Some Happy Riders Tales
Thanks for another amazing time! I really appreciate all your encouragement and tips. I have done so many things I never thought I was capable of! Also thank Laurie [another worker] loads for sticking with my slow speed up the hills. He was amazing. Looking forward to next time already. Heather (May 2013)
Hi Will, Thanks for the great weekend. Really enjoyed it. Thanks heaps. Anthony (May 2013)
Hi Will, Thanks for the pics and thanks for an amazing weekend! Everything was perfect, just the right amount of riding, relaxing and coffee drinking, you made everything so easy. Really appreciated the tips from you and Stacey [our other ladies guide on the weekend], I feel like I've made some progress with my riding as a result ... The trip was excellent value and I'm looking forward to the next one. Cheers Shelley (April 2013)
An absolutely brilliant weekend hitting the trails of Canberra with Mtnbike. Will, who runs this amazing experience, should get extra credit for the great pics. No bruises or lost skin this time around either - I must be getting better. Can't wait till next time :) Jules (April 2013)
Hi Will, Thanks for a ridiculously fun weekend, I can't stop smiling, and I'm still riding berms in my head! The whole trip was so easygoing yet efficient, I wouldn't have changed a thing. Really appreciate all the skills, tips and encouragement, it makes me want to ride harder and get better. Thanks also to Stacey, her ability and enthusiasm is inspiring. Cheers (Susan April 2013)
Great photos Will and such a fun day. Rather tired today but I did manage to make it to work :) Thanks for such a great day. Amanda (April 2013)
Cheers Will. That was awesome. Bart (April 2013)
Hi Will, Thanks again for your classes and for the recommendation that I get a new bike. I did really enjoy the Mont and being on a bike that fit, that was mine, was certainly part of it ... I appreciated that you have a girls only group. Learning with boys, who are so fearless, is intimidating, even if they are being thoughtful / patient. Thanks again, Beck (March 2013)
Hi Will I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know myself and Johnny had a great day with Brad, learnt loads of helpful tips and would recommend this highly. Chris (February 2013)
G'day Will, I would like to say that I couldn't think of a single way that the weekend could have been better. You have a fine collection of pics and I'm just glad it's not me in instead of Michael in that video! Till next time. James (Dec 2012)
Hey Will - thank you for another good trip. Thanks for the relaxed but thorough organisation. David from the Taree crew was a certified legend. Loved the trails - would never had ridden them without your trip and the local knowledge - am still buzzing from the see-saw, gap jump and some of those other mental features. Accomodation and its location was ace - the dip in the sea was just the ticket at the end of the day. Food was fine and dandy - the Thai buffet meal was a good idea. Cheers. Kieran (Dec 2012)
Thanks for such an awesome weekend Will, GREAT location, AWESOME trails, HILARIOUS people.... I don't know about anyone else but I'm still buzzing from it! Lisa (Dec 2012)
Nice job Will. John and I cycled Ourimbah a few days after the [CBR mtnbike] weekend and we both noticed significant improvement. Thanks again. Stephen (Nov 2012)
Thanks Will. Would like to say thanks to all for great rides, great conversation and helping find more 'pleasure than pain', always. Looking forward to the next ride. John (Nov 2012)
So good to get out of Sydney and onto the trails. HAVE MORE TRIPS!! Lisa (Nov 2012)
Hi Will, Thanks for a killer weekend of riding! Super fun. Cheers Sasha (Oct 2012)
Well organised, stress free trip, great guiding and company - will be back! Jason (Feb 2012)
Gear Up Girl September 2012
Thanks Will! I really did have the most wonderful weekend and learnt heaps! Your whole outfit is very professional, really impressive. Emma (September 2012)
Hi Will, Thank you for such a great weekend. I had the best time, having to physically and mentally challenge myself and also spending the weekend with such a great bunch of people. The photos are fabulous. Once again Will, thanks again. Kim and I are locking in the bike weekend for next year. Farewell and have a great year of biking ahead. Donna (September 2012)
Wow, amaaaazing weekend of mountain biking in the ACT - rode Kowen, Bruce Ridge and conquered Mt Stromlo!! Only one major stack, and a decent collection of bruises to show for it :O) Can't stop smiling. Thanks heaps to Will at Mtnbike for giving me the skills and confidence to tackle it all. Can't wait to go again!!! Jules (September 2012)
Hey Will, Thanks for a great weekend. You run a great camp - so well organised and you make everything so easy. As a person who is not so good with surprises you answered all the 'when, where, how and what' questions before I even asked them. I really appreciated that and I know that you made it all look seamless - but that’s because of all the work you put in beforehand. Jill (September 2012)
Will, what a great weekend! 5 months between Canberra MTB trips is waaayy too long! Thanks for the skills, the stacks (!) and the smiles! Katheryn (September 2012)
Thanks so much Will. Had a fantastic time and am now much more confident for the rides ahead. Thank you ladies for your great company and conversation. Wendy (September 2012)
Thank you Will for a fabulous weekend - Donna & I really enjoyed it. To go out of our comfort zone and believe it or not we did learn a thing or two! It may not have been text book but a little bit is better than nothing!! We may not have been too brave but we are proud of what we did do, THANK YOU! We will be talking so highly about your very well organized tour and I hope I can bring more girls next time if not just Donna and myself- hope to see you again next time:-) :-) Kim (September 2012)
DH Skills Session Testimonial:
Hi Will - the session with Chris was terrific. He did a great job and I would thoroughly recommend him to others. I got exactly what I wanted out of it which was to learn how to approach some bigger obstacles, improve my performance on berms and how to take jumps. By the end of the session Chris had helped me to confidently clear quite a few sections/features which I would have thought the only crazy people would try - so a fantastic outcome. He also went above and beyond the call of duty to get some footage of me on the jumps - just great. Thanks again. Pete (May 2012)
Hi Will, Just wanted to say thanks for hooking up the Saturday DH Skills with Chris. He was professional and fun to learn from. I took heaps away from the session and can’t wait for the next one! Will be in touch for next. Cheers. Mike G (June 2012)
Canberra MTB'ing Weekend Tour Testimonials:
G'day Will, Well I certainly had a great weekend riding with you guys around the single tracks of Canberra. And am looking forward to spring when you start up again. Many Thanks. Greg B (May 2012)
Hi Will, Thanks again for another great weekend. Nice pics and video of the weekend as well.
