Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mountain Biking - North Queensland Style

Townsville, in sunny North Queensland needs no introduction here on my blog. I overnight there regularly with work and have blogged about it before.

This trip was to be a bit different though, with me having enough time on my layover to make it worthwhile taking one of my bikes and hitting up some of the mountain bike trails that criss-cross the hillsides.

Arriving late at night I quickly pulled lots of bicycle shaped bits out of my new Aerus bike bag.

This bag is a real winner. While it is a soft case, it comes with soo much padding that there was never a worry about my bike being damaged. Also, it doesn't look like a bike bag so there is a chance to dodge airline excess fees, particularly when travelling in the US.

I was up early the next morning to maximise my time before work and to beat the heat as it is still warm in the tropics at this time of year.

I was going to ride out to Douglas MTB Park today. I have looked at the trails winding across the hillsides for a few years now as we fly past and thought they looked pretty interesting. Douglas is spread across the three peaks at the right hand end of the closer range in the photo below.

 My starting point was outside the North Queensland Cowboys NRL club. I was surprised at how many cyclists were zipping by as I warmed up the GPS.

I spied a few roadies ahead as I passed under this giant fig and decided to try to catch them. A great way to "warm up"?

I rolled past the turn in to the pits for the Townsville 400 V8 Supercar race. Like Adelaide, they have a permanent section of track that takes the cars past the pit area then back out onto the city streets.

A few short kilometres (metric miles) later (14km to be exact) I was standing at the entrance to Douglas MTB Park.

I was soon climbing up and over the first hill. It was still quite humid and I was drenched but having fun.

It was obvious how much effort had gone into building these trails. After the experience of the last few years building trails with LCTA at home, you realise these things don't just build themselves. Here, the Rockwheelers MTB Club have had some help in the form of sponsorship from the excellent New Zealand MTB apparel company, Ground Effect.

The trails were quite rocky, which was to be expected given that Castle Hill is basically a granite boulder, Mt Stuart was always likely to be the same(note, I have no geological knowledge). I dropped a few psi from my front tyre to stop the "skatiness" then pressed on.

I was winding my way up to a high point so that I could get my bearings. I must say, the trail signage was pretty good and I did have a fair idea of where I was.

Arriving at the Top Summit I stopped for a bite to eat and a selfie to send to some mates who were at work back home.

Yep, it sux to be me...!

While standing around taking in the view a local rode up and we got chatting. I was trying to figure out if I was at the top of the climb or if the next hill across was the top. After looking at my map he said "we are here", which was waay back down the hill and an intersection that I knew I had ridden through. I decided to stick to my own navigation skills as they had got me this far through without incident.

Pointing the bike downhill I took in some fun trails. There was a split point where the trail took 3 different lines so I decided to ride one, then climb the hill again to ride the next. I had some interesting moments here as the trails were black diamond. I went to roll what looked like a rollover on Rock and Roll trail, only to see that it was a jump at the last second and just managed to land it, but it wasn't pretty! There was an awesome rock garden that went steeply downhill and around a bend. Now technically, I was on work time, so I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and took the B line. Photos never show the steepness of a hill.

After having my fill of single track it was time to roll back to the hotel. I took a different route home this time and enjoyed a very pleasant ride along the Ross river. This was looking back to Mt Stuart with Douglas MTB Park located on the right hand end..

There are some nice old North Queenslander style houses along the river.

I wound my way back along bike path and was soon wolfing down breakfast at a little cafe' just outside my hotel. I still had a healthy 4 hours before I needed to be at work so with no pressure to be ready in a hurry I chilled and took in the scenery.

I rode 46km(29mi) and had a great time. While I normally run up and over Castle Hill, having my bike allowed me to see more of Townsville than I had in the previous 12 years!

I would be back again tonight with an even later start to work tomorrow. This meant more time for exploration and a trail with the name "Under The Radar" in a military town needs some exploration. Right?

Cheers. And......

Stay tuned for part II.


  1. Looks like you had a fun ride. It sure is beautiful country up there, nice and green.

  2. What a gorgeous day for riding. The views from up there are beautiful.

    We were just thinking and looking at buying mountain bikes, this doesn't help not spend the money, lol.

    And as far as that rock trail, a part of me feels I'd be walking down that sucker.

    Thanks for sharing.


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