It’s something every mountain biker has dreamed about: a patch of land where you’ve got free reign to build the trails you want to ride. A private paradise, somewhere you and your mates can drink beers by the fire after a day of ripping singletrack, before crashing into bed, metres from the trails.
That’s the dream, but making it happen is another story. In reality, building your own trails is a lot of hard work. Walking the land, planning alignments, buying machinery, years of digging, tweaking, clearing, maintaining – it’s a labour of love, and it takes an especially motivated person to see the vision through to completion.
So we packed a couple of test bikes, and headed north, off the freeway, down a dirt road a few kay, and into paradise.
Neil Soderlund is one of those people. An eccentric, inquisitive, unstoppable fellow, Neil had the same dream for us all, but then he worked like mad make it happen. When he recently invited us to come stay with him at his creation, Trailshare Cabins, located in Kulnura about an hour out of Sydney. So we packed a couple of test bikes, and headed north, off the freeway, down a dirt road a few kay, and into paradise.
Sometimes the stars just align. Neil was looking for somewhere to build his trail network just as a 400-acre lot of rugged, undeveloped land came onto the market as part of a foreclosure sale, just out of Sydney. It was perfect: steep, rocky, with deep gullies, a few old logging benches cut through the bush, and useless to just about anyone except mountain bikers and bushwalkers. He snapped it up.
Neil’s plans weren’t halfhearted; these weren’t going be few squiggles scratched into the hills. Inspired by the professionals, he set about getting the machinery to do it properly – Bobcats, dozers, quad bikes, and a whole arsenal of tools soon filled the new sheds and shelters built to house them.
Learning as he goes is just part of Neil’s life – by the age of 14 he’d taught himself how to smith knives, and he’d begun selling them to hunters in South Africa. Over the years he’s learnt how to build bike frames out of carbon fibre, designed and built his own e-bikes, created new systems of couplings for collapsible travel bikes and then ridden them around the globe, designed houses, started new businesses and much more. For him, learning how to build trails (and how to operate and maintain the machines to do it) was just another challenge.
Over the past two years, he and his co-builder Laszlo Varga (an Austrian ski instructor who turned trail builder after discovering there was wasn’t a lot of snow in Oz!) have spent their weekends carving in more than 20km of trail through some beautiful countryside, full of massive sandstone outcrops and caves, with huge Turpentine trees and rainforest gullies.
What started out as a personal playground has become something that Neil wants to share with other riders, and so he hatched plans for putting some accommodation on the property. Once again, it was Neil’s creative brain that went into overdrive; he had four shipping containers converted into neat cabins of his own design, assembled around an open-air dining area, complete with a cool suspended deck that looks out into the valley below.
The best bit? The trails start literally from the edge of the fire pit, so once you’ve had your morning coffee, it’s about a five metre roll into the first berm.
There’s accommodation for seven guests, with bathrooms in each cabin, and a communal kitchen. Outside there are wood burning heaters alongside a very cool outdoor lounge area. The best bit? The trails start literally from the edge of the fire pit, so once you’ve had your morning coffee, it’s about a five metre roll into the first berm. We’re going to be back here in the future; we can promise you that. It’s hard to believe how perfect the set up really is.
If you’re interested in checking out Trailshare Cabins, get in touch with Neil ([email protected]). The trails are only available to members – with two options to join – one that includes a week’s free accommodation and a trail access-only membership. Details and prices are on their website . You’re welcome to try before you buy – just send an email to let them know you’re coming. If membership doesn’t appeal, but you’d like to book a stay this can be done directly through Air BnB.
Where is it?
Trailshare Cabins and the trails aren’t open to the public without booking in for a stay, so don’t rock up expecting to ride unless you’ve got your name down for a cabin, which you can do via their website or Air BnB.