Regards. Ravi C (May 2012)
Thanks Will, looking forward to the next trip. Gretel H (May 2012)
Thanks Will Had a great time. Cheers Damian P (May 2012)
Really looking forward to it. Thanks for making it all so easy. Jill P (May 2012)
Thanks for putting together the Lighgow ride, it was a memorable weekend with some great scenery in areas I had not previously visited, good riding and good fun. Thanks also to Arran and Adam (our sheep dogs) for doing a great job looking after us and also to Laurie who is always around to help. Peter M (April 2012)
Hi Will, Thanks to Aaron, Adam, Laurie and yourself for organising and looking after us on the weekend. A tough couple of rides through stunning country with great company. What more could any mountain biker want? Cheers Greg H (April 2012)
Hey Will, It was a great weekend! I've been re-living it all day (the photos have certainly been keeping that flame alight!). Highlights:
- Mt Horrible Road (pretty good fun - didn't have to ride fast).
- The view at lunch
- That descent after lunch! Holy crap! As "birthday Aaron" said "after you finish a descent on a road bike you just think about what you have to do next. On a mountain bike, you're so full of adrenalin all you can think about is 'OH F### YEAH'!". Well put I say!
- I was enjoying the road after that too - a lovely secluded valley, river crossings, the Turon valley, a few nice climbs and that final climb was a cracker!
- The pub was an excellent find! great food, accommodation was appropriate for 20 smelly middle aged men, and how good did that beer taste?
- 16km of descent to start a ride! I couldn't have asked for a better way to start when I had tired legs.
- The Bicentennial Trail was the highlight of the entire weekend for me. Its places like that which make me realise I have not seen enough of Australia. It was truly spectacular. We all stayed together and yet we were riding as fast as the terrain allowed - tall weeds, creek crossing after beautiful creek crossing all the time surrounded by those gigantic sandstone cliffs that the blue mountains are renowned for. Even the hike-a-bike was a great challenge - nothing rewarding comes easy! That valley after the hike-a-bike made me feel like I had gone back in time - I was waiting to be ambushed by bushrangers or Velociraptors or anything in between. The views from up top were great and a quick + fun descent to lunch.
- Just after lunch, that track back to lithgow was better than taking the road. It was fun to be riding side by side and giving each other some banter. The descent into Lithgow was another brake burning howler which had everyone grinning from ear to ear!
- love the way you were flexible on the Sunday ride distance. Sunday was just perfect after Saturday. Mike F (April 2012)
Hi Will Thank you! Great photos and a really great little vid. I can see that you enjoy putting those together and I reckon we love it. How do you manage to sneak off and/or stop for so many shots?
A great trip, as we expected! The itinerary really works. We loved having Mick Ross along and the MC Cyclery/Fox Shox guys, a bonus. Mick is a real professional on many levels ... I learned a few things and had fun and that was great. You also have a knack for selecting a nice venue for a drink too, very cool. But yeah, heaps of fun. I've always gotten so much out of your trips and sessions, and am psyched to ride more afterwards. Nicole (April 2012)
Hi Will, I thought the whole weekend was superb. Haven't had that much fun on a bike for ages. Thanks for all the work you put in throughout the whole weekend. You made the whole thing run very smoothly and we all felt very well looked after. You do a great job Will. Kimberley (April 2012)
Hi Will, Thanks for organising a fantastic weekend. I had a great time. I learned so much in those two days than I have in the past 5 years of cycling. The weather was great and the cycling was fantastic. There was a good blend of skills sessions and riding. I will definitely been to keen to join you on other riding trips especially if you are exploring single tracks around NSW. Ravi (April 2012)
Hi Will, Just wanted to say thanks for another great MTB weekend - it was tops! Mick Ross’s info and demonstration of various techniques was great and the company was great too. Thanks and see you soon. Kathryn (April 2012)
Thanks for organising a great weekend away mate. Good times and a stella bunch! David (April 2012)
Fantastic weekend of first class single track riding with Will Levy and fellow TORCies in Canberra.
We had a ball, and we were all well feed and looked after. Turramurra Off Road Cyclist (Feb 2012)
Thank you to Will and everyone whom came and enjoyed these awesome forests.
Taken from a facebook post 'On the bus coming back from an awesome weekend, of first class single track mountain bike riding. We have all still got smiles on our faces even though there are a few sore arses on the bus! If you have never ridden in The Kowen Forest, Sparrow Hill or Majura Pines, you have to get out and ride your MTB here. Can't wait till we get the chance to ride these places again. Thanks everyone for a fantastic weekend:) Martine (Feb 2012)
After a very soggy Sydney Summer, you could be forgiven for getting just a little bit excited about heading to the mecca of mountain biking for a weekend of single track serenity. Sure enough 17 of TORC's finest climbed aboard the MTNBike Express in search of some sweet dusty trails
First stop was Kowen forest and again we had the privilege of mixing it with Ben Henderson, still recovering from a virus, Ben was kind enough to come out and set the scene for a weekend where the object was to ride your bike as fast as possible through every conceivable type of corner. Before long the natives got restless as Kowen's beautiful lines beckoned and it wasn't long before a few keen beans blasted off to stretch the legs and the lungs. The name of the game was "Where's Brad?" Hardly a puff of dust had been raised one of our team were missing in action. Turned out he thought it was the Roadies tour coming up in a couple of weeks and decided to take a detour via Queenbeyan! Steve also pushed hard on the power limit and broke his chain link by link until he had to scooter back to base camp. There was plenty of "Yieeeew!" and "Yeaaaaah" and "Whoooooa" calls coming across the valleys, these are the mating calls of the mountain biker and the better the single track, the more frequent the calls.
Back for lunch and Will and Laurie really fed us well. The whole tour was expertly organised and the food was a hit for tired legs. Simey offered to reapply the butt cream, but only Martine accepted his kind offer then it was out for another couple of hours of soaking up the trails over Sparrow Hill, just 25km of uninterrupted singletrack.
Peter took the prize for the hard man of the weekend, taking particular offense to a certain pine tree and both he and the tree were left missing some bark. Of course the tree won, but Peter has the bragging rights and got a nice ride in an ambulance for his efforts.
Post ride coffees and a good quality "all you can eat" buffet at the AIS were very welcome after a big day in the saddle and then it was off to sample the night life in Dickson. Yes there is night life in Canberra and we all enjoyed some carb loading in the cool summer evening
Sunday morning provided another opportunity to ride the "all you can eat" single track, rolling out at sunrise to take in the manicured trails of Bruce Ridge to roll the legs over the before breakfast. It really was the perfect morning at 12 degrees and clear blue skies and not a puff of breeze. Ben, Hayden, Will and Isy had a great time navigating this tortoise shell of criss-crossing trails with gentle climbs and sweeping bends on the descents.
Our final ride started with an easy bunch ride through the suburbs from the AIS to one of the oldest and best love MTB precincts in Canberra, Majura Pines. The trails were a little damp which made for tricky conditions as one moment you had loads of grip on a tacky corner and the next you could be two wheel drifting over a slippery tree root. There were heaps of riders there including families and heaps of girls all enjoying the best of MTB in Canberra (Great to see more girls getting into this sport!). Mike Farkas was having a shocker and no sooner was he singing the praises of Scarlett and the next, going rubber up at low speed over a couple of sketchy obstacles, very unlike Mike. Fankles also revealed his talents for inflicting pain and made a foursome with Nick, Mike and Isy to explore this area that is some areas resembled the Blair Witch project, gothic aged pines trees, plenty of hills and made for some gorgeous scenery.
All in all a fantastic weekend of riding with friends and right on queue the storms reappeared as we made our way back to Sydney, wishing we never had to return. Mike (Feb 2012)
G'day Will - Thanks for another great weekend. I had a great time as usual. I enjoyed every aspect of it, time in your nice new comfortable MTB suitable car. I think my bike liked the trailer as well. Don't have to take wheels off & cram it inside the car. I enjoyed the skills. This is a great part of the weekend and another reason why I will keep coming back time after time. Very knowledgeable people which explained a lot. A great mix of coaching while we ride is good as well. The amount of riding is quite good (for me anyway). I made it on all four rides. Can't wait till Sparrow Hill is rideable again. Riding both Kowen and Sparrow would be great. Mt Stromlo was it's brilliant self. It's also good to have a guide around there. You have taken me to places at Mt Stromlo that would have taken a lot of exploring to find myself. Food, accommodation and price are all excellent value. There is always a good group of people which get on well. All seemed to be biking enthusiasts as well. For me the pace is good. Thanks for a great all round weekend & also your extra info on bike servicing. PS. The photos are great. Mark (Feb 2012)
Just wanted to say thanks for such a great weekend last week. It was so nice to not have to worry about driving, food, nor hotel and just ride with our own personal tour guide! Thanks again see u around. Steph (DEC 2011)
Hi Will - I just wanted to say thanks for an great trip. Your organization of every detail was faultless; your patience appreciated; and your ability to keep on laughing and being chilled certainly made for the best of fun. I hope your business continues to thrive. It's guys like you that deserve to do well. All the best and I hope to see you on the trails soon :-) Cheers.
