With thousands of kilometres of sealed roads across the region, the Northern Rivers is an ideal place for road cycling.
Most of the roads in the region are minor highways and rural roads with very few cars and less trucks. Most of the heavy traffic is confined to the Pacific Highway and while there are wide shoulders in some places it is not recommended to ride along the Pacific Highway.
Local roads wind through sugar cane farms, dairy farms and a variety of orchard areas as well as many State Forests and National Parks with some spectacular scenery.
Many of the best cycling routes have been mapped by ourselves, the Byron Bay Cycling Club and other local riders. We have tried to collate a selection of the courses here, but there are many more routes out there waiting to be discovered!
With so many great places to rides in the region, there is an active road riding scene that spans a wide range of distances and abilities. Most of these rides are fairly social and open to all ages, old and young.
NO SWEAT Recovery Ride
Meet at McDonald's Car Park - cnr. Kerr St & Tamarind Drive. Ride via River Rd to Wardell and return. Ferry crossing fee, $1 per bike each way. Ride finishes at the Coffee Shop on Moon St in Ballina for coffee & cake. This is an easy recovery ride for those who may have raced on the weekend, it is also ideal for new and inexperienced riders.
Evans Head Cafe to Cafe Ride
Departs: 6:45AM (7:15AM in Winter)
Ride departs from the Burns Point Ferry carpark at the end of Burns Point Ferry Rd. Riders cross on the Burns Point Ferry ($1 each way), then down to Wardell, the along Wardell Rd and Bagotville Rd to Dungarubba, then to Woodburn and Evans Head coming back through Broadwater to Bagotville Rd. Rides stops for a breather, to regroup or to fill water bottles at Dungarubba, Woodburn and at also Evans Head for coffee and cake etc.
From: La Barraca Espresso, 29 Keen St
All rides start and finish in Lismore unless otherwise stated.
Houghlahans Creek to Fernleigh Rd - MTB & Flat Bar Road Bikes
Meet at McDonalds Cafe cnr Kerr St and Tamarind Drive. The ride heads south along Kerr St, then west along River St to the freeway, passes under freeway to the Teven Valley Romp (below), then heads up Houghlahans Creek Rd to Kirklands Lane, then Nashua Rd down to Fernleigh village, then down Fernleigh Rd to Tintenbar then down Old Bangalow Rd to Tamarind Drive and back into Ballina.
south along highway to complete Pimlico-Wardell Loop (below) finishing in the Ballina CBD for coffee and cake at one of the many cafes along River St.This is a little bit quicker ride for fitter or more experienced riders.
From: La Barraca Espresso, 29 Keen St, Lismore.
From: La Barraca
Dungarubba out and back (fast group)
Meet at the McDonald's Car Park. Ride via River Rd to Wardell, then follow Wardell Rd to Bagotville Rd then to the Dungarubba. Stop on the Richmond River at Dungarubba for a rest and to fill bottles before returning via same route. Ferry crossing fee, $1 per bike each way.
Occasionally mixed up with a hills ride, eg. Devil's Elbow (below).
Easy Wardell Run
Meet at the McDonald's Car Park. A variation on the Monday morning ride at a leisurely pace. Ride via River Rd to Wardell, with detours, etc. depending on the group and return. Ferry crossing fee, $1 per bike each way. Usually ends up with coffee in the Ballina CBD.
Ballina Coastal Cruisers
The Ballina Coastal Cruisers is a social riding group that leaves the front of The Bicycle Emporium at 7AM on Saturday mornings. It is an ideal riding group for new riders, inexperienced riders, juniors, ladies and others that want the opportunity to explore the wonderful scenic back-roads of the region with the security of riding in a group, but don't want to go at a breakneck pace.
This is a no drop group that will pause regularly to allow riders to re-group. Courses vary each week starting with the gentle Teven Valley Romp. Rides finish at one of the many local coffee shops. Feel free to join The Bicycle Emporium Strava Club.
For more information contact ride leader, Ian "Patto" Patterson on
0422 704 204
The Alstonville Grupetto meet at the rear of the Federal Hotel in Alstonville. This is a fast ride that heads out along Wardell Rd towards Wardell heading down Meerschaum Vale hill, through Wardell, across the river and up River Rd to the Burns Point Ferry to head back across the Richmond River then west along River St, under the freeway and up Uralba Rd before heading back to Alstonville. There are a number of Strava segments on the route and the segment up Uralba Rd can be quite competitive!
