The Easter long weekend has come and gone in Sydney. While I did not spend as much time on the bike as I wanted to (though I did get to spend some quality time with my wife and son), I was able to plan a ride that I have been itching to do for some time now – West Head and Akuna Bay. Ever since I had the opportunity to ride up at Bobbin Head the other cyclists in the office have been telling me about West Head and Akuna Bay. What surprised me about this route was that I had no idea where it was. I have lived in Sydney most of my life, but I really had no idea where this ride was.

I spent the week leading up to the weekend scouring Google maps and finding the best place to kick off the ride. I used Mapmyride to check out the route that we would do, out from Terrey Hills to the West Head and then back with a detour via Akuna Bay back to Terrey Hills. This whole ride would be pretty much within the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park in Sydney’s Northern Suburbs. The route wasn’t long, but the vertical climbing was racking up. But I have been caught up before by Mapmyride and its false gradients. The gradients tend to be very undercooked, especially when you lengthen out your ride route. So I took it with a pinch of salt knowing that it was going to be tougher than what the software indicated. On a side note – unless Mapmyride fixes this and a few other niggles I struggle to see why I would use this website over say Garmin Connect or Strava.

So I picked up my riding buddy AC at 4:30am, strapped the bikes on the roof, and headed off to Terrey Hills. We were on the saddle ready to roll by 5:20am, and headed out to the West Head. What greeted us was the best ever tarmac that I have ever ridden on. It was smooth as a baby’s rear end and perfectly laid. Diving down into McCarrs Creek gave an indication that we would be doing some climbing – again contrary to the Mapmyride ride profile. Once you climb back up out of it, then we found ourselves rolling up and down over some quite steep gradients while not ever climbing more than 30-40m at the most. But the fun part of this ride is the high speed descents that you get to enjoy off the back of each of the climbs. I was struggling a bit, with AC powering on, but boy did I have a grin on my face.

The total distance that we would cover would not be more than 45km, so getting to West Head from Terrey Hills was only some 18km out to the head. But boy what a reward! The view of the mouth of the Hawkesbury River was epic. We had to stop and take pics. Here is the panorama shot of the view, with my camera phone not doing justice to the wow factor. And yes the Southern Head on the right is Barrenjoey Head at the end of Palm Beach (or for people who watch the awful soap opera Home and Away – it is Summer Bay)

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Returning back proved just as challenging, but my lungs had opened up a bit more and the rising sun had taken the edge off the air. Getting back to the intersection that pointed us to Akuna Bay, we relished the opportunity to dive down into Akuna Bay. The road surface got a little rougher, but still way better than Bobbin Head, Berowra Waters, or Galston Gorge. Akuna Bay itself is magic with a brief but heavenly route hugging the water. The route takes you past the massive but secluded d’Alboro Marina. I could have stopped again to take another photo, but we were powering on. Being right at sea level meant that we would have to climb back up out of Akuna Bay back to Terrey Hills. The climb is a good one – 3 km long at a 7% gradient, never really peaking above 10-11%. In the sun and amongst the trees in the National Park, while tough and challenging, it was fun riding this climb.

By the time we got back to the car (for the record, AC kicked my butt) we both had huge smiles beaming on our face. Without conferring with each other we both reached the conclusion that this was quite possibly the best ride in Sydney. Here is the map of the ride and elevation profile of the ride from Strava (a lot more accurate than Mapmyride):

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I can’t wait to do this ride again, and if any other Sydney riders have a different opinion I would love to know. This is not an easy ride, and you really need a good fast road steed to enjoy it, but I reckon West Head – Akuna Bay is the best ride in Sydney.