Bathurst to Rylstone in the central west of NSW
At a Glance
A spectacular ride between Bathurst, Limekilns, Wattle Flat, Sofala, Ilford, Kandos and Rylstone.
Riders climb out of Bathurst to the north on quiet sealed roads, and are rewarded with fabulous vistas over farm country and native bushland all the way to Rylstone. This is a route between gold and cement mining areas, where Australian historical towns are established within the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri people. Sofala, the Turon River valley and views within and between the small towns are highlights of this route.
If you’re really cruising, or if you have non-riding people following along, there are plenty of things to see and do along the way. Wattle Flat Heritage Lands is an awesome walk. The historic village of Sofala on the Turon is delightful. Kandos and Rylstone have working class histories and are well worth exploring too.
Sights on Route
- Macquarie River valley
- Turon River valley
- Eccentric farm gates and letterboxes
Traps For Young Players
- Limited phone reception
- Razorback climb
- Turon River after rain
- Distance between supplies
- Limited locations to re-charge e-bikes
Food & Drink
Camping & Accommodation
- Wattle Flat
- Turon River / Upper Turon
Best Time to Ride
This route can be ridden at any time of year, but best during Spring and Autumn. It can be very cold (including snow at times) during winter, and pretty hot in summer. The Turon River causeways (east of Sofala) can be impassable after heavy rains and, if so, riders may be diverted onto the main road between Sofala and Ilford
What’s the best bike for this route?
I have ridden this route on a gravel bike with 42mm tubeless tyres. The higher percentage of sealed roads means a rider can scoot along pretty well. The gravel sections are usually only sketchy after prolonged rains but are OK on a gravel bike with 42mm tyres if riders slow down. Heavier MTB-style tyres will be slower on the bitumen, and easily handle the gravel.
Do I take anything special on this course?
It’s always a good idea to carry a PLB or satellite communicator-enabled GPS. Water can be a limitation when climbing up razorback and on to Kandos on a warm or hot day (no resupply options). Also, two chainrings would be helpful for climbing when carrying gear on the bike.
I rate this ride as 6 on a scale out of 10. With over 1,700m of climbing in 111km and some steep pinches (>15%), the climbs to Wattle Flat and then nearly 9km of Razorback are brutal in general, but especially when carrying gear on the bike.
There had been a few people asking about northerly cycling routes out of Lithgow and Bathurst to get to a few different towns. With family and friends visiting in 2021 for the Mudgee Classic, I chose to load up the gravel bike and try one of these routes I’d been scoping out.
I chose my stock-gravel bike with Salsa Cowchipper and Baryak Expedition bars to hang onto (no other upgrades since purchasing new in 2019), set up with 42mm tubeless tyres and a single chainring up front.
A Garmin 66i and 1030-plus were guiding the way, my trackers and the emergency contact with the outside world. Crumpler, BBD, skingrowsback and Revelate Terrapin bags round-out the kit.
A tad cold and foggy when I left Bathurst at 7:30am. It was still pretty chilly climbing through Limekilns to Wattle Flat under clear blue skies, and then descending to Sofala where I stopped at the Rustic Café for brunch. Well worth the check-in, and the last refuelling point before Kandos (it’s a long way on a bike).
I also forgot sunscreen, and the Sofala General Store had reopened a couple of weeks before and so that was fortunate for me. I ditched the long sleeves, stashed them in the Revelate bag, and then lathered up with sunscreen.
After a chat with the shop owners, some locals and the bikers, I headed east and started to climb Razorback.
This is a tough climb. A really tough climb. Tougher when you’re a Clydesdale cyclist, using a single chainring and carry bikebacking kit. I had to stop a few times climbing this hill to catch my breath, which was a good chance to take pics. I was also going through my 2 litres of water quite quickly and would run short on my way through to Kandos.
After ascending Razorback, it was a net downhill with a few rolling ascents all the way to Rylstone to catch up with family.
Good parts: It’s a Type 2 fun ride. Speccy views, mostly really quiet roads and touring through country NSW. Awesome people in the towns who were genuinely interested in my ride, and why on earth I didn’t just drive.
Tough parts: Over 1,800m of climbing in 111km, with some steep pinches (>15%). The climbs to Wattle Flat, then nearly 9km of Razorback. Might be easier with relaxed gearing (2 chainrings). Running short of water. Waking up the following morning feeling like I’d played a full day of contact sports the day before (might have better if I’d sorted out my hydration en route).
Crappy parts: main roads between Tara Loop Road and Ilford, then Ilford Hall Road to Clandulla. Just a bit too much traffic on roads with limited shoulder.
Would I do it again? Yep. Gravel bike is the way to go as there’s a good amount of sealed rural roads. Just needed 2x chainrings on the front.
Traps for young players: Limited refuelling stops, especially water. Limited phone reception. That bloody Razorback climb. Beware crossing the Turon River if there has been rain upstream - it can be treacherous for cars and diabolically disastrous for cyclists.