Editorial note – Part 2 of TasMANIA began as a draft long before the world started to get rat fucked by Cuntvid19, the only upside of being locked down for the next 4 weeks is that it’s afforded a rare window to actually get a post out for a change. Given the spare time the world now seems to have on it’s hands before the follow-up rogering that will come from the economic fall out, I make no apologies for the length of this post, because not only do you have the time, but we can all do with the distraction.
Don’t worry, I’ve rammed it full of pics and borderline cyber-bullying references about the Rodfather, which let’s face it is what most of you come here for. With that delicious prospect, on with the story!
There are many great reasons for going on a cycling trip/mission such as the one this tale is about. I could more than likely do a post simply on all the reasons why they’re excellent, but let’s just zone in on one of the most obvious here: New places.
As a closest roadie in my bi-polar cycling life, I am conditioned to being able to ride the same roads or loops for years on end. Even as a Mountain Biker it’s possible for us to run endless laps of the same trails or routes year on year, with the occasional sugar hit of something new interrupting our routine.
As such, pulling the pants down on a whole new region to ride in is right up there in terms of not only one of the best things about bikes, but getting the froth-o-meter on the limiter. Especially if its a place that’s been on your list for a while.
I for one can attest to the fact that if it wasn’t for the EWS, not only would I have not heard of Derby, but the chances I would have made the hike here would be about as good as next years Super Bowl half time show being The Rodfather having a threesome with Shakira & J Lo. Indeed I’d seen so much footage of the place, it had started to feel like I had already been there.
In the starkest contrasts to our time in Maydena, the only moisture to be seen around here was the wetness on the Silverest of Foxes lips as he prepared to rip into this dusty set-up, after all, dust is what we sought, but had so far been viciously deprived of:
Dirty Tourist Tip – Holy Fuck, like Maydena, Derby is a small set up with limited, but growing, capacity. We established our HQ at ‘The Cure‘, a fucking outstanding place to stay if you’ve got a big group, but more than that, it was like someone had designed an MTB dream home especially for us to invade and soil. I can’t think of a better pad to rock up to for an MTB trip to be honest, so make sure this place is well up your list if you’re heading into town with a platoon of rad cunts.
So, here was the bombshell drop for me at Derby – While it may be the most famous of spots from an EWS perspective thanks to 5 or so trails, the reality is that the township itself serves as a hub to take in some other banger spots that you need to hit out of town or in the wider region. So don’t just turn up and think this is it. If we want to put this in corporate wank parlance, you’d say they have created an eco-system for shredding and Derby is the heart of that.
This means you need to plan, and book accordingly – Luckily if you see the GC crew at Vertigo bikes, they can hook you up with everything you need to maximise on the area; Airport shuttles, all the shuttles you’ll need around the area and even bike hire. If you’re tired of having sex, you can also hire an eBike from them. Works for some… Naked truth:
Given this key plot line, I’ve divided the Derby download into it’s zones given we went after it all like a pack of fuckpigs in dust. I’ve laid them out in the order we hit them, but this wasn’t necessarily the best order to do them in, so make sure you spend some time planning and booking before you travel… Ah… Travel, remember that little luxury we all took for granted pre cuntvirus19?
Dirty warning – Given it wasn’t caked in frozen mud, shit went a bit wild on the photo front in Derby, so much so this will feel more like a turbo charged Gram-bang as opposed to an actual blog post. Either way, best consumed in conjunction with a strong coffee and sugar laced pastry: Especially for the ending!
#1 – Derby HQ & and the Black Stump
The first time we unloaded at the Black Stump drop off point after shuttling up from Derby township, the only wetness to be seen was the slick sheen of sweat underneath the largest bumbag the Rodfather could find for the occasion. Suddenly the summer mission was firmly back on.
Right from the gun it became evident that the froth here was going to be prodigious. Dry, dusty and fucking fast trails meant that we had locked on to the type of summer riding that had so moistly evaded us at Maydena.
