Cycle Adelaide, Road Ride, Tower To Summit
This is a hard ride – but not a long one. At only 7.5km, what it lacks in length it makes up for in effort, so the Level 3 rating relates more to its brevity than the amount of energy expended. Except for the first 300m, it’s uphill all the way to Norton Summit – a lot of it very steeply. It’s unusual in that it’s steeper at the start and backs off as it progresses, but it’s a climb all the way to the top.
Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing, which is why this is one of the Adelaide cycling fraternity’s favourite training rides. It’s also one of the most popular timed hill climbs on Olympic cyclist Brett Aitken’s cycle2max interactive website, and a chance to match the times posted by top Australian cyclists.
It’s easy to navigate (just one turn) and has spectacular scenery along the route. Views open out at various stages, from the stunning rock faces of Morialta Gorge to the panorama over the city and the coast. And where the views end, it’s still a peaceful ride along the shady, gum-lined road.
The road we take is known as the new Norton Summit Road, as opposed to Old Norton Summit Road, which is shorter but heavily trafficked. Traditionally – although an unwritten rule - most cars use the ‘old’ road and bikes the ‘new’ road, which makes for a safer, more enjoyable ride up this challenging climb.
From the city, take North Terrace and Magill Road to the Tower Hotel on the corner of St Bernard’s Road.
Food and Drink
Tower Hotel, shops and cafes at the start; Scenic Hotel and drinking fountain at the finish.
Continue the adrenalin rush and go rock-climbing or abseiling at Morialta Gorge. A number of local operators offer half or full day sessions, including tuition and equipment. Search ‘rock climbing south australia’ on the web for contact details.
Morialta Conservation Park
Visible along the ride, Morialta Conservation Park is a stunning place to visit. Deep gorges with sheer rock faces house spectacular waterfalls – after rain at least – all set in pristine native eucalypt bushland. While it sounds rugged, there’s easy access for all ages and fitness levels to some of the most picturesque parts of the park, thanks to a series of looped walking trails. Graded and marked (although not always that well), the trails range from the 1.6km First Falls Walk, suitable for prams, to the challenging 7.3km Three Falls Grand Hike. With climbs as challenging as the Tower to Summit ride, it’s a hikers’ dream, traversing gorges and cliffs and encompassing all three of the park’s waterfalls. Add picnic areas and a highly visible koala population, and you’ve just got to go there.
But first, to the top. Reaching Norton Summit the reward is twofold: the satisfaction of conquering the climb, and the Scenic Hotel. Cyclist friendly – in fact welcoming - they’re open all day for a cold drink or espresso. They have bar snacks and great, reasonably priced meals, will happily refill water bottles, and open at 9am on weekends for breakfast. Now there’s an incentive to get up and on the bike: do the Tower to Summit ride, have breakfast at the Scenic, then head off on the Adelaide Hills and Ranges ride (Ride 20) before the coast back down to the city.
7.793 km / 4.843 mi
386 m / 1,266 ft
63 m / 206 ft
455 m / 1,493 ft