Wednesday, June 6, 2018


While Derby has been the town on everyone's lips for a few years, there's a nearby town which is often overlooked. Weldborough sits at the bottom of the famous Blue Tier trail but is used mainly as a stop off by mountain bikers before the next shuttle up to the Atlas trail and back to Derby.

In true form we left about an hour after we'd planned and then stopped at various towns on the way for provisions, coffee and again for provisions when I'd forgotten what I was supposed to get the first time. Arriving in the afternoon we set off with lights knowing the short winter day would be serving up sunset early. After warming up on Little Chook we started the hour long climb up the Old Blue Tier trail. This was the original descent but it makes a fantastic climbing trail with some technical rock sections. Picking a line to avoid putting a foot down is a fine way to pass the climb and the gradient is friendly enough to keep the effort under control. We reached the summit just in time to snap a scarlet setting sun and headed to the new Blue Tier descent.

This was worth the climb. As was the descent. It was all good. Do it.

According to Garmin it was 5 degrees but I'd pulled my arm warmers down to my wrists and was sweating up a storm in my jersey and undershirt. I guess I must be acclimatised now. I hadn't charged my lights since our last bike packing adventure so thought about turning them up bright and belting down as quickly as possible hoping they lasted. But I opted for running them low and hoping not to run into anything. It was such a still night and it was nice to flow down the trail, having the front wheel sent pinging in all directions by an unseen wet tree root or slippery rock. The advantage to not seeing was that I was very loose and ready to respond so avoided any crashes.   The closest we came to injury was when a possum fell out of a tree onto us, panicked, ran up another tree and promptly fell out again the scurried into the bushes. I guess he failed possum school and we almost strained something laughing.

We were lucky enough to be accommodated at A Place to Stay, which is one of the few house in the area, just a few hundred metres past the Weldborough pub. Now it's not that I don't absolutely adore camping in a Tasmanian winter, but occasionally it's nice to have luxuries like hot running water, a coffee machine, heat pump, full kitchen and a doona so light and fluffy it was like being covered by a toasty, warm cloud. Reclining in front of the fire, with a red wine and a double episode of Shetland on Netflix, we were lucky to even make it to bed before the coma set in.

A fire and a nanna-blanket are better than Stillnox

Waking to a frosty morning we went exploring another lesser known trail. So lesser know that its name might be the OC or RC trail depending on which map you consult. We rode out from the cabin and headed up Emu Road as per the previous night. However we turned left at Frome road until we spotted pink tape and a rough mountain bike trail on our left. The RC track is what we'd call 'old school' mountain biking. Not groomed, covered in derailleur ripping detritus with a few fallen trees and requiring some thoughtful line choice. In other words - awesome. It had clearly been used as part of the Mountain Bike Australia National MTB Marathon Champs as there was still plenty of course tape marking the way. This was both disappointing and helpful when the trail became unclear. We missed the map turn but came across an abandoned race arrow which directed us back onto Frome Road after a short hike a bike. The climb out is on well graded road and isn't especially steep. There's a surprising amount of climbing on Emu Road I don't remember experiencing as a descent on the way in. We decided on a daylight lap of Big Chook but I think I rode it better when I couldn't see the rocks and trees.

A ute, some MTBs and a cabin by the trails. What more is there in life?

 Ducking back to the cabin for some lunch and more brews we considered the idea of doing the Atlas - Dambusters loop but I didn't think I'd have enough light battery for another night finish. Next time. Instead we drove into Derby for a quick loop of Axehead, Long Shadows, Black Stump (love this track), Howler and Berms and Ferns. The downside to having the place to ourselves on a weekday is that absolutely nothing is open in Weldborough or Derby. I keep trying to give my money to businesses in this area and yet I keep failing due to their odd business hours. We were too hungry to wait for official dinner time at the Imperial so ended up raiding the Branxholm IGA. I sat in the lovely cabin that night puzzling over the fact that I wasn't camping and yet was still eating tinned soup for dinner.
Another sunset. Proof we stayed up past 5pm.
After a few hours riding each day it was pleasant to not be absolutely buckled after one of our 'weekends' away. We do have a 48 hour race this weekend though so rest assured we haven't gone completely soft. It was great to stay somewhere a bit off the well beaten path and explore some trails we'd normally bypass. I've been quite spoiled by A Place To Stay but will be sleeping in dirt in an adventure race soon just to maintain the balance. If you absolutely must stay in Derby APTS has another cabin there. Check out the Weldborough booking here. All the trails can be found on Trailforks and the cabin also has some trail maps to help you plan your adventures.

These partners make my adventures possible:

Ride Mechanic
Infinit Nutrition
Absolute Black
NS Dynamics
Flight Centre Sports & Events
Wild Earth Australia
CEP Australia