With a couple of U21 kiwi shredders on tour thrown into the mix, a sudden burst of dry trail fever and EWS race stages sprinkled over us meant it was launch time. In spite of having his lower back weighed down by a small tramping pack, it didn’t take long for the RF to start throwing shapes, insults and his back wheel about:
Welcome to the land of dusty high speed single track and large fuck off slabs, we could not have come across a bigger contrast after that 4 hour transfer between the two Tassie hot spots. Not only that, this was clearly a unique style of terrain for a group that usually finds itself drunk on soft pumice hero dirt:
Given the high speeds of Maydena, not to mention the insane conditions under Minion, you’d expect that if we were going to cunt ourselves, then it would have been there. But Maydena is exceedingly well built and high predictable, whereas Derby has a slightly more natural feel to it.
Who better then than the Rodfather to send some blind rock gap jumps which had perfectly placed pedal snaggers as part of their composition. Nothing like a Grade 3 with some random spots of Grade 5 thrown in off the sides to keep the senses on alert:
By the time I arrived on the scene, the Rodfather was pulling some sort of contorted yoga moves usually reserved for the Bickram sessions that he runs in his Private Dojo at the Cougar MILF commune buried deep within the Akatarawa jungle (Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays ladies – Current hours may be variable due to the C19 lock down). I felt the gripping of panic as I instantly worried that he had burst one of his Hammeroids.
As it turned out, the most difficult thing was doing the concussion test, as clinically speaking there appears to be very little to no difference between a concussed Rodfather and one that is operating normally… Yes, ‘normally’ in this context is an oxymoron.
Yes, there are plenty of rocks in these parts to keep you busy. But this isn’t really new news is it? If you know anything about Derby, it’s going to be about not only the rock, but in particular grinding the gap on Detonate, arguably one of the most famous sections of an EWS race stage anywhere in the world.
Hard to say how much helmet cam there has been of this, the Gram is absolutely rammed with it, but it’s all a fucking waste of time as when you arrive at the entrance of this famous gap, it’s a lot steeper and tighter than you’d think. Not something I would usually complain about…
Basically, if you don’t get a pic grinding this gap, then you essentially haven’t been to Derby cunt, so it’s essential to send your group squid down the gap of death first to capture the moment for solid Gram face-fucking (An Official EWS term now) later that evening. Trust The Creator to nail it:
Indeed, this place is so photogenic that we just couldn’t resist making cunts of ourselves by investing heavily in intricately staged photo shoots. Try as I might, and no matter how many times The Creator yelled “Look fast!” at me, I couldn’t manage to adhere to his choreography demands:
But Derby isn’t just about cheesedick photo posing and slab shredding. Once again Captain Mountain Biking has rescued yet another flogged out back country down from economic oblivion and given house prices a 2003 level EPO shot to the arm to get things back on track. You can’t help but notice the fresh construction, new eating establishments and a general buzz around town (no eBike pun intended there), reinforcing the notion that MTB makes for excellent government investment.
For a man who maintains that Coronavirus ain’t got nothing on the strain of gonorrhea which decimated the 1998 National Downhill series field (Debate still rages as to who patient zero was, but I think we can comfortably guess), the shortage of restaurants if you don’t book in Derby wasn’t a concern for the Rodfather:
Dirty tourist tip – Yes, the local service industry hasn’t really kept pace with the influx of gentrified Mountain Bikers who can’t be fucked cooking, so you will need to plan ahead for sustenance and importantly: Book dinners. Failure to do so will mean loading 9 half pissed cunts into your rest home bus for a tour of the Tassie countryside in search of a pub that you hope isn’t part of Wolf Creek 3.
When we weren’t declaring a rather unholy war on chicken parmigiana, there were laps on laps to be shredded in Derby. Sensationally dry and fast, Professor A Badd needed no encouragement to vigorously lick the stamps.
But these images belie an awkward truth about the Derby Black Stump lay out. When you’re dropped off at the shuttle departure lounge, once you’ve woken up The Creator, you have a choice. You can steadily lug your way up Snig Track for around 30 mins or so (We’re talking Double Down tires and endless shit talking here) to access classics like ‘Roxanne’ or ‘Kumma Gutza’ (Absolute must do’s), or you can beat the well worn Flickety Sticks to the mid-point.
And this is where you may start to scratch your head a bit… For once you’ve done the XC style action from here to the shuttle pick up, and ridden the one lower trail that’s ok, you’re going to get pretty bored with the lay out fast. By the third time arriving at the mid-point, there were a few blank looks going down, which while that isn’t unusual for our group, no one could really be fucked with the meandering trail ride back to the shuttle point while Rod talked endlessly about missing his eDildo.
