The Dragon Trail: Tassie’s epic new mountain bike event
Delayed by 12 months because of the COVID pandemic, the Dragon Trail was successfully completed in mid-March, wending its way between north-east Tasmania mountain biking hubs Derby and St Helens via the Blue Tier mountain range. The curious name of the event references Chinese tin miners who came to the region in the 1870s.
The combination of world-class singletrack riding and incredible scenery was enough to attract a capacity 300-rider field, but the challenge they were set is what establishes the Dragon Trail as something special.
Over three days the field raced for 155km and climbed 4570 metres. Just for reference, the queen of MTB stage races, the BC Bike Race in Canada, travels about 300km and 10,000m over seven days, so on a daily basis the effort is similar.
Speaking of effort, gut-busting extended climbs on both day one and day two were defining features of the Dragon Trail experience – day three wasn’t a walk in the park either, come to think of it. “Brutal” was the description commonly used afterwards.
It’s this combination of pleasure and pain that defines mountain bike endurance racing and lures riders from around the country and even the world. The Dragon Trail delivers heaps of both. Completing the hike-a-bike haul that started day two and then attacking 14km of groomed downhill Bay of Fires singletrack from the top of the Blue Tier just about sums it up. From exhaustion to elation in seconds.
A usual, the elite riders made it all look easy. Newly-crowned under 23s champion Sam Fox was on course for just six and a half hours to take the overall win in his first stage race, pipping Cam Ivory by only 45 seconds! Karen Hill was the first woman home in just under eight hours, beating Izzy Flint by 14 minutes.
All up, 262 riders finished the race, the slowest of them taking more than 20 hours to complete the daunting task.
“For anyone thinking of giving it a go I’d say to ride some old-school fire trail and back country, and be prepared to get your feet wet and have some fun,” Fox said. “I’d say anyone can do it, there is nothing too technical, just be ready for some tough days out, bring your mates and have a go.”
Look for the full story on Bruce’s three-day experience of the inaugural Dragon Trail in Issue 6, out later this year.