The Top 5 Questions Asked About The Border Run

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

The concept is simple: can you ride this 240 km mostly gravel cycling route to the border in a day? That is the question we're asking! The Curve squad is inviting the gravel cycling community to give it a go, leaving bright and early at 4:30am on Sat 23 March 2024 from the old Melbourne GPO (corner Elizabeth / Bourke St). Get your mates together and see if you can pull it off! Think of it as a social ride. Ride to the border on this pretty flat course, slap the Welcome to NSW sign and bask in the glow of your achievement. Sound like your sort of thing? Wondering if you can do it? We've been asked plenty of questions, and collected some answers here to help you decide. Read on to learn more.

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

Why Ride to Echuca?

Echuca is the closest town on a state border to Melbourne. Echuca's location was chosen for this very reason. It's the closest point on the River Murray to Melbourne. This was important back in the days when the Murray was an important shipping and transport route. While moving goods along the Murray is a thing of the past, Echuca survives as a lovely historic town on the longest river system in Australia.

Echuca also has plenty of accommodation and a train service back to Melbourne, although the train has limited room for bikes, unfortunately, thanks to the "improvements" to the V/Line trains in recent years.

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

Is the Border Run a Race? Is there an entry fee?

The Border Ride is definitely not a race, and there is no entry fee. If you want to ride with us, we ask that you sign the disclaimer and register for Curve rides here. Think of it as a spirited social ride, or your own personal challenge to make it to the border. It is completely unsupported, so you'll need to fend for yourself along the way. We are not organising any support stations, mechanical help or sag wagons. Nothing. You're on your own. This is part of the appeal. There is a great joy in doing something completely self-supported.

You'll need to take everything you need on the ride or buy it from towns along the way. Don't worry, there are a few of these along the way, which makes the ride manageable. We'll cover this later.

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

What sort of bike should I ride?

A gravel bike will be best for this ride. Tyres at least 35 mm wide are recommended. The roads are not particularly rocky, but tyres at least 35 mm will help make any corrugated sections more comfortable and reduce the chance of punctures.

As with all of our longer rides, we strongly recommend using robust tyres that are near to new. We also strongly recommend running tubeless.

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

Where can I get food and water along the way?

There are plenty of opportunities to get food, water and other services along the way. Here's a brief run down. The distances listed below are the distances from the start:  

  • Woodlands Homestead: 31km - toilet and water
  • Lancefield: 92km - service station, bakery, takeaway shop, cafe, pub and brewery (Lost Watering Hole)
  • Heathcote: 141km - service station, bakery, takeaway shop, supermarket, cafe, pub, and brewery (Palling Bros Brewery). Plenty of accommodation here if you want to ride this over two days
  • Toolleen: 170km (off-course 1km left) - pub, public toilets
  • Rochester: 216km - service station on course. More services off-course in town
  • Echuca: 243km - loads of services, including 24 hr service station if you get in very late

I want to see how fast I can get to the border. Is there a Strava segment?

While the Border Run is not a race, some of you might want to see how fast you can get to the border. Some of you might also want to see who else has completed the ride.

We have set up a Strava segment for this purpose. You can find it here

The Border Run date doesn't work for me. Can I do it some other time?

If the published date doesn't work, give it a shot when it does. The course is entirely public access, so you can do it whenever. If one day is a stretch, why not do it over two? Make your own rules - live a little!

What is the course like?

We have prepared and tested a mostly gravel course from the old Melbourne GPO on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke Streets to Echuca. The course is available here.

Given we're trying to get to the border quickly, the course takes a very direct route heading north. There's not a lot of climbing, so you will spend a lot of time in the saddle but the effort will not be massive.

After a bike path commute to Woodlands Park, a nice safe exit from the Melbourne CBD, we've picked quiet backroads, often tree lined, which provides some shelter from the wind. It's an interesting course with regular services along the way, so you won't have to carry too much if you don't want to.

There's a surprise river crossing along the way too. Nothing too deep. We promise. You'll probably be able to ride it.

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

How much gravel is on the course?

The mixed terrain route is about 60% gravel, 13% bike paths, and 37% sealed roads. There is quite a long bike path commute out of the city to get started, and the sealed portions are mostly quiet tree-lined back roads weaving between the paddocks.

Is there much climbing?

The Border Run route is quite flat. We're not hunting for hills on this course, we're trying to get to the border quickly! The ride file underestimates the climbing a little. It's just over 2,000 m for the 240 km course. The route gradually trends up for the first 100 km and gradually descends for the rest.

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

Where do I stay in Echuca?

Echuca has plenty of accommodation options. Book yourself and your friends something that suits your budget. Let your accommodation folks know that you might be checking in late. This is usually not a problem at all.

Is there a party in Echuca?

We understand riders will be finishing at different times, however we have booked 3 large tables at the 1895 The Royal Pub, you can join us here anytime from 6 pm for dinner or just a cold drink. Come share stories from the day and celebrate your victorious ride to The Border!

How do I get home?

Some people have arranged for someone to come and pick them up from Echuca. Others will ride the whole way back to Melbourne. You may know there is a train service from Echuca back to Melbourne, but space for bikes is extremely limited and there are only two services on a Sunday as I type this, one at 9:06am and one at 6:06pm. Check the V/Line website for more current timetable information.

A safer public transport option is to ride to Bendigo (around about 100 km, on very flat terrain) the day after the Border Run and catch a train from there. There are more services from Bendigo back to Melbourne, so you're more likely to be allowed on with your bike. To help make this easier we created an easy, mostly gravel commute route for you, find that HERE.

Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia

What do I need to take?

For the ride, take what you would for a long day ride that will start in the dark:

  • Lights: Bring a good rear light and a front light that will allow you to see on the road, not just be seen. Depending on how quickly you go you may need lights at both ends of the day. 
  • Repair / emergency: tubeless repair kit, small sealant bottle, spare tube, puncture repair kit, pump (check that it still works), chain quick-links, and multi-tool (with chain breaker).
  • Food / water: take enough food and water to travel the distance between towns. The longest distance between towns is 92 km. We suggest at least two large water bottles, but you may need to carry more in hot conditions.
  • Clothing for the ride: take clothing suitable for the weather conditions (arm warmers and leg warmers if needed, and wet weather gear if the weather is looking average). A light weight wind jacket is always a smart thing to take - you can wear it after your ride too.
  • Gear for after the ride: this is always tricky. Unless you have someone transporting gear for you, you will have to take what you need for your stay in Echuca with you on your bike. A change of clothes and shoes might be nice, but you will have to carry it. In the Curve squad, some of us err on the side of grottiness, taking only a change of underwear, maybe a spare T-shirt (we will walk around in our bike shoes, and wear a wind jacket if it gets a little cool) and some basic medication and toiletries (deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush). Don't forget to take a wall charger and cables for any electronics you need to charge overnight. 
  • Bags: Make sure you have sufficient storage on your bike for what you need to carry. Standard bikepacking bags are a good choice. A saddle pack is a smart option and can fit a lot of stuff. Feed bags are a great option for carrying food in a way that's readily accessible on the bike. A top tube bag is also handy for carrying your phone, wallet and snack.
Curve Cycling Border Run Gravel Cycling Australia
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    1 comment

    Thanks for organising this. Great ride. Cheers

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