The Indian Pacific Wheel Race is a solo, single-stage, unsupported, 5,500km road cycling race ocean-to-ocean across Australia. The course is 100% sealed. Tradition dictates that the race starts at 6:22am in Fremantle, Western Australia on the third Saturday of March, and finishes at the Sydney Opera House whenever you get there. The clock does not stop. There is no prize money. Nothing is at stake except honour.
Tragically, ultra-endurance legend and our friend, Mike Hall, was killed by a motorist while riding the Indian Pacific Wheel Race on 31 March 2017. His death is the subject of an ongoing coronial inquest. We expect the coronial inquest to be completed in 2019. Until the coronial inquest is completed we cannot play a role in organising or promoting the efforts of the inspiring overlanders who choose to ride this course. That said, we know that cyclists continue to ride this amazing course, along public roads, throughout the year and do so in the spirit of the 2017 Indian Pacific Wheel Race. We were overjoyed to see so many cyclists enjoy the course throughout 2018, keeping the spirit of the overlanders alive. We expect that this will continue into the future.
There are two categories for the race - solo and relay. The relay category is for four riders, with each rider riding solo and unsupported for their chosen section of the course. The sections are Fremantle - Adelaide, Adelaide - Melbourne, Melbourne - Canberra and Canberra to Sydney.
This race was inspired by the other grand tours of bikepacking: the Tour Divide, the Trans Am Bike Race and the Transcontinental. Similar to these races, the rules for the Indian Pacific Wheel Race are simple and largely self-policed. The rules attempt to embody the spirit of self-support and fairness for all riders.
This race is not for everyone. The race route plots out a serious adventure through remote sections of regional Australia, one which is dangerous and has serious risks for those unprepared. Those considering racing the Indian Pacific Wheel Race should consider whether they are ready to take on such a serious challenge in an unforgiving environment.
The race course has a number of distinct sectors with different characteristics. Riders will brave the deserted and treeless Nullarbor Plain which includes a 150 km section of completely straight road. The next sector will take riders through the rolling hills of the famous Clare Valley and Barossa Valley wine districts as well as the Adelaide Hills, the setting for many Tour Down Under stages. Riders will travel the full length of the world famous Great Ocean Road, popular with cycle tourists from all around the world. Finally riders will have to tough it out through a mountainous 1,000km final sector through the heart of the Australian Alps. Sure you might be able to time-trial through the desert, but can you hold it together through a 1,000km high mountain stage to finish?
Often bikepacking races avoid major cities; not the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. The route will pass right through the centre of Australia's southern and eastern capitals. Through Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, riders will experience some of the favourite local cycling spots. We want commuters to see the racers. We want the racers to pass office workers on their way to work, just as a commuting cyclist would. We want local bunch rides to find racers. We hope some local riders will ride with racers as they pass through. This is a throwback to the original Australian overland cyclists who passed through the major cities on their cycling speed record attempts across the country. These pioneering overlanders were greeted by large crowds as they passed through Australia's major cities in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The Nullarbor Plain (Latin: nullus, "no", and arbor, "tree") is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world's largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres. At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.
"Crossing the Nullarbor", for many Australians, is a quintessential experience of the "Australian Outback". Stickers bought from roadhouses on the highway show "I have crossed the Nullarbor", and can be seen on vehicles of varying quality or capacity for long distance travel.
First man to cycle the Nullarbor.
Arthur Richardson was the first to cycle the Nullarbor in 1896. It was a feat he completed solo. Alone. Aged 24. Back then there were no roads and Richardson had to pick his way along terribly rough tracks and wade through miles of sand or try to navigate around them. He relied on remote stations, the few established towns and railway work crews to survive. There were no reliable maps, no GPS devices, no passing traffic, no communications, no reliable food / water sources, no gears and no fat tyres.
Years later during their three-year cycling trip around Australia between 1946 and 1949, Wendy Law Stuart and Shirley Duncan became the first women to cycle across the Nullarbor.