Mountain bike riders defy gravity at Maydena
Maydena – Leading the way in gravity assisted riding in Australia
Officially opened on Australia Day 2018, Maydena Bike Park is flying. The venue is a short, scenic 90-minute drive from Hobart, and attracts a swarm of hard-core mountain bikers who are happy to part with $75 to scream down the mountain as much as their body and bike can handle for the day.
The mountain has a special aura about it, regardless of when you visit. In winter, the top of the mountain is inaccessible due to thick snow that blocks the road and the trails, and requires the descent to start further down the mountain. In summer, autumn and spring, the mountain summit can still be cold with rolling grey misty clouds which adds to the powerful presence of nature, and the sense of foreboding that awaits every first-time rider.
Interestingly, Maydena is not one downhill trail. Rather, it’s a series of more than 35 interconnected trails with different degrees of difficulty that are graded into five color-coded symbols; Green Circle (wider tread, more moderate gradients – no need to be constantly on the brakes), Blue Square (changing surfaces, small drops and jumps – you’d better know what you’re doing), Black Diamond (suitable for only advanced riders, steep gradients – a serious hoot if you’ve got the nerve and the technique), Double Black Diamond (highly variable, very steep, large jumps and drops – it doesn’t get much harder than this folks) and Pro Line (large gap jumps, and drops, extremely steep terrain, and best left to world champs like Sam Hill, who have the technique, athleticism and experience to make it look slightly less difficult than it really is).
When you eventually make it down to the bottom, there’s a bus shuttle service waiting to pick you up, plonk you into a garbage bag protected seat (‘cause there’s mud everywhere), store your bike on the trailer, and to take you back up the mountain to do it all over again.
Regardless of the trail combination a rider decides to embark on as they shred, thump and jump their way down the mountain, the colour at the bottom of the mountain for every rider is the same, ‘brown’. (We’re told on good authority it’s all mud). Whatever way you attack the mountain, one thing riders are in agreement with – the hype is real, and it’s one hell of a ride.
According to the Managing Director of Maydena Bike Park, Simon French, it’s one of the steepest, gnarliest rides in the world, a descent of 820-metres through spectacular Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness.
French identified the site’s potential way back in 2008, and after plenty of toing and froing with the relevant planning authorities and government departments, French and his well credentialed ‘Dirt Art’ crew were given the nod to build a venue that now leads the way when it comes to gravity-assisted riding in Australia.
Word travels fast in the mountain biking fraternity, and already Maydena is attracting riders from the mainland, Europe and South-East Asia, all keen to pit their skills on the steep and constantly challenging trails of Maydena.
While the venue is less than six months old, and there are still tens of kilometres of trails to be added, the number of riders is expected to reach around 30,000 per year when it’s fully operational. The venue appeals to a wide-cross section of riders from sporty young couples to adventurous families with some riders as young as 7. You’ll also find young people in their 20s and 30s to men and women in their 40s and beyond, who head to Maydena for their weekend adrenalin fix.
At the base of the mountain, the former Maydena Primary School has been converted to a multi-purpose building. There’s a registration room where anyone who wants to ride must register, and also agree to the conditions of entry, a merchandise shop with all sorts of branded clothing and apparel, a medical facility with trained paramedics on-standby, plus a funky canteen area serving up equally funky food and beverages, while cranking out loud, youth orientated music.
Maydena gravity fest
Last month, Maydena played host to the inaugural four day ‘Maydena Gravity Fest’ held from 26th to 29th April, which is already billed as one of the biggest events on the Australian Mountain Biking Calendar. The event attracted some seriously talented mountain bikers, including current EWS world champion, Sam Hill, who again showed his technical prowess and athleticism by winning the marquee event. Competitors entered a range of events including the ‘Ultimate Flow Challenge’, ‘Tech Assault’, ‘Air DH’, ‘Pump Track Challenge’, and the Whip Off (invite only).
According to Simon French, the fastest anyone has ridden down the mountain is around 11 minutes, with the average time closer to 30 minutes. If you’re up for a challenge, think about heading to Maydena Bike Park. Remember though, it’s really nothing like riding a bike.
For more details visit maydenabikepark.com