Sydney Roadbook: guide to cycling Bobbin Head East

Group of cyclists riding up Bobbin Head East's climb in the early morning.

Bobbin Head East is an incredibly popular climb for Sydney’s cyclists. It’s beginner friendly: the steady, moderate gradient over four kilometres makes it an achievable challenge even for novice riders seeking their first taste of hill climbing. For riders approaching Bobbin Head from the south (Turramurra, etc.), one can descend into ‘Bobbo’, do a U-turn, climb back up and roll back home. It’s a convenient way to add a climb to your usual route.

The Climb

Length: 3.90km
Average gradient: 4%
Elevation gain: 150m
Strava: Bobbin Head

A flat start

Bobbin Head bridge looking eastwards, marking the start of the climb of Bobbin Head East.
The Strava segment starts in the middle of the bridge down in Bobbin Head.

The Strava segment starts from the middle of the bridge in the Bobbin Head picnic area. Think of it as the starting ramp of an individual time trial. You’ll pick up speed as you descend the bridge and pass the old sandstone toilet block on your left. Besides an initial kick of about 30 metres, the first kilometre is a false flat, never rising over 3%. Stronger riders can power through this section in the big ring. If you’re in a group, drafting will be greatly beneficial.

It can be quite cool and dark down in the bottom of the valley. You’ll warm up as you head towards the top, if not because of the increased sunlight, then because of your own exertion.

After 1km: the climb proper

The false flat section ends just after the “Falling Rocks” sign, which coincides with a road marking showing you’ve completed the first kilometre. Right after this, you’ll make a 90-degree right hand turn and see an overhanging rock formation on your left. The road slopes noticeably downwards here, allowing you to pick up speed as you prepare for the real climbing to start.

Cyclist riding past overhanging rock formation on the climb of Bobbin Head East.
The overhanging rock formation marks the end of the false flat and the start of the real ascending.

After the rock formation, you’ll see a straight road open up ahead for a few hundred metres, with a rock wall to your left. This is your signal to start climbing. From here until the end of the climb, the gradient holds a steady 4-5%.

For the next kilometre, there are some gentle curves left and right, so be sure to take the shortest line by hugging the rock wall around the left hand curves and moving back towards the centre of the road whenever it curves to the right.

The 2km road marking comes quickly. It’s followed by a sharp right-hand turn with a steep camber. Carefully look ahead through this corner for oncoming traffic. If it’s clear, you can carry momentum by sweeping through the corner in the centre of the road before keeping towards the left for the next left-hand bend. The next kilometre is more or less straight. You’ll ride through a tunnel of trees before passing the 3km road marker, which should provide some encouragement – you’re almost there.

Final kilometre: ascent into bush

Cyclists ascending a tunnel of trees when cycling Bobbin Head East.
After the rock wall disappears from your left, this tunnel of trees marks the final kilometre of the climb.

When you see the rock wall disappear on your left hand side, you’ll know you’re nearly at the ridge line. There’s a straight section of road with just bushland on your left and right; a tunnel of trees.

At 300 metres to go, you’ll take the final corner: a 90-degree left-hand turn that hugs a low rock wall. Take it as a quickly as you can and accelerate as you exit. This is the final stretch; if you’re aiming for a personal best time, it’s time to empty the tank. Get out of the saddle and sprint all the way home!

The road is nice and wide here, and it curves to the right just before the finish, climbing all the way at the constant 5% gradient. The finish itself is about 50 metres before the toll booth. The finish line isn’t marked, but you’ll feel the road dip slightly downward after you crest it.

An unmarked piece of road is the finish of the climb for those cycling Bobbin Head East.
The unmarked finish line is just a nondescript crest in the road before the National Park toll booth (not visible).

Strava

The current Strava KOM is under 7 minutes. As a challenge, B-Graders should aim to beat the 10 minute mark.

The Descent

The descent of Bobbin Head East is fast and smooth. For the most part, the curves are gentle and wide, allowing you to carry all your speed down the hill.

Once you become familiar with the road, you’ll only need to brake on two occasions. The first is a 90-degree left-hand turn about one kilometre into the descent. It’s difficult to see the road ahead, so beware of oncoming traffic. The camber of the corner is good, so you can lean the bike over and sweep through the inside of the turn fairly quickly.

The second 90-degree left hand turn comes after the overhanging rock formation about three kilometres into the descent. This corner comes just after a slight uphill section, so you should only need to brake lightly to control your speed before the turn.

After that, it’s only a false flat downhill until the finish. You’ll have to keep pushing on the pedals in order to maintain your momentum.

Traffic

A group of cyclists climbing Bobbin Head East.
Bobbin Head’s eastern side is particularly popular with cyclists in the early morning. It’s a beautiful stretch of road that’s great for training.

Bobbin Head is part of Ku-ring-gai National Park and there is an entry fee for motor vehicles, which generally keeps traffic volumes down. On weekends, Bobbo is dominated by cyclists in the early morning. You’ll see dozens of groups climbing up either side before 9:00am. Motor traffic at this time is low.

Later in the day, watch out for motorcycles, boat trailers, and family sedans heading down into the park for picnics. When climbing, due to the high presence of cyclists, most drivers will wait patiently before passing when safe to do so. On the downhills, most road cyclists can descend quicker than motor vehicles. Just beware of oncoming cars crossing over onto your side of the road when they overtake cyclists climbing uphill.

Nearby

After descending into Bobbin Head from the eastern side, continue across the bridge in order to tackle the steeper, shorter climb on the western side: Bobbin Head West.

Bobbin Head itself is a popular recreational area for fishers, boaters, bushwalkers and picnickers. There are barbeque facilities down by the water, and it’s a great place to take the family for a day out.

After climbing Bobbin Head East, continue southbound along Bobbin Head Road for cafes in North Turramurra. There’s also an IGA supermarket where you can resupply.

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