WILDERNESS: Dorset Council project manager Stuart Worker admires the scenery. Pictures: Scott Gelston The Blue Derby trails, sprawling behindsmall North-East town Derby, are quite the experience on a crispwinter’s day.
As a novice mountain biker, the network initially appeared daunting, undulating through the region’s lush forestand cascading waterfalls.
Venturing out with Dorset Council project manager Stuart Worker was a huge help.
WELCOME: Sunday Examiner reporter Tamara McDonald ventures into the trails.
His knowledgeable commentary onthe trails, which have revolutionised the town’s economy, and their constructionwas fascinating.
Mr Worker came on board with the Blue Derby trails at theirinception, and said he’s been in project managing roles at the Dorset Council for about 12 years.
“I work hand in hand with World Trail, just with any variances and that type of things, and with the structures – we’ve got a few bridges and that kind of thing,” Mr Worker said.
“Council’s taken that on board and just used our expertise if you like.”
Building the trails is a technical task.
The World Trail team create a concept plan, and then venture through the forest to map out a corridor andexecute a “ground proof” on foot.
“I was really keen on being on the project, but I had no idea what was involved yet [at the start],” Mr Worker said.
“It surprised me, big surprise on how they built the trails and how you actually need to be a mountain biker to build proper trails.”
CRUISING: Tamara McDonald gets the hang of things.
The trails are initiallyhand cut first, beforeasmall 1.6 tonne excavator is carefully used to removefoliageto create the trail’s corridor.
“They’re really good mountain bike riders themselves, so they know what they’re up to,” Mr Worker said.
Once the trails are set, any necessary rock walls are added.
The trails’ installation instigated Mr Worker’s love of mountain biking, which has become a common hobby in the North-East region.
He had previous experience with motorbikes, but has truly converted into a mountain biking devotee.
Riding along behindMr Worker as he weavedhis way through the trails, you’d think he’d been a lifelongmountain biker.
“Pedalling up hills isn’t that great, but it’s where you get your exercise I suppose,” he laughed.
NEED FOR SPEED: Cyclists from Launceston and Kalgoorlie hit the tracks.
“I really enjoy the descending, it’s awesome.
“You get a bit hooked on it.”
The trails are accessible directly from the town, and we departed from the Corner Store cafe, riding along the river briefly before meeting the trails.
We cycledthrough a section of the extensive network including theRusty Crusty, Axehead and Howler trails,before descending back into Derby.
Our ride explored routesamong the easier of the trails’ offerings, graded easy and intermediate.
Rides of varying degrees of difficulty and steepnessdisperse off the network’s tracks, colour coded green, blue and black to connote easy, intermediate and difficult levels respectively.
During our ride, westopped to see the gushingTasty Trout Falls.
The tracks were briefly closed after recent flooding, but the only evidence of the huge downpour left were a few puddles,a well-watered trackwhich luckily improved the bicycles’ grip and swiftly streaming falls.
Mr Worker saidescapingsignificant or lasting damage after recent flooding was a huge relief.
The trails require maintenance, both routine and required after such weather incidents.
The fourth and final stage of the trails’ infrastructure is currently underway.
A predominantly descendant new trailspanning from theBlue Tierinto the township of Weldborough will be completed inOctober.
“It’ll be pretty big, some of the trail we’re opening is pretty special,” Mr Worker said.
FALLS: Mr Worker chats with Marisol Sweet, of WA, at Tasty Trout Falls.
Properly mountain bike riding for the first time on the Blue Derby trails wasdaunting, but any anxiety wasn’twarranted.
All the trails are one-way, and on a winter’s day passers-by were few and far between.
The interconnecting networks allow riders to pick the length of their trip.
There were scenic spots which were fine to pull over to have a stretch and cool down while observingthe lush surrounds.
Mountain biking combines the skills of regular cycling with coordinating switching gears in accordance with the topography.
Although speeding through streams initially seemed daunting, mountain bikes cruise through bodies of water with ease.
Being a beginner meantclutchingthe brake most descents to eliminate the fear factor.
It was clear mountain biking keeps its devotees very fit–Mr Worker was speeding along with ease, as I realised being a committedmountain biker would probably be a wise decision, and onemuch more scenic than the gym.
Mr Worker, of Scottsdale,said he felt grateful to be living so close to the diverse network oftrails.
“I can see why people travel so far for it,” Mr Worker said.
“They definitely are [unique]…it depends on the area it’s built in, whether it’s soil, rock or just a plain corridor, whether it’s a green or blue.”
The radical change inflicted on Derby by the trails is understandable once one rides the trails, and has such an experiential encounter with the natural beauty while producingexercise-induced endorphins.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.