With Derby and St Helens now offering world-class trails in close proximity to one another, North-East Tasmania is the prime location for a MTB stage race, and that precisely why the singular Dragon Trail MTB Ride has attracted over 300-riders from all over Australia.
The new three-day stage race will take advantage of trails in Derby, the Blue Tier, Bay of Fires and St Helens, flowing through a smorgasbord of landscapes and ecosystems for what is looking to be a race like no other.
The race takes its name from the ‘Trail of the Tin Dragon,’ a route travelled by Chinese settlers who came to the North-East corner of Tassie to work in the tin mines, and the race loosely follows their incredible journey.
The Dragon Trail stage race was originally scheduled to run last year, however with the pandemic still ramping up at that point, organiser Geocentric Outdoors decided it was best to postpone until it was safe.
“After countless adventure events across Australia and around the world, it has been an absolute privilege to return to my Tasmanian roots and be an active part of the new chapter in the history of the North East; Mountain Biking. The trails, the environment, the culture, it’s simply a fabulous area to be running this race. After a year that has been challenging to us all in countless different ways, it is time to hit the trails, smash the body and replenish the soul,” says Race Director Lousie Foulkes, who is originally from the region.
According to Foulkes, last year’s event had attracted quite a few riders from abroad; however, with international travel not happening, Aussie riders get first dibs to experience this epic new race route.
The Dragon Trail combines some of the best trails rails across the region. Stage one is called ‘Derby Flow’, taking riders on a 52km route that includes the newly refurbished Dam Busters, Heart Break Hill, and a trip through the infamous Derby Tunnel before heading up towards Welborogh.
The finish plants racers on the front porch of the Welborough hotel, where riders can ‘re-hydrate,’ hang out at the first camp and what the organisers are calling the social hub. The folks from Geocentric Outdoors tell us the camps will have a festival vibe, with local musicians, local craft beer, great food, talks by adventure riders and local historians, and even games of Mahjong and Fan Tan for those who can’t get enough competition.
Day two, aptly named ‘Bay of Fires’, sees riders cover 58km, riding both the Blue Tier and Bay of Fires trails. It a big day, with a few nasty climbs that will test every rider’s legs, but the reward is, of course, the iconic 14km Bay of Fires descent, with the stage finishing among the lichen-covered rocks on Swim Cart Beach.
Stage three, called ‘St Helens Dreaming’, follows the new Dreaming Pools Wilderness trail along a 45km circuit, taking riders through the Iron Bark forest above town before looping back to the start/finish at the Flagstaff trailhead.
With some of Australia’s best XC riders fresh off the National Championships at Maydena, the competition at the pointy end of the race will be fierce, but not to worry for those who are there for the experience, the courses will remain open throughout the day with aid station, mechanic and medical teams on hand to offer support.
The organisers want to ensure the ‘forgotten corner’ of Tasmania will live long in the memory of all the Dragon Trailers. For most, it will be all about enjoying the variety of the trails and landscapes and the company of their fellow riders.
You can follow the progress of the Dragon Trail MTB here, as every rider will carry a personal satellite tracker. We’ve also have photographer extraordinaire Kirstina Vackova (@kipphotomedia) on the ground to capture the action, watch out for updates across the Flow social media channels.