The Alstonville Gruppetto also have their own Strava Club.
Lismore Riders Coffee Ride
From: Clyde Campbell Car Park
Lismore Riders Fast Group
From: Lismore City Hall
Distance: 40km, includes Richmond Hill Climb
Meet at McDonalds Cafe cnr Kerr St and Bangalow Rd. Various courses depending on group. Sometimes splits into fast and slow groups. Courses include Bangalow via the Freeway, Bangalow via Old Pacific Highway and finished off with coffee and cake in Ballina.
Meet and depart from roundabout at intersection of Angels Beach Rd and Old Coast Rd.
Speed: 25-28km/hMeet and depart from roundabout at intersection of Angels Beach Rd and Old Coast Rd.
For more information call Carole 0416 188 539
Local Rides & Training Routes
Pimlico - Wardell Run
A leisurely roll along the coastal flats from Ballina to Wardell.
Total distance of around 35km.
The course has two options depending on your preference for braving the Pacific Highway.
Starting at The Bicycle Emporium, the first route takes the main road (River St) out of Ballina to meet the Pacific Hwy, rides south along the shoulder for a couple of kilometres, crosses Emigrant Creek and turns onto Pimlico Rd. (NOTE: there is no shoulder on Emigrant Creek bridge, watch out for vehicles, especially trucks, behind you).
Follow Pimlico Rd south to Wardell, cross the Richmond River at Wardell using the footpath on the Bridge and come back to Ballina along River Rd through Empire Vale and South Ballina taking the Burns Point Ferry back to Ballina. The ferry charge is $1 for bicycles.
There is a cafe and pie shop in Wardell about 500m before the bridge.
The alternative route is to take the out and back trip on the South Ballina side of the river. This avoids the short section on the Highway across Emigrant Creek.
Teven Valley Romp
A lovely romp up the picturesque Teven Valley.
Total distance around 25km.
Starting from The Bicycle Emporium, head west out of town along River St. Cross the North Creek bridge and slip into Johnson Dr and then Kalinga St to avoid the worst of the traffic along River St. At the end of Kalinga turn right onto the Burns Point Ferry Rd then left onto River St again and follow this out to the interchange with the Pacific Highway. Pass under the Pacific Highway and join the Bruxner Highway for 500m taking the first turn on the right, Teven Rd. Follow Teven Rd for around 2km, cross the Emigrant Creek Bridge and take the first right onto North Teven Rd. Follow this beautiful little climb over the hill then drop down past the quarry (watch for trucks) then out to meet Tintenbar Rd, turn left, cross two small creeks then turn left onto Teven Rd and head back to town.
Fernleigh - Newrybar - Lennox Tour
Something a little longer and a little more challenging.
Total distance of around 56km.
Starting from The Bicycle Emporium the route heads west along River Street before turning right into Moon St, up to the end and left onto Tamarind Drive. Follow Tamarind drive up the hill and take the left turn onto Tintenbar Rd towards Tintenbar, quickly down the hill, over the bridge and turn right into Fernleigh Rd. Watch out for oncoming traffic coming downhill into Tintenbar.
Follow Fernleigh Rd as it winds its way up through Fernleigh and Brooklet to Newrybar. Stop at the Harvest Cafe, the coffee and food is excellent. Head north out of Newrybar on the old Pacific Highway till it meets the current Pacific Highway then take a left-tight dog-leg across the highway onto Broken Head Rd. Follow this down onto Midgen Flat Rd and head out to the Coast Rd, turn right and head south. Depending on your need for further refreshment you can turn into Lennox head and make for the cafe strip or continue along the Coast Rd eating up a series of pleasant undulations until you get back into Ballina.
Fernleigh - Friday Hut Road
Little brother to the Fernleigh - Newrybar - Lennox Tour.
About 42km with a nice steady climb through wooded lanes and a couple of really fast descents.
Head west from The Bicycle Emporium and turn right at the roundabout into Moon St. Follow Moon St to the end where it meets Tamarind Drive, turn left and follow the road over the canal and out of town. Good hotmix surface although the shoulder is a bit narrow in a few spots.
