When you picture Mountain biking, you picture remote wilderness, rugged beauty and epic trails - all things we have here in Australia. Most people, however, live in cities and the day-to-day of work, partners, kids, money or inspiration do not allow them the privilege taking MTB mini-breaks.
Luckily there are some ripping trails within easy striking distance of all Australian capital cities. But first, if you are just beginning to venture into this world of dirt, there are a few important things to consider before hitting the trails.
Are Bikes Welcome?
There is all manner of places to ride Australia - both groomed mountain bike parks and various public trails.
Firstly though, check that riding is legal in your chosen location. Some places do not welcome bikes and some areas are only for one certain use, so make sure where you are is a fine place to be to avoid some on-the-day hassle. Being in the wrong spot at best will damage the reputation of the sport, and restrict access to trails in the future, and worse could see you face to face with half a fine that forces you to sell your bike!
Know Your Route
When you do head off, know roughly where you plan to ride. The magic of the internet can provide you with maps, so work out a route and know your boundaries – for example, “crossing a fence to the south will put me in private property and make people grumpy.” Maps can also provide an escape route, as in, “now I’m really tired but I can see an easy road back to the car just over the hill to the right, let’s go home for beers and lie about how rugged we are”.
Many MTB parks are well signposted, but don’t always expect this to be the case. In addition, there are always those mystery tracks are a mystery and not-signposted for a reason, because they want to keep the best trails a secret! So always look to explore as much as you can, without getting lost of course.
Mountain biking is one sport that can take longer than planned. The trail may be harder than you think, you may explore further than anticipated, there could be a mechanical issue, or the trial may have differed from last time due to weather. It’s wise to be prepared for these eventualities, and plan to be out for longer than you think.
Dress for the occasion and have clothing you might need in the future – raincoat, jumper and so on, the key is layers! Your clothing does not have to be technical, and there is no need to be a lycra lizard, but padded pants, either on the outside or under a baggy short, are advisable. They help with the bumps of a rough track, and provide support and padding for both men and women should the seat decide to… go places inadvertently. As it were.
Hydration packs are a wonderful way of carrying plentiful water, and also allow the carriage of extra items – some food, relevant clothing, sunscreen, as well as a phone, first aid, (or at least something clean to plug a leak), and some lights if your planned time of finish is within an hour or so of sunset.
First aid does not just apply to the brave and bold punters on the ride, and sometimes bikes need a little help too. As a minimum you will need a spare tube of the right size and valve configuration, some way of inflating the tube that is not your lungs, tyre levers and a multitool.
Take a Mate
One of the best things to take riding, especially as you start out or explore a new area is a friend. Good to share fun times with, great for back up, and an aid to constructing improbable stories.
Mountain Biking in Australia
Mountain biking is growing in popularity, and more trails are being put in as councils and governments realise the health and economic benefits of attracting cyclists to their area. Consequently there are more opportunities than ever for the new mountain biker to get involved in the sport.
There is also a range of worthwhile courses out there for beginners, women only, racers, kids and more which are a great way to gain greater skills than you currently have. If you think this is a pastime for you, think about a course to fast track your knowledge base, rather than learning by trial and error.
Don’t have a Mountain Bike? Check out our range, made for those getting into the sport and with a price tag that won’t scare you away!