Printed in October 2019 Issue
Imagine a mountain bike park on the Tablelands that was open 365 days a year, no matter the weather, had over 45 trails of diverse riding terrain and had 7 different vegetation types to explore. This is the vision that the volunteers who maintain the Atherton Mountain Bike park have for the region. Currently with just over 70km of terrain and 20 marked trails of riding, the Atherton Mountain Bike Park has the potential to become this vision of rider’s heaven.
The park already boasts 7 different vegetation types, each creating differing riding conditions and challenges along with picturesque landscapes. This is particularly unique to these tableland trails as many mountain bike parks will only have rainforest or just soft sand and rock. The park also already has tracks which could be open 365 days a year, meaning the park could be reliably open during the wet season. Currently the whole park can be closed in the wet but there is hope from many local avid riders that this could change. “There are several tracks that can be ridden without fear of erosion or damage from riding in the wet,” describes Brett Piccone.
‘Chook’ as he is affectionately known, is one of just 5 people from Tablelands Cycle Sports that do the majority of the maintenance on the Atherton Mountain Bike Park. With over 70km of riding terrain and 20 trails, this is no small feat for the dedicated crew.
Chook has a passion for mountain biking that borders on obsession. “What we have here is amazing, but it could be even better. Currently many visitors come to the region to ride the tracks for a day, but we have the potential to create a park that people need to stay for the week to ride all the trails and will still want to come back for more.”
“The best way to truly discover a place is to ride with a local.”
The team of 5 who work year round to maintain the trails, run monthly trail care workshops to allow locals to get involved. The workshops give riders the opportunity to meet people that aren’t just locals riding at the park, but avid mountain bikers that have a deep desire to share their passion for the sport with others.
“The best way to truly discover a place is to ride with a local,” Chook comments. Workshop participants are not just in the company of a local rider, they’re in the company of someone who eats, breathes and sleeps mountain biking and knows the trails better then the back of their hand.
The workshops allow volunteers to learn basic trail building skills, which may sound quite simple and possibly even a little bit boring. On the contrary, Chook’s eyes light up as he describes in detail the 30 plus hours of rock armouring he did on one section of the trail. On all accounts, his work was not only beautiful but also functional. It has been put to the test by 10 years of wet seasons and is still holding strong. “We believe in sustainable maintenance. Do it once, do it right.” Chook says.
He goes on to describe reverse grades, inclines, water mitigation, erosion control and weed control. This is truly a science; but one that can be learned by anyone who is keen to get their hands dirty. The landscaping skills learned at the workshops are applicable off the tracks as well; not just for a kid’s backyard track but for any landscaping done around the home.
Chook’s passion for trail maintenance is dwarfed as he starts to describe the trails themselves. Originally the tracks were just named with a number, but Chook and his team wanted to capture the personality of the trails. Stairway to Heaven is the most visual of the trails, giving riders plenty of reward for their efforts on the steep climb. It boasts views across the Tablelands right out to Tinaroo and Bellenden Ker. Top deck is named aptly after Top Deck Chocolate as the brown and white dirt combination looks like just that. Bandy Bandy is named after the snake for its beautiful lush green vegetation. When asked if there are any other trails he wants to talk about Chook gives a long sigh, “ahh…I love them all.” He goes on to describe several trails including Ridgey Didge, “not long, but tons of fun with a mix of natural terrain and bike park type challenges. It also has Leasie’s lookout, an awesome view, named after Leasie who was instrumental in getting the park underway”. It is clear that Chook could talk about the trails all day but the sun is shining and he is itching to get out on his bike. If he’s piqued your interest the best way to learn more is to attend a Trail Care Workshop. Caution is recommended though – it’s clear that his passion is contagious!
The pipedream of an international level mountain bike park (search Derby MTB in Tasmania) is not unrealistic, but it is far beyond reach without the help of the broader community. Individuals can get involved by attending a trail care workshop. Businesses can get involved through donations of sponsorship and building tools. The mountain bike park not only benefits riders, but the community at large as it attracts increasing visitors to the region and assists in the creation of a vibrant and active community.
The next trail care workshop is at 8.30am on Saturday 12th October. Meet at the TCS shipping container on Rifle Range Road. Connect with them on facebook: Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park and on Instagram: Atherton Trails.
NRMA Atherton Tablelands Holiday Park has been a supporter of the mountain bike scene for a number of years. It is the ideal place to unwind after a big day exploring on two wheels. Located right near the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, they offer a bike maintenance bay with hoses and a range of cabin and camp site options. Discover the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation.