Tackle Tassie on two wheels... Body + Soul Story
Homemade pastries aren’t the typical way to begin a mountain-biking adventure, but they’re a great start in my book.
I’ve arrived in Launceston, in Tasmania’s north, for the three-day Blue Derby Pods Ride, a perfect combination of world-famous bike trails, gorgeous scenery and fresh, local produce.
After being greeted at the airport by hosts Steve and Tim, pastries in hand, our group makes the 75-minute drive to the town of Derby, which overlooks the Ringarooma River and is surrounded by lush rainforest and mountains. The area is teeming with history thanks to its past as a booming tin mining settlement. But we’re here for the Blue Derby, an 85km network of amazing mountain bike trails that opened in 2015 and breathed new life into the region.
News of the Blue Derby quickly spread and, in a first for Australia, it hosted the Enduro World Series mountain bike race in 2017 (such was its success, it will return here in 2019). However, it’s not just for elite athletes. Billed as a ‘soft adventure in comfort’, the three-day Blue Derby Pods Ride takes in some of Tassie’s most stunning trails and is suitable for everyone from beginner to seasoned cyclist.
After a short drive off-road, we arrive at base camp, a cluster of architecturally-designed ‘pods’ nestled deep in the blackwood forest. At its centre is The Hub, which features an open fire, a dining area with a huge Tasmanian oak table and, behind a secret door, a tiny nook of a library with a comfy couch and room for two – all with views onto the forest.
After lunch, we’re introduced to our best friends for the next three days: our bikes. To make the ride as comfortable as possible, each set of wheels is customised for our height and riding ability. And the customised experience continues on the trails. Steve and Tim know these paths like few others, so depending on our fitness level and how much we feel like challenging ourselves,
we pick our trail, from green, blue, black or adrenaline-pumping double black (not for novices).
As we coast along, we often have to stop to take in the magical views of the rainforest. Having a good camera at hand is a must!
Steve and Tim’s skills extend to the kitchen, where they prepare a dinner featuring all-Tasmanian ingredients that evening. After a day of adventure, fresh air, a great meal and a hot shower in The Hub, our private pods beckon.
Designed to have minimal impact on the environment, these elevated cabins look onto the tree canopy and provide everything we need after a day’s riding: peace, quiet and a very comfy mattress.
The best thing is we get to do it all again on days two and three. Each kicks off with a homemade breakfast and a choice of trails – from tackling ‘berms’ (aka banked turns) around Cascade Dam, up to Blue Tier, the Blue Derby’s highest point, from where we descend through dense rainforest to the village of Weldborough, stopping for a picnic along the way.
After three days of great food and wine, lots of laughs, and truly incredible riding, we head back to Launceston knowing we’ve just experienced some of the best mountain bike trails in the world.