the virtual ride

Join the Sydney to Surfers at home!

About the virtual ride

We’re so excited that the Sydney to Surfers Robbos’ Ride is returning in 2023 after three years of cancelled rides due to the pandemic. We’re also excited to have a solution for those of you who can’t join the real world ride from Sydney to Surfers Paradise this year.

Welcome to the inaugural Zwift Virtual Sydney To Surfers Event!

For the first time, we have partnered with the developers of Zwift to create a unique virtual ride experience for you.

This Zwift charity event enables riders from around the globe to participate without leaving the comfort of their own home or office. On each day of the real world event, the Zwift event will roll out at 6:30am AEST (UTC+10) and take riders through some of Zwift’s most iconic courses around the world, including London, Makuri Islands, Watopia, France, the US and Scotland. Finishing around 7:30am AEST (UTC+10), you will still have time to breakfast, dress and be ready for the day ahead. 

There’s a brief description of the real world rides below along with their virtual equivalent. Each of these virtual rides are designed to match the day’s real ride and are selected to give all types of riders, from novice through to more advanced cyclists, an enjoyable riding experience. They are not races but a great way to be part of a charity ride with a difference. We’re hopeful to have some very special guests leading some of these virtual rides and there’ll be plenty of opportunity to interact and to hear the latest news from the real world ride.

All we ask in return is for each virtual rider to make a donation to the Sydney to Surfers Robbo’s Ride fundraising campaign.

Your donations will help support the incredible work of Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets a not-for-profit youth organisation
that provides safety, support and opportunities for young people to build a positive future. The team offer crisis accommodation and housing services, alternative high school education, alcohol and other drug counselling, youth justice support, life skills and employment programs, cultural support and community engagement, among other services. Youth Off The Streets focus on early interventions that empower young people and strengthen communities.

Just click the Donate button below to make your contribution. 

Better yet, if you wish, you can establish your own fundraising campaign and encourage your contacts to donate while you sacrifice your early mornings to ride our virtual event for 7 days straight. Click the Fundraise button below if you’d like to show your support by fundraising on behalf of the Sydney to Surfers Ride.

And now, read on for the details of each day of the real and virtual 2023 Sydney to Surfers Robbo’s Rides.

You’ll need an indoor bike/ trainer setup and a Zwift membership to participate. If you’re not already a member, the 14-day free membership will cover you for this event … you can sign up to Zwift for free here.

When you’re ready, just hit the ‘Go to Zwift’ button at the bottom of this page to sign up for the very first virtual Sydney to Surfers Ride!

Real world ride Virtual ride
Hornsby to Swansea London Classique Reverse
126km; 1,381m 4 laps=21.6km, 100m
The first leg of the S2S ride starts in the northern Sydney suburb of Hornsby on the edge of the Kuring-Gai National Park, crosses the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn and then winds its way through the Central Coast to the seaside town of Swansea at the entrance to Lake Macquarie. The day’s ride is 126 km, with a total elevation of 1,381 metres. The main climb of the day is from the Hawkesbury up to Mt White, a multi-stage 3 km climb with sections up to 8.5%.

The Zwift course we have chosen for the Hornsby to Swansea stage is the London “Classique” route which takes you along some of the most famous London streets including the Strand, the Mall, Constitution Hill and Birdcage Walk and takes you past Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace over four (4) laps with a total of 21.6kms and 100 metres of elevation. By contrast with the real-world day’s ride, the virtual one is an easy ride for the beginner and fun for all levels of riders Strava Link:
Real world ride Virtual ride
Swansea to Bulahdelah Makuri Islands Castle to Castle
131km; 804m 1 lap=22.4km, 139m
The second stage of the S2S ride leaves the town of Swansea to follow the eastern edge of beautiful Lake Macquarie. It then skirts the western edge of Newcastle before crossing both channels of the Hunter River and later the Karuah River (which reaches the sea between Nelson Bay and Hawks Nest). Then we head north to finish at the quiet inland town of Bulahdelah. Riders will cover 131 km today with many short climbs and a total elevation of 1,211 metres.

The Zwift course we have selected for the Swansea to Bulahdelah stage is the Makuri Islands Castle to Castle course which draws its name from the two castles you’ll pass along the way – first the castle area in Yumezi, then the imperial palace in the Neokyo’s Castle Park. Don’t worry, despite the early 2 km (70 m) climb this is an easy enough course for the novice Zwift’er. Strava Link:
Real world ride Virtual ride
Bulahdelah to North Haven Watopia flat route reverse
130km; 1,277m 2 laps=20.6km, 122m
Stage three of the S2S ride rolls out from Bulahdelah on the Mid North Coast and our destination is the charming coastal town of North Haven at the mouth of the Camden Haven Inlet south of Port Macquarie.

