If you’re an avid mountain biker you may have already heard of Destination Trail — Specialized’s spectacular search for the most breathtaking mountain biking destinations all over the globe. Some are relatively unknown while others are world famous, but all are worthy of the bucket list. With British Columbia, Canada; Lima, Peru; Maui, USA; Ainsa, Spain and Rotorua, NZ, already covered; the next destination is now locked in, only a month away and is actually on our doorstep — it’s Cairns, North Queensland.
The really exciting bit? Specialized’s local concept store, Top Brand Cycles, is sending five of Townsville’s female mountain bikers to soak up the World Cup level trails of Smithfield Mountain Bike Park, where they’ll test the very latest mountain bikes (including the new Rumor, Camber Stumpjumper, Fatboy, Helga, Ruze and Fuze), ride the famous Cairns network with the World Trail crew, and learn from the best in the business in this ‘money-can’t-buy’ experience. Note: Scroll to the end to see how you and a buddy can win a spot.
I am very fortunate and excited to be going on behalf of TheGo Townsville (yes, anyone who knows me, I know what you’re thinking — I promise I will try to stay on the bike this time), so we caught up with two of the other ladies who’ll I’ll be heading north next month to find out about their MTB prowess, their riding tips and what they are hoping to get out of it. There will be a mix of abilities but everyone shares a love, or budding love, for the sport.
Rose Newitt – Experienced MTBer
How long have you been mountain biking and how did you discover it? I did the Paluma Push about 10 years ago. I had ridden on a dirt track twice before the race and I rode a late nineties steel-frame with no suspension for what seemed like hours. The stitching of my knicks felt like it was embedded in my skin, so it was an experience I was not keen to repeat (laughs). In August last year I loaned my road bike to a friend-of-a-friend so decided to dust off the old bike and take it with me to a holiday at Paluma. My husband and I had an absolute ball riding through the rainforest tracks around the Paluma township and I haven’t looked back since.
What do you enjoy about it? I love the challenges and achievements of mountain bike riding, whether it’s overcoming the fear to ascend or descend a steep rock garden, climbing Smedley’s Hill without stopping, or bettering my time on a trail. I like that it requires your full concentration at all times. I like that it’s a whole-body workout. I like that I can ride around the trails with my music blaring in my ears and forget about everything else.
What’s your favourite local trail? All the trails in Townsville are great. I’ve become familiar with them from racing in the local Rockwheelers events. My favourite would be Smedley’s at the moment because I’m enjoying learning new skills. We consider ourselves very lucky to have trails like Under the Radar and Smedley’s at our doorstep.
How do you feel about going to Destination Trail in Cairns? It’s a real privilege to be invited to attend. I haven’t ridden any of the trails around Cairns yet and I hear they’re super. I’m also looking forward to test riding the latest and greatest Specialized trail bikes, although I’m hoping none of them ride better than mine as I just spent a small fortune on an S-Works Era (laughs)! It’ll be good to ride with expert riders and gain advice too.
Most memorable MTB moment or achievement? When you’re mountain biking you achieve something every time you ride. That’s why it’s so enjoyable. When you overcome fears and learn a new skill, which is on most rides, you feel ecstatic. I recently had two very heavy falls and returning to riding was scary at first, but this is a sport that is well worth overcoming your fears because the accomplishments far outweigh the failures.
Any tips for other local ladies wanting to get into mountain biking? I recommend you ride the easier trails first like Scrub Python at Douglas. Get used to riding on dirt, going over small bumps and rocks and cornering. Don’t let your partner or friends take you to Under the Radar or Smedley’s on your first ride. Trust in your steed and it will take you where you want to go. Trail bikes today are brilliant with dual suspension and 29-inch wheels. I’m pretty sure my bike gets me over some obstacles despite my skill! Don’t be in a rush to wear clip-in shoes. I didn’t wear them until I could make it around Under the Radar without putting a foot down. Wear a mountain-bike specific helmet that covers more of your head and wear elbow and knee guards. Safety first!
Gill O’Malley – Newbie MTBer
How much off-road riding have you done? Very little, and I must admit that I do feel much safer on the road bike! In saying that, I mountain biked in the You Yangs in Victoria a couple of years ago when I went on a Specialized course and it was great fun, but it’s only since having the opportunity to go on Destination Trail [Gill works at Top Brand and is a women’s cycling ambassador] that I’ve got back into the MTB saddle!
How did you react to the news about Destination Trail? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and when I was told I could go, and bring a group of girls, I was really excited… but now I’ve thought about it I’m a bit apprehensive as I have no MTB skills at all (laughs).
What are you looking forward to about the trip? It will be a good opportunity to have a go and see what I really think — nothing like starting at the top with the best trails and bikes to hopefully get me hooked!
What are you doing to prepare? I took a dual suspension Specialized Stumpjumper to a recent skills session and felt as though I could go over the top of anything! But my favourite part was going around the Freshwater Trail [at Pallarenda] and taking in the view. I am always very wary that, because I am quite fit, my fitness will get ahead of my skills (which would happen very quickly!) and I’ll fall off. I’ll soon find out this weekend as I’m doing the X-Tream Tri, which includes a 30km loop on the mountain bike. The easier Cape Pallarenda Trails are a good place to start if you are new as there are no rocks or steep hills, then you can progress to the intermediate trails.
Ever wanted to go mountain biking in Canada? Watch this Destination Trail excerpt that highlights British Columbia:
You and a buddy can win an all-expenses paid trip to Destination Trail Cairns, thanks to Specialized. Valued at $4,500; it includes accommodation, all meals, the ability to test the latest bikes, ride the world-class trails with the World Trail crew, score two epic Specialized swag bags valued at $775 each, and more. Entries close Sunday, September 6. Find out more and enter here. Good luck!
Check out the World Cup-standard tracks at Smithfield Mountain Bike Park here: http://www.ridecairns.com/riding/where-to-ride/smithfield-mountain-bike-park/
Closer to home, Townsville has a brilliant network of mountain bike tracks at Douglas, Pallarenda and Ross Dam that are suited to all levels. Visit Rockwheelers Mountain Bike Club for more details and maps.