For a relatively flat City, Canberra offers some challenging hill climbs, including five right in the City Centre. Over the space of around 70km you can cycle Mt Ainslie, Black Mountain, the Arboretum loop (either clockwise or anti-clockwise - or both!), Mt Stromlo and Red Hill. This makes for a ride of around 3-4 hours, with plenty of caffeine fuel stops along the way or post-ride. It really doesn’t matter where you start this ride, or in which order you tackle the climbs. However, the route outlined above, and the suggested sequence of the climbs will have the most difficult two out of the way first (Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain) and will have you finishing in the southern Canberra suburbs where you can choose from a great range of brunch menus at Deakin, Yarralumla, the top of Mt Ainslie itself, Kingston and Manuka. https://www.cyclelifehq.com/en/listings/290208-cycle-five-peaks
Outer City climbs
If you want to incorporate some further mileage and get out of the City for some nearby road climbs, the following all offer a good challenge: Apollo Road/Honeysuckle; Fitz’s Hill and Corin Dam. Each of these climbs is to the south west of Canberra, accessed via Tharwa, and taking in some of the stunning farmlands, forests and native bush scenery. You can drive to Tharwa and commence your ride from there; or ride to Tharwa either via Tuggeranong Parkway and Drakeford Drive or via the undulating Paddy’s River Road.
The ride to Lake George and return is a popular one for many local cyclists on a weekend morning. Whilst the ride follows the busy Federal Highway and is therefore recommended for experienced road cyclists, the Highway has a wide shoulder which is of good quality and smooth surface, usually with little debris. Upon approach to the Tulip Farm at Sutton, many cyclists will choose to detour via the Old Federal Highway which runs parallel to the current Highway. It has a rougher chip-seal and is undulating, providing for a slightly slower and more challenging ride than the Highway itself, but is much quieter and passes through some pleasant forest scenery. Either road will bring you out near the Weereewa Lookout on Lake George which may be your turnaround point; or you may continue on.
The road that skirts the edges of the Lake and at the base of the abutting ridgeline provides a great 20km flat time trial section in each direction out and back towards the Hume Highway and Goulburn. - https://www.cyclelifehq.com/en/listings/284604-cycle-lake-george-lookout
Some cafe at Collector provides an ideal mid-way coffee and meal stop.
If on a gravel bike, you can head back from Collector uphill (beware, this one gets up to 20% gradient) and through Gundaroo. Cork Street Café in Gundaroo specialises in pizza and coffee! Then there’s the Baker at Sutton, with a range of country pies and sourdough breads, as well as all the bakery treats you’d expect from any great bakery.
Image credits to: Damian Breach for VisitCanberra, VisitCanberra, Delly Carr, Nick Payne Canberra Cycling Club, (C) aurora images, and jinkyart.com.au