I took the bike with us down to the campsite at Shellharbour on our recent trip, and was keen to get out and explore the trails around the area. Last time I spent any length of time in this area was when I was a child, and we always found ourselves skipping over this region and travelling further south to either Kiama, Gerringong, Shoalhaven Heads or Jervis Bay. With the trip to Shellharbour being well under two hours drive from Sydney, I don’t think this will be the last time we head down there.

Riding between Christmas and New Year means that there are not too many cars about in the mornings, and you can start a little bit later. My fear is that I was going to be spending a lot of time on the road, with no view of water. I was wrong! There is an awesome bike path that runs from Shellharbour to the Windang Bridge. What a great way to kick off your morning ride by riding next to the ocean and inlets that pepper the NSW South Coast. Below is the route that I marked out, and the link to the location on Google Maps.

Shellharbour - Windang Bike PathThis route also takes in Barack Point, which was an awesome spot to take my son for a swim (which we did on New Years Day). The water was only as deep as my waist at high tide, and the wide sandy shores were plenty of fun to splash around in. I stopped to take some pics along the way to the Windang Bridge. (All the images link through to the larger images on my Flickr site).

Riding - Barrack Point

Riding - Barrack Point

Riding - Windang

Riding - WindangGetting over the Windang Bridge brought me to a route that I have done a few times before – around Lake Illawarra. I had done it three times previously in the Ride Around the Lake, which is an organised 40km spin around the Lake Illawarra to raise funds for my|place Youth Housing in the Illawarra region. It is a great community ride that I have done with my Aunt who lives down that way (and who goes hard even above the age of 50). This time there were road closures or Police helping me out – in fact it was only me and the bike. So I rode the track from memory with all the turns and road crossings, and had to lift the bike a few times over barriers (cyclocross style) but it was the perfect morning for it.

Lake Illawarra is really beautiful with plenty of sea life, protected wetlands, and bird life. The bike path takes you around most of it, but is broken up by Koong-Burry Bay wetlands. The diversion is a short stretch on the freeway. One thing I was shocked at was how much glass from used bottles of alcohol littered the shoulder of the freeway, it was like dodging land mines. I took a few more photos before putting my head down to clock up the kilometers.

Riding - Tuggerah Bay

Riding - Koong-Burry Bay

Riding - Koong-Burry Bay

Riding - Koong-Burry Bay

There is one gem of a segment on this route, down hill bombing on Cormack Avenue in Dapto. Even on my MTB steed and not pushing it I clocked 59km/hr – too much fun! Just be careful of the little gutter lip at the bottom of the road.

This was my last ride for 2012. Like all sad cyclists who fester over their numbers (be it speed, kilometers / miles, weight – etc.) I clocked up 2,347km of measured riding for 2012. I only bought my Garmin Edge 800 in May last year, and I reckon there is probably another 1,000km of unmeasured km to add to that. So that would have taken me from Melbourne to Mackay in Queensland. Not bad – but time to do more.

Happy New Year everyone – I am looking forward to plenty of adventures in 2013.