Derby has become the epitome of success in Australian mountain biking, and in 2023 played host to an exhilarating week of enduro racing, characterized by unpredictable weather maddening crowds and
loose partying. I’m deeply fond of this town, not just for its spectacular trails, but also for the tight-knit community that pulsates within it.
It’s astounding to think that since
my first visit in 2015, this obscure little town that time had forgotten has transformed into a significant stop on the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup circuit. Yet, here we were, back in quirky little Derby, surrounded by renowned international athletes, their adoring fans, and frothing locals, with my trusty camera in hand to document the vibes and chaos.
Stepping into the Dorset Hotel early in the week, the vibes were high, everyone seemed particularly excited. I picked up at least three different languages, including Tasmanian. The heavens had opened, and the rain was hammering outside. What was in store for us all this week? We had no idea.
The following days were a flurry and a blur, lucky I was never without my camera, so please enjoy my selection of photos from an unforgettable week in Tassie’s North East, immersed in a World Cup Enduro. As a huge fan, a photographer, representing Flow and as a friend of the sport. I loved it all.
Want to see more from the Derby EDR, and Maydena? Don’t miss our galleries from Justin Castles and Kristina Vackova
As we made our way from Launceston, the weather hinted at what was to come.
The Blue Derby Trail Crew worked tirelessly up until the last minute to reopen the race tracks after the devastating landslide last year. Thank you, team, for your hard work and dedication! It was a close call.
The sound of diggers echoed through the forest as they worked quickly to carve a race line through the soft earth.
Cuddles on Cuddles, Ella and Iago walking part of the brand new trail on everyone’s minds.
The Enduro World Series is all grown up and is now a part of the UCI World Cup, lifting the level of formality to the event. At the summit of Trouty and Cuddles, ex-racer Ruaridh Cunningham now UCI Sports Coordinator shares his new role with me and explains what he’s looking for out on the course for rider safety and course markings.
The man of the hour, local news wanted a piece of Luke Meier-Smith following his big W in Maydena. They had to work for it though, he’s a stoic lad focusing on his performance above all.
The pits were super busy rebuilding after Maydena and prepping bikes ahead of Derby. Full strip-downs were a common sight.
Glen Jacobs had a fun few days in town, immersed in spectating and chatting with locals and athletes. For Glen and World Trail, Derby is the ultimate addition to their portfolio.
Plenty of bikes we’ve not seen before Down Under, like this Crestline, which is very sharp!
Continental tyres are gaining serious ground, their latest generation of tyres are popular at Flow too.
This a solemn reminder that the contentious topic of logging and its impact is very much alive in Tasmania.
The NZ-based Yeti Devo Team were enjoying their Tasmanian racing adventure, I snuck out for a late arvo shoot once they’d finished chillaxing at the Floating Sauna.
Bradley Harris, from Queenstown, NZ playing around on the fun trails near the village.
The higher level of coverage brings new levels of media commitments for the riders. The press conference gave us a chance to put questions to the riders ahead of practice.
Round one in Maydena clearly played in favour of local advantage; how would the internationals fare this time around?
Buck from Vertigo was visibly ecstatic throughout the weekend, and the word around town was that he needed to be reined in by his partner, Jude, to calm his emotions each night due to all the excitement.
A dark and very wet day greeted riders for practice, it was going to be a long day!
McKay Vezina taking the ‘very’ high line on Roxanne.
The assertion that “the granite is grippy even when wet” was heard numerous times. However, I was astounded by the level of dedication of the top riders as they rode so quickly. Leanna Curtis fearlessly dropped and turned down this large, slippery rock face.
As a fan, it was quite intense to see so many big names in little Derby. Even Word Champion DHer Vali Holl was here, gah!
The internet’s most popular mountain biker, Mr Legs, Jack Moir! Watching him practice the track was an absolute pleasure. The way he picks his lines and moves his body around the bike, it’s all about going fast and nothing else.
Tom Locke pulls a manual on Derby’s largest slab (on request), one of the more compelling sections on Trouty. A lot of riders puzzled here, and over the next few hundred metres of rocky chaos.
Perhaps Derby’s third largest slab is a mighty wall ride with many line options on the new trail, Cuddles. Go high they would say, “the granite is grippy!” they say.
Bikes, bodies, camera gear and character were put to test during Thursday’s practice session. Heck, even B-grade squids like myself were struggling! It was grim.
Where did the name ‘Cuddles’ come from? Well, a reliable source gave us great insight. “It starts off all bubbly trees, rocks and fluffy white clouds and turns dark pretty quick”. Referencing a peculiar cartoon called Happy Tree Friends, Google away friends.
The Flying V in action, squids on squids on squids.
Martin Maes has done well here before and was carrying formidable speed all over the mountain. He’s also a very smart guy, beyond his 26 years of age, and always full of insight and perspective.
Oil slick on stage 6!
The last few hundred meters of the final stage were a challenge. Fresh from the landslide, the surface turned to crunchy peanut butter, not too oily, not too dry. Just right to slow most riders to a walking pace. It dried ok for the World Cup, but was hard for the Enduro of Derby open race on Friday.
Sun and rainbows came out on Thursday night after a brutal day of practice, and spirits began to lift for the racing. Until it rained through the night again, cruel, cruel clouds!
Scenes of Derby. I LOVE this town.
Yiiiiikes! Detonating on Detonate, the games begin.
Millie with the strategic forearm drag through Tasmania’s deadliest squeeze.
That won’t buff out, sorry!
Yikes, neither will that, sorry. Pop.
Dave ‘Shirtless’ Ludenia stomped and squashed his way to the win in the punter’s cup. Quite a competitive category, nonetheless.
