Well if you're (a) still tuning in and (b) believe the hype, then the upcoming Tasmania State Election is all about jobs, jobs, jobs and a few other things.
Whilst I don't know about that, from what I've seen it's pretty clear that cycling certainly isn't on anyone's "vote winning" radar. Mind you after the big cash splash out on mountain bike trails in the north east at the last Federal Election that's probably no real surprise.
I'm not professing to have an encyclopedic coverage of bicycle related policies for this election, but here's a few announcements I've noticed.
Rather unsurprisingly, the Greens would appear to be the front runners having announced $23.3 million towards building part of the Battery Point Cycleway and in the only purely cycle-trail focussed announcement I've seen in this election, they have also announced $500,000 towards kick starting the North East Rail Trail development. I guess the question is ... what will they actually be able to deliver?
The Labor Party has seen the light on the "a metre matters" campaign and pledged back in February to implement the minimum one-metre passing legislation if they get re-elected. In the fine print however it goes on to say that it is only a trial that will be implemented.
The Liberals have also announced an improved Road Safety policy where they sort of, kind of, promise to refer some ideas about running a beefed up "Share the Road" campaign to improve road safety for cyclists, and there's mention of improving signage in high use areas and referring the "a metre matters" idea to the Road Safety Advisory Council for them to consider. This particular election policy comes with no budget attached however.
You also have to wonder about the commitment to cyclists when you read their Infrastructure Tasmania which in its four glossy pages manages to talk all about how they will provide a coordinated approach to the planning and delivery of all major infrastructure in Tasmania, including rail, major roads, energy, ports, and water and sewerage ... but which has not one mention of the inclusion of cycling infrastructure in this grand plan.
But don't despair if you think this is a Liberal bashing, Green supporting diatribe because I'm now going to go out on a limb and award the most interesting policy commitment for cycling to .... the Liberals for their "Unlocking the Potential in our Parks". Yep, a lot of people may see this as a terrible thing, but I'm an optimist and see this as an opportunity to potentially improve mountain bike access to our reserves and National Parks and having seen this done really well in other parts of the world, I can get excited about that idea ... which is not something i can really say about the rest of the election period.
But on that little (tongue in cheek) bombshell, I leave you to ponder how you will vote in the election on Saturday night ... knowing that it probably won't be cycling announcements that sway your vote anyway.
PS. If you want to actually read some facts about bicycling in this campaign, check out Bicycle Tasmania's slightly more informed information.
Well if you're (a) still tuning in and (b) believe the hype, then the upcoming Tasmania State Election is all about jobs, jobs, jobs and a few other things.
I don't know what to be more excited about for March ... the upcoming State Election (anyone seen any bicycling related election promises?) or Tas Bike Week (which in true Tasmanian style will be running for a week and a half). Given that Bike Week has my own Acton MTB Rogaine event tucked in it, I think I'll go with Bike Week.
Due to Bike Week, the calendar this month is absolutely overflowing with rides and riding related events and I won't try and recount them all, just go and check out the Tassie Trails Events Calendar or go direct to the Bike Week website and see for yourself.
Looking out a bit further in the calendar, entries have just opened up for the Hellfire Cup (20-23 November, and I also noticed the first hint of a date (25 May) for the Icebreaker Multisport up in Launceston ... which I'm proud to announce (subject to the date being confirmed) Kim and I have agreed will be where we lock horns and compete man vs woman to see which of us can beat the other, and more importantly in my case, beat the cut off times. If ever you've wanted to enter a solo multisport event with the knowledge that someone will be finishing after you ... this could be your moment.
Also excited to see that Hobart Bushcare is running a few track building/maintenance days for the Tip Top Track near South Hobart and I'm hoping to get along to the first of these.
Still it's a good time of year to ride, and the photo above is from a recent weekend ride down around Southport Lagoon ... which is my way of reminding people that you don't need a race to go for a ride ...
There's a real summer smorgasbord of MTB events on offer over the next few months with Wildside MTB 2014, The Blue Dragon in February, LMBC/CCMBC's Super Sprung Spring Series and Dirt Devils Summer XC weekend series all kicking off.
For those who prefer their road riding, there's the Tour De Norfolk Plains (Feb 2), the Bridport Cycle Challenge (Feb 23), the Mt Wellington Challenge (March 2) and a swag of Audax rides on offer in the upcoming months, and don't forget that Bike Week (15-23 March) is also only a few short months away.
