Western Australia has all the ingredients to become one of the world's best mountain bike locations - there are many good tracks awaiting cyclists.
Tackle a challenge on a mountain bike and you feel like you can take on the world, says WestCycle mountain bike manager Peta Demidenko.
From young kids, barely old enough to walk to groups of retirees, Peta says mountain biking is an all-inclusive activity that’s gaining serious momentum in WA.
“Mountain biking is not just for the advanced/enthusiast rider. When you head out to the trails, you will find young kids on balance bikes barely old enough to walk, young families experiencing the trails, groups of men and women (young and old) all enjoying what mountain biking has to offer,” she says.
“Just like skiing, mountain biking offers experiences across all abilities. While every mountain biker’s journey is different from the trail head, everyone shares a common path.”
The statistics reflect the popularity of the pursuit.
According to the Mountain Bike Strategy for 2015-20, 19 per cent of West Australians own a mountain bike. Almost 120,000 mountain bikes are purchased every year in WA.
It’s also not just locals getting in on the act. It’s estimated half a million tourists visit Australia each year for mountain biking.
“WA is well positioned to capitalise on mountain biking tourism due to its diverse environment, outstanding scenery and its range of complimentary existing nature-based and outdoor activities,” Ms Demidenko says.
Ms Demidenko says the key to a good day mountain biking is to ride a trail appropriate to your experience.
Green trails are suitable for beginners and less experienced riders. WestCycle mountain bike co-ordinator Shelby Corbett recommends Flaccid Ashback, on the Kalamunda Circuit, with its many smooth and flowing berms.
Blue trails are suitable for intermediate riders where some obstacles and technical features will be encountered. Check out the Grizzly Trail at Pile Road, Mt Lennard, Wellington National Park.
Black diamond or double black diamond are best reserved for very experienced riders with steep gradients, large unavoidable obstacles and technical trail features.
Ms Corbett says the newest black trail, Golden Carrot in The Pines, Bramley National Park, Margaret River, is a winner.
Preparation is key to safety when mountain biking, so never ride alone, ride within your limits and pack supplies including food, water, mobile phone, spares and equipment.
Picture at top: Cyclists explore lushly forested track at Wharncliffe near Margaret River. Picture supplied
Have a go
It’s pretty simple to have a go mountain biking — even without a bike.
Rock n Roll Mountain Biking sits at the trail head in the Kalamunda Hills (rockandrollmountainbiking.com.au) and offers tours, rides, clinics and bike hire.
The Margaret River region is also a great place to cut your teeth, with a range of bike hires, organised tours and lessons on offer (margaretriver.com/nature-adventure/mountain-biking).
In Dwellingup, mountain bikes can be hired from town (dwellingupadventures.com.au).
Looking beyond the day-trip, mountain bikers are increasingly looking for a multi- day adventure.
Similar to backpacking, bike- packing involves strapping gear to your bike via handlebar, frame and saddlebags.
Fat bikes are also all the rage with their oversized tyres that eagerly eat up sand, loose rock, and any surface that typical mountain bikes don’t have the appetite for.
Whether it’s cheating or not, electric and power-assisted bikes are one of the fastest- growing segments of the bicycle industry.
For the fearless and fit, enduro events are also gaining momentum. These events involve timed descents and untimed hill climbs over stages. The winner is crowned by the fastest combined time.
Pump tracks are also becoming popular. These are a continuous loop of berms and rollers (smooth dirt mounds) that you ride without pedalling.
The name pump track comes from the pumping motion used by the rider’s body as they ride around the track. Some local governments are investing in pump tracks to give local families easy access.
“WA has all the vital ingredients to become world famous for mountain biking — we just need to further develop the infrastructure,” Ms Demidenko says.
Work has and is being done.
Nine hubs have been identified across the State. She says $30 million-plus is required to make WA a go-to mountain- bike destination globally.
In November, a new 9km network of trails was opened at Bramley National Park in Margaret River.