Jo (DEC 2011)
Hi Will, Thank you so much for an awesome weekend !!! All the best with you and your ventures. Regards.
Marco (DEC 2011)
Hey Will, We had such a great lesson today - thanks again. With a few practice bunny hops on the curb and some tight corners we should be ready for Rotoura!! Many thanks.
Abby (SEPT 2011)
Thank you for an excellent weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Looking forward to practising all the skills I learnt on the Canberra weekend! Many thanks.
Kate (MAY 2011)
You are one hell of a tour guide, your trail selection and local knowledge was great. I would ride with your tour company anytime, as well as recommend it to any one that asks and who loves riding trails, the non stop single track was well thought out and flowed like a good weekend should. That was one heck of a trip. I keep thinking we really couldn't have ridden much more than we did. Will sure knows how to pack it in there, I guess he has a real Single Track mind. Thanks again bro.
Aaron (MAY 2011)
Thanks Will for an awesome weekend. Great photos too. Thanks Mick (from AMB) for your assistance and patient advice. Overall a very memorable weekend with some amazing trails. Great to meet all you guys and look forward to another trip in the near future.
Rich (MAY 2011)
Hey Will - The weekend was just plain awesome! Even this shitty Sydney weather is not enough to dampen my spirits! It was also so good to ride with other mountain bikers of such calibre such as Mick (AMB), Aaron (Fusion Peak) and yourself. It's great to be able to ride with good riders who don't act like they are too uber too hang with us mere mortals! I took down a lot of notes in my head and am dead keen to put all these tips into practice. Other highlights include staying at the AIS! What an awesome experience that was. Mountain biking has a way of attracting nice peeps since I liked everyone on this trip! I'm sure to sign up for some more MTNbiking goodness again and will be spreading the good news to everyone. Cheers.
Greg (MAY 2011)
Hi All! Special Thanks to Will for his introduction into his amazing personal favourite single tracks. A nice change to the Sydney scene. Mick Ross (AMB) for his time and knowledge and ability to make it look easy. Aaron (Fusion Peak) for his setup help and encouragement and his ability to ride at whatever pace still talk with no apparent shortness of breath. To all for a great weekend! With two punctures on the same day the tubeless option is sounding even better. All the best.
Garth (MAY 2011)
I will recommend you and your company to others and wish / hope / plan to do more organised rides in future!
(Michael MAY 2011)
Many thanks Will, I had a brilliant weekend. Very well organised from start to finish.
Brie (MAY 2011)
AWESOME, AWESOME WEEKEND. GREAT VALUE, DEFINITE CONFIDENCE BUILDER, GREAT LEADER (THANKS WILL) GREAT GROUP OF WOMEN. I WILL DEFINITELY BE RIDING BACK IN CANBERRA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!
Linda (MAY 2011)
Everything was extremely well organised. Flawless execution and timed perfectly ... I’ve spent all morning planning when I can go back to tackle it again! Overall, triple thumbs up and I would recommend your company to anyone interested in these trips. Thanks again :)
Jill (MAY 2011)
Thanks Will, I had a fantastic weekend, and would highly recommend this trip. Look out for my name on the another session, it won't be my last!
Lisa (MAY 2011)
Great weekend - definitely keen for more!
Katie (FEB 2011)
Hi Will, Great weekend. I am still smiling. Thanks for the photos. I really want to be out on a trail, not stuck in a office. Hope to do it again soon.
Mel (FEB 2011)
Hi Will, I wanted to thank you for a fantastic weekend.
- Great organisation
- Great people
- Great Riding
Money well spent!
Frederic (FEB 2011)
G'day Will - Thanks once again for the weekend, I enjoyed every aspect of it. Great value all around, I'm going to try & fit another weekend in very soon.
Mark (FEB 2011)
Thanks for the fantastic experience you facilitated it so well, from the coordination of the logistics, which was excellent, to keeping us in one piece! I truly enjoyed my experience, the skills sessions and the beautiful locations you selected.
Elizabeth (NOV 2010)
Hi Will - Firstly thanks so much for an absolutely fantastic weekend. The whole trip was so well organised - transport, accommodation, food, bikes, skill sessions and of course the rides!! Thanks to you and Peter for the great skill sessions. You are both wonderful instructors & teachers and able to impart your knowledge so well and encourage us all to learn and improve so much. The weekend went beyond my expectations and it was such a buzz to get out there and enjoy what Canberra has to offer, including the tracks, trails, heat and the mud!!
