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Norton Summit at Dawn - Cycle Heaven

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by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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Published September 30th 2014
Find out where all of Adelaide's cyclists are at dawn
A number of people have told me about the ride up Norton Summit Road to the Scenic Hotel, so what better way to appreciate this than to get on the bike and do it myself. Up early, I drive to Tower Hotel and park the car there. While I am unloading the bike from the car, I observe a few cyclists riding up towards the hill, while a few others gather around the Hotel. I assume that they are waiting for a 6:00am peloton to gather rather than waiting for opening hour. Leaving the Tower Hotel, I travel 400m up Magill Road, and then turn left on to Norton Summit Road, which is the official start point of the 5.5km King of the Mountain climb.

Norton Summit Road, Magill
Start of the official King of the Mountain


People tell me that this has been conquered by a few riders in under 12 minutes. I contemplate that for a moment, and then reflect on an opportunity which has probably passed me by. Norton Summit Road heads across Third Creek and then at a gradient of 7% it passes the substation on the left. The first major left hand bend arrives, and I feel that the gradient is getting slightly easier, perhaps 5%, as I head on the long sweeping bend past the pony club and up towards Valley Reserve before getting passed by the peloton.

Valley Reserve, Norton Summit Road
Flowers and Riders on the ascent


The first switchback, just after the Valley Reserve, occurs at the end of a seemingly very long stretch of road and provides the start of some stunning views across the Adelaide plains. I pass the "3" road sign, meaning half way to the KIng of the Mountain, and 5km to the Scenic Hotel.

Norton Summit Road
Halfway there


A right, left and another right corner in quick succession lead me along another long straight towards to the hills. The swooping magpie at the 4km mark caused my speed to momentarily decrease as I sought to avoid his attention. At the end of the long straight stretch is a another switchback, and lo and behold this one leads on to one of those false flats as I change up a gear. Or perhaps it is just that I still have the adrenaline from being swooped by the magpie ? The road continues to wind upwards with views of the suburbs and sea, and as it reached the "5" sign the road turns back towards the hills just as the sun rises in the distance.

Norton Summit Road
City, Suburbs and Sea


Norton Summit Road Top
Sun rising over the eastern ranges


I look to the left and see the walking trails of Morialta, numerous varieties of wildflowers, and are they the waterfalls that I can hear in the distance ? Norton Summit Road continues southeast, albeit at a much gentler gradient than previously. I pass the King of the Mountain line alongside the big gum tree at House number 169, and the road almost returns to neutral gradient.

169 Norton Summit Road
King of the Mountain


I pass the "6" road sign, and with only 2km to go, I ride up the last of the gradients as the road travels through Teringie Pass. The views then change to the other side of the road as it passes cherry orchards, and provides long distance views of Old Norton Summit Road. The last 2km are mildly undulating before I reach the stop sign near the Scenic Hotel.

Scenic Hotel, Norton Summit
The final destination


I was passed on the uphill by probably 20 or so cyclists, while at the same time there was probably another 20 cyclists heading down the hill. And all of this occurred without one car in sight. With a total ascent of 315m over 7.8km, and no cars, any wonder this may be known as Cycle Heaven to Adelaide's cycling fraternity as they seek out a Hills ride prior to commencing work.
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Where: Norton Summit Road, Magill
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