Red Dirt Riders: Mountain biking on the Gibb River Road

When it comes to the Kimberley’s most iconic track, traversing the 660km Gibb River Road can be challenging enough by four-wheel drive.

But to cycle it - hunched over a bicycle frame, Lycra-clad and out of mobile range - takes ‘doing the Gibb’ to a whole new level.

“2018 was insane,” says Simon Rimmer, event director of fundraising bike ride the Gibb Challenge.

“It will be recorded in the annals as The Windy One."

Each day the dusty peloton faced fierce and unrelenting 40 kilometre per hour headwinds – a feature not experienced in any previous edition of the Gibb Challenge.

“I got pushed back up at least two hills,” says Rimmer. “And a cock-eyed bob - a willy willy - smashed one of the 6x3 metre catering marques at Home Valley Station.”

However the by the time the ride was over, the 300 riders and volunteers were exhausted, exhilarated, very dirty, but otherwise unscathed.

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The iconic Gibb

If you trace a rough pencil line through the heart of the Kimberley from Derby to Wyndham, you have the Gibb River Road, which as well as being one of WA’s greatest road trips, has become the punishing route for the annual cycling tour as well.

The ride comprises of teams of between two to six riding in relay and takes five days.

Cyclists came from all over Australia and from as far away as Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, that kicks off from Derby with day one of the ride covering nearly 225km to take riders to the shelter of Imintji campsite at the foot of the King Leopold range.

While corrugated in places, in other areas the Gibb is heavily rutted with rocks and stones.

Adding to the fun for cyclists, there’s also sections of “soft sand that creates a burn in your thighs”, says Rimmer.

However the views along the route, which also takes in Mt Elizabeth, Ellebrae Station and finishes at El Questro Wilderness Park, are spectacular.

For Rimmer, a police officer who started the Gibb River Ride back in 2007, the best stretch is from Ellenbrae to Home Valley Station.

“It’s arguably the most scenic stage of the event and takes riders through the stunning Kimberley landscape with features including Rolly’s and Gregory’s jump ups, and the lookout towards the Cockburn Range.”