Bev (NOV 2010)
Loved the weekend Will, you run a nice relaxed but well organised set-up and will happily recommend MTNBIKE to anyone.
Peter (OCT 2010)
Many Thanks and hope you see you on another weekend sometime in the future.
Jeff (OCT 2010)
I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and couldn’t fault a thing. I would strongly recommend anyone do it and I hope to do another one myself
Mark (OCT 2010)
Just a quick note to thank you for the fantastic weekend in Canberra!! I have lost count of how many people I have already mentioned it too! Looking forward to the next time already. Many thanks.
Gary (OCT 2010)
Thanks for the trip over the weekend, it was fantastic to just get on the bus and be able to not think or organise anything for a whole two days. The rides were great and the tips (both in the formal sessions as well as during the rides) really helped me during the final day going down Mt Strombo (helped me come home in one piece methinks!) As soon as the legs come right (and I find a bike that weighs slightly less than all the other bikes put together), I will be up for more.
Carwyn (OCT 2010)
Will, I thought the whole experience was excellent. Very professional, yet informal and fun. The progression from skills session to Sparrow to Secret to Stromlo was very logical and looking back, I can't believe I rode the Stromlo trails given my skill level before the trip. That is a testament to the building up of skills over the two days at a pace that suits the rider. Well done. The whole set up with the AIS is a brilliant score ... It also adds a novel "sporting" theme to the weekend ... I really enjoyed the rides with you ... because you would intuitively know when to ride in front for demonstration, then when to ride behind for assessment & instruction. It can be a fine balance between learning versus fun but I think you nailed it. Overall I will definitely recommend these trips to others ... I would struggle to even think of any suggested improvements to be honest ... I wish you all the very best and believe that you have the skill set and personality to make this business a success.
Nicole (JUNE 2010)
Thanks so much Will for taking us on a memorable adventure which was so well organised. I loved that the weekend had structure, but was still so laid back with plenty of choices available to everyone ... The freedom you gave us to go into smaller groups and ride on our own was also appreciated as we could ride at our own pace, enjoy riding with our 'new friends' and feel like we could create own little adventure. Thanks again for taking the time to organise the food, accommodation, travel, skills day, bike transport, pick up and drop off and FUN, so well!!
Such a well organised weekend with a great group of girls and a lovely guide. I was really impressed by everything, from the food to the amount of riding we did and particularly being able to ride such different terrain.
Julia (MAY 2010)
I had an awesome time. It was really well organized & good value. Thanks Will!! ;-)
Lidia (MAY 2010)
Hi Will - Just wanted to thank you again for the fantastic GUG weekend! It was really well organised and it was great to get a taste of different places to ride in Canberra plus the cafe and pub you took us to. I loved staying at the AIS too! ... I look forward to another ride and trip somewhere with you.
Sandra (MAY 2010)
MTBO National Event Lithgow Area - finally, thanks to Will Levy of mtnbike.com.au for transporting a group of our interstate riders up to the events by bus.
David (MAR 2010)
Just wanted to say a big thanks again for the weekend, it was really awesome. I am having flash-backs of skyline as I type this and will definitely have to get down there again soon ... As far as feedback goes, I would rate you a 10/10. I have attended a few skills days before, and whilst they were run very well, I think it is a whole other level taking people touring and being able to maintain a comfortable social environment as well as a fun riding environment. Your enthusiasm and professionalism in running the tour will serve you very well on your quest for world domination!
Stuart (MAR 2010)
Will - We had the best weekend, thank you so much. We hope very much to come on another of your trips in the next few months ... Thanks again Will, the weekend was 10 times better than I was anticipating, and of course I thought it would be great anyway, and the company was excellent.
Libby and John (DEC 2009)
Hi Will - I just want to say thanks for a really great weekend. The trails, of course, were amazing, but I also really enjoyed the personal touch you added to the weekend - being a trail guide, giving tips on better riding, and lots of inspiration to go harder.
Ihor (NOV 2009)
Good work Will – you’re an inspiration your someone who had a goal and went out and did it – I know in event planning the only time people speak up is usually when things go wrong – but I think everything went really well .Congratulation you should be really proud.
Troy (JUNE 2009)
Lunch on Saturday was totally perfect. Top quality and heaps of it! That was great just sitting around the bus talking about the ride. I liked the skills session on Saturday - that was great! The food at the AIS was great. The conversation to and from Canberra was great. I loved Mt Stromlo, even though I had more stacks there. It was a hard course, but coming down was wicked cool and made it worth the effort. Sparrow was awesome...in fact they were totally different. Your commentary was good and it was clear what we had to do. A large group of mates, a bonding weekend and not having to worry about the hassle of driving and stuff plus the great food at the AIS, it rocked
Shawn (JUNE 2009)
Trip 31 Oct - 1 Nov - Skills Session with Ben Henderson
The organiser / hosts made it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The transport was safe / the hosts took shifts with rest stops.
The food was clean / abundant / great / I really liked it.
The accommodation was clean / appropriate.
The trails were awesome!