You may therefore find yourself gravitating towards the excellent ‘Air Ya Gnar’ trail more often than not. Given it was an EWS stage, you can’t be blamed for running trains on it while giggling as either your inner enduro racer scrubs everything, or your inner Air DH racer sends the endless platter of jumps back to the uplift point.
It didn’t take us too long to realise that we probably didn’t need to do 4 or so days here in the Black Stump zone, not that the trails weren’t great, but that post mid point buzz kill left us wanting to check out the rest of the action on offer. Luckily, that’s just what the planning committee had lined up.
#2 – St Helens Trails & the Bay of Fires mission
Rumour had it that a brand new, yet to be opened for public consumption, and absolutely banger trail was about to drop in the Derby area.
Luckily for us, the Rodfather is part of the fake new cycling lame stream media, and he put his faux-credentials to excellent use in order to sort of get permission to ride the new St Helens trail to the Bay of Fires before it was opened to the Gen Pop. Just to be clear, I use the term ‘permission’ in the same vein as when a politician talks about ‘transparency’.
We didn’t have a lot of detail about what the trail was like, other than it had cost a shit load to build, was back country in nature and had two sections of epic flow trail connected by what some were calling “The greatest climb in the world“, some fucking lofty claims right there… One thing was confirmed immediately – The setting for this new trail is fairly mega:
The boys were pretty pumped that we were about to rip into a Tassie virgin, and after we had worked through the usual foreplay of The Rodfather explaining that this not only looked like the Kapiti Coast and, somewhat contradictory, that he wanted to move here, it was time to set off and see what this new trail had to offer.
The first thing that will strike you on this MUST RIDE trail is the sheer amount of epic work that has gone into this. I’m easily impressed when it comes to this sort of thing, but even The Creator, a Michelin Star connoisseur of new trail builds if you like, was raising an eyebrow at the sheer work and vastness of what we unfolding before us. Clearly a lot of effort had gone into making this remote location very shredable.
Naturally the idea is that when you’re on a back country wildness trail that’s remote and inaccessible to emergency services, you adopt an air of caution and regulate accordingly.
Ha, not in this group of cunts who are sicker than a Coronavirus cruise liner (to be fair, this joke was funnier many weeks ago in draft 1), with various members, surprise surprise, going out of their way to find every possible opportunity to send it off the sneaky little side kickers nestled into the magic trail creation.
So in essence this is a ‘Flow trail’, but fuck me if its unlike any flow trail I’ve ever met… I can’t recall getting exhausted from a flow trail after endless perfect trail, no pedalling and just beautiful section after beautiful section being pumped and carved. It’s like an Eagle vs Shark, but for 15km’s and somehow better almost, it was as perplexing as it was pornographic.
The only time we got a break from the endless pumping and hip shaking was when we came (somewhat literally) across some of the many sneaky features nicely camouflaged into a trail in such a manner that most people who ride here will never see them. Not these cunts however, if there’s a gap to be smashed, then we had just the fiends on hand to debut them:
I mean what downsides could there possibly be to standing on the side of the trail in the back country egging the elder statesman of your group on to go bigger and bigger on gap jumps? Risk appetite? How about I just eat ALL of it thanks.
As we pressed on, the bewilderment about how this trail had been built, how the angles had been found, how the elevation had been used magically and just how insane the quality was must have started to play on the mind of The Creator. Out of nowhere the relaxed manner of everyone’s favourite shuttle sleeper was seemingly replaced with a new cold-blooded mantra: “If I didn’t create, I’m gonna fucken hate”
Holy fuck, look at the intent here! Goggles on, gritted teeth of trail build envy and mere millimetres away from maiming me with some sort of German rubber.
Back when this was taken, we didn’t know Social Distancing was a thing, but clearly I didn’t have enough of it here as The Creator explodes a berm that cost the State of Tasmania about $2,780 to build into oblivion. The assembled crowd were shocked at the Bermpocalypse unfolding before them….
