After a long wait, the Quad Crown MTB series is finally kicking off with The Wild Penguin. Set to run April 28-30, the race will take riders to an area of Tassie that is often overlooked by riders coming off the ferry who are laser-focused on heading east to Derby and St Helens or south to Maydena.
Hitting Wild Mersey, Penguin and Dial Ranges, the course details are yet to be officially released, but we caught up with Liam McGuire, who meticulously designed each stage to get a sneak peek of what folks can expect at the Quaddy kick-off event.
For more on how the series will run, the handicapping system, and the other stops, click here to read our full explainer.
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The Wild Penguin Prelude | Warrawee Forest | 9.8km
Kicking off with a short and sharp loop of Warrawee Forest, the northernmost section of the Wild Mersey trail network, the 9.8km prelude will take a route that’s extremely popular with the locals.
Starting at the trailhead, the course will roll down Shale Road along the Mersey River to the far end of the network.
“After like a kilometre, there’s a section where three descending trails and a climbing trail meet. We’ll go up the climbing trail (Session Sauce) toward the trailhead, then turn right for a loop up around the top trails,” says McGuire.
After taking in the top of the network, it’s back to that same cluster of trails and down the blue High Voltage descent.
“It’s berms and jumps the whole way down — it’s an excellent flow trail,” he says.
The prelude will determine a rider’s seeding for stage one the following day, so that final kilometre TT back up the fire road to the finish could be a place to make up a bit of time and play a crucial role in where a rider starts.
The Wild Penguin Stage One | Dial Range | 36km, 1,100m vertical
About 20 min west of Devonport, stage one kicks off at the home of The Big Penguin — Penguin.
The Start/Finish area is set for Mount Gnomon Farm, a paddock-to-plate agri-tourism spot known for its French-style cuisine and cider made onsite.
Starting on the western side of Dial Ranges mountain bike park, the course works its way into the bush and onto Dial Road.
“This takes you along the cliff face, and you look at the escarpment. When I was trying to find a way to link it all together, you look, and it’s like, ‘crikey, how are we going to get up there,’” says McGuire.
Fortunately, Marcelo Cardona, from Next Level MTB — the outfit who built stage one of the Wild Mersey trails, Silver City, and is currently working in Mogo — lives here and has a suite of private trails built on his property.
“There’s a descending trail — a flow trail — and an up track that we’re using to get up the escarpment, which brings us to the Montgomery Loop and heading up the Iron Tor line.
This Iron Tor descent just keeps going in a straight line, and you just keep going down, and down, and down
Together the Montgomery Loop and Iron Tor climb and descent make for a roughly ~12km loop, but McGuire thinks the final descent of this loop will be the highlight of the day.
“The climb up (Iron Tor) feels like a wilderness climb. There’s views off to the left, it’s a narrow trail, and it’s got switchbacks in it, but it’s really pretty,” he says.
“Most descents, you’ll have a few hundred metres of doubles and berms or jumps or whatever, and then a big catch berm, and you’ll come back across the ridge line as you’re heading down. This Iron Tor descent just keeps going in a straight line, and you just keep going down, and down, and down,” says McGuire.
Still travelling Mach-5 riders will be deposited back into the Penguin Mountain Bike park for a loop, before backtracking to Mount Gnomon Farm.
“We’ll go back into the property and descend Marcelo’s flow trail onto Dial Road, and climb back up to the final 2km descent into the Farm,” he says.
McGuire thinks the final climb up Dial Road before the last 2km descent will be decisive for riders at the pointy end of the race.
“When I was down there, it was pretty rutted, and I was thinking, ‘brilliant, there’s going to be a nice challenging climb at the end.’ Apparently, the council has since done some road work and fixed it up. But the steepness of it, and it’s wide enough for attacks to happen,” says McGuire. That’s where the stage will be won or lost.”
The Wild Penguin Stage Two | Railton/Sheffield | 36km, 750m vertical
The Wild Penguin finale heads to the middle of the Wild Mersey trail network, kicking off in Railton. The start is still being confirmed, as the local council has proposed a loop around town, which means road closures, to kick off the stage. The feasibility of this is still being confirmed. However, the course won’t change the route once riders enter the trails.
Starting from the trailhead in Railton, it’s straight onto the Teleport climbing trail, and then onto Newbed Road into the Sheffield side of the network. Here you’ll do a clockwise loop, taking in basically everything available without riding the same trail twice.
All the trails south of Railton are relatively new, and McGuire thinks folks will be pleasantly surprised at how much fun they are, based on his own experience when scouting out the route.
“It surprised me the amount of quality descents that are involved,” he says. “All the climbs are machine built and technical in spots, but easy in others, and it’s a really challenging day out. But the way it links up together, it’s awesome.
According to McGuire, the section of Stage Two that will stick in folks’ memories will be the Gnarvana descent.
“It’s a big wide trail with some big jumps, it’s a bit loose, but it’s just awesome,” he says. “(From here), there’s still a bit of single trail before you get back to Railton and there’s probably six great descents through the day, but that one will live in the memory.”
For the fast folks, Mgquire thinks the crux of the day will come shortly after the Gnarvana descent when the course backtracks Caroline Quarry Road and Newnes Road towards Railton.
“Going along that road, whoever gets into the singletrack section (Green Hornet descent) will be the winner, because it’s a downhill straight into the finish,” he says.
To cap off the weekend, the Quad Crown will head to Seven Sheds Brewery for presentations — conveniently located about a block from the trailhead along the Railton Town Link.
How do you enter?
Registration is open now for The Wild Penguin, with options for the whole weekend or just to ride the Saturday or Sunday. Head over to the Quad Crown website for more details.