If you're not into racing, then you could check out CCMBC's Social Ride along the Forth River on the 19th of January, TBug has their usual interesing offering of social rides around Launceston, and there's a pretty active new facebook group Hobart MTB Rides which is offering up lots of social riding opportunities.
Finally, if you want to go off and do your own thing, trail notes for Mount Stronach, Mount Cameron and Youngtown Reserve have been added to tassietrails in the last month, as well as an update to the Meehan Ranges route notes and map to include the new Cliff Top trail opened up by the Hobart Trail Groomers.
If you can't find something in that lot to get you out on your bike, then I give up!
As always all the events that I can find are listed in the Events Calendar.
With Wildside MTB and the Blue Dragon done and dusted for 2014, the big MTB events are behind us for the summer, and it's time to enjoy the local events such as LMBC/CCMBC's Super Sprung Spring Series and the Dirt Devils Summer XC weekend series.
But don't get complacent: there's already details leaking out about November's Avantiplus Hellfire Cup, and I for one was pleased to see that the organisiers have recognised that a policy of "no fires, floods or plagues of locusts" might help encourage us back for a second bash at the cup.
As noted last month, there's also plenty coming up for the road cyclist including the Bridport Cycle Challenge (Feb 23), the Mt Wellington Challenge (March 2), the New Horizons Western Tiers Cycle Challenge (Mar 30) and a swag of Audax rides.
Finally don't forget that Bike Week (15-23 March) is also fast coming up, with my own Acton MTBNav on offer on Saturday March 22. If you've ever wanted a brilliant chance to explore some lesser known sections of the Tangara Trail and South Arm and try something new, then put the date in your diary now.
As always all the events that I can find are listed in the Events Calendar.
The Minister for Sport and Recreation, Michelle O’Byrne, today announced funding of $100,000 to help connect Rocherlea and Inveresk to Launceston’s city-wide cycling network.
The upgrade is part of the $511,000 committed by the Tasmanian Government in 2013, from the Trails and Bikeways Program.
“The $100,000 grant to Launceston City Council will allow it to complete an eight-kilometre bike and walking trail for recreational users and commuters,” Ms O’Byrne said.
“This is also the first section of the proposed 135-kilometre Launceston/North East Rail Trail, which would be a huge recreation, tourism and economic asset for Northern Tasmania.”
Ms O’Byrne also announced $31,000 to complete the West Tamar Trail between Kings Bridge and Tailrace Park and $100,000 for Break O’Day Council for the Blue Tier Mountain Bike Trail.
The Blue Tier project involves 40 kilometres of trails, and forms part of the $1.4 million North-East Mountain Bike Development Project.
“The North East Mountain Bike Development Project is expected to provide significant economic and social benefits to the North East community through the large number of visitors it will generate.
“Since its inception in 2008-09, the Trails and Bikeways Program has leveraged around $13 million worth of development projects across Tasmania, resulting in more than 150 kilometres of tracks.”
As well as providing positive economic outcomes, the Trails and Bikeways Program is helping Tasmanians participate in sport, recreation and physical activity.
“The number of Tasmanians exercising three or more times a week is, for the first time, above the national average,” Ms O’Byrne said.
“That puts Tasmania equal second with Western Australia, only behind the ACT in terms of regular physical activity.”
The inaugural Cranky Penguin's been and gone (what an awesome event), and with November barely begun those of us down south have already had the chance to go out and play in the mud at the Raw Challenge.
But put that behind you because the count down clock is on as we head towards the big one this month ... yep, the Hellfire Cup is finally just weeks away.
But don't skip past November and collect $200 just because you want to get to the Hellfire. in between now and then there is a smorgasboard of events including LMBC's 6 Hour Enduro, Dirt Devils Big Hobart Network Ride, BikeTas's Channel Ride, TBUGs' Ben Lomond Ride, Audax's "I Can Ride 100 Miles" and heck there's even some downhill madness for those inclined that (strange) way.
But that's not all (Sorry, no free set of steak knives) but I can suggest the Tasmanian Audax riding season which has started for those interested in some longer distance rides (like up to 1,200kms and that's not a misprint) and Launceston Mountain Bike Club have kicked off their AvantiPlus Twilight Races which runs from now right through to March.
On the multisport scene, the Tullah Challenge is this weekend (9th), and dates for the Summer Survival (March 1), The Strategic Multisport Challenge (Roche's Beach 29 March) and the Launceston Cataract Gorge Challenge (October 26) have all been carved into the calendar for next year.
