Australian Mountain Bike — December 01, 2017

(Jacob Rumans) #1

102 -AMB


Classical music, classic ranch dressing and
classic mountain biking. I’m sure you like at least
one of these delights either in abundance or at
least a sprinkling. Classic mountain biking is
the essence to what many people know and love
about our little pastime activity. Sure, flow trails
with monster berms and smooth rollers of dirt to
pump speed on have popped up with frightening
frequency, but does this represent every rider’s
dream trail?

For me, pumping over natural undulations,
through creek crossings and over ridgelines is
how I like to gain my speed. Hitting corners with
no support at all or an axle-deep rut and relying

on skill and focus to maintain speed is my dream
trail. Something with weathered holes and beaten
dirt that cycles from grippy to slick in an instant is
my cup of tea.

Pointing the nose of the bike down a trail with
archways cut through the undergrowth as the
rocky drop gives way to a chute that spits you out
at warp speed through a rutted left and right then
into a kicker with no landing and another corner
with no berm that keeps you on your toes as you
pirouette at the bottom to see your mate smash
the section and receive the waiting high-five ...
That’s my kind of trail. And it’s a break from the
manicured trails that are being built.

If this sounds too good to be true, then the classic
could be for you, and there’s no place more
classic than Mt Beauty in the Victorian Alps. For
as long as I have been mountain biking, I’ve heard
of the classic trails of Mt Beauty. In my eyes that
meant old trails, perhaps unkempt, a little too
weathered, but that’s not the case. There are
old trails but the local trail workers keep them
running supreme and any new trails are made
with an eye on the past while still being fun and
challenging for the future.

The park is called Big Hill MTB Park, and there is
a big hill ... which means climbing up but then of
course an epic descent back down. As Mt Beauty
has produced both elite and junior national
enduro champions, it should come as no surprise
that the enduro trails are epic. The tracks’
fast and rough nature weaves riders through
the natural gumtree forest with some tracks
stretching to over six minutes long!

The top of the trails can either be climbed up
or shuttled with Blue Dirt holding shuttle days
throughout the year that can be combined with
shuttles at Bright or Falls Creek. If you want a
stress-free day in the bush sampling Big Hill’s
finest, you can stick to the newly signposted loops
that pick and choose the very best hand-built
trails for you, so you can focus on riding.

The fact these trails are largely hand-built is the
reason they hold that ‘old’ world charm. It’s hard
to replicate the shovel scars and pick axe imprints
that hand-built trails offer with a machine. Not
that you really notice these points, but you do
feel them. You feel how the trail is sometimes
awkwardly tight or how natural formations have
offered A and B lines for the builders to choose
from, they just feel real. Machine-built trails are
still cool to ride, but we all need to get real every
now and then.

Mt Beauty’s natural trails vary from double-black
diamond downhill tracks to green trails. Much
of the park is considered blue, so the trails are
reasonably technical but manageable for most.
The park is best suited to a capable trail bike or
enduro bike to get the most out of the descending
trails on offer. An XC bike can still manage the
trails with a capable rider at the helm.
The dirt is quite hard-packed with a thin, loose layer
on top for the most part. A fast-rolling tread will be
sufficient and a big bag tyre will be best to handle the




















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