Cycling in Australia. No crocodiles — just deer.

This is the first story in a segment we feel very excited about — letting our users share their experiences, favorite sports and tips.

On this installment — Joel Smith from Australia will share his tips for the region where he lives.

  1. What is you favorite route ?

My favorite route would have to be West of where I live, in the countryside through places called Euroka, Dongdingalong and Sherwood.

2. How did you find it and is there a story behind it ?

I grew up in the area, so I knew what the roads where like before I started riding. I decided to head out there one day and since then most of my riding is done out there. I remember one ride I did, I was riding up a hill fairly slowly when a dog came out barking, I realized it was actually a young puppy (maybe 6 months old). I stopped to make sure he got off the road and back into the house. He went from aggravated barking, to being nervous, to kissing my hand and begging for a rub. It was funny seeing his mood change so quickly. The owner then came out and thanked me for getting him back towards the house.

3. What’s so special about it ?

I like the terrain. I like riding hills and the road is always going up or down. There are no big hills but constant smaller ones. It’s also a quiet route so I see the same farmers and people riding horses regularly and exchange waves. Also interesting to see the animals out there, cows, horses, dogs, birds etc.

4. Can you tell us the most interesting story you’ve ever heard about that route ?

A few years ago I was riding back from the furthest point which has a nice climb. I seen this big black thing with horns on the road about 500 meters ahead. I realized it was a deer. Apparently there was a deer farm out that way many years ago but it shut down. Some of the deer had escaped and started living in the wild. The hundreds of times I have been out there before and after I have yet to see another one. It wasn’t moving so I just held back and waited, I didn’t want to ride up to it and have it go after me. Luckily after a minute or so it ran back into the bush.

5. What would you advise people going there?

Don’t push too hard, enjoy the scenery and watch the road for rough patches and the occasional pot hole.

6. What’s one thing they shouldn’t do ?

Lose focus for too long. The road narrows and widens a few times and you can run off the side of the road. Also the occasional gravel on the corners.

7. How do you prepare for a session ?

I check the wind and rain forecast the night before. Luckily the route I was talking about earlier is not overly affected by wind as the hills shield you from most of it, other routes around on the flatter ground are really affected though. August and September are really windy so I always check in those months.

8. Share your tips- how and why the wind forecast is helpful for you.

I always like to ride into a headwind to start off with and then get blown home by a tail wind. So I try to plan my rides around that. This really helps if you are having a bad day, at least you won’t have to dread the trip home when you turn around. I’d also recommend learning your local climate and weather patterns. In some parts of the year the wind will be likely to blow from a certain direction and some months have more rain than others. Also helps with route planning.

An example of how you can do this

9. Tell us more about you —how did you start cycling, how long have you been doing this?

I started mountain biking in about 2008. Dad was into it throughout my childhood but had stopped. So we decided to start again for some fitness and fun. We rode for years before I took a liking to road cycling on TV. My friend gave me his old bike that was way too big and worn out but I did the job. I really liked riding and decided to buy a new bike that fit me. I then became addicted. Unfortunately I became sick and ended up giving up the bike completely in early 2015. I sold my road bike but kept the mountain bike. At the start of 2017 I decided to start riding again, I got the mountain bike out, started enjoying it again and started gaining fitness. I started looking for road bikes and by the end of March I bought one. I have not stopped since then, have set many personal bests and have done a few races. Things I would not have expected to do before 2017 with my conditions.

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