For the second month in a row, the question seems to be what not to do, rather than what to do.
Oh sweet heaven, let's ride.
PS. If you missed out entry to the Hellfire Cup, or if, unlike me, you believe that you can finish the Hellfire Cup and still have legs to ride, don't forget that the Geard Cycles Giant 275 4Hr Enduro is on December 1. Just thought I'd mention that as it will likely be run and won before I put out the December update.
Check out the Calendar for more details on anything above.
After looking at several GPS options for a six week cycling trip around Europe, I finally settled on buying a Lifeproof Phone Case ($AUD79.95) for my iPhone4s with a Bike Mount Attachment ($AUD39.95).
It was a brilliant combination and will be my 'go to' solution for future trips until I find something better.
I've now had my phone encased in it's LifeProof case for three months and it's not only survived the European trip, but has come back to Tassie with me and survived several mountain bike races, hikes and a few kayak paddles and it's still going strong.
Everything fits together and holds securely. The bike mount is incredibly easy (think 10-15 seconds) to mount or remove from a bike and inserting the case onto the mount and locking it in is quick and easy, and becomes automatic very quickly. There's also none of that movement I've seen with cheaper bike mounting systems.
I've never had a problem with the case leaking and would have no hesitation buying another one when I next upgrade my phone, but there are a few limitations worth knowing about:
If you're one of the many cyclists who enjoy riding tracks on State Forest like Montezuma Falls, Hollybank, the Dial Ranges, the Blue Tier and the Southern Forests and you've lost track with what's happening in the forest debate lately, then it could be time to re-engage.
Forestry Tasmania have just commenced a stakeholder engagement process inviting people interested in our State Forests (now called Permanent Timber Production Zone Land) to fill in a short survey and/or register as an interested stakeholder so they can be involved in future consultation about how these forests are managed.
Given that as part of the legislative change currently going through Parliament, Forestry Tasmania will lose it's multiple-use focus, activities like Mountain Bike riding are likely to slip down the priority list, and so if you're an active or interested recreational user of State Forest it might pay to spend five minutes filling in the survey or registering as a stakeholder so that the importance of forest roads and trails to mountain bikers aren't forgotten.
The other side of what's happening through this legislative change is that many areas of State Forest, including most existing Forest Reserves, are transferring across to Parks and Wildlife. Whilst my experience in dealing with Parks and Wildlife has shown them to be very supportive of mountain biking, it's worth keeping an eye on what's happening with your local trails and if necessary making sure that the local parks staff know we're out there and using these areas.
With the postponing of the Launceston Mountain Bike Club’s Geard Cycles Giant 275 Enduro to December due to poor track conditions, the MTB event of the month has to be the Cranky Penguin MTB Marathon which sold out before the early bird period had even closed.
Disappointing for those who didn’t get their entry in early, but a great sign for the rising popularity of mountain biking events in Tassie.
If you didn’t get your entry in, don’t despair, also on offer on the same day is a Dirt Devils Hellfire Cup Adventure Ride providing a great opportunity for anyone who wants to go down and check out the new trails at Kellevie.
October also sees the summer outdoor event calendar getting underway with the Freycinet Challenge and the new Launceston Cataract Challenge multisport events kicking things off, and for those looking for something different there’s the RAW challenge down south and the Derby River Derby (which could be combined with a day’s MTB riding around the blue tier, just to plant a thought...)
Looking further forward, the Launceston Mountain Bike Club has released the dates for the Sprung 2hr Super Sprint Series which will be run over summer in conjunction with the Cradle Coast Mountain Bike Club, and for those who believe in their own invincibility, the Cradle Coast Mountain Bike Club have put up the dates for the 2013-14 Interclub Downhill MTB Series and Championships (being run in conjunction with the Dirt Devils MTB club).
Also getting my attention recently was the release of event dates for both the Blue Dragon Mountain Bike Challenge (8-9 February) and the Pure Tasmania Cycle Challenge (22 February).
I think that’s a cause worth turning the pedals for and have signed up, so even if you don’t want to ride, feel free to make a small donation as I try and chalk up my 500km target for the month.
So there’s plenty on, and you can view it all in the events calendar.
Let’s go play ....
PS. If you're wondering about the photos, I couldn't resist ... they're from my recent ride up Alp D'Huez.
Progress on the Dorset Rail Trail between Tulendeena and Legerwood has stopped because local landowners have raised concerns about the next proposed section of trail.
Their concerns apparently include that the trail will be too close to a slaughterhouse, and that if built, the new section will result in the closure of the slaughterhouse and local butchery.
