Tasmania Bike Weekend Day 1 Blue Derby
Sometimes the most impulsive decisions prove to be the best. Despite vowing to respect myself more and stop flying certain airlines which will remain unnamed, I could not resist the lure of the cheap ticket.
Off peak tickets to Launceston under $150 return for a three day weekend was too good to say no to. What’s in Launceston? Only some of the most exciting mountain biking trails, new and old in Australia. Oh and I had a really good mountain biking friend who had been living there for the past year with too long in between catch-ups.
See a good buddy I hadn’t seen in a while? Check! Awesome mountain biking trails? Check! Up and coming small city with excellent coffee? Check please!
I was really excited to see the new Blue Derby trails that have just opened earlier this year, about 1.5 hours drive out of Launceston. 25km of trails (with more to come) on the forested hillsides of Derby, designed by World Trail.
The catch with impulse decisions is that I didn’t do any research whatsoever around the dates that I had picked. I knew my friend would be around, where I wanted to ride and that was the end of it. We found out a week earlier that my weekend in Tasmania would coincide with the National XCM round being held at the Blue Derby itself. Meaning the trails would be closed to snap happy mere mortals on bikes for the entire weekend.
With a small window to ride the Blue Derby trails, I had my quick thinking friend K to thank for coming up with a plan. I arrived in Launceston at 9am on Friday, grabbed a much needed and very nice coffee in town, built my bike and straight off on the road to Derby to ride while the trails were still open to public.
I won’t describe how beautiful Derby and the scenery on the road there were. Hopefully my photos will do it justice and give you an idea.
Now back on the trails themselves. I hate to admit, but I was a little afraid to get too excited. What if it’s too much climbing? What if it’s too short? What if it’s too samey samey? What if it’s like riding on a footpath?
I have to say my inner whinger was being a little vocal at the start. There was a significant climb at the start, up beautifully designed well-graded switchbacks. The climb did continue for a while, which I expected. Got to use all that elevation available. But there was plenty to look at. We were riding through lush forest with streams and tiny waterfalls along the way. Stunning. We were conscious and at times I was a little anxious about holding up elite racers who were out practicing.
However, once we started on out first long descent, my inner whinger went back into hibernation. The descents were fast and fun with huge bermed corners. There were berms, which launched you in the air on the exits. The trail spat us out; after a long descent, onto a stunning rocky valley. We had a little play on the rocks and a little lie down. I would love to see this rocky area incorporated into trail network some how, although we had fun having a play here as it is.
The trails were a little less groomed on the opposite hillside. We were climbing a lot again but we knew we would have the descents to reward us. And reward us it did. The berms were bigger, more obstacles and sneaky lines where you could launch yourself off if you wanted to. I would not have noticed one particular obstacle if I had not seen a rider in an online video fly off this particular rock feature. And yes, it was far bigger in real life.
I have a few regrets with my Blue Derby experience. Regret that I didn’t get to do its many screaming descents again. My legs were done! Regret that I didn’t take a funny picture in one of its many huge berms.
Ah well ,looks like I’ll just have to go back again.
- The trailhead is easy to find. Park your car in the Corner Store carpark, visible from Derby’s main street. Here you will find a trailmap, toilets, showers and the start of a lovely riverside trail that takes you to the Blue Derby trailhead itself.
- The Blue Derby trails are for all levels to enjoy. It’s as technical as you make it . If you’re worried about your fitness, don’t be put off by the amount of climbing. The ascents are quite cruisey and well graded. Just take it a little easier if you need to.
- There is quite a bit of choice for food and drink in Derby, for such a tiny town. We had amazing coffee at the Painted Door Art café. My friend K spilled her coffee all over the front porch and she still got it replaced for free. We decided that helping the owners to hose down the mess, was the least we could do. The town has definitely gone bike mad, with bike paraphernalia all over its main street. It was and it was exciting to see this beautiful town thrive.
- It gets cold in Tasmania, if you don’t know already. I was lucky with the weather, the sun shone throughout my trip and it was a little warmer than it usually is in the Tasmanian autumn. Do still prepared to get wet; thanks to the many creek crossings and for the weather to change quickly. You are generally shielded from the cold wind in the heavily forested trails of Blue Derby. I still had a woollen under layer, riding jersey and a waterproof jacket for when we stopped moving.