The tour catered for every level of both fitness and ability. You could ride as little or as much as you liked. There were ample opportunities to practice what was taught. The importance of local knowledge was evident. It would be difficult to organise such a quality trip yourself for less. EVERYONE had a great time.
Byron (OCT 2009)
Hi there, on the weekend I went to Canberra with Will Levy & his crew from mtnbike.com.au and it was excellent they organised it all and I had to do nothing but ride 'Sparrow, Mystery & Mt Stromlo', even got to ride with Ben Henderson he taught us some skills. I would just like to let everyone know what a good time it was and that it was well worth the trip. Will had organised food accommodation & all the riding.
Chris (OCT 2009)
Thanks once again for a great trip. Best wishes
John (JUNE 2009)
EXCELLENT!!!! Thanks Will....
Stacey (JUNE 2009)
Below is the weekend review from Trailflix - it can also be found via the following link - Thanks Grant S
20 JUNE, 2009 @ 6:01 pm
About 8 months ago, Will Levy (mtnbike.com.au) contacted me via the Trailflix website, asking if we could meet for coffee to brainstorm a MTB tour opportunity he was exploring and was seeking feedback for. Will’s idea was to take a mini-bus of
Will did the right thing in those months in-between our get-together and the launch: - developing a business plan, speaking with MTB industry people, meeting Canberra & ACT tourism authorities, , brainstorming and fine-tuning the details with his mates, getting quotes for everything and even designing his own 20-bike trailer (which he tells me has lead to a tad ‘trailer envy’ amongst some in the MTB community). The fact that after all that, he’s keener than ever speaks to my comment a week or so ago about the benefits of being passionate about what you do for a job. It’s obvious he loves doing this.
However, it’s what the market - not you - wants that’s important in business, and you have to admit,
However, if you’ve actually done the journey and driven all that way as Grant Byrne & I have now done a few times, then you’ll know it’s a loooong way for a day’s riding., so the idea of having someone ELSE do the driving, feed and put you up was darned appealing…
Andy & I arrived at the appointed pick-up place (outside a Bike Barn in Campbelltown - they pick up at 3 locations around the city). It was 8 degrees on a cloudless morning – first one for months! - and we’d been checking the
Pretty soon, Will’s (hired) 20-seater minibus and huge canvas-covered trailer arrived. The trailer has been Will’s pet project for several months and it’s really well-built, though he admits the racking system is still being tweaked. It’s apparently harder than it should be to drop the cranks into and get them out of the steel holders so he’s looking at ways of making it faster. Backpacks & helmets in hand, we hopped on the bus to meet the guys (including one girl) on this, the first ‘practice’ tour:
Will, Carl, Laurie, Shawn (AKA Burge),
Well over an hour later, desperate for coffee and a toilet break, we stopped at a large servo outside Goulburn. While parked, I interviewed a few of the crew, starting with Stacey & Kynan, a couple. She’s into MTB in a big way while he’s an experienced kayaker, a possible Olympian. They’ve both done MTB up and down Europe,
Sprawled comfortably into the bus seats, with coffee and eats in hand, we journeyed on, arriving about an hour later than scheduled at Sparrow Hill, and keen to get out. Will’s admitted the ambitious time-schedule just needs to be tweaked and already he’s worked out where efficiencies can be gained without taking away from the relaxed feeling we all experienced.
Will had arranged for us to meet Peter Dowse, Director of Canberra’s Capital Bike Hire for some MTB skills training. His bike hire company will loan riders a mount for the weekend if someone doesn’t have their own or it’s not good enough. He sometimes makes end-of-hire-life bikes avail for purchase and even had a buyer on our trip but had none actually available. He also runs a program with the PCYC, guiding under-privileged kids in MTB riding & maintenance and was in fact in preparation himself for the downhill comp at Majura Pines the next day. Busy dude.
After setting up the bikes we all lined up for class. I’m a pretty average rider so always keen to take on board someone else’s insights. And Peter was a great trainer; getting us to ride more tightly round small-spaced cones, lean the correct way on a turn, tips on how to jump a log and tackle downhill more safely and quickly.
After about 40 minutes of skills, Will asked the group to divide themselves into the ‘advanced’ (fast/experienced) and the ‘others’ (newbies, slower). I stuck with the learners hoping to get more video & photos. And it was the right choice because about 15 minutes along the track our group stopped to do some sessioning, riding round the tight switchbacks that are common in Sparrow. Peter watched closely as we all made different but common mistakes; leaning to the wrong side, not taking the outer line, putting on a speed burst in the wrong place. The newbies were starting to get it and the rest were honing half-forgotten techniques.
Later on, Shawn, riding just behind Pete, stacked it when a huge rock, unseen behind a tree until you came right up to it, became his nemesis. Instead of just riding over it, he focused on it. Pete got us off the bikes, and broke the corner down for us, taking us thorugh it , step-by-step, then got us all to ride the corner a couple more times and it was as easy as – such is the benefit of sessioning. The group rode off feeling that much more confident. Of course that can lead to overconfidence and we had a couple of spectacular stacks after that! ☺
More sessioning at a huge log with a ramp. All but one tackled it though, and while I was fine with it, I have this tendency to look down and not ahead and then forget where I’m heading and sail off the best line, so I nearly dropped off the edge of the ramp on the other side. Pete advised me to stop thinking about the challenge and continue to look ahead instead. Good advice.