Pass under the Pacific Highway and head up Tamarind Drive then turn left into Old Bangalow Rd. The road surface is quite rough and at high tide after a bit of rain there is sometimes water over the road. Follow this to the end and turn left onto Tintenbar Rd at the General Store. The less interesting but steeper route is up Tamarind Drive and left down Tintenbar Rd. Cross Emigrant Creek on Tintenbar Rd and turn right onto Fernleigh Rd. The road climbs steadily for around 3km then rolling hills for another 7km before you get to the crossroad with Friday Hut Road. Turn right into Friday Hut Rd, go over the crest and then hang on for a fast descent through Farmland, over a couple of little bumps, past the turn-off to Killen Falls (worth a visit) and then another fast descent through rainforest to cross Emigrant Creek again before heading back up to Tamarind Dr and into town.
Meerschaun Vale Madness
One of the more notorious local climbs!
Around 45km with a brutal little hill reminiscent of the Muur de Huy!
From The Bicycle Emporium head west out of town along River St, cross the bridge on the bike path and take Johnson Drive/Kalinga Street out to Burns Point Ferry Rd. Turn left onto Burns Point Ferry Rd and ride down to the ferry, which charges $1 for cyclists. Take the ferry across to South Ballina and head down to Wardell. At Wardell turn right into Byron St then up onto the bridge on the footpath, across the bridge and back down onto the road. Straight ahead for pies and coffee, otherwise under the bridge, up a little rise and follow the road out of town. This become Wardell Rd and goes over a really nice little climb before dropping down into the valley at Meerschaun Vale after which the road heads straight up the steepest bit of the range in these parts, the first time I did it I almost died!! Fortunately it's not very long and the first section to the bus stop is the worst, after that you're more or less on the plateau and can roll along towards Alstoville. I've mapped coming down Uralba Rd, which is a great descent, but you can roll on into Alstonville for coffee, try ESP Espresso Bar or Savannah Coffee Lounge, or maybe a counter meal at the Federal Hotel and roll out of town and down Teven Rd back to Ballina.
Mostly flat with a section of rolling hills,
Around 65km through forest and farmland.
Head west from The Bicycle Emporium along Kalinga St tot he end ay Burns Point Ferry Rd, turn right then left onto River St and head towards the Pacific Highway, take the exit south on the Pacific Highway, cross Emigrant Creek and then turn left into Pimlico Rd. Roll down Pimlico to Wardell, turn left at the pub, under the bridge and follow the road out of town towards Alstonville. After the first short climb start the descent then turn left onto Bagotville Rd. This rolls along the edge of the valley over gently undulating foothills and is a very pleasant roll. Bagotville Rd ends at a T-intersection. Turn left and follow the road out to Broadwater where it meets the Pacific Hwy. There is a reasonable shoulder for most of the way back to Wardell. Turn left into River St at Wardell just before the bridge to go under the bridge and out to meet River Rd and head north back towards the ferry, Ballina and a well earned coffee at The Wharf.
Got a favorite route you want to share?
Tamarind Drive - Ross Lane Loop
This ride can be taken in either direction, but a few good hills whichever way you tackle it.
Total distance of around 30km.
Starting from The Bicycle Emporium follow River St to the intersection with Moon St, head north along Moon Street to join Bangalow Road. Heading west Bangalow Rd becomes Tamarind Dr, crosses the canal and heads out past the industrial area and airport. Continue along Tamarind Dr as it passes under the Pacific Highway Bypass and follows the highway on the western side.
The climb up Tamarind Dr is about 10% average gradient, there is a short quick descent then the rest of the climb to cross over the top of the highway to join Ross Lane. A long descent then to the coastal plain and out to meet The Coast Rd. Turn right an come back past (or through) Lennox Head and follow The Coast Road back to town.
For an extra challenge head up North Creek Rd out of the roundabout at Lennox Head connecting up with Skennars Head Rd and back onto The Coast Rd.
If you are already toast, stick to The Coast Rd, turn into Skennars Head Rd and join the bike path through Skennars Head to save yourself climbing over the headland. There are plenty of places to refuel in Lennox Head.
Uralba - Tintenbar Loop
Whichever way you go there is a pretty good climb and a couple of serious bumps! I prefer clockwise, but either direction is a good ride.
Total distance of only 42km, but it will probably seem like more.
