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Bottom of the World - Surviving Whistler Top to Bottom
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Is the Thredbo AM Trail the best descent in Australia?
MTB Trail Videos - Trail Centre Upgrade Program
VIDEO: The Fourth 365 Days of Reign - My 4th year of Mountain Biking
Pilot Wilderness Ride - Cascade to Pinch - Part 2
Pilot Wilderness Ride - Cascade to Pinch - Part 1
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VIDEO: Top XC Rides of 2014/2015
VIDEO: 2015 The FAIL Awakens
VIDEO: Nine Days in the Rotorua Redwoods
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VIDEO: 2014 FAILS - Will Ride, Will Fail
VIDEO: MTB-TVs TOP 10 Descents of 2014
VIDEO: The Opening of the Alpine Epic Trail - Mt Buller
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Video: Return to Rotorua .. maybe?
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Bantry Bay (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Bruce Ridge (Canberra)
Bungarra Alpine Centre (Snowy Mountains)
Currumbin Border Track (NSW/QLD Border)
Daisy Hill (South Brisbane)
East Kowen (Kowen Pine Forest, Canberra)
Forest Pipeline (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Fred Caterson Reserve (Castle Hill)
Golden Jubilee Field MTB Park (North Shore, Sydney)
Hassans Walls (Lithgow)
Hinze Dam (Gold Coast)
Jindabyne (Snowy Mountains)
Kiwarrak State Forest (Tarree)
Majura Pines (Majura, Canberra)
Manly Dam (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Mt Joyce (Gold Coast Hinterland)
Mt Kosciuszko (Snowy Mountains)
Nerang State Forest (Gold Coast)
Old Man's Valley (Hornsby, Sydney)
Ourimbah (Central Coast)
Oxford Falls (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Pilot Wilderness (Snowy Mountains)
Red Hill (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
Rotorua Redwoods (New Zealand)
Silver Mountain (Kellogg)
Singleton (Hunter Valley)
Sparrow Hill (Kowen Pine Forest, Canberra)
St Ives and Belrose (North Shore, Sydney)
Stromlo Forest Park (Canberra)
Terrey Hills (Northern Beaches, Sydney)
The Oaks (Blue Mountains)
Thredbo Resort (Snowy Mountains)
Thredbo Valley Trail (Snowy Mountains)
Whistler Bike Park (Whistler)
Wingello (Southern Highlands)
Wylde MTB Trail (Cecil Park - Western Sydney)
VIDEO: MTB-TVs TOP 10 Descents of 2014
This is a video I’ve wanted to put together for a long time however the challenge has been “How do I pick my top 10 descents”? Every time I set about rating the trails I realised how flawed the process was and gave up.
Driving back from Mt Buller recently I had a lot of time to think about all the trails I’d ridden this year and it dawned on me that the only way I could rank the trails was to rank how I felt immediately after riding them. So armed with only 2 criteria, 1 that it must be predominantly a descent and 2 how excited I was immediately after riding it I put together my Top 10 Descents of 2014.
10. Vapour Trail – Stromlo Forest Park, ACT
The Vapour Trail is the only DH trail I’ve ever ridden on my Reign, and it was a whole new step up for me. I have minutes of GoPro footage where I’m psyching myself up at the top of Stromlo. I’d never been so petrified about a ride before. By the time I got to the bottom I was shaking with fear, excitement, relief and disbelief – but I went straight back up and rode it again. I’ve ridden the Vapour Trail 4 times and it doesn’t get any less intimidating however I may have hung up my helmet on that trail. I proved to myself I could handle it but the cost of screwing up is too high. Hell I crashed on the green trail 2 runs later and broke my thumb :)
9. Three Hills Track – Nerang, QLD
On the last day of my family holiday I drove out to Nerang for a blast down 3 Hills before the 10 hour drive back to Sydney ... and I’m so glad I did. Since my previous trip to Nerang they had completed a major rerouting of the 3 Hills trail creating a super fast traverse about a quarter of the way down. This was the first time I’d ridden that section and my god it was fun. I often watch this video in disbelief at how fast I was riding. It’s one of those “Wow I’ve come along way” moments.
8. Corners – Rotorua Redwoods, NZ
Corners trail is one of those trails that I can’t work out how much I like. For me Corners is a trail that requires me to be “on” to really enjoy, and on this occasion I was surprisingly ON. It had been a long day riding in the Redwoods and I found myself left alone at the top of the shuttle drop off with the Sun setting. It wasn't a smart decision. So I promised myself I would ride conservatively, braking well in advance for each corner so I was in control and riding smoothly. Surprisingly I stuck to that plan. When I got to the bottom I couldn’t believe my eyes – Despite having been on the trail for most of the day, struggling to see in the very low light and riding conservatively I’d set a PR but not by a little, by more than half a minute. Smooth is fast when riding Corners.
7. Kosciuszko Flow Trail – Thredbo Resort, NSW
Another trail that I have mixed feelings about. On the every first ride of every trip to Thredbo Resort I think “This is not really the sort of riding I like” but by the end of the session I’m smashing down the trail like a boss. This was my final run down the Kosciuszko Flow Trail for 2014 and I knocked 48s off my personal best, largely due to riding smoothly, just like Corners above. I was SO HAPPY at the time and I regularly compare this video to my other Thredbo flow trail videos as a reminder of how far I’ve come.
6. Western Wedgetail to Breakout – Stromlo Forest Park, ACT
I have so many great memories riding at Stromlo but this one takes the cake. What went wrong? I was trying to set a PR and get my first decent footage of riding Breakout at speed. Going too hard on my last run of the day I was just a little too early into the corner, as I corrected I let the rear wheel get into the dust and that’s all she wrote – 1 broken thumb and 2 months on the sidelines. Up until that point I had been flying. PR’s on all sections of the trail including absolutely owning Western Wedgetail, Skyline, Northern Exposure and Little Seymour. I will probably never better that PR because I’ve promised myself I will never ride that trail in a full face helmet and body armour again, it tends to make me feel invincible.
