Can I take my XC bike to Maydena Bike Park?

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If you live in Australia you would have heard about the launch of Maydena Bike Park in early 2018. About 90 minutes north west of Hobart, Tasmania, the town of Maydena sits on the doorstep of the wild west of the island state. This is where the vast expanse of protected wilderness starts. This is where there are some of the biggest stands of untouched forest in Australia. This is where the thylacines were last seen. And this is where a mountain bike park specialising in gravity assisted riding was built, utilising 820m of drop from peak to base.

Make no mistake, Maydena Bike Park is built for riding downhill, primarily on demanding trails. Their tag line is ‘Step into the wilderness’ and it’s a good guide. This place is wild, just like its surroundings. The hill is steep, with about three different types of vegetation. From sub-alpine up top, through to temperate rainforest, beech forests and scrubbier bushland.

While the majority of the trails first built catered to those on big bikes, Maydena Bike Park have really expanded the range of green and blue trails while also adding double black diamond and pro line trails as well. Having visited before with an all-mountain bike, this time I wanted to go back as part of a 9 day visit to Tasmania.

Day 1: Shuttling Maydena Bike Park

There’s no reason to go against the grain too much, so for our first day at Maydena Bike Park we rented big bikes and paid for a day of shuttling. Single day uplift passes are $80, and a hire bike is about $150, depending what you rent. We hired a Trek Slash 8 each, as we are used to 29″ wheels.

Shuttles start soon after 9 and finish at 4pm, which seemed kind of early on the longest day of the year when we visited. But we did get 5 runs in, some people get 6. It really depends on how you tackle the hill! And how long you stop for lunch.

We started with taking all the green runs on the way down. The way the trails are built, you reach a number of decision points, and there is a trail map at all the major junctions. Plus trail signs and ratings at the smaller ones. There is no way you will roll into a trail that is harder than you thought, based on markings. Regnans Ride is a green trail all the way down, linking from the top shuttle point right to the cafe at the base. Save for being a little rough in places, it proved no problem. So we jumped back on the shuttle and went up again.

This time we mixed up blue and green trails, including some fun ones like Beach Babe. We continued to progress our way up until we dabbled into a couple of Black Diamond runs like Tinder, Old Mate Cobber, The Local and King Brown. Some where noticeably a lot harder than blue runs but it really depended on the trail. At this point each trail really has its own flavour, from tight and raw trails through to fast flow trails with big jumps.

That is not to say it was all smooth sailing. Hire bikes are not always the most enjoyable to ride. The Trek Slash 8 is a good bike, but with a few months in use at Maydena Bike Park our hire bikes were showing their age. Imogen could not actuate the dropper with one hand due to cable contamination, the gears were similar, and braking was just a bit lacking in terms of modulation. The main issue was cockpit setup, especially for Imogen needing to adapt to bars about 10cm wider than she normally rides, and much fatter grips. It really did add to a lot of fatigue that took some of the fun out.

Day 2: Riding our own bikes at Maydena Bike Park

So, you do not need to pay for a shuttle to ride at Maydena Bike Park. but to get to the top, you need to be in a shuttle. It is a private bike park, and there is a climbing trail that can access all the way to Midline, a wide green trail that benches across the mountain. You can pay to ride all day on the climbing trail and any trail below it for $15, along with signing a waiver of course.

We had our 2020 Norco Revolvers with us, although they were setup a little different to how we built them originally.

The frame and group set remains the same, but there are a few changes. The Norco Revolver can have a longer stroke shock fitted to deliver 120mm of travel. We bought those shocks as well when we did the builds, so I fitted those. We already had a Fox 34 SC with 120mm travel, so I fitted them as well. That put the head angle to about 67.4 degrees, and it did reduce the reach a little.

I also made sure we both had wheel sets with 30mm internal width rims, to allow a 2.4/2.35″ tyre combination to hold a large bag of air without flopping around too much. We both used a Maxxis Rekon 2.4″ up front. I had an Ikon 2.35″ in the back, Imogen had a Rekon Race 2.35″. We had metal brake pads, 180mm front rotors and I had a chain guide on, but I doubt I actually needed it. We did run our shock pressure a little higher than usual to allow for bigger hits.

Our day started at Mt Field National Park, where we rode up the dirt climb, which is about 14km long, before descending back down. Given we were still on fast rolling tyres with a dual remote lock out, our bikes still rode uphill just how we wanted. After some lunch, we went to Maydena Bike Park again.

The first part of the climbing trail is a bit of a drag, and we rode all the way up to Midline and then along to the Lower Wilderness Trail. This was a fantastic descent, and an absolute blast on our bikes. We were immediately more comfortable than the day before – but also on less challenging terrain at this point.

The trail ends with a small climb, and while the upper section is fast amongst the trees, the lower section is fast and packed full of rollers between big tree ferns. It pops you out right on the edge of the park, and you climb back towards the trails. It does take you to the dirt road above the first section of climbing trail – which is ideal. Carrying on up here lets you access all the lower trails, including Tinder, The Local, Colour Blind and Scandinavia. Descend those and you need to take the first climbing trail on the open switchbacks. Take the upper sections of the climbing trail, Turn Earner, and you have two further options.

Doing this, we had a brilliant afternoon, getting in a few more runs through this mid-section of the park. It also meant the runs were not 20 minute epics pummelling your body and bike, and while a longer travel and burlier bike would have been a little more precise in rough sections and stable at speed, our modified XC bikes were spot on for what we wanted. And some of the trails, especially Old Mate Cobber, were a good hark back to some of the tighter forested trails we raced on at the Swiss Epic in 2019.

There was plenty of wet, technical riding at the Swiss Epic.

If you have been planning a trip to Tasmania and were not sure whether Maydena Bike Park was worth including, I think it certainly is. The area is wild and worth visiting, and the bike park is a great place to work on your skills and have fun doing so. Rent a bigger bike, or take your own trail bike if you have one. But rest assured the trails accessible from the climbing trail are well worth riding, even on an XC bike. We had amazing dry weather when we were in Tasmania, and that is not guaranteed. So check the forecast and pack accordingly. Maydena Bike Park will get a lot more challenging in the wet.

Our bikes were good, but stiffer cockpits and more aggressive tyres would be an easy choice for next time. Obviously a bigger bike would work as well, as the top sections of the climbing trail are not too steep – but a new bike for one holiday is not really justifiable!

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