Canobolas To Cargo And Beyond | goodnessgravel Orange NSW

goodnessgravel rolled into Orange over the weekend, with a pack of 170 riders exploring the backroads of NSW. Winding through some of the big, wide open spaces, little country roads lined with gum trees and a bit of pine plantation, the man behind the event Will Levy tells us the day was punctuated by a bit of serendipity and happy chance.

With the long 125km course climbing one side of the 1,397m Mount Canobolas, and the shorter 65km loop culminating in an ascent on the other side — mostly on gravel, of course — 41% of the field were repeat goodnessgravel-ers, with some coming from as far as Tassie to pedal through the scenic Orange360 region.

When you sign up for a goodnessgravel event, you’re assigned a number for life. Levy tells us that bib numbers 001 and 003 were at the event — among the other repeat offenders.


The vibes were through the roof in Orange over the weekend as folks set out on a goodnessgravel adventure.

Orange is your lucky colour

With a course designed in collaboration with a local rider, Levy tells us they were sweating in the lead-up to the event — literally.

“It was like 30-34°C until Friday and then there was a cool change that came through. It was brisk and definitely cold on the startline — maybe 11-12°C — but then the maximum temperature during the day was maybe 23°C,” he says.

But that was only the start of the whimsy that would eventuate over the weekend. It was beautiful, dry and dusty all day, with rain forecast for the afternoon. The course closes for the day at about 2:30-3pm, and Levy tells us it started to sprinkle at 3pm — what luck!

But that’s not all. A five-time goodnessgravel rider somehow managed to lose his car keys en route to the course, and after backtracking and scanning 6km of gravel road, he found them! But the whimsy of goodnessgravel Orange still hasn’t been fully exhausted.

The very last rider to register was chosen at random to win the Panaracer Plate —Levy literally uses an app called Random # to draw the winner — which sees the rider’s name go on the plate, and they take home a $500AUD gift certificate with event sponsor SCV Imports.

The gravel berg at the end

goodnessgravel Orange was Karl Michelin-Beard’s third event in the series (he’s number 261 of 1,260).

“It was a hard course, but it was fun — a bit rowdier than some of the other events. There were some fast descents into some pretty wild rocky bits which was really fun. For that style of event where you’re not racing and it’s a bit more of a ride, it makes it that much more fun,” he says.

Starting and finishing at Lake Canobolas, the course was hardly a walk in the park, with the gravel ascent of Mount Canobolas looming large late in the day.

“I think everyone was kind of anticipating the big hill at the end,” he says. “The start of the climb was lovely; it’s a really nice smooth fire road — maybe a 5-6% gradient. As you get towards the top, it gets a bit chunkier and a bit more chunky. By the top you’re kind of riding on almost a mountain bike kind of fire road.”

Mount Canobolas was the crux of the course and provided a formidable but achievable challenge at the end of the day.

“It was certainly challenging after 120km, but still plenty of fun,” he says.

While they gave folks ample warning to be prepared for this climb — especially with the WWW (Will We Walk) section near the top — Levy says that is what people love about these events.

“The challenging parts are what people remember about events. It’s not supposed to be all tailwinds, sunshine, and lollipops. It’s got to be something that makes people go, wow, that’s tough, but it was amazing. It was tough but achievable, and we already have people who did the 65km course saying they’ll be back next year for the 125km,” he says.

The payoff of course was a fast descent back into Lake Canobolas —which has a sandy beach, and is an ideal spot for a post-ride dip — and a sausage sizzle put on by the Lakeside Kiosk & Cafe.

Big scenes and wide open spaces where a big part of the day.

“They did a full gourmet sausage sandwich,” says Levy. “(The guy who runs it,) he’s actually an ex-hatted restaurant chef.”

“He did a full, beautifully manicured sausage on a nice handmade roll — it was definitely a highlight,” he says.

Aid stations to write home about

goodnessgravel isn’t one of those events that is about suffering for the sake of suffering, and the Orange stop saw a few treats sprinkled along the course to keep the vibes up and give folks a few surprises to look forward to along the way.

“At the 37km rest stop, we had the choice of bananas and homemade biscuits. We had a heap of bananas left over,” Levy laughs. “All the leftovers were donated to (a group that helps the) needy in Orange, so nothing goes to waste,” he says.

The 70km rest stop was in a small rural town called Cargo, which has a population of about 200 permanent residents.

As Michelin-Beard put it, the course was a bit rowdier than some of the other goodnessgravel events, but without the pressure of racing it made it all the more fun.

“The RFS in Cargo did a water treatment on the road to keep the dust down through the rest stop area. They were like, ‘Well, we’re going to stand here for three hours, and we don’t want all the food to get all dusty, so we’ll just take the water tanker out and keep the dust down,’” he says.

As far as over yonder, luxury aid stations go, the volunteers from Cargo had put together quite the operation.

“Literally, we had a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. They cut all the grass down, and we had tents and a guy playing blues music out there,” he says.

A few kilometres down the road, when the climb back up to Canobolas started, another volunteer from Cargo had a special ice-block stop, which Levy says riders were very excited about.

Locals from the RFS, the Orange Lions and Rotary Club, and the local Orange Bicycle User Group came out to support the event, and Levy said a massive thank you to all the folks who fed riders and cheered them on through the day, marshalled the course and helped the event to run without a hitch.

Even though none of the goodnessgravel events are races some folks do still twist the throttle a bit.

Next year and beyond

goodnessgravel Orange will be back next year, so don’t be overcome by too much FOMO if you missed out. Levy tells us that they will be looking to traverse more of the State Forest.

“There’s a bit of a spaghetti junction in there, so it would be fun to spend a little more time exploring the area. Our course designer is an Orange local,” he says.

“It also depends on what part of that forest has been logged — because it’s a working forest. We won’t be able to know the true course until closer to the 2025 date, which makes it exciting,” he says.

In the meantime, if you missed goodnessgravel Orange, the event in Glen Innes is only a few weeks away, scheduled for April 13!

Be sure to check out our full overview of the goodnessgravel series. Entries are open for the Glen Innes event now, head over to the goodnessgravel site for more info.

If you missed out on Orange not to worry, Glen Innes is up next.

Photos: Outer Image Collective / goodnessgravel

It appears you're using an old version of Internet Explorer which is no longer supported, for safer and optimum browsing experience please upgrade your browser.