From The Bicycle Emporium on River Street, head west out of town, slip onto the bike path, cross the bridge then onto Johnson Drive, quick left-tight dog-leg onto Kalinga St then out to Burns Point Ferry Rd. Turn right, then left onto the main road, head towards the highway. Slip under the Pacific Highway and onto the Bruxner Highway towards Alstonville. After crossing the creek take the next left onto Uralba Rd. This follows the creek for a while before it starts to climb. The climb is a pretty good workout to get up onto the plateau. Follow Uralba Rd until it meets Wardell Rd and turn right (watch for traffic flying downhill on Wardell Rd). Follow Wardell Rd along a series of pleasant undulations, over the Bruxner Highway and into Alstonville. If you're looking for coffee head left at the roundabout for ESP Espresso Bar or Savannah Coffee Lounge, for something more substantial try our friends at Quattro. Otherwise go straight on and the road bends around to the left and heads up towards the highway, at the top flick left onto Teven Rd and head downhill. The road rolls along on the plateau for a while until a T intersection, turn right and from there a very nice descent starts although in the morning you can have the sun in your eyes going into a few corners. At the bottom you can opt for the shortcut home along Teven Rd or cross a couple of old wooden bridges and head for the bump, up and over into Tintenbar, then up and up again onto Tamarind Dr, then it's all downhill with an easy roll back into Ballina.
Houghlahans Creek to Fernleigh Rd
Also known as the Ballina to Booyong Rail Trail, this one is something for the more adventurous rider!
Total distance around 38km.
Starting at The Bicycle Emporium head west out of town along River St, cross the canal bridge on the bike path and slip into Johnson Drive/Kalinga St down to Burn Point Ferry Road, the pop back out onto the main road. Pass under the Pacific Highway and take the Bruxner Highway exit towards Alstonville and then the first right into Teven Rd. Follow Teven Rd across Emigrant Creek then take the first right onto North Teven Rd to warn the legs up. Roll over the hill, down past the quarry and out to Tintenbar Rd, then turn left, cross one bridge and turn right onto Houghlahans Creek Rd. The road climbs gently at first along the side of the valley and in several places you can see cuttings from the old Ballina to Booyong railway, which was open from 1930-1949. After a couple of kilometres the bitumen ends and the road is unsealed for a short distance, then a short stretch of bitumen, then unsealed again for the rest of the climb, which can make getting out of the saddle interesting. The climb winds up through the rainforest and is very picturesque,and a little steep! The climb ends at the disabled riding school and the bitumen starts again, continue along the road till it meets Kirklands Lane. After another couple of kilometres this merges with Nashua Rd, which will take you down to Fernleigh Rd at Fernleigh. Turn right here and follow back to Tintenbar where there is a general store at the petrol station if you need topping up. Here you can either follow Tintenbar Rd up to Tamarind Drive, then back into Ballina, or turn at the petrol station into George St, which becomes old Bangalow Rd. This is quite an adventure as the road, despite recent resurfacing, is incredibly rough and can be partially submerged if the tide is in and it has rained recently. All part of the adventure! This comes out on Tamraind drive at the bottom of the hill and then an easy roll back into town then head to the Wharf for a much needed coffee!
A gentle roll over a couple of the nastiest local bumps! Challenging in either direction.
At a mere 27km it's a great little heart-starter!
Head west from The Bicycle Emporium out towards the Pacific Highway and onto the beginning of the Bruxner Highway towards Alstonville and then take the first right onto Teven Rd. Follow Teven Road until you cros Emigrant Creek then turn right onto North Teven Road. Roll up through the rainforest, down past the quarry and out to Tintenbar Road and turn right. Head up the first of the nasty little bumps (is it just me or is the road steeper than it looks?). After the first ramp the road winds around and continues to climb then plunges down into Tintenbar village, go straight on and straight up the next bump to the intersection with Tamarind Drive, turn right and complete the climb, then fly down the hill and roll back into town.
Wardell - Wyrallah - Bagotville
A couple of nice steady climbs and rolling hills.
Around 90km through rainforest and farmland
Head west along River St, cross the canal and on the bike path and slip into Kalinga St for a gentle roll to the edge of town. Pop back out onto River St from Burns Point Ferry Rd and turn left towards the Pacific Highway. Turn left onto the Pacific Highway and head south over Emigrant Creek then take the first left onto Pimlico Rd. Beware: The shoulder on the bridge over Emigrant Creek is very narrow.
