After much anticipation the St Helens Mountain Bike Trail network officially opened in late November this year. Comprising 110km on the doorstep of Bay of Fires and St Helens, this trail network adds a stunning and unique experience to Tasmania’s world-renowned mountain bike tracks. The trail was jointly funded by the Break O’Day Council and the state and federal governments. We asked mountain biker Joe Harrison to describe the experience of riding the St Helens Mountain Bike Trail.
Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fires trail certainly got the majority of media attention, and rightfully so. It is a 40km epic trail through an incredibly diverse landscape. The trail offers gorgeous landscape vistas, lush manfern forrest, coastal heathland and sea views. On top of the aesthetic qualities the trail itself is a standout. Dropping off the Blue Tier at Poimena it feels like a never ending magic carpet ride with berms and technical features making the most of every centimetre of the steep terrain. You regroup with your riding buddies through an undulating trail through gum forest before climbing up for the final, hectic descent into the gorgeous Swimcart Beach. Overwhelmingly the response from everyone I spoke to was that it was the best trail they had ever ridden. I couldn’t agree more!
The stacked loop network of trails at The Flagstaff behind St Helens did not get the media attention of the Bay of Fires trail, but it did get the families. Over the opening weekend hundreds of families of all ages had a ball riding on beginner-friendly trails. The way this network has been designed allows for great skills progression. Trail difficulty increases the further you radiate out from the trail head. Riders can progress out from the green trails to the blue if they desire, or simply spend a great afternoon riding the range of seven beginner-friendly trails.
The Pedal Heads Mountain Bike Club ran a range of novelty events over the opening weekend, giving out prizes kindly donated by Giant Bicycles St Helens and Gravity Isle Shuttles. Our junior members were lucky enough to get the opportunity to ride with and meet Hans Rey, an international mountain biking legend. It was a great event for all that were involved and just the beginning of much bigger things for our club.
The commercial opportunities this trail network has opened up have received much attention. The tourism opportunities and new business headlines have been abundant. However, as president of a small mountain bike club, and a father, for me it is the community they bring. It’s about the positive health benefits that walkers and riders can now enjoy. It’s about the mental health benefits as well.
Mindfulness is a buzzword nowadays, which tends to conjure up images of sitting quietly contemplating one’s navel. For me it is hurtling through the bush with around 50mm2 contact patch on the ground! It is hard to not be mindful and living in the moment when you are fully committed to a trail.
Joe Harrison is President of Pedal Heads Mountain Bike Club and allegedly a world-renowned hula hooper.