The Zwift course we have chosen for the Bulahdelah to North Haven stage is the Flat Route Reverse Watopia. The reverse version of Watopia’s Flat route contains no significant climbs, but there are still enough bumps and rollers to put yourself to the test if you’re feeling strong. Along the way enjoy the cobbled Italian Villas, and Ocean Boulevard’s underwater tunnels. Covering two (2) laps with a total of 20.6 km and 122 metres of elevation, it’s easy enough for all levels of riders. Strava Link:
Real world ride Virtual ride
North Haven to Nambucca Heads Casse Pattes, France
155km; 969m 1 lap=23.8km, 155m
The fourth stage of the S2S ride begins by following the coast road from North Haven north to Port Macquarie, where we turn inland to the Pacific Highway. On a mixture of the highway and quieter backroads, we cross the Hastings, Wilson, Macleay and Nambucca rivers, following the last of these to its mouth at beautiful Nambucca Heads. In total a 152 km day with 1,352 m of elevation.

The Zwift course begins with a short lead-in from the start pens, then we travel east into the marina where we get a chance to hit the Marina Reverse Sprint. Enjoy the sites as you spin through the flattest portion of the France map. You’ll spot Mont Saint-Michel to your left, as well as a familiar Arch and Needle as you ride near the sea. Just past a field of sunflowers, you’ll enter a town that includes the Pavé sprint segment. Strava Link:
Real world ride Virtual ride
Nambucca Heads to Grafton Richmond Roller Coaster
146km; 1,602m 4 laps=20.0km, 76m
The fifth stage of the S2S ride departs Nambucca bright and early and follows quiet roads north, crossing the Kalang and Bellinger rivers to our lunch stop at Coffs Harbour. After the obligatory stop and photo at the Big Banana, we turn north west and tackle the beautiful, winding Bruxner Gap climb (3.8 km, 200 m), continuing through Nana Glen on the undulating country roads north to Grafton on the Clarence River, the “Jacaranda City”, referring to its tree-lined streets and annual Jacaranda Festival. A tough day of 145 km and 1,724 m of climbing.

The Zwift “rollercoaster” route for today’s ride is essentially the hilly parts of the Cobbled Climbs Reverse route. You begin on a slight descent near Richmond’s start/finish banner, but the road quickly gets steeper down Governor Street. The ride will be four (4) laps covering 20 km with 76 m of elevation. An easy ride for beginners through to Zwift veterans. Strava Link:
Real world rideVirtual ride
Grafton to BallinaThe Muckle Yin, Scotland
162km; 1,247m1 lap=25.1m, 279m

The sixth and “queen” stage of the S2S leads from Grafton on country roads north through Whiporie and Myrtle Creek to Casino. There we turn east to Lismore, taking on the tough Goonellabah climb in East Lismore, and then enjoying the equally exciting descent from Alstonville down to Ballina, pausing at our second “big” item, the “Big Prawn”. With 686 km already in the legs from the previous 5 days, stage 6 adds another 164 km and 1,436 m elevation, really testing the resolve and stamina of our riders.

Appropriately, today’s Zwift route is a pitchy route that begins and ends in Glasgow, but quickly leaves the city and heads to the countryside to the scenic Highlands roads and ascends to the Sgurr Summit in both directions. The ride will be one (1) lap over 25.1 km with 279 m of elevation. A more challenging route, but still within the capabilities of a patient beginner.

Strava Link:

Matthew Keenan Your ride captain :
Matthew Keenan

Matt Keenan is a prominent member of Australia’s cycling community, as a sports commentator, reporter, radio presenter and event MC predominantly working in cycling and triathlon. He writes for Cyclist Magazine and has contributed online opinion pieces for the Australian Financial Review, the Herald Sun and SBS Cycling Central working on events such as the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. In 2017, he helped launch the popular cycling podcast, The 3 Domestiques and is an ambassador for The Baker Institute and the Carlton Football Club.

Real world ride Virtual ride
Ballina to Surfers Paradise Glasgow Crit Circuit
136km; 1,047m 7 laps=21.0km, 241m
The seventh and final stage of the S2S departs Ballina with riders’ hearts and minds firmly fixed on the finish line. We follow the Pacific Highway (or parallel backroads) north for 55 km through Brunswick Heads, before turning east to follow the Tweed Coast Rd north to Tweed Heads & Coolangatta. Here we meet our wonderful Queensland police escort for the final 20 km ride along the coast to our journey’s end at Surfers Paradise. 136 km for the day, with an elevation of 1,047 m – CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE and SAFE RIDING!

The finale Zwift route has us staying in Glasgow with a Crit style circuit. This punchy circuit takes you on streets with sights inspired by the city of Glasgow, host of the finishing circuit for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships. The ride consists of seven (7) laps for a total of 21 km with just 241 m of elevation. A fast-finishing easy ride for most, slightly longer for the beginner but a rewarding way to finish. Strava Link: