchased with the intent to conduct travel between 1st May 2020 and 31st December 2020 can be cancelled and customers will be issued a full refund.

Any purchase of international travel including Italy Grand Tours purchased with the intent to conduct travel between 1st May 2020 and 31st December 2021 can be cancelled and customers will be issued a full refund.

Customers can ‘cancel at any time’ and receive a refund if COVID-19 has directly impacted their ability to engage with Lifecycles Travel and their cycling tourism products. This includes government-imposed travel bans and restrictions, sickness or poor health and/or unforeseeable impacts of COVID-19.

Over the coming weeks and months we will be rolling out some new trips and holidays in preparation for reopening. We are ready to kick back into gear and you’ll love what we’ve got in store.

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