Ophir Road and Rock Forest Roundup
At a Glance
A challenging ride on sealed roads over rolling hills above the Macquarie River west of Bathurst.
Why I choose this course and the bike(s) I prefer to ride
I enjoy this out and back course, but I do find it difficult as a heavier rider. I ride this route on my road bike for a good workout on rolling hills which builds strength in my legs, and because of the views at the high points (especially at the turnaround point). I also ride my gravel bike if I decide to ride past the turnaround point and explore gravel routes in the area around Lewis Ponds.
There is plenty of native wildlife on these roads, so I am always careful on the fast descents. Keep an eye out for wild deer as well in the woodland country between the 15-20km on the way out, and the same section (37-47km) on the way back. These introduced animals escaped from a local farm some years ago and a small population has now established in the Rock Forest area.
- Enjoyable ride through mixed farming county
- Coasting or fast open descents
Traps For Young Players
- Wildlife – kangaroos and wombats
- No resupply points
Camping & Accommodation
- Bathurst and surrounds have so many options
- Not much public camping out here
Food & Water
- No supplies on this route
I leave yet another coffee shop and ride about 5km out towards Eglinton. I pass the local tennis complex, adventure park, hospital, Scots All Saints College and the golf driving range along the way. Just after the Baptist Church on my left, I turn up Westbourne Drive and turn right onto the Ophir Road a further 200m up the road.
In less than a kilometre, I’m descending out of the town limits towards the Macquarie River and into farm country. On the left is the historic Abercrombie House (8km) and then Mount Pleasant where there is an obelisk on the top of the hill marking the burial site of Major General William Stewart.
After passing the Dunkeld Road on my left, there are some rolling hills before the first real climb starts about 15 km from the start. I get into a rhythm, and keep an eye out for deer and native wildlife as I climb to the top. I’m rewarded with a fabulous view over Rock Forest to Mount Canobolas on the horizon in the west. I start to roll downhill, and enjoy the faster speed. I don’t think about having to climb this hill on the way home.
The Rock Forest telephone exchange sits on the crest of a short climb, and I soon descend past Chip Chase Park on my right and into the lowest point of the ride (lower than the starting elevation) at Oaky Creek.
Now the real climb starts up towards Devil’s Marbles at the intersection with Cashen’s Lane. With almost 7 kilometres of steady climbing from 645m to 890m in elevation, I remind myself I get to descend this same hill. I must have frayed marbles doing this climb, but the views to the east are worth it when I stop at the top for a drink, some food and a short break.
At Cashen’s Lane, gravel riders could head north or south for alternate loops, or road riders continue west for a bit more climbing on bitumen on White Rocks and Icely Roads towards the city of Orange.
For me today, I turn back to the east on the Ophir Road and enjoy the fast descent, ever wary of wildlife in rural Australia. I tend to ride towards the centre of the road, still staying in the left lane in case cars are coming the opposite way. It is fast. If I didn’t feather my brakes, I’d easily reach 100km/h. That’s too fast for me. The world whizzes by me today at 65-70km/h.
As I approach Swallow Creek and Oaky Creek at around the 37km mark, I look to my left to the north and spot Chip Chase Park’s historic homestead. Counting chimneys is a nice distraction to the sharp 2km climb that is now in front of me. I set into another rhythm.
Once I pass the telephone exchange, I enjoy more views as I descend then climb back towards Pine Ridge Road at Rock Forest. This is the last long ascent before returning to the rolling hills and then the edge of suburbia a further 10km along the road. Refreshments await once I get back to town.