If you want a feel for how insanely good, and fast, this trail is, scope the IGTV edit of the day, taking particular note of The Creator’s high speed antics from about 1.24 in. Spoiler Alert – As I followed The Creator through the mind blowing section in question my mind had a few milliseconds to register that we were travelling at either race pace, or a touch above it.
While we hadn’t tagged in any timing chips, The Creator was full gas, unleashing a form of trail terrorism on new track that I hadn’t seen out of him before. A few moments before the next frame it occurred to me that the pace being laid down was unsustainable for moi, and as it turned out, I wasn’t the only one as the trail finally struck back:
Holy fucking shit!! BOOOM, I didn’t even know a 29er front wheel could be tucked like that… I can confirm you’re looking at the end of a full somersault scenario unfolding.
Amazingly, not only did The Creator get away without any structural damage to his chassis, but he miraculously got a major cred upgrade by coming out the other end with a highly fashionable dirt beard:
After what felt like an endless supply of wet dream level single track flow, we punched out of part 1 of the trail and decided to swerve the ‘greatest climb in the world’, as well as the final descent into Bay of Fires. A privilege thanks to Luke, our legendary crew member who volunteered to man the Old Cunt shuttle wagon for the day.
Speaking of fire, it may not have been quite the season for it, but that wasn’t about to deter The Creator from ripping out the beach bod and dominating the exceedingly fresh Tasman sea on offer at this white sands beach set up… I mean, fuck, how many rides end up in a location like this?!
In spite of a solid endorsement, not everyone was hugely convinced about the water temperature, even if that colour did look rather appealing…
Indeed the worst part of the whole day was the incredibly ironic moment where the Rodfather, of ALL fucking people, placed a full media ban on us Gram wanking any of the material from the day out until the embargo lifted! Mix me a solid batch of ‘What the Fuck’ combined with ‘Who the fuck do you think you are?’
Of course, because he knew there was a full embargo, he event went off and did some extra social media cock teasing with highly staged bangers such as this:
In summary – This trail is a must ride. While I can’t speak for the second half, it won’t really matter because the stoke from the first half will pump you through anything else to come. It’s not a full gnar-fest obviously, so may not appeal to people who wear singlets while lapping Tech Noir laps, but its an absolutely excellent day out for anyone who loves Mountain Biking.
#3 – Blue Tier vs Blue Atlas
Starting essentially right next door to the fanciful Bay of Fires trail is what appears to be one of the more original and natural trails around these parts, the Blue Tier trail. Once again it’s therefore a significant commute to get out there (roughly an hour drive, with a chunk on gravel road), and it has a distinct back country vibe to it.
Unless you private shuttle, you’re likely to end up on the trail in a large group thanks to the shuttle action, so drop the hammer from the drop off if you want to be a bit of a Strava cunt about it. Of course, given the lack of emergency response out here, we thought it best to video each other doing marginal natural gap jumps:
I suspect that we had been ruined by the previous days experience on Blue Tier younger sibling, but this definitely had a more trail ride vibe to it as a trail versus the St Helen’s option.
Indeed, given both are must do’s while you’re in the Derby zone, perhaps considering starting with this option and leaving Bay of Fires until later in the week as the literal climax. Not that the extra climbing was a concern to the Master Faster:
Dry, rocky and relatively fast rolling, the open stanza of the Blue Tier is pretty good, but given what we had ridden the day before, it felt significantly more pedestrian initially. To be noted, you definitely don’t need a Weapon of Mass Enduro for this terrain. A Tallboy 4 for example would be an absolute dream on trails like this.
The mid section however started to show signs that we were probably better off holding our judgment until the end… Not only did the flow and speed start to ramp up considerably, but the stoke & froth-0-meters started to drive harder and harder fistings at each regroup. There was also a distinctly Rotorua vibe to our surroundings, and I’m not just referring to the rad cunts found chilling trail side…
But no shit, the terrain and surroundings definitely had a Rotorua feel to them, to the point that I felt compelled to wank on about all being one continent millions of years ago in a highly suspect pseudo science rant which would have made genuine experts slap me in the face with a gel.
But the final section… Oh la la! Fucking hell, this was what this whole morning was about! It appears the final section is referred to as ‘Big Chook’, which must be Australian for “A fucken endless supply of high speed, perfectly bermed flow trail that makes ya go full gas cunt!” which was something this group was more than equipped to comply with.
