Must Ride: Atherton, day 2 in paradise

The mountain bike community in Atherton is a dedicated mob, and we’re not just talking about their persistence, patience and perseverance in acquiring over $1.5 million in trail funding.

Our morning's ride began on the cruisy green trails of the park's flatlands, before heading up over Ridgey Didge.
Our morning’s ride began on the cruisy green trails of the park’s flatlands, before heading up over Ridgey Didge.

Every morning at 6:00am sharp, a local crew gathers for a ride in the main street, sometimes on the road bikes but generally on the mountain bikes. From town, they roll the two kays out to the trails and get in some quality singletrack time while most of the world is still sleeping. We figured that joining some locals for a dawn ride was as great way to meet some of the crew and get a feel for the trails on our first day in town.

Atherton Knowles Nard
This bit of trail is named after Atherton Cycle Sports Club president, Mark Knowles. It celebrates the glory of his Nard… whatever that is.

On this particular morning four fellas happened to have turned up for the daily social ride; there was Drew, Dean, Mark and Chris. As we rolled through the mellow entry-level trails that occupy the lower slopes of the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park we learnt a bit about them. The crew – a mixture of recent arrivals and lifetime locals, business owners and semi-retirees – took us up and over the fantastic Ridgey Didge and then back into town for a surprisingly great coffee.

Stormy skies gather over the local crop.
Stormy skies gather over the local crop.

This is the tropics and our trip comes right on the cusp of the wet season. Needless to say,  as the day warmed up, the storm clouds gathered and the heavens opened. But our local ride guides for the afternoon weren’t deterred – they had a true gem of a trail to show us.

Ricochet (trail number 9 on the map) starts way up high above Atherton on Mount Baldy. While many of the locals pedal up the fire road, we took the lazy man’s option and piled the bikes into the back of the ute, driving up into the clouds.

Mountain bikers in the mist.
Mountain bikers in the mist.


The scene at the trailhead was straight out of Jurassic Park, the mists swirling through the vines, but the trail itself was more like Disney on Ice! The afternoon’s rain had turned the top third of the run into a super slick slide; following 15-year old Behailu through the greasy berms was an education is going with the flow. This kid is one to watch, his style and playfulness on the bike are unreal, not to mention his commitment! Behailu spotted a gap that would have been tricky enough in the dry but was borderline impossible in the wet, but he wasn’t going to be talked out of it. You’ll have to wait for the video to see how it all went down, suffice to say we’re still not quite sure how he stuck the landing.

Behailu leads the way with a fearlessness that made us feel very, very old!
Behailu leads the way with a fearlessness that made us feel very, very old!
By the sixth berm like this, you’re pretty dizzy.

It’s hard to do this trail justice – it feels like the flowiest parts of Whistler’s A-Line have been mellowed out for trail bikes and then transplanted into the Australian bush. Huge berms, rollers, doubles and drops come at you in rapid succession. While the trail stands alone from the rest of the network at present, it’s only a matter of weeks until a 12km linking trail is completed and it’ll be possible to string together a truly epic loop crowned by the Ricochet descent.

The flat out lower section of Ricochet tempts you to make gap jumps out of rollers that seem impossibly far apart until you hit Mach 1.

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