The 18km that have been completed has apparently been very successful and communities have reported a great deal of activity along the trail. This is obviously invaluable for these communities through attracting interstate visitors, stimulating the economy, encouraging healthy activity and promoting positive environmental practice.
However anyone who has ridden the trail would appreciate that it currently begins and ends in quite remote locations and that the proposed extension would be a real bonus.
So tassietrails.org isn't into political lobbying, but apparently the overwhelming number of letters sent to local Parliamentarians has been against the extension, so if you like the trail, want to voice your support for the project and even up the numbers a bit, you can find the list of current members for Bass here and what you write is up to you.
Over here in Europe, where I'm currently cycle touring, I've followed many major tourist cycle routes that have weaved in and out of farms, sawmills, logging operations and quarries and so I know that it is possible for these activities to work side by side.
We just have to get past the fear of the unknown and new, and look for some real solutions that suit everybody.
The September 2013 update from land management agencies involved in the Greater Hobart Mountain Bike Plan has been released.
This update outlines what projects the land managers are currently undertaking or planning to undertake in the near future.
The update will be available on the Wellington Park website: http://www.wellingtonpark.org.au/greater-hobart-mtb-masterplan-endorsed/ (you may need to refresh your browser to see it).
Unfortunately it looks like quite a few initiatives are stalled pending funding, but that shouldn't overshadow all the great work that has been done, and things will proceed. One only has to look back over the last five years to see how far we've come.
While there's still a couple of winter events to be enjoyed this September, event updates and additions have been pretty sparse.
LMBC's Geard Cycles 4 Hour Enduro has apparently grown up into the Geards Cycle Giant 275 enduro and I somehow suspect that with Kim eyeing off one of these new Giant 27.5's that I might find myself at this event come October 6.
The only new additions to the tassietrails.org calender come from Audax Tasmania which has published its long distance events for the summer period. These events are generally road events, but if you're not into racing, but still like to log up some kilometres on challenging but scenic rides then these Audax events are a great alternative.
The current list of Audax events include:
- Saturday 26th: Ranelagh Ramble 100km.
- Sunday 3: Commando Circuit: 50km
- Sunday 10: Bike Tas Big Ride: 100km
- Sunday 17: I Can Ride 100 Miles: 150km Unsupported
- Sunday 8: Ash Dash and Demi Dash: 200km/120km.
- Saturday 4/Sunday 5: Swansea Loop: 300km
- Saturday 11/Sunday 12: Swansea Loop Too: 300km
- Saturday 18/Sunday 19: Mt Field weekend: 2x100km
See the Addax calendar at www.audax.org.au for full details including links to entry forms and maps.
Finally, and although not event update still worthy of note, BikeTas have completely updated their website and of course the North East Mountain Bike Website is also now up and running and waiting for you to join the community.
Rob Potter will be giving a presentation at TBug's AGM, Tuesday 10th September, on "Making and riding the best mountain bike tracks".
As an all mountain rider, Rob has ridden a lot of the best trails around the world. He is the man responsible for building the wonderful tracks around Trevallyn and Kate Reed (and other parts of Tasmania). Rob is now contracted to national trail construction company Dirt Art, and is responsible for designing tracks which are fun, just the right amount of challenge, accessible to most people, sustainable, and not leading bikers to crash into walkers.
He’ll be talking about the riding around Tasmania and the world, and how he goes about making MTB tracks.
So if you live in the Launceston area, and you've ever wanted an excuse to see what TBug's about or to hear from Rob, then head out to the Newstead Tennis Centre, Olive St, 7pm.
For those who like to drool over future trails, check out the Hollybank Mountain Bike Facility- Trail Master Plan 2013 listed below.
This document gives a great overview (including maps) of what is to come from the Hollybank MTB project and it's got me rather excited.
While you're checking out what's happening in the North east, jump on over to the new MTB North East Tasmania website (Note linked deactivated July 2018 as now defunct).
I'd encourage people to get on over and visit the site, have a look around, register, and start getting some information up there to get the community going.
Note: weblinks removed in 2019 as no longer live.
A belated scan of what's coming up in Tassie Mountain Biking (and outdoor sports in general) has pulled up a few changes since I looked last month.
For those up in Launceston that are curious as to what is happening with the NE Trail Project, the LMBC have an information night at 7pm on August 12 at Gunners Arms Hotel. Flick through to the LMBC facebook page for more details and to register your interest in the event.
