A mountain biking trilogy of 3 days riding through the Tasmanian wilderness. Each day is a point to point stage with leaders expected to take 3-3.5 hours and the remainder or the field having up to approximately 8 hours to finish the route.
This 45km stage takes in the world-famous Blue Derby trails and continues to finish at the iconic Weldborough Hotel.
To reach the start line in Derby, all riders complete a non-timed 7km transport leg along the delightful double-width Branxholm Link trail, which incorporates a snappy prologue to determine each rider’s starting position.
Setting off on the stage proper, the first 17km follows some classic Blue Derby trails. Riders start 10 seconds apart and go into Axehead before hitting the climbing trail of Long Shadows. A technical traverse across some old mining water races on The Great Race leads you out of the single track onto a more open fire road and the notorious Heart Break Hill. Once conquered, follow the weaving Dam Busters trail around the western side of Cascade Dam. This section is an open fire trail with good passing areas. At the northern end of the dam, it is back into flowing single track which eventually leads to the highest point of this section. An incredible descent starts with a few technical rocky features followed by the newly refurbished Dam Busters descent, a section guaranteed to bring a smile to all. At the bottom, follow Relics and Sawtooth to the newly built trail and through the surreal Derby Tunnel. Then it is the arrival at Aid Station 1 in Derby.
After a quick break and some snacks, you head off to tackle the next 14km of Day 1. Cross the picturesque suspension bridge and onto the Lake Derby trail. A classic ascent of Wotchya Upta brings breathtaking views of the township. Now it’s time to depart the Blue Derby trail network and launch into some old school adventure riding. For race day only you will travel across a paddock (private property) to the old Derby oval. A short gravel descent of Mutual Road and the track narrows into the old Ringarooma River Trail. You contour along the river to the small township of Moorina and Aid Station 2.
The third and final part of Stage 1 is 15km and has two distinct personalities. The first is gravel grind up the scenic Frome Road, time to get your legs into a groove and give your brain a rest. This forestry road is wide, well maintained and has a consistent ridable gradient. Once past Frome Lake, the final section of this trail narrows and becomes steeper and rougher until it arrives at the Big Chook trailhead. At this high point of 580m, you need to switch back on for a 5km descent of groomed mountain biking bliss – the perfect trail to finish off the first day of the Dragon Trail. Big Chook launches you along a short section of gravel road to a triumphant finish at the historic Weldborough Hotel. Clean up, kick back and enjoy a beer with some classic local cuisine, around a campfire with your friends.
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This is the longest and biggest day of the Dragon Trail, an epic 58km wilderness stage that has something for everyone.
Your journey starts from the Weldborough Hotel at 10-second intervals (based on your finish time from the previous day – fastest riders first to reduce any congestion). A short gravel road takes you to the perfect good morning trail – the lovely Little Chook. This cruisy 3km of single track passes through spectacular Myrtle Beech forests and winds its way through a maze of moss-covered mullock heaps from the old tin mining days.
Now it is time to tackle the biggest and toughest ascent of the entire race, the 400m climb to the top of Blue Tier. This daunting route has been a classic amongst the old school riding fraternity and featured prominently in the pre-machine built trail era of mountain biking in the region, admittedly, more often ridden in the opposite direction. It is an adventure and one not to be undertaken lightly.
The first half of the climb is a scenic 3km grind through some beautiful myrtle forest along the old and bumpy 4wd trail Emu Flat Road. A high point at 580m, catch your breath and hold tight down a short and rough trail to a flatter area used by prospectors.
The second half of the Blue Tier Ascent is firmly in adventure territory and all riders will likely be on and off their bikes through the technical terrain. The ascent to the sub-alpine summit of “The Tier” begins up 3.5km of steep and rugged 4wd trail including large boulder gardens to navigate. The next 4km of this section is less steep but features narrow and rocky trails and multiple crossings of crystal clear alpine streams. The final few kilometers take you to the old mining town of Poimena at 570m and a much-earned aid station.
Once recovered, you return to a more modern groomed single track and follow the stunning Bay of Fires trail to the coast. This trail is divided into 3 distinct sections.
The first 13kms is one of the best flow descents in the world. The first 2 km is a traverse and has views down to the coast and Georges Bay, St Helens, the camp for the end of the day. The next 6km sees 400m of altitude loss down a flow trail ducking majestic myrtle trees and rolling around huge tree ferns. A quick ascent through Giant Ash trees leads you into the final 5kms of the descent, perfect flow trail if ever there was one built.
Part 2 of the Bay of Fires trail lasts for 7kms and is an opportunity to rest the brain along forestry roads as you leave the myrtle and transition to coastal forests. Aid Station 2.
The final 22km of the Bay of Fires trail begins with 5km of undulating forestry road before going into a masterpiece of single track ascent trail. The trail weaves its way through a playground of granite monolith boulders and glimpses of the coast. The day finishes with a stunning 7km flowing descent to the finish line at Swimcart Beach at the famous Bay of Fires.
Riders have the option to ride to the camp site in St Helens or relax on one of the shuttles provided by the race.
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Day 3 is a 32km ride that can be defined by 2 major climbs and 2 major descents. Although shorter than Day 1 and 2 it won’t necessarily be easy as there is still a fair amount of altitude to conquer. The ups are worth it and you are rewarded with long single track descents.
The first 5km of Stage 3 follows rugged but fun 4wd tracks and take you deep into the flagstaff forest. It is then onto the first ascent which gains 350m in 6km – after two days of racing this could be a tough climb on weary legs. Once at the top though, you are rewarded with a ridgeline traverse and awesome views of the coast.
At the 11km mark, you hit the first descent, Old Salty Dog. This feature-packed trail consists of a couple of fast gravity-fed ridgelines stitched together by a mellow climbing link midway. You can expect changing terrain with big granite features and deep moss covered gullies. After 6kms on Old Salty, you come into the Flagstaff Trail Head and are greeting by an Aid Station.
Back on your bikes for the second ascent of the day, but the final one of the race. The first 6kms is on single track beginning on Humpback and Perla, which are flow trails with linking berms and floating rollers. The climb begins in earnest up a eucalyptus covered ridgeline punctuated by switchbacks on Rock Lobster and Wedged In.
At the high point on Wedged In riders will leave the single track and move onto Stonyford Trail to access the top of the hill. The first kilometer of this can be described in many ways. For the majority, it will be with expletives as they push their bikes, while for the small minority it will be time to obtain hero status as they ride up this very steep section of 4wd trail. With this under your belt, another traverse an open ridgeline rewards you with beautiful coastal views along Flagstaff Track for 2kms.
The hard work is all over and it is time to head for home down the flowy and thoroughly enjoyable Seeya Later descent trail which is masterfully carved into the side of the hill. After almost 5.5km of pure descent with views and only a few tricky features, you will roll into the finish area at the Flagstaff trailhead and be greeted by crowds in awe of your achievements – fighting for the honor of washing you aching feet in scented water with floating rose petals and dangling grapes….. ok maybe that won’t happen … but there will be food, drinks, music and time to reflect with your fellow Dragon Riders on three days of world-class riding.
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