Here we can see the Silver Fox making more of a silver pig of himself on the endless supply of luscious berms, laughing like a lunatic as he flicks little 27.5 clown wheels through turn after turn that you just can’t begin to fathom are in the middle of fucking nowhere… To the nerds who made all that trail around Lake Taupo, recommend a visit here to learn what fun is:
Some of the berms in here have to be railed to be believed, while it wasn’t a long section, it was fucking outstanding and left the whole group absolutely frothing as we rolled out of the bush.
In true Aussie form, part 1 of this mission ends up at a country pub, which means exceptionally large beers competing with an exceptionally large chicken parmigiana to fuck you up for the afternoon portion of the ride. After a morning of vigorously pillaging berms and just being fucking flat out, they’re hard to resist… Which can lead to a tricky sequel to the morning ride:
Just on that, unlike the morning, Part 2 of this day out mission has a distinctly Bandito flavour to it, with a surprising and suspicious amount of climbing in it. Coming from someone who has nailed his colours to the mast of not minding a bit of acoustic bike climbing, even I started to slightly frown.
It may only be 15km’s, but it’s a grind compared to everything else we’d experienced thus far. The Creator gives his views clearly on the Blue Atlas XC vibes… To put that in context, here’s a dude that likes pretty much everything:
The whole point of this Grindr affair is to get you to another one of the EWS gems hiding in the Derby hills: Trouty. It had even been raced on the previous Sunday, so as tired as he was, an exhausted Creator got a huge lift when he suddenly found himself back between some race tape and his podium erection started to tug at his Ion shorts.
As it turned out, no surprise here, but Trouty is obviously legit as total fuck… Funny that given it’s an EWS stage of course. I would highly recommend a sighting lap before you try and pin this one, the high speed rock slab top section takes some commitment before you’re delivered into the end of stage jank which is laced with moments that want to send you out the front gate.
I had spent some time thinking the Tallboy 4 would be great here, but on this particular trail I was thankful for the maximum firepower of the Megatower. It was a fairly gnarly encounter to end a long day on, the toll was starting to tell on some… You know shit is getting serious when your transition lens start to go dark:
We had indeed reached that awkward point in the week where we’d been in town long enough that people were stopping us in the street asking either “Hey, is that really Captain Haddock?!” or, “Hey, is that guy the 90’s male mountain biking model from the magazines?!“, naturally the answer to these common question is; Fuck, Absolutely Yes.
Bonus round – The kids are alright, and the curse of the last run
As it turned out, whilst we may have been the oldest and most questionable Kiwis in Derby that week, we weren’t the only ones kicking about… Or more accurately, flying about:
Mitch and Blake may not have heard of the movie ‘Top Gun’ (A scenario that led to gasps, disbelief and mild horror when that fact surfaced), and had funky modern names, but holy fuck could these damn meddling kids* ride…
*They had no idea who Scooby Doo was as well, so another conversational cul du sac with the younger generation.
So much so that my one fleeting attempt to get some Go Pro chase footage last only a handful of seconds before I realised I would be relegated to the trail side if I wanted to actually see how U21 Enduro podium contenders ride their bikes, which as it turns out is more about them sending all the trail side features that are liberally scattered around Derby.
Dry, fast trails… Young shredders dropping the hammer… A week of fatigue in the bodies… And heading towards our final Derby runs. I’m not sure if anyone actually said those banned words on an MTB trip of “Last run eh cunts?“, but we were definitely starting to head out of the bush when we pushed it one highly choreographed moment too far.
I’d spent most of my week pumping and scrubbing like cinderella behind Kev, continually amazed as he sent every gap, jump or feature that Tassie had to offer. Most of the time it was out of nowhere, just BANG in front of me Kev was airborne and my mind marvelled at both his send-ability and that he basically redefines the Silver Fox category to the point that means George Clooney has to keep dying his hair.
This led to me breathlessly stammering “Yes Kev!” endlessly into my Go Pro clips as I Dodoed my way behind his Tranny rear wheel. Given I had a whole week to develop this man crush on his riding style, I was not ready for what was about to unfold before me on our final trail in Tassie:
I shall spare the horror of the details of the impact, but from any angle it was witnessed the response was unanimous – This was not good, indeed, this was fucking cunted. Our first response was therefore to mill about saying cunt on a continual rotational basis, whilst assessing when was the correct moment to try and reintroduce humour into the situation.
