While there is collectively about 100km of mountain bike track alone in Townsville, TheGo caught up with Rockwheelers Mountain Bike Club’s Justin McIntosh to find out his top picks for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders.
You can’t go past the beginner loop at Douglas Mountain Bike Reserve for a warm up — it is a very easy roll with a couple of berms and slight climb sections for when you get confident. Still at Douglas, Scrub Pythons is also great to add a few kilometres on at the other end of a ride and is mostly easy winding through the trees, with a few small creeks to drop in to. Scrub Pythons is a little longer though so you need a little bit of endurance. You regularly see new riders and parents walking around with kids on balance bikes on these two trails, and they both start off the car park/skills park at Douglas.
At Palleranda there are the Lagoon trails which wind around some of the bird lagoons on the Town Common. These tracks are very easy, only a few kilometres long and they’re nice and wide. They are a great way to give someone their first taste of dirt!
Rockwheelers also has the trails at Ross Dam which are designed as our beginner network. There are some steep pinch climbs and great flowy downhill runs out there, but nothing overly technical aside from a rocky creek crossing or step here and there. These trails are strictly members only and you must complete an online induction to ride out there (unless you’re competing in some events like HotRock8 or social rides).
Still in the beginner territory, once you have some confidence and stamina on the bike you can have a go at Easy St at Douglas. It’s a 5% gradient climb 2.7km to ‘The Hump’ which really is the gateway to the rest of the trail network from that side of the hill. It’s mostly an easy climb — the usual strategy is to ride as far as you can, and aim to get higher up the hill each ride. The hardest obstacles on Easy Street are a couple of creek crossings that require some balance skills but nothing too crazy. At the top of Easy Street is also Beefwood which is a contour trail that doesn’t climb and is mostly flat. Once you tackle Easy Street, riding across Beefwood and back gives you another 800m each way. The views from The Hump are well worth the climb.
Still at Douglas, from the top of Easy Street/The Hump you can link up to two of my favourite trails to ride down. Red Tail Black returns down to the car park, so is a good way to loop back to your car. It’s one of the older hand-cut trails and, as such, is a bit narrow (I call it a goat track). The obstacles you come across are more technical rock step-downs and a couple of small rock gardens, but nothing too serious.
Going the other direction is Whiptail, which descends and follows the contours with some awesome ‘flow’ where you can just roll and let the track guide you. Throw in a couple of switch backs, small rock steps and you have a great downhill trail with some technical features to keep you on your toes. It links up to Keelback, which is a more technical downhill track with some bigger rock gardens, steps and other features (if you take the A-lines) and comes out at Riverside Ridge. Both of these tracks can be ridden up hill, if technical climbs are more your thing.
Lastly for Douglas, I’ll mention The Long Way. You can access this trail from either the ‘Ironbark Hub’, which is the opposite end of Beefwood to The Hump, or a short climb from the Windarra Avenue car park. This track is designed to lead to the summit and be the next track to ride up/defeat after Easy Street. It’s a mostly smooth flowing track, but averaging a 10% gradient, with some steeper pinch climbs along the way. It’s a great feeling to ride all the way from the car park to the top summit, and you are rewarded with almost 360 views of the city and surrounds. The Long Way also rides great on the way down with nothing too technical, just great flow and speed. From the top summit you can also link up with Hammerhead and Wedgetail to descend the James Cook University (JCU) side of the network, as well as ride out to the lookout along Spiderbait.
Back to Pallarenda, try Under the Radar built by National Parks. There’s nothing too technical here and this track is accessible to all levels of riders, but — as it is a bit longer at 17km — you need a little bit of fitness to do the whole loop: there are no bug out points. You are rewarded with some great scenery and varied terrain, views of the ocean and Magnetic Island.
At Douglas, another perk of riding to the top is that it links up with the start of Rock and Roll, just before the summit. This is one of my favourite trails at Douglas. Rock and Roll One is a fast, flowy downhill-only trail. It probably comes between intermediate and advanced, as most of it is rollable and it features berms that gravity stick you in to the corners; plus rock steps, some steep drops and a couple of rock gardens. When it hits The Hump you can ride over the plank flyover with either a steep drop-in, or a drop-off if you’re brave. This track continues to Rock and Roll Two and Three which are Black Diamond trails — definitely only for the brave and skilled riders. The latter feature road and creek jumps, tight berms, rock gardens and the infamous ‘meat grinder’.
We also have a downhill track at Mount Stuart — again only for advance riders with a tough bike. Most hard obstacles here have ‘B’ lines that are rollable, but if it’s your first time out there I recommend taking it slow. My first time riding Stuart I probably walked 70% of the course!
For more information see http://www.rockwheelers.com.au/