Photo Credit: Flow Magazine

        Bicycle SA had a chat to Nick Bowman, who designs the track for our Dirty Weekend event, and is the architect of many of South Australia’s awesome trails 

Bike SA: What’s the best part about your work? 

My favourite part of the job is getting out on the trails and moving dirt – I live for that stuff. Some days I am in the office catching up on paperwork. The paper trail so to speak.

Bike SA: And the best dirt to work with? 

Fox creek (Cudlee Creek) is one of my favourite places to dig – it sounds kind of corny, but Fox creek is home dirt. Home soil! It’s really nice to come back here and work on my local trails after spending many years away from Adelaide.
Where ever I go, you find mountain bikers are generally good people. Throughout my career (ie lifestyle choice) I’ve been lucky enough to meet riders and club officials from all over Australia; it’s been awesome working with Mountain bikers to help make trail dreams come true.

Trails at Nick’s favourite spot Cudlee Creek

What are some great spots to ride at the moment? 

Alice Springs is just warming up – it’s got a pretty good reputation for cross-country riding and there’s a lot of new stuff to come online soon. They’ve easily got 100 km of single track ready to go – they just have to badge it up. The greatest aspects about the Alice Springs is that it is nice and dry in winter, with sunny and warm days while the south of the country is usually muddy and miserable. It’s also very cool that you can fly into the Red Centre with your bike, with no need to hire a car if you get the shuttle to town. All the MTB trails are accessible via the local hard surface bike paths, and the town centre is compact so you can ride everywhere you need to go. Total bike zone for the duration of your visit!

Blue Derby (Tasmania) at the moment is hard to look past and they’ve got a round of the Enduro world Series there next week! It’s an amazing place to ride.
Far North Queensland is also worth a look – and there are some real funky networks near Mareeba (Davies Creek) and out at Atherton there’s a mountain bike park with some sweet flow trails.
I still haven’t been to Falls Creek or Bright in Victoria since they have had some major new trail additions, and it also looks like Thredbo are putting in some great trails. There are plenty of new trails on my bucket list now!

Getting the bike out in Alice

Trails in Alice

What makes a good trail?  

People these days are seeking a predictable and fun flow where you can really sense the rhythm of the trail get into it from the get go. At the moment, I’d say flow trails are what most people want to ride, ones which are really nice cambered and high speed. The lifted and tilted design is what it is all about.

However, mountain biking is diversifying and there a lots of different disciplines and tourism market segments.

Gravity Parks – downhill riding is getting really big, Queenstown is going off, they’ve got a Gondola and they are doing Hellie Biking (Helicopter Shuttles!!!). Next step from there you’re looking at Whistler. Europe, France & Switzerland is great because you spend all day bombing big elevation trails!

Getting dropped off at the top of very big hills is also a growing market. Many areas in the SW of the USA have these options. You get dropped off at 3,000 to 4,000 metres up in the Rockies, and you basically spend a day cruising from high above the tree line, down into the desert. While we don’t have that kind of elevation in Australia, those kind of experiences are going to grow – Thredbo is looking at doing the same sort of stuff with trails down to Jindabyne. With Buller you have the Epic Trail and my favourite; Klinsporn, which descend from the top of the mountain down to the bottom.

What are you doing this year for the Dirty Weekend track? 

This year I’m under instructions to stick to last year’s loop. We’re tweaking last year’s track and chucking in a few new surprises to keep it interesting and of course, we’ll be giving the track all the TLC it deserves before people get on it.

 

What’ s in store for Australia and Mountain Biking? 

It just keeps growing and doesn’t seem to stop. We’re seeing more and more people here out at Fox. We’re building more and more inclusive trails. In Adelaide you’re pretty spoilt, we have Eagle, Fox, Cobblers, Sturt Gorge, the new trails at Anstey Hill and way more, plus there are plans to develop O’Halloran Hill.

We’re finding that all these spots now have regular crews with locals pitching in to help maintain their local trails. In the Hills, we’re finding that more locals are starting to ride regularly; there are cars in the car parks every night of the week. I’m also seeing a whole lot more females and kids riding which is totally awesome. But I still think there’s so much room for growth.

What’s the appeal of an event like Dirty Weekend?

From what I know – 24 hour racing is dropping off in other states. There’s a bit of a saturation in the market for high quality MTB events, but South Australia seems to be defying this trend. What we have in Adelaide is a really good grassroots event – we’re getting people that want to try something different. It’s a really nice feel-good community event. It’s got a special vibe with the DJ’s and music that’s hard to match anywhere else.

The Dirty Weekend is taking place on Sunday 29-30 April. More details can be found here.