The ‘Bobsled’ downhill near the end of the ride was everyone’s favourite. After lining us up for what was ahead Pete just took off and I suspect barely touched the dirt on the way down. This section rides like the ‘Roller Coaster’ at Ourimbah – still one of the fastest rides we have on film - and I can’t wait to get back to this trail to capture the Bobsled in similar fashion at some stage.
We met a couple of packs of mid-afternoon roo’s on the way down but as per usual they were too chicken to race us and fled into the trees. Back at the bus all were satisfied we’d had a fantastic ride, though I quietly felt another hour on the bike to do the full loop wouldn’t have gone amiss for me. That being said, if I’d joined the fast group I wouldn’t have benefited from the extra skills training and I’ve already seen how that‘ll stand me in good stead for a long while. Lunch was massive: a huge filled roll (we picked fillings by email a few days before the trip), yoghurt, juice pack, water, a protein bar and a banana and I’d already had a bar or two so I was stuffed. We weren’t going to go hungry!
We sat round on folding stools that Will had had tucked somewhere and enjoyed tales of the ride, discussion about the trailer construction and looking forward to the night ahead and another ride before dusk. Pete talked about his work with underprivileged youth & MTB and I told Will it would make a great short docco if I could get back there and spend some time filming it… Time = my greatest challenge.
The 2nd troop arrived back about 20 minutes later with their own tales of glory, having done the entire 30-odd km loop and loving it. About 45 minutes later we were checking in to the Australian Institute of Sport, our overnight accommodation. Check-in’s were well-organised (like the whole weekend); They had all our names and room allocations already listed. Plus they have all sorts of security - cards and guards - to protect the professional athletes, I guess, from yobs entering (mind you, they did let US in…).
The halls of residence rooms are spartan but functional, with 4 beds in 2 rooms, a TV room with a couch & table, small kitchen with stove, microwave, fridge, sink and all the dishes, and a large bathroom with shower, toilet and a tub to wash clothes. There are separate laundry facilities but we’d all brought enough for the weekend.
We agreed to throw our stuff into the rooms and then those who were keen to go out for the late afternoon ride to head back outside. It had been decided earlier that it was too late to drive all the way to Majura Pines and instead we would ride the local ‘Mystery Ride’. 10 minutes later, most of us turned up. Shawn had injured his ankle on his altercation with the rock so decided discretion was called for and a nap would be a bonus. The riders congregated and while we had been advised riding in the AIS grounds is not allowed, I think we must have forgotten that as we trundled off through the walkways to the next trail, officially known as a ‘mystery trail’ because it’s not a sanctioned ride.
That being said it would have to be one of the many highlights of the trip. The trails are:
1. Less than 5 minutes away from AIS
2. On a well-rounded hill with 2 reservoirs atop and a plethora of trails criss-crossing a 2-3km area.
3. A place you cannot get lost.. All tracks lead (eventually) to the Mystery Trail starting point just next to a major cycleway.
4. Unlike any trails I’ve been on in
Back at AIS we showered and took a wander round the place trying to spot famous athletes (met at lunch the next day a young woman rider from the Aussie MTB team who was there for the weekend doing some training on Stromlo. They reported they loved it but team members experienced two major injuries – a smashed face and a sprained wrist on the black diamond). On our informal AIS tour we saw the new and old swimming pools, plus the big arena… but I guess we already had built up a reputation, because all the well-known athletes were in hiding. My new autograph collection would have to wait… Then it was buffet dinner – all you can eat & (soft) drink - plenty of food choices and a great dessert. Pasta, bread, salad, rice dishes, curry, chicken something, fish something else – and all healthy. As it was 7pm, I had built up this huge appetite and fair tucked in, though after several return trips to the buffet, I could barely stand up! It was like Xmas dinner back home…
That evening we dropped one of the guys off to his friend’s birthday dinner while the rest of us hung out at a city pub, watching rugby while imbibing a few of the local ales. Nothing too extreme in the drinking stakes but the option was there if you wanted to make a night of it. Half the group sat out under the clear sky with the gas heaters taking the chill off the
Day 2 got off to a great start with a crisp pre-breakfast ride at Mystery Hill. I enjoyed it even better this time thru and I told the guys to head off while I took a few shots of the area. Even so I caught up with them when we crossed paths just 10 minutes later. Managed to get a little video but really they & I just wanted to ride. A massive breakfast was enjoyed by all, shortly thereafter. this was becoming a habit I could get used to. I wondered if I was too old to apply for the AIS…Actually I seriously think I put on a kilo or two over that weekend…so don’t think this is your Weight-Watchers, low-fat bike tour – far from it…
Andy, meanwhile, ate like a horse and still looked like a hunger-striker victim! At work we think he must have some sort of warped space or black hole inside him because the food goes in while he never appears to gain so much as a gram. Renowned at work as ‘The Food Vacuum’, he finishes off anything left out after someone brings in sandwiches or cakes from a meeting. I’m guessing he’s probably an alien criminal, stuck here on earth to help cause some of the world’s food shortages! AIS were probably very bloody lucky we were late arrivals at the breakfast, because if Andy had gotten in any earlier, there could have been a food riot.After breakfast we left luggage in a couple of rooms and headed to the bus, excited about talk of Stromlo on what looked like a fairly good day weather-wise, though clouds looked a little dangerous over to the west.