5. Blue Descent - Old Man’s Valley, Hornsby, NSW
Old Man’s Valley is an amazing little bike park, what they managed to compress into such a small space is quite amazing, but the Blue Descent from Quarry Rd down to the bottom has fantastic mix of speed, technical riding and berms. And the best thing about OMV ... it’s just a short ride back to the top to do it all over again. This run down the Blue Descent was my first technical descent after breaking my thumb, it was the final test to see if I was ok to head to Rotorua only a week later. As you can tell by the video I was ready! I also included a random moment while riding the Epic trail where I met Jethro from Synergy Trails, the crew that built this brilliant piece of trail.
4. Split Enz – Rotorua Redwoods, NZ
Split Enz is the most amazingly crafted trail I’ve ever ridden. Built by hand, this trail winds its way down the mountain requiring virtually no pedalling but little more than brake feathering for the full 4.3km. This was my first run down Split Enz and my quote at the end was “Oh I have GOT to do THAT again!” I've now ridden it 4 times which is pretty good going considering the effort to get out and back from Split Enz. It’s a trail that riders of all levels will absolutely love. Split Enz is one of the must do trails in the Redwoods Forest and is quite surprising to have been beaten by 3 other trails in this list.
3. Bovine Groove – Mt Joyce, QLD
This is my first and only descent at Mt Joyce and what a great choice of trail. Dropping into Bovine Groove and down the stairs got the excitement levels high right from the get go. Bovine Groove runs for 3.7km with a mix of flowy but rough descents, a short climb in the middle followed by a final flow section with a number of banked corners and a big timber berm. I was out there on my own with my family dumped up on Tamborine Mt, so I had to take it easy on the trail. I’m looking forward to heading back in 2015 and hitting Bovine Groove with a bit more energy. I came of this trail tossing up whether or not it was the descent of the year so far.
2. Te Tihi-O-Tawa – Rotorua Redwoods, NZ
Day 1 in the Redwoods. I was spent from riding Corners and the Hucks, trails much faster and bigger than I was used to. I was looking to dial back the speed a little so I climbed Tawa Rd for Te Tihi-O-Tawa. It blew me away. At the time of riding it was very dry so the trail condition was excellent, meaning the roots provided a great technical challenge but weren’t slippery. A few steeper shoots and tight corners keep the blood flowing while the legs were pumping their way down the trail. By the time I reached Moerangi Rd I was absolutely frothing. It was an amazing experience that had Te Tihi-O-Tawa holding top spot for almost a year!
1. Alpine Epic Trail (the final descent) – Mt Buller, VIC
It’s hard to put into words the mental and physical state I was in after 6 hours on the trail, 30+ km of riding and walking (cramping for the previous 15km), in 10°C of rain and mud. I’m still surprised that I had the energy to enjoy what is a trail worthy of Epic status. The final Epic descent dropped a whopping 1000m vertical metres with sections of super slippery berms, fast flowy traverses, fun winding sections and playful rollers and jumps. I desperately want to return to ride the Alpine Epic Trail in the dry, but on this day It was an experience like no other and richly deserves Number 1 status in the TOP 10 DESCENTS OF 2014.
Other descents of note that were very unlucky not to make the top 10.
Stromlo – Western Wedgetail, Skyline, Luge, Duffys
Stromlo – Western Wedgetail, Pork Barrel, Double Dissolution (Full run video)
Stromlo – Roller Coaster, Magpie Rock, Slick Rock (Run highlights video)
OMV – The new blue descent at the bottom
Rotorua Redwoods – Eagle Vs Shark
Rotorua Redwoods – Underbilly to Billy T
Rotorua Redwoods – Be Rude Not To 2
Rotorua Redwoods – Tokorangi
Footnotes regarding the criteria:
If it came down to sheer trail gold the Rotorua Redwoods would claim most of the spots in the Top 10, one of the reasons why I decided to go with "Experiences" as the measurement. However the experience measurement is flawed as well because a trail like Rotorua's Corners would probably rank a hell of a lot higher if I had to climb the 400+ metres myself. But I had to come up with something that would give a spread of trails.
As mentioned above my first run down Te Tihi-O-Tawa (Jan 2014) was my favourite ride right up until I rode the Alpine Epic, however I went back to Rotorua in November and did not enjoy TTOT at all as it was far to slippery, in fact it was one of my least favourite runs on the whole trip. Conversely my first run down Rotorua's Eagle vs Shark was less than inspiring in fact I didn't think much of the trail at all (to be fair it was wet and the sound of my headset was driving me nuts) but by the end of my time in the Redwoods I was totally in love with EvS, HOWEVER I didn't have that one run that made it into the top 10. It is quite likely that EvS will become one of my favourite rides of all time. Bovine Groove on video doesn't look that amazing but when I came off the trail I was frothing and seriously considering putting it into the number 1 spot, it will be interesting to see if it lives up to that ranking on when I return (hopefully February). OMV Blue Descent is the trail that keeps on giving. The more I go the more I enjoy it. When you are on song it's like riding the rails of a roller coaster - it is an amazing build!
Trail Centres and Trails featured in this blog
- Mt Joyce (Gold Coast Hinterland, QLD)
- Nerang State Forest (Gold Coast, QLD)
- Old Man's Valley (Hornsby, Sydney, NSW)
- Rotorua Redwoods (New Zealand, NZ)
- Stromlo Forest Park (Canberra, ACT)
- Thredbo Resort (Snowy Mountains, NSW)