Roll along Pimlico Rd to Wardell where you can find snacks, drinks and a well-known pie shop. Pass under the bridge and follow Bath St until it joins Wardell Rd and continue along Wardell Rd towards Alstonville. After a couple of little hills and a descent through the forest look out for the Meerschaun Vale Hall and left turn left at the hall onto Marom Creek Rd. Follow this for about 10km until it meets Tucki Rd. Turn left onto Tucki Rd and go across a small bridge over Marom Creek. Follow Tucki Rd, it makes a sharp left then starts the first climb which is around 2.5km, then descends into the next valley followed by a similar climb up to the intersection with Wyrallah Rd. Turn left and follow this along the plateau for a few kilometres, then a really great fast descent back down to the river plain. Roll along the river flats until to meet the Coraki-Broadwater Rd. Here you can either carry on to Woodburn for water, toilets and supplies or turn left and follow the Coarki-Broadwater Rd for about 6km till you meet Bagotville Rd on the left, Turn into Bagotville Rd and roll along the foothills through forest and farmland until you get back up to Wardell Rd. Turn right and roll back into Wardell, go under the bridge then around and onto the footpath over the bridge to get to the southern side of the river then roll up River Drive back to the ferry and into Ballina. The ferry charge is $1 for bicycles.
Great ride with a stiff little climb in the middle!
A bit under 60km, mostly through farmland with a grippy little climb
Head west out of town along River Street and then Kalinga St to the Burns Point Ferry Rd and turn left down to the Ferry. Cross the river on the ferry, which is $1 for bicycles, and then head south along River Drive down to Wardell. Cross back over the river using the bridge footpath, then loop back around under the bridge and follow the road out of town till it meets Wardell Rd. Follow Wardell Rd towards Alstonville as per the Wyrallah - Bagotville Loop, turn left onto Marom Creek Rd and then follow this past the Tucki Rd turn-off and head back up onto the plateau.
This is the climb of Devil's Elbow, a little used road and the surface isa bit rough in places. The climb winds around for about 2-3 km up into a narrow valley with a sharp turn across the creek (the "Elbow") and back around the face of the hill and out onto the top of the plateau near the hamlet of Rous Mill. Turn left at the top of the climb and follow the road through a sharp right, then a left-tight dogleg across Dalwood Rd onto Rous Rd, then left-right again across Wardell Rd onto Uralba Rd and down Uralba hill to come out on the Bruxner Highway a little to the west of the Pacific Highway interchange. Turn right onto the Bruxner Highway, pass under the Pacific Highway onto River Street and head back into Ballina along Kalinga St and the bike path over the canal.
More Riding in the Region
Mullumbimby & Nightcap National Park
The guys at the local bike shop in Mullumbimby have mapped some of their favorite rides in the area for road and mountain biking. Check them all out on their website.
True Wheel Rides
Byron Bay & Surrounds
The local cycling club at Byron Bay has also mapped a large number of their social ride courses with interactive maps and a brief description of over 50 courses. Check them all out here:
Byron Bay Rides
Local Cycling Clubs
Ballina Masters Cycle Club
The Ballina Masters Cycle Club caters to ladies over 30 and men over 35 years of age.
The Club aces every Saturday afternoon at South Ballina.
Sign-on at 2:30pm, racing starts at 3pm.
Take the Burns Point Vehicle Ferry, start line about 800m along River Drive. Entry is $5 per rider on the day, which goes into the prize pool. Post ride drinks and post-mortem held at the Hotel Henry Rous from around 4:30pm.
Lismore Riders Group
All rides start and finish in Lismore unless otherwise stated.This is an informal group ride where the route is determined on the day.
Rides are subject to change and distances are approximate.
Ballina Bicycle User Group (BUG)
Ballina Bicycle Users Group (BUG) is a group of cyclists in Ballina Shire who actively advocate safe cycling in our community.
The BUG is a great place for novice riders to get started road riding, a totally no-drop riding group, there's no chance that you'll get left behind and not be able to find your way home or have to ride back alone. A very friendly and supportive group to help you get started and get the most out of road riding. All levels of riders are welcome and many different cycling styles.
Byron Bay Cycle Club
The local cycling club is the Byron Bay Cycle Club, one of the oldest cycling clubs in Australia. The club runs a training ride of around 40km on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from the clock tower in Byron Bay leaving at 6:30am.
Murwillumbah Cycling Club
Murwillumbah Cycle Club has been home to road racing in the Northern Rivers since the 1930s. They have a series of technical rides and race courses over the picturesque roads of the Tweed Valley with racing every Sunday at 2pm (Queensland time).
Ballina Triathlon Club
The Ballina Triathlon Club currently has around 280 members ranging from beginners to professional athletes. New members are always welcome.
The Club meets every Friday evening at 5:30PM during daylight savings, at Shaws Bay, Ballina, for a swim/run event.Bring your running shoes, swimmers and shorts or tri-suit, towel and your enthusiasm.