Royal National Park (RNP) runs on the last Sunday of the month, leaving The Square at 6:00am sharp. This ride follows one of Sydney's favourite cycling routes, offering coastal views and lush greenery. The bunch heads through Brighton-Le-Sands, across Captain Cook Bridge, through Sutherland and then down through Audley into the park itself and out through Waterfall before returning again through Brighton-Le-Sands to Marrickville for coffee.
There are limited spots to refill water or take a break on this ride. The first stop is only after the park at Waterfall, once you’ve ridden 50km and climbed both Artillery Hill and Waterfall Hill. There is an opportunity to refill your water bottle here. Otherwise, the next stop is the 7-Eleven in Sutherland, around 70km, where there are toilet facilities, and you can refill your water bottle or purchase a snack.
This ride is recommended for riders who are experienced with bunch riding and regularly do Eastern Hills and 28's Waterfall, as it is a longer ride with some big climbs and technical descents. The bunch will regroup at the top of Artillery Hill after Audley (120m over 1.5km) and Waterfall climb (120m over 4.5km) and aim to stick together in the park. There is also the option to do the Park in reverse and enter through Waterfall and out through Audley, on the day the bunch is welcome to choose through agreement with the designated ride leader.
RNP is aimed at riders with strong fitness and the ability to sustain a 28km/h average. The overall average ride speed can vary depending on the wind direction, varying from 26-30km/h.
The outbound pace recognises the need to save legs for the climbs in the park, with riders waiting at the top of climbs to regroup. Riders need to be comfortable riding with cars passing at speed on roads with small or no shoulder, and on strenuous climbs.
You need to carry two spare tubes, 2 water bottles and some food. There are no options to purchase food until 7-Eleven after 70km of riding. It’s better to carry too much food and take it home with you, than run out of energy and struggle in the park.
Before heading into the park, you could change routes and do a solo adventure. For example, after Captain Cook Bridge, you could head left and ride to Kurnell. Alternatively, you could not enter the park and continue on to do a Waterfall return ride.
On the route, there is Sutherland and Loftus Train Stations before entering the park. These are the only options to bail at prior to entering Royal National Park, so if you change your mind before entering the park you are good to go. Once you're in the park there are no shortcuts or options to bail. After exiting the park after the Waterfall climb, you could choose to catch the train back home from Waterfall.
We recommend this ride for riders who are comfortable completing 28's Waterfall and Eastern Hill rides. This is the next step up with longer climbs and further distances. As always, the bunch will regroup at the top of the climbs.
The RNP road cycling route has some long climbs and sections of roads that can see averages over 28km/h. But that shouldn't scare you off, as there is a ride leader to take care of everyone and manage the pace, as well as options to try and then bail as mentioned above.
Note: In the park, we follow one road with undulations. You can find yourself separated from the bunch and riding alone. However, if there is a turn, someone will always wait to make sure you don't miss it and get lost.