Over half the group had not experienced Stromlo before so this was another new adventure for them and a chance to re-explore for the rest of us. The car park at 10:00am was mostly empty so maybe the locals were away for Queens Birthday holidays. There were a few guys on the trails but as they say, there are no traffic jams in heaven.
The tracks are described in the Stromlo Trail Page so I won’t go into them in depth here, suffice to say I wasn’t up for the Black Diamond again. Up or down, it’s as hard as it sounds but well worth it if you have that level of skill. Being a newbie, Andy was happy to start out easy so we started round the novice track, which is at the base of the hill, all on the flat. Video camera in one hand, steering with the other, I followed he & Will (the rest had taken off already) and got some footage on the flat.
Feeling adventurous, Andy spotted a couple of piles of dirt and a trail and sped up them only to find the downside was more or less a straight drop. Spectacularly, he tumbled arse over tit. I was still carrying the video cam but had inadvertently turned the bugger off so it’s etched in memory but nowhere else. Shame. It was pure YouTube gold. He was shaken but not stirred – luckily the dirt was soft - and we carried on up the green track where he decided a tad more care might be in order. That made it easy for me to jump off the bike a few times and convince him to slow down so I could get more video. Nothing to do with hoping for another stack.
Overall though, I was really enjoying the riding, plus I didn’t want to interrupt other people’s biking, so I didn’t get as much riding footage as I would have liked. I decided to leave that for another time …We caught up to Will, Laurie & Shawn who were looking for a tool kit to do some minor bike-surgery. Will had loaned his out earlier and not had it returned. Repair done, we rode on, and up and up to the top. It’s a long steady ride with copious rocks and stunning views for miles.
By now a degree of fatigue had set in, so more than a few of the group were looking to reap the benefit of all that uphill expenditure. Near the top Shawn had a stack equal in scope to Andy’s tumble. He ended up on his back, crablike, over the ledge with his legs through the frame and seemingly unable to move. I had seen it all and AGAIN didn’t capture it on film (I was riding just ahead) and leapt off to extract the bike from his Cirque de Soleil-like position. He was largely unhurt and carried on but - like Andy - took it somewhat more gingerly thereafter. Having heard the MTB pro from the day before talk about ‘smashed face’ and ‘fractured ankle’ something must have reverberated.
At each major junction the lead riders stopped and we all gathered for the next section with Will giving some description of what lay ahead. I’m pleased to say I enjoyed Stromlo more this time because I knew what was coming up plus I had those new switchback and corner-handling skills that we’d acquired the day before so I was a lot faster even while I felt more in control.
At the end of the downhill, after some great little jumps, you skirt round the BMX track. A few drops of rain had started to fall but not enough to stop us all heading back up to the BMX start line (me downhill a ways with camera at the ready) to do a BMX trial. Several stacks and one broken bike (Will – I forget what he broke, but it was apparently unrideable afterwards) didn’t take way the immense fun that was had by all. I managed to get Andy stacking – twice! – and will include it in some bloopers at some stage.
But by the time the canvas was pulled over the trailer, the raindrops had become a drizzle and we knew we’d seen the best of the day. But apart from wanting to get back to
Lunch, showers and AIS checkout followed. And stories galore. I managed to get a few interviews in between the food, and decided then I had missed my calling: not an IT guy/filmmaker but a professional athlete with access to unlimited grub. Hell, I’m salivating just imagining it…!
Before we hit the Federal Highway Andy asked Will if it was OK to stop at a fireworks shop and buy a few crackers for his kids, since you can’t buy them anywhere outside
About 20Km out from Canberra I asked Will to stop, and I jumped off the bus, ran ahead along the Federal Highway and stopped to film the bus rolling on by and then ran up to them & jumped on. Anyone watching would have thought I was crazy and they’d have been right. Such is the lot of the filmmaker.
All in all, a memorable weekend : the riding – superb; the food – too much; the travel & accommodation – well-organized; the comradeship – typically keen MTB blokes (and token girl who was fantastic fun and a much better rider than many) who were laid back and loving it.
On the return journey, sleeping ensued for some but the adrenaline was still flowing for others so it was shared stories. Near
For Will, he has (at time of writing) 3 more trips already in the calendar and then he’ll see what comes out of the woodwork. A week after my editorial entry about the weekend someone dropped me a mail asking me for his website (mtnbike.com.au), so his adventure is definitely underway…