In just a year, Maydena Bike Park has built a reputation as towering as the mountain it sits upon. It's been over a year since we visited during the opening weekend, and so we headed back to see how this place has evolved. What did we discover?
We were in Maydena attending the Mountain Bike Destination Forum, which was brilliant event bringing all kinds of people connected to mountain bike destination development together in one room for two days. But either side of the forum, we managed to cram in a bit of riding. Here’s what we gleaned.
More trails. Lots more trails.
When the Maydena crew hit the launch button on the bike park back in January 2018, they did so with 35km of gravity trails under their belts. That was already a lot of riding, but over the course of the year that figure has swelled to a massive 70km, with another 30km due to open soon. 100km of gravity trails is insanely impressive, especially in under two years of building.
At present, the Maydena crew reckon you’ll need four days of solid riding (logging six or seven runs down the hill each day) in order to cover off all the trails and possible ways you can link them up to get down the hill. And let us tell you, if you’re punching out six or seven runs of this hill a day, you’re a bit of an animal.
We love the way the trails are laid out.
When you look at the Maydena trail map, it’s like a dropped bowl of ramen. Once you begin riding the trails, the layout starts to make sense. Every trail finishes at a junction, often presenting you with three or four options to continue your descent. And more often than not, those options are really diverse. For instance, pop out of Pandani, and you’ve got everything from the cruisy Green Room trail through to the Pro Line of Zen Garden. It means you’ve got the chance to make every single run down the hill a completely different experience; you can mishmash difficultly levels and trail styles from top to bottom.
Maydena are currently working on some ‘recommended’ routes, which will show you how to string together certain trail styles. For instance, there will be a ‘black diamond tech’ route that will all be handbuilt, tricky trails, and a ‘blue flow’ route that’s mainly intermediate flow and jump trails… you get the picture.
More mellow trails.
If Maydena was too tricky for you to ride in the past, you’ll find plenty more mellow trail options now.
When Maydena opened, it quickly developed a rap for being a challenging place to ride – and it was, with some seriously steep, wild terrain, and very, very big jumps. We think it’s fair to say that a lot of people were shocked. When a trail has a black diamond difficult rating in Maydena, they mean it. And when it has a double black diamond sign, well you sure as hell better bring your A-game.
Compared to Derby, Maydena’s natural counterpoint, the difficulty level is higher; a blue-level trail at Maydena is notably harder than a blue trail at Derby. As such, we think a lot of people misjudged their abilities, bit off more trail than they could chew and got scared or hurt in the early days of Maydena. Australia has never had a gravity park catering for this level of riding before, so people are still adapting.
This decision to position itself at the top of the market in terms of skill level was deliberate. Maydena didn’t want to be (and couldn’t be) just another version of Derby. But the reality is the bulk of the market is after a slightly less extreme experience, and so Maydena is responding with a whole swathe of new blue and green level trails in the coming months. This includes the top half of the Wilderness Trail that we’ve outlined below.
We believe it’s a great thing for this country to have a facility like this, somewhere our very best gravity riders can go to train in a legal, supportive environment (with bike patrol close at hand in case of an accident), rather than having to jump on a plane to North America or New Zealand.
The Wilderness Trail is excellent.
During our stay, we spent a good chunk of time riding and shooting on the new Wilderness Trail. We were only able to ride the lower section (the upper half will be open in March 2019), but what we did sample was brilliant. This new blue level trail takes a more meandering route through the forest, heading into previously untouched areas of the hillside. It has a very different flavour to most of the park, with longer, pumping traverses, and once the top half is open it will be a mammoth descent. We’d imagine most people will take at least 45 minutes to get down from top to bottom on this trail alone.
More shuttle and ride pass options
In addition to the regular uplift pass, Maydena have introduced two new options.
First, there’s the Enduro Pass, which gets you a single uplift to the top of the mountain. You’ve then got all day to make your way back down, riding different loops along the way. Maydena are presently putting in more climbing and linking trails in select areas across the hill, opening up what are essentially nice little Enduro ‘zones’, where you’ll be able to descend on any number of trails to a junction, and then follow a climbing or traversing trail back up to the top of the next zone. It’s a smart idea, and maps outlining how to best string together these zones will be available soon.
Then there’s the Trail Rider Pass, which doesn’t give you an uplift but allows you to use the new Turn Earner climbing trail to ride up to the mid-point under your own steam. That’s a 400m climb, in case you’re wondering.
So I still pay, even if I pedal up?
That’s right, you still need to pay a fee of $15. This is a private facility, the trails are professionally built and maintained, there’s a bike patrol service, First Aid and other facilities you won’t find in a public park. We think it’s pretty bloody fair that you should pay.
Would you recommend using the shuttle?
Of course! Do you go to a nice hotel and sleep in the carpark? Do you book a table at Momofuku and then just have a glass of water? No, you pay the money and enjoy the experience fully. This place is all about descending really, and the best way to enjoy it is with the uplift service. Your bike is probably worth $6000, so hand over some buckeroos and forget about climbing for the day.
Don’t take an XC bike.
Yes, you’ll be able to get down the hill fine. But the majority of the trails are best enjoyed on the new crop of long-travel trail bikes or Enduro bikes. Something with 140mm-travel and up, and with good tyres and powerful brakes is the best bet. We were riding a Canyon Strive and a Pivot Firebird (both 160mm 29ers, so solid bikes).
Would we recommend a beginner go there?
At this stage, no. But we think that is all about to change. One of the big next steps for Maydena is a genuine top to bottom beginner trail, for complete newbies. It’ll be a guided ride only, at least to start off with, aimed at the larger tourism market.
We’ve come away from Maydena this time with a real sense of excitement and positivity (as opposed to last time, when we came away in an ambulance… that’s another story). The way this place has evolved in such a short time is staggering; it’s hard to believe this bike park didn’t even exist 14 months ago! We cannot wait to get back here.