As it turns out, Kev is no stranger to cracking helmets, so he wasn’t initially as alarmed as we were about the fact he had consigned another MIPS helmet to the rubbish bin…
But that helmet, coupled with the angle of Kev’s impact told the story about what we were dealing with. I had the sinking feeling very early on based on prior experience and after a relatively convoluted and stressful evac, our worst fears were realised, Kev had fractured the C1 in his neck.
Not to be a downer about it, but I can’t really weave in any funny anecdotes or analogies for this part of the story, and not just because it hits close to home. Naturally Kev was then subjected to a barrage of esteemed health professionals raising their eyebrows and outlining to him how close he came to dying, or being paralysed. So as you can imagine, not a source of quality blogging gags, especially when you consider he had to remain in Hobart while we all prepped to punch out of Tassie.
Having said that, it didn’t mean we couldn’t redirect all that pent up inappropriate humour to a well worn target. Naturally the rider directly in front of Kev at the moment of impact was none other than the Father of disaster himself – The Rodfather…
Given his penchant for being in the close proximity of people fucking themselves up, whilst always escaping carnage himself, he presented himself as the ideal target for victimisation. Feeling the peer pressure guilt laid on heavily by the group, The Rodfather went for his go to offer to try and patch things up – His patented naked lap dance honed from his time as a Gigalo in Christchurch… Oddly, there were no takers after we watched him go through his pre-dance visualisation routine:
With the riding vibe vaporised after seeing a homeboy and key protagonist of radness loaded into an ambulance to start his trek through every healthcare facility on offer in Tassie, it was time to get the fuck home while wondering if Kev qualified to be an episode of ‘Banged up Abroad’.
Ultimately it was a surreal end to a banger trip. Walking around the streets of Hobart to visit Kev in hospital while he was fully braced up was like a weird horror flashback to 2015. It was particularly unsettling watching a bro heading into the first days of Bracelyfe knowing all too well what that entails, but having to do so in another country.
Not being able to get on that bird to punch out back to home base with everyone else a super shit scenario. Even though some of us tapped right the fuck out before the safety briefing had even finished… Some Creator sleeping porn a solid way to close this out right?
A massive thanks to the GC Crew who made the Tour of TasMANIA a fucking great time, we didn’t know then obviously that shit was going to go globally sideways, so on reflect this trip suddenly has a lot more meaning to it rather than just being one trip on the way to the next one. Not something I will take for granted ever again.
That was then, this is now
As a final footnote to wrap up this mission run down – How different is the world now versus when all this goodness was being undertaken? Back in November as we were shredding dry Derby trails or washing off 5 layers of Maydena mud, it would have felt completely implausible that not only would the Tasmanian border be closed, but we would all be on lock down at home wondering if Apocalypse porn was a niche worth exploring.
Hell, even Maydena Bike Park is now closed until Sept 2020, so while I usually sign off these posts with something along the lines of ‘Get your crew together and get your ass to Tassie’, there is no way of knowing when that may be possible, what it may look like or if the possible economic mushroom cloud to come will make that a concept on anyone’s agenda. I for one will never complain about muddy conditions ever again, or being rushed in the morning by The Creator to get to a shuttle, or holding the flashlight as someone else applies industrial grade cream to the Rodfather’s Hammeroids.
So instead, when things do get back to some semblance of normal, whatever that may look like, make sure the whole Tasmania tour is on your short list for the next overseas mission, which I suspect many of us will label the ‘Gratitude Tour’.
Follow up on Kev – After a stay which felt too long in Hobart, but which could have been a lot longer, he was thankfully allowed to travel back to NZ to start the long process of Bracelyfe at home with those horrendous sleeps, awkward hand jobs and having to retell your story continually for 12 weeks and 3 days. A fractured C1 and dissected left vertebral artery some pretty gnarly shit and it was a huge relief to see him come out of the Brace in Mid-Feb and starting the next phase of the recovery. I for one can’t wait for a dipper lap with Kev once Cuntvirus19 fucks off and next summer rolls around.