The Border Run 2024

The Border Run 2024

Written by Sarah Hammond

The concept was simple: Can you ride a 240 km mostly gravel cycling route to the border in a day? Like all Curve rides, the goal is to light a spark to encourage riders to do something they may not ever think to. The brand bike you ride doesn't matter; it's about sharing an adventure with like-minded folks and getting you off the couch. And that's precisely what the Curve squad and many other riders set out to do recently.
The day started with a very rude alarm clock at 3:30 am, a quick coffee, and a large bowl of oats, and then it was a quick blast on my Kevin of Steel into Melbourne CBD. The start line for The Border Run was at the Melbourne GPO, corner of Bourke Street Mall and Elizabeth Street, historically the location chosen by many Australian Overlanders when cycling and racing.

Waiting for us was easily 100 cyclists ready for their mini adventure. There were riders from various communities - the fast NRS riders, the basket-packing crew, MTB riders, roadies new to gravel, young and old!
After a quick briefing by Jesse, we were off, a stream of red tail lights snaking through the city bike paths in the dark and towards the border.
The group split out pretty quickly, with a faster group off the front, as we covered the first commute to Woodlands Historic Park. I moved back and forth among riders, chatting about how far we had to go and how long it may take.
Woodlands was busy with kangaroos, so we rode the first gravel for the day slowly to avoid an early altercation with wildlife. 

Leaving Woodlands, the course continues onto a series of sealed and gravel roads as we headed towards Lancefield. The early sunrise light finally started to appear, casting a reflective glow across the big paddock's surroundings. I was lucky to catch a few foxes zipping past me and a shooting star above.
One highlight was Kennedys Lane (60 km mark), a scenic descent down a bumpy farm track, and over Kennedys Crossing on an old historic bridge. The haul out was probably the steeper of the sections for the whole day, a slow gravel grind back towards the main road.

Lancefield was the first resupply option at the 90 km mark. Some stayed for the bakeries, while others grabbed only water and pushed on. The gradient for the first 110 km is a slow climb, enough to be noticeable once you tip over the top. Paired with some friendly tailwinds, the second half of the route was much faster.
More lovely gravel roads, occasional corrugations and the next resupply at Heathcote came up fast, at 138 km. Until now, I had been riding alone but found Jesse at the petrol station, and we pushed on together towards the border. The kilometres were counting down fast as we sped towards Rochester, with a quick dart through Runnymede State Forest and some sandy farm roads, with most riders taking it slow to avoid too much fishtailing. Rochester is at the 215 km mark and was a quick stop where I sunk an 800 ml sports drink very quickly.

The final 30 km was super fast, maybe spurred on by the finish-line adrenaline you get with these longer days. We had been riding with another mate, Tim, and we powered through the last gravel straights towards Echuca.
Very quickly, we were back in a busy town, stopping at traffic lights as our adventure was coming to an end.
The ride finishes at the Vic-NSW border on the Echuca-Moama Bridge. Your ride is complete once you tap the "Welcome to New South Wales" sign and take a finisher photo. We were greeted by Ryan and a few other riders and stayed on to welcome in many more over the next couple of hours.

The big highlight for the day was hearing everyone's stories and feelings about what they had achieved. Gathering for drinks at The Royal in town, the room was buzzed with excitement of what many people had completed. Some were seasonal long-distance riders, and others had never exceeded 100 km. People continued to roll in until late that night; one rider, Janet, sent through her finisher photo after reaching the sign 5 minutes before midnight. Others also chose to break the ride into two parts, using Heathcote as an easy halfway point for sleep.

The following day saw many tired riders, some risking limited room on the Echuca train or riding to Bendigo to increase chances. It was a ride that seemed much harder at only 110 km, thanks to wary bodies and a solid headwind. Arriving home Sunday night, the quiet time was welcomed as we reflected on the best day event Curve hosted.
A massive thank you to our team for helping put this day together and for getting out and riding too. And, of course, a bigger thank you to the riders who support these events and make it all worthwhile. Seeing so many riders make what they wanted of the adventure was great. With no entry fee and no rules, riders could shape their ride to suit them. Whilst some experienced riders blasted to the border as fast as they could, others just wanted to see if they could make it in a day. 

If you missed out this year, DO NOT PANIC. You can ride this route at any time. The ride file can be found HERE, and if you are looking for tips to prepare, you should read THIS. Perhaps we will make this a yearly event? Or maybe we will look at an XL version.

Photos: Shaun Scource, Purdie Long, Joanne Lee, Jesse Carlsson, Sarah Hammond




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