Ride a bike on the driving beach

Bicycle on Sellicks Beach in South Australia. (photo: ulrike.ca)

Why drive when you can cycle?

I brought my motorcycle helmet to Australia because I figured it would be hot and hilly. A motorbike would be a great way to beat that. But I didn’t figure how the coastlines, vineyards, and breezy ranges here on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula make me want to go slow, real slow.

Sure it’s 40-degrees Celsius out there, I tell myself. But I’ve done this before: in Baja, Thailand, Cuba, and India. And that was usually loaded with touring gear.

I borrowed a hybrid bike from my host Ruth and set out.

From Willunga I pedaled a zig-zag route to Sellicks beach. Locals know Sellicks as “the driving beach.” You can drive your vehicle right on the sand—albeit at a snail-like ten kilometres per hour. I wheeled the bike onto the beach, climbed on the saddle, and stepped down on the pedals.

The bike rolled as if I was on pavement! Plus, the breeze off St. Vincent Gulf was refreshing with just a hint of a tailwind. It reminded me of a similarly heavenly ride I did cycling on Majorda Beach in Goa, India. I raced past 4-wheel drive cars and SUVs at a blazing 18 kilometres per hour.

No girlfriend

I turned off the beach where it turned into a wildlife sanctuary. In the parking lot I took a drink of water and admired a neon-green Kawasaki motorbike on the back of a guy’s pick-up truck. He caught me looking.

“Nice bike!” I grinned.

“Yeah, thanks.” He looked over, then motioned to a pile of bags in his passenger side. “I broke up with my girlfriend. Hey, where you ride from?” I told him I’d started about 20 kilometres back. He heard my Canadian accent and then asked the usual questions: Where you from? What brings you here? How long you here for?

“I broke up with my girlfriend,” he said again.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said as I pointed my bike homewards. “It being Christmas time and all. Good luck to you.”

Driving the driving beach

Later that week, Jared, Ruth, Tilly, and Delilah and I returned to “the driving beach.” This time I was inside an air-conditioned hatchback packed with surf and snorkel gear.

Ruth and Jared next to surfboard-equipped car on Aldinga Beach, South Australia.
Ruth and Jared (with Tilly and Delilah inside) with their surfboard-equipped family car at Aldinga Beach, South Australia.

The beach was beautiful the second time around, but it wasn’t as much fun driving on it as it was cycling it.

“Look out for the deep sand, Dad!” called out five-year old Delilah from her booster seat in the back.

I still haven’t decided if I’ll travel around South Australia by motorcycle or bicycle after Christmas. But I’ll keep borrowing bicycles until I decide…