Mountain Bike Trails of Alice Springs

As i ride around Alice Springs on my mountain bike I often come up against a common problem. I don’t know where the mountain bike trails go, or what they are called. Being a nerd, and lazy, I felt I had to do something about it so I have started assembling my GPS traces into a map overlaid on Google Earth which shows all the trails I have ridden on the western side of Alice Springs.

My goal for the next few weeks or months is to ride every trail I can and record where they go, and how they interlink. Hopefully I will get some locals to feed me useful knowledge like names of trails etc.

Anyway this is an unofficial first draft of my map of the MTB trails of Alice Springs.

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Three Flats and an Amazing Sunset

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of going for a ride after work with the local mountain bike club. The group meets at 5 and then heads out for a 1hr loop with fast, intermediate and slow groups splitting off to do an appropriate ride.

The ride didn’t start particularly well as I was running late due to problems assembling my back tyre after my puncture on the weekend (which it turned out was a multiple puncture when I inflated it the first time), but I made it to the meeting point at 5:07pm and was ready and raring to go.

The ride started well, a strong head wind and bright afternoon sun meant the going was tough and dusty but we prevailed and headed up “The Big Easy” for some spectacular views.

It was going down other side of “The Big Easy” that the problems started in earnest when I  got noticeable flat following and altercation with a rock. 4minutes and I had patched the tyre, replaced it and was riding again. Though it seemed 500m was all the riding I would do again that day as puncture number two presented itself with a noticeable presence.

This time everyone go involved and we double checked the tyre for burrs and pinch points, then stretched a 26″ tube into my 29″ wheel to try to nurse it home. The tire went up…

The tyre stayed up…

But then I got on my bike and it went down, down and down. A dead flat!

Luckily we were close to town so I sent the guys on their way (thanks so much for sticking around and helping everyone) and started the walk home. I’m sure most people would be disappointed by this conclusion to a ride, but the spectacular sunset that followed as I walked by bike home-made everything worth it.

Guess how far I walked…

Again thanks to everyone who rode with me, helped me, and laughed with me yesterday! The camaraderie changed it from frustrating to comedic in the end!

Alice Springs Sunset

These gorgeous photos of sunset, clouds and beautiful skies were taken on my ride home from work this afternoon. The amazing contrast between the sky, clouds and red mountains made me stop in my path and it was only after a few minutes that I actually thought to take a photograph.

East Side Mountain Biking

Smooth trails, great company and a patched up side wall. What could possibly make for a better day of mountain biking then that combination?

Today I went out riding with a group of keen riders from the Central Australian Rough Riders to explore the trails on the east side of Alice Springs, including some freshly cut trails that most people hadn’t ridden before. The riding was generally smooth with early sections serving up nice technical stretches, some well designed switchbacks and a few hills. Alice Springs really doesn’t know what a hill is, but to be honest I think I will be able to deal with that!

Today’s course and vertical profile.

As mentioned in  my previous post today was also the first time I’ve seen clouds since arriving in Alice Springs and I am convinced that the stunning scenery of Alice Springs is only improved by partially clouded sky.

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Alice Springs Bicycle Film Festival

Last night was the Alice Springs Bicycle Film Festival, which was held as part of the Alice Springs Ecofair. The outdoors festival was one of the most relaxed film festivals I’ve been too and deserves recognition for how good a show they put on.

Held in the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens the films were projected on a giant inflatable screen, while views sat on chairs around fire drums and and braziers to stave off the cold Alice Springs night. With a selection of international and local films the quality of all entrants was amazing. The local entrants were great not only for the quality but because most of the characters and film makers were in the audience and were happy to have a chat.

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Other Peoples Photos

Being a significant event ABC Open correspondent David Nixon went to the event and took some awesome photos! (he will probably write stuff too…) He took this shot just after sunset as the stars came out and the crowd continued to swell.

The Alice Springs Bicycle Film Festival drew huge crowds who watched international and local films by starlight and braziers.
Image courtesy of David Nixon http://open.abc.net.au/openregions/nt-central-australia-61ZR7Qe

 

 

Mt Gillen 6hr MTB Enduro – Alice Springs

Ever arrived in a new town and wondered what the best way to get to know the local mountain biking scene? On Sunday I tried my fourth method and it worked out brilliantly. The method, signing up for an enduro race as part of a team, and letting someone else put you in the team!

So after a late start I rocked up at the Mt Gillen 6hr Enduro race in my new town of Alice Springs about 90minutes after the race had started to be met by some very friendly event volunteers from local club appropriately named the Central Australian Rough Riders. They told me I was in a team of four people, and that the second team member was out on the course so I had some time to get ready. Their advice on finding my team? Head in that direction and shout Stephen or Jacob…

Amazingly that worked and 5 minutes later I was getting myself sorted my first lap while chatting to Jacob (a super keen young rider who despite crashing on the 2nd lap stood at the finish line until the last minute praying to get a third lap in), while George (an awesome kid but more about that later) waited for Stephen to get back from his lap.

In the true spirit of enduro races twenty minutes later, when Stephen (a cheery American from Alabama) was back from his lap, the team set about helping Jacob change his bald rear tyre for the new one he has just won. It seemed like a risky tactic to change from a 2.2″ to a 2″ tyre between laps, but when compared to having to walk up most hills due to lack of traction it seemed like a good idea. Of course the tyre being replaced was tubeless, and the new one wasn’t – but who ever let that phase them.

Eventually it was time for my lap of the course. I set out full of vim and vigour ready to smash out a lap on new ground. Unfortunately I should have taken more heed of the week sitting in a car for 3600km, or the cold I am still fighting, because as soon as I reached the first hill I was panting like a dog and praying the lap would finish soon!

The course was brilliantly set up, and the trails out here are amazing. For anyone interested I would describe it as being flowy like Majura Pines, with the persistent sand and rocks of Appin (though not the technical ones). Despite sore lungs it was impossible not to enjoy the riding, and the friendliness of everyone out there was something every race should aspire too.

The course was shaped like an animal, I am calling it a dog, but I am open to suggestions…

A special mention is needed about the number of juniors in the race, with a competitive schools comp and heaps of juniors out riding anyway. These kids have serious skills!

At the end of the day there were presentations. The event organiser JP had put a lot of effort into making cool trophies and to finish the day with the same sense of fun the whole event displayed, awarded a series of prizes to people for non-race related prowess.

As the only team of 4 we kind of won by default, but that’s a win right?

The mood around the event site was awesome. Three cheers to JP, the volunteers and everyone there!

Brisbane to Alice Springs

As many of you know I recently decided to move to Alice Springs in central Australia. I’ll be starting a new job next week, but for the moment I’m still enjoying free time. To get to Alice is a fair trek and over the past week Clare and I drove more than 3,600km and used something like 380 litres of fuel.

The route is pretty varied with some long 600+ days at the wheel, but we found plenty to entertain ourselves and some beautiful campsites. The highlights have included:
– star gazing at the cosmos centre in Charleville
– climbing the windmill and the weir in Longreach

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– visiting Larks Quarry and the dinosaur causeway south of Winton, then going out with Jen to rediscover a rare plan and camp under the stars in a random clay pan.

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– searching for a camp out of Mt Isa only to find it full of cows.

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– camping at Camooweal Caves

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– sunset and sunrise at the Devil’s Marbles.

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