Kaiden Hayes looks set to carry his father’s legacy as a lovable larrikin, and all-around lunatic. Keep it up, kiddo!
The hectic hecklers from Maydena heckling here in Derby. Solid volume, solid slandering for anyone worthy of slander.
Sunshine peeking through the forest bode well for the World Cup to come the following day, phew!
Weirdos everywhere. Even where you don’t suspect.
The unfortunate one-legged final stage manoeuvre was unplanned and likely very unpopular for this cramp-riddled, lop-sided poor soul.
Excuse me, I’m looking for the landslide. It is around here somewhere?
Hats off to the team that dug a race track through a monumental mess of mushy earth just in time.
The weather was a tease! Is it good, are we doomed, shall we run, or shall we stay? Arrrgh!
A bit of last min TLC to ensure the race machines were running, or rather stopping, at peak performance.
Paul Van Der Ploeg raced, brought great vibes through insightful and energetic in-event commentary, and kept the vibes high all around. This man deserves a beer and a fresher form of Listerine to clean his bike and breath after a huge day riding and talking. Thank you, Paul!
Was it a tease? Would the sun finally dominate the rain clouds on World Cup race day? Please, yes!
Gypsies everywhere. Can you smell the knee pads, mixed with WD-40, damp and cooking? Mmmmmmm, nice.
Dr Eggs from Evolution put on a fine display, heckling dressed like an astronaut in a cheap tin foil suit, well into the following day. Chapeu, Dreggsy, we love you.
Paul and Michelle proved to be an outstanding commentary duo. Could they be the ultimate pair for this uniquely challenging job?
“Good morning Lia, are you ready?”
Josh Carlson with his number one, two, and three fan. Not necessarily in that order. Keep an eye, and ear out for Josh this year in the UCI World Cup as part of the commentary and live coverage team. Exciting times ahead, thank you and good luck, Josh.
Vali Holl spoke favourably of her time in Australia, citing Manly as her favourite place to be.
The World Cup Racing begins! Roxanne first up. Towering trees, lush ferns, huge rock gardens, but also a LOT of sprinting.
Who’s party is this? Yewwwwww!
Amidst a tunnel of thunderous noise and encouraging distractions, Jack Moir pumps his way through with unwavering determination and focus.
Remi took a slam, called it a day, and was passed by Jesse, damn it!
Dam, it’s nice out!
From this distance, Trouty appeared like a bustling music festival set against a backdrop of painted granite. The crowds were massive, like nothing I had ever seen before. It was also clear that the spectators were very dedicated, it was SO hard to get up and down the track on foot.
Trout zoomies! Matt Studdart and the Polygon Team were out in force this week, and their bikes were noticeably quiet.
Derby, awwwww look at what you’ve become!
Dan Booker fans were out in force, and he looked insanely fast when the trails were steep and rough. We look forward to seeing him take on the rest of the season. FEED ‘ER SOME BOOKER!
The mysterious green man returns, how would his true identity be revealed?
Connor Fearon in front of the fans. Watching him ride the roughest race lines at speed is unreal.
We could not get over the volume of people that came out to watch! Insane. After Trouty, people kept pouring out of the forest and onto the next one.
Little Rivers Brewing Co had bars set up in the major heckle zones, adding fuel to the fire/noise!
The most photographed rock in Tasmania this week, Cuddles! Leanna Curtis laid off the brakes and stomped the g-out like mad.
Kristina, Justin and I were all shooting the event. Our plan to ‘form a triangle’ to avoid shooting the same spot failed, we were having way too much fun. Hi Kristina, your bib is inside-out! 🙂
Full compression, oooooft.
I really enjoyed Josh’s infectious party vibes, but apparently, he dresses like this frequently.
Richie Rude dropping in!
Cuddles was the penultimate stage and drew the largest crowd. Loud (though somewhat questionable) music and an amphitheatre-style zone made for a lot of noise and fun vibes.
The Stoke Wizard was out in force with a huge DJ setup, massive speakers, smoke, lights and a bag of fat beats for the final stage on Air Ya Garn, though this was just the Wizard warming up. There was more to come for Derby’s resident party guy.
We can only imagine what it felt like to race through noise like this! Amazing.
There it is again!
Ed Masters and Air Ya Garn zoomies.
We only saw Ryan Gilchrist and Richie Rude pull for this looooong gap, which isn’t really a gap. “WOW” says the crowd.
Aaaand PUMP to #1.
The Stoke Wizard during one of his matinee performances.
Lia Ladbrook took out third in U21, we’re huge fans of her ripping riding style and friendly demeanour. Good luck this season racing World Cup DH, Lia!
Sacha Kim two from two in Tassie, Maydena and Derby #1. Wow, absolutely sensational stuff from the Tassie local. Good luck this year!
Bex Baraona is stoked to win in Derby.
Lukas, Toby, and a furry Tasmanian Devil find themselves in a peculiar, old mining town, despite their vastly different backgrounds and circumstances. That’s World Cup racing!
Yeti took out the team’s win, turquoise overload!
Determination, and eventually relief and elation in the eyes of one of Enduro’s most formidable racers. Derby was his 20th EWS and EDR win, impressive stuff.
Richie’s ride, featuring the unreleased Fox Live Valve, oooooh we’re excited to get our hands on this new tech!
The emotional outpouring as the event came to a close was a testament to just how much effort and hard work goes into an event of this scale. From dealing with the weather and the landslide to navigating the UCI regulations and attending to a million tiny details, everyone involved in the event deserves recognition for a job well done. Well done, Harwoods and their team.
Job done, we hope the UCI World Cup comes back to Tasmania. C’mon, you know you want to.
Ruaridh Cunningham, Buck Gibson and Chris Ball walked into a bar.
Thanks for reading, see you next time!