Bulk Air Time: Vapour Trail, Stromlo's New Jump Track

Think you know what Stromlo Forest Park is all about? Think again. This legendary destination, best known for its magnificent cross country trails, just had a change of pace with the opening of the new Vapour Trail, an incredible two-kilometre long jump track built to celebrate the venue’s tenth anniversary.

We headed to Canberra to meet up with some of the country’s best riders – Thomas Crimmins, Timmy Eaton and Ryan Walsch – for a day of bulk air time.

Watch the full video of Canberra pinners Thomas Crimmins, Tim Eaton and Ryan Walsch ripping it up on Vapour Trail below.

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Ryan ‘Raymond’ Walsch flows into the lower sections of Vapour Trail.

The inspiration for this beast stems directly from the international reputation of some of the best-known trails on the planet, trails like Whistler’s A-Line and Dirt Merchant.

Vapour Trail is a big jump ahead for Stromlo, quite literally, with some pretty serious air time on offer if you’re hitting the big lines. The inspiration for this beast stems directly from the international reputation of some of the best-known trails on the planet, trails like Whistler’s A-Line and Dirt Merchant. After all, why should the Canadians get all the fun?

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Jump trains with mates. Nothing better.

It’s a bit of an all-you-can-eat banquet of jumps

Darren Stewart of Makin Trax (who carry out all the maintenance and construction at Stromlo) has been a long-time believer in the importance of a trail like this to ensure Stromlo stays ahead of the curve and helps progress mountain biking in Canberra. “I’ve been personally agitating for this trail for many years. We made a start on the Vapour trail a couple of years ago with the help of Jared Rando, and recently the ACT Government funded the development of the newest sections you see here.”

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Crimmins over the shark fin.

“It’s a bit of an all-you-can-eat banquet of jumps, this one,” says Darren. There are around 40 jumps on the trail, and while it’s classified as a black diamond trail, all of the jumps can be rolled, and there are loads of options for A and B-Lines too. It all makes Vapour Trail pretty ideal as a training ground to progress your riding, letting you gradually build into the bigger jumps, rather than committing you to launching straight away.

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The lower jumps get some good size to them if you’re hitting the big lips – Eaton casual as you like over an 8 metre gap.

Getting the timing and speed right on a trail like this is a real art form – you want it to naturally flow, so each jump builds into the next, without a need to pedal too hard or hit the anchors. The construction team, led by Mike Long, also included Ben Cory. Additional feedback from riders like Timmy Eaton, Thomas Crimmins and Damian Breach all added to the huge pool of experience required to nail this trail perfectly.

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Thomas Crimmins lofts its into a perfectly built series of booters.

From our perspective, we find it incredibly exciting that government is getting behind trail project like this. It definitely represents a new era for the sport in Australia when the highest levels are recognising that full-blown jump trails like this (or notably too, the new Hero Trail in Bright) can become real drawcards to bring travelling mountain bikers into a region. According to Darren Stewart, more trail like this are in the wings: “plans are already in place for some blue level jump trails too, that will complement what we’ve now got with Vapour Trail.” Looks like we’ll be making many trips to Canberra in the coming years then!

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Up with the sun for a pretty unique shuttle to the top of Stromlo.
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The ultimate uplift? After all, it’s all about getting bulk air time, right?
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Vapour Trail follows the first 100m or so of the downhill track, before peeling off to the right.
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Unmistakably Canberra.
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Hooking in on the upper turns.
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Raymond rhythms through the step-on-step-off.
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Getting this step-on-step-off right requires commitment, but the spacing is perfect if you’ve got the skills to carry good speed into this section.
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Crimmins sends his Trance into orbit.
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Big wheels, big jumps, big tweak.
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Rallying into classic Canberra fast, dry turns.

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