ZOIC Ambassador Becky Jo Steele Rides Tasmania

May 10, 2018 - 5:55pm | by Amy Black
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"Tasmania? I thought you were going to Australia?!" seemed to be a common response when I mentioned my recent 9,000 mile blast to the other side of the world. With my bike in tow I was chasing after some beautiful dirt ribbons winding through tunnels of rainforest ferns. Tasmania (Tassie), which, yes, is a state of Australia and happens to be its own island, is on a mission to be a mountain bike destination. The government is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into trail building and every dollar has been put to good use. Look up Blue Derby or Maydena Bike Park and you will see images and videos of beautifully groomed berms with Jurassic-like ferns looming above. Don't let these pictures fool you; for every smooth berm there are equal numbers of sneaky blind jumps, steep hand-cut dreams, and counter-intuitive off-camber grip tests.  The word of these destinations is traveling as the Enduro World Series (EWS) came to Blue Derby in 2017 and is said to be returning in 2019, and what a worthy location! 

What was once a quiet little town, Derby is now a little biking hub. Bike themed restaurants and accommodations, public showers, free bike wash, free campingalongside a creek where if you're patient enough a platypus will pop it's strange little body up to the surface ...what more could you want? How about a shuttle to the top?  Vertigo Shuttles have been there since the start and have some incredible options!  Their Blue Tier/Atlas shuttle was an experience like none other!  The morning starts with the shuttle rig loading up in Derby with a handful of riders who can't help but grin and wiggle with the anticipation of the day.  Vertigo drives you about an hour out of town to the top of a plateau where they give you a run down of the trail and send you off into the jungle!  They tell you to take your time and snap some pictures as you work your way down the Blue Tier/Big Chook trail toward the town of Weldborough, where the pub is waiting to load you up with some tasty grub and cold beverages, but let's be honest...there's never enough time for all the pictures when every turn opens you up to a view that appears to be from another planet. Several times I caught myself hitting the brakes in awe of what was spread out before me...stop, stare, snap a picture (that never does it justice) and continue on...and repeat! After lunch, the shuttle is waiting to take you to the Atlas trail that leads you back to Derby. As you enter the main Derby trail system you roll in toward several killer options that were stages in the EWS race! The EWS stages are within the Derby town trail system and can be shuttled or not...either way you won't be disappointed!  Derby will leave you wanting more!

Maydena is a little newer on the scene, but a similar story to Derby. A quaint little logging town that has used the government funding to build an incredible trail system with several more phases to be built in years to come!  As you enter town you'll be shocked to find the Maydena Bike Park being based out of what appears to be a little old school building...no doubt it will need to expand in the future!  As a first-timer at Maydena you can expect to stand out. Your clean clothes, shiny noise-free bike, and general look of walking into the unknown will set you apart from the riders who have just spent the last 2 days taking a fairly new set of brake pads down to the metal. After the 20-30 minute shuttle to the top and a picture stop at the summit restaurant that overlooks the mountains of southwest Tassie, the trails drop over 2,600 ft in 2.5 to 3 miles depending on your route. Don't take the locals advice lightly when they tell you to start out on the blue trails to get used to the steeps! Maydena is entering phase two of building in hopes of hosting major events in the near future, but in the meantime they are feeding the need for speed with Phat Friday races and Gravity Fest.  My visit just so happened to fall on a Phat Friday race night and it didn't take much to convince me that $20 was worth a few more runs and an after-party!  With a front brake that had nothing left to give I landed on that 3rd step and walked away with a fresh new tee and memories that will last a lifetime!

While these new trails are catching the eye of international travelers, mountain biking isn't new to Tasmania. Hobart has several trails that have been there for years. The North-South trail starts within a web of trails halfway up Mt. Wellington and ends at the edge of the city in the remains of some old Nationals courses. Dual slalom, jump lines, downhill course, pump track, all over ten years old but holding up well enough to still slap some smiles on every bike that rolls through.  West of the city is the Meehan Range with an ever growing trail system that'll make you work for some epic views and downhill grins, but the climbing trails in this state are very well planned with switchbacks that wind you to the top without that exhausting grind.  I'll tell ya there's nothing like crossing paths with a kangaroo in a beautiful gum tree forest.

The towering plants, the critters, the moss-carpeted forest floor; Tasmania certainly requires its own flow to be able to take it all in.  Bike days, beach days, hikes to waterfalls and beautiful secluded bays...it's an easy pace to fall into.  This little island holds so much both in what it offers and the memories that already have me dreaming of next time....

 

Written by ZOIC Ambassador Becky Jo Steele. Check out her bio page here and follow her on Instagram

Photos by Jeremiah Stone 

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