2 MTB: Ade­laide

Australian Geographic Outdoor - - Adventure -

Grade: Mixed

More info: Ade­laide Moun­tain Bike Club, ambc.asn.au

ADE­LAIDE, HOME OF the Tour Down Un­der, rightly has a rep­u­ta­tion as a pre­mium road cy­cling des­ti­na­tion [see page 45]. But the rid­ing away from the black­top is sen­sa­tional too – Ade­laide ar­guably leads the way as Aus­tralia’s most moun­tain bike-friendly cap­i­tal city.

With beaches on one side and the Mt Lofty ranges on the other, Ade­laide oc­cu­pies a kind of cy­cling Goldilocks zone, where you can rip trails in the morn­ing and head to the coast in the af­ter­noon to wash the dust off. But even more so than its lo­ca­tion, it’s the gov­ern­ment sup­port that moun­tain bik­ing re­ceives that makes Ade­laide such a stand­out. The Mount Lofty Ranges Moun­tain Bike Master Plan has top-down back­ing to see more than 200km of ded­i­cated moun­tain bike trails in place around Ade­laide by 2020, with as­pi­ra­tions to host a World Cham­pi­onships in the near fu­ture.

The his­tory of sup­port for moun­tain bik­ing in Ade­laide isn’t a re­cent phe­nom­e­non – Ea­gle Moun­tain Bike Park, right on the out­skirts of town, can lay claim to be­ing Aus­tralia’s old­est of­fi­cial moun­tain bike park. For many, Ea­gle is the face of Ade­laide moun­tain bik­ing, though in re­al­ity it’s a drop in the ocean of what’s on of­fer. The trails here have a rep­u­ta­tion for de­liv­er­ing some pretty chal­leng­ing rid­ing, with its jagged ter­rain hav­ing hosted nu­mer­ous Na­tional Cham­pi­onships. It’s a clas­sic spot, but make sure you look be­yond Ea­gle as there’s plenty more di­verse rid­ing to be had.

For­tu­nately, ex­plor­ing many of the dif­fer­ent rid­ing zones around town is re­mark­ably easy. One of the key draw­cards for a vis­it­ing moun­tain biker is the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of Ade­laide’s trails, you’re never more than a few kays from a beer or a meal in town, and the train runs right from the heart of the city up into the thick of the trails, high in the hills at Be­lair. From Be­lair, you’ve got op­tions ga­lore at your fin­ger­tips, and it’s a sim­ple task to string to­gether a few hours of rid­ing with just a hand­ful of brief sub­ur­ban link ups.

From Be­lair Sta­tion, you roll di­rectly into the Be­lair Na­tional Park and you’ll find the 12km Ad­ven­ture Loop, which is eas­ily linked into Craig­burn Farm. These clas­sic flow­ing sin­gle­tracks jus­tify a cou­ple of hours’ ex­plo­ration on their own, be­fore you con­tinue on to Sturt Gorge Recre­ation Park. The trails here are fast, open and so much fun you soon be­come obliv­i­ous to the fact you’re skirt­ing right past back­yard pools and bark­ing dogs.

Shep­herds Hill Recre­ation Re­serve is an­other awe­some rid­ing op­tion serv­ing up enough trail to be en­joyed as a stand­alone des­ti­na­tion, or which can be com­bined eas­ily into an epic day out. These trails have some cracking hill­top views over the beaches and the city, and there’s an ex­cel­lent va­ri­ety on of­fer, with three sep­a­rate de­scents, longer cross-coun­try loops, mel­low climb­ing trails and a buff pumptrack, dirt jumps and skills park at the foot of the hill too.

What we’ve listed above re­ally is just scratch­ing the sur­face of Ade­laide’s trail bo­nanza too; Lyn­ton, Cle­land Con­ser­va­tion Area, Fox Creek and loads more are all within strik­ing dis­tance of the city cen­tre. If you’ve got a spare day or two up your sleeve, the iconic lit­tle moun­tain bike paradise of Mel­rose is about three hours to the north too, on the hem of Mt Remarkable and right at the en­trance to the Flin­ders Ranges. This town is a to­tal gem, painted with char­ac­ter and home to miles and miles of fan­tas­tic farm­land bril­liant sin­gle­track, woven amongst plump river gums. It’s a real ex­pe­ri­ence rid­ing here, and one we’d highly rec­om­mend.

In terms of prac­ti­cal­i­ties, there’s plenty of rid­ing in Ade­laide to suit just about any style of moun­tain bike, in­clud­ing loads of proper down­hill tracks too if you can find a lo­cal to show you. But for most of the trails, any­thing from a ba­sic cross coun­try hard­tail up to a long-travel trail bike would be fine. – Chris South­wood

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