Whether you're eager to burn calories or just looking for a day out seeing the sights of Melbourne, it's hard to beat a bike ride on one of this city's many cycling trails. From easy riverside paths, to trails that take in Melbourne's classic landmarks to longer routes following the city's spectacular coastline, there's a bike trail for everyone to enjoy. We've rounded up five of the best in and around Melbourne.
1. The Capital City Trail
A 30km trail along car-free paths around inner Melbourne, this is a great way to get to know the city and its landmarks. The loop follows part of the Yarra River and goes by the Docklands, Federation Square, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Como House, Abbotsford Convent, Dights Falls and the Melbourne Zoo.
It's a circuit trail, so there's no designated start or end point, but you could easily start from Flinders Street Station. If you don't have the time or energy to follow the whole 30km loop, there are shorter sections – you could do the 13km from Federation Square to Abbotsford Convent, or the 9km from the convent to the zoo or the 9km from the zoo to the Docklands.
2. St Kilda Beach to Half Moon Bay This 13km trail follows the beachside bike path from St Kilda Beach via Brighton and Sandringham to Half Moon Bay. It's flat coasting all the way, with great views over Melbourne's bayside coast. The navigation is pretty simple – just keep the land/shops/glassed-in tycoon residences on one side and the sea on the other. For more information and a map, click here.
3. Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail This 38km (i.e. 76km return) rail trail follows the disused railway line from Lilydale to Warburton. There's green Yarra Valley scenery, wineries and native forest to enjoy. Well-maintained and clearly signed, the trail follows an easy gradient with minimal road crossings.
The entire return trail can be done as a long day trip, or you could just ride a shorter section (there are several towns along the way). If you'd rather do the entire route but only one way, go with friends and leave a car at either end. Click here. for more information, including how to get there.
Biking bonus: Lots of calling bellbirds. (And the Yarra Valley wineries)
4. Bass Coast Rail Trail
This 16km trail (32km return) is around a 90 minute drive from Melbourne and follows the disused railway line from Anderson to Wonthaggi, in Gippsland. It has spectacular views over Bass Strait. The landscape varies from rugged coastline at Kilcunda, to flat farmland and coastal bushland. There are historical coal mining areas at Wonthaggi and Kilcunda. For more information, including how to get there, click here.
5. Around the Bay For the serious, lycra-clad cycling connoisseur, there's a 210km route around Port Phillip Bay. You can start the trail at Alexandra Gardens and either cycle southeast towards Sorrento or west towards Queenscliff. Unless you fancy swimming with your bike, take the ferry between Queenscliff and Sorrento to get across the bay. The ride ends where you began, at Alexandra Gardens. Bicycle Victoria organise the ride as an annual event – or you can do it yourself at any time.
If the distance sounds a little too serious, we have a review here on Weekend Notes showing how to do the route in a much more relaxed way – click here for details.
Biking bonus: First-rate showing-off potential to your friends.
Getting hold of a bike
And don't worry if you don't have a bike. There are plenty of bike hire places around Melbourne, including this one where you can hire a cute vintage bike for $30 per day. (And their website has useful route suggestions along with maps).
There's also Melbourne Bike Share - where for the princely sum of $2.50, you can hire a bike for the entire day (helmets cost $5).
We did the Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail last weekend after reading this, thanks a lot was really a great ride. We hired bikes fromwww.freddysbiketours.com.au, dropped them off at our hotel before we headed out.
The Melbourne Bike Share pricing is completely wrong. Their website says a $2.90 daily subscription only gets you 30 minute blocks of free riding. Anything over that you pay extra.