The Tasmanian Trail Association is a volunteer association that promotes and maintains the Tasmanian Trail which is currently the only long distance (Devonport to Dover) multi-use walking, cycling and horse trail in Tasmania.
I've ridden this trail twice over the years (once end to end and a second time in sections) and I believe that as well as the obvious end to end route, it provides some great day ride and overnight options for mountain bikers.
If this might be you, I'd encourage you to get in contact with the Association and see how you might be able to help out.
If you're interested in learning more about riding the trail, as well as the main page on tassietrails.org, There is a short cut menu to the range of day and weekend rides I did on the trail back in 2010 on my tassierambler.org blog (just scroll down and look for the Tasmanian Trail menu on the left hand side of the screen).
Not so long ago (in a time before tassietrails.org) the only place you could go to for information on mountain biking trails in Tasmanai was pedalbite.com, route sites like bikely.com, or you could randomly trawl the internet to see what you can find.
But times they are a changing.
Only a couple of months ago we saw the release of the Greater Hobart Trails site which is an excellent resource for those looking for trails in the Hobart area, apparently Strava is soon to release some new functionality which is going to make it easier to creates tracks for people to follow (I know little more than this than what was mentioned at the recent MTB Information night), and just this week Northern Tasmania Development, who are the driving force behind the North Eastern Mountain Biking Concept, have announced the upcoming release of a new mountain bike enthusiast/community site.
The image above is a snippet of the home page and, according to their latest newsletter, it will be a 'one stop shop' for all mountain bike enthusiasts looking for information about the new trails and businesses in the area. It will also provide information for visitors looking to ride in North Eastern Tasmania.
It contains social pages, trail descriptions, business pages, community pages etc. where individuals and groups can join. They believe that this site will add value to the project, and enable riders and the community to connect.
The announced launch date of the site is Thursday, 1 August.
The first of what is planned to be a series of MTB information sessions was put on last night (July 9th) by a couple of enthusiastic mountain bikers (Jason and Clint).
About 20 people turned up and it was a great opportunity to put some faces to names and hear first hand what is happening out and about in mountain biking in Tasmania.
Jason gave an overview about how lucky we are to still be able to do our own trail building in Tasmania, and both he and Clint provided a great insight into what's happening with trail building around the Greater Hobart Area, including Council concerns over increasing maintenance costs and how we can do ourselves a diservice by building and promoting illegally constructed trails.
Clint gave a bit more of an overview on what's happening around Mt Wellington and the Meehan Ranges, including a tantalising glimpse into a soon to be constructed new XC trail at the Glenorchy MTB Park. He also reported on how both Glenorchy and Clarence Councis are looking at providing better trail head and trail junction signage (Big Yay!).
Having just gotten around to putting up some track notes for Stringy Bark Gully & The Meehan Ranges I was thrilled (not) to see that current trail building efforts by Dirt Art are about to make my trail notes out of date almost immediatley with improved riding lines and a new track being pushed up to the ridge from the Clarence MTB Park side of the range. There was also talk of improving the verge track along the highway between Belbins and the Clarence MTB Park which will be great.
There were some overviews given from different clubs, organisations and event organisers and a talk at the end about the difficulties for new riders of getting trail information unless you're plugged into the local riding scene. The Greater Hobart Trails website was plugged as where we might be going in this space.
It was also reported that the Dirt Devils website will soon have a page dedicated to updates for trail building.
All up, I found it a very positive night, and hope that these meetings get some momentum alongside the MTBing scene itself which seems to be going great guns everywhere.
The event was supported by Irish Murphy's.
As reported in a recent article in the Advocate Newspaper (June 30, 2013) Kentish Council are still ticking away on a project that could see the establishment of a world-class mountain biking and family cycling park around Mt Roland, with the project getting the support of the Kentish Council economic development committee.
As noted in the 18 June 2013 council agenda The council is also supportive of the development of a cycling trail linking the Spirit of Tasmania ferry terminal directly to Cradle Mountain, without the use of a single road.
Now that would be cool.
So some good and bad news for Hollybank MTB (and the North Eastern Mountain Bike Project) this week.
As reported in the Examiner Newspaper (June 25) The Launceston City Council have decided not to provide direct funding support for the North Eastern Mountain Bike Project (agenda item 17, pp37-40).
However, on the good news front, it looks like the project is still proceeding with Northern Development Tasmania putting out a call for Expressions of Interest to develop a shortlist of skills delivery providers. Full details are available on their website.