The $270,000 trail was the first purpose-built trail network under the South West Mountain Bike Master Plan. Collie and Pemberton will also benefit from the masterplan.
Major events such as the Cape to Cape MTB attract the more experienced among us and raise the profile of the sport.
Numbers are up 1500 per cent since the first event in 2008.
Westcycle's favourites - region by region
Perth: With more than 40km of fully signed single track, the
Kalamunda Trails area is the most popular mountain-bike destination in WA for
beginner to advanced riders.
Peel: Explore in and around Dwellingup with the added bonus of being just a 90 minute drive from Perth. The Munda Biddi Trail, Marrinup and Turners Hill Circuit are great trails to try.
South West: Set in the forest amid gigantic trees and spectacular scenery, the mountain bike trails are a mix of gravel roads and single track, suitable for beginner to advanced riders. There are great mountain bike trails in Busselton, Margaret River, Dunsborough and Ferguson Valley. A new 10km network just opened up at Compartment 10, Bramley National Park, Margaret River.
Great Southern: This region offers a superb mix of trails suitable for all types of riders. In Albany, the 700m Clarence Hill downhill mountain-bike trail is an exhilarating ride with some of the best views of King George Sound.
Mid West: Chapman River Regional Park is close to greater Geraldton and can be experienced via an 11km loop of various hard packed, single track, sandy and rocky trails.
Gascoyne: Enjoy the trails within Cape Range National Park near Exmouth. Set among the unique landscape is a mixture of long flowing trails and tight technical descents.
Pilbara: It’s not just about red earth and mining in our north — Karratha includes about 22km of single track, with a skills loop and kids’ loop, which are easily accessible from the town.
Kimberley: A great selection of mountain biking and cycling attractions and activities.
Trails WA's top 10
Munda Biddi Trail
As the premier off-road cycling trail in the State, the Munda Biddi offers day-trips, multi-day adventures or, for the keen, its full 1070km length from Mundaring to Albany. It’s well signposted, has plenty of vehicle access points, and has cycle-friendly camp sites along the way.
Scorpion Trail, Kalamunda Trail Network
Wooden berms and roller-coaster corners make this 1.94km trail a favourite among the 30 trails totalling 44km that make up the Kalamunda Trails. For the beginner there is the Shake, Rattle n Roll Loop or the Flaccid Ashback Trail, while pros can challenge the drop-offs of Loco en el Coco or the jumps of Luvin’ Shovels.
Big Pine, Margaret River
Featuring in the Cape to Cape mountain-bike event, Big Pine has recently been rejuvenated with freshly shaped jumps, some reworked turns and new stone-bedded river crossings. It’s of moderate difficulty and 800m long.
Langford Park, Jarrahdale
Great for beginners, the 12km purpose-built circuit has options for first-timers or the more advanced. Langford Park has toilets, picnic tables and barbecues so it makes for a great family day out.
Grizzly Trail, Wellington National Park
A technical 6km ride near Collie within the Mt Lennard Mountain Bike Trails network, this narrow track winds its way under jarrah forest with plenty of obstacles, jumps and berms. Take the Mt Lennard trail head for a 4 per cent grade descent, or Pile Road trail head for a moderate hill climb.
Marrinup Trail, Dwellingup
A great option for kids, this trail with its gentle hills can be ridden at its full length or halved by using the short-course return route. Under the cover of jarrah and marri forests, with a small detour you can also visit a former prisoner-of-war camp where you can still see the footings of the buildings.
Turner Hill, Murray
A 90 minute drive from Perth, Turner Hill has some speedy downhill rides and plenty of obstacles. It can be taken as an 11km challenging single track, a 5km short route or a 1.1km loop for the kids.
Ray’s Trail, Collie
Offering plenty of twists and turns with some fast downhill berms and finishing with some large log rides, this 8km trail will test your endurance and get the heart racing.
Relentless Blue, Pemberton Mountain Bike Park
This 4.5km technical trail set among giant karris starts with a relentless hill climb with switchbacks, rock gardens and log roll overs before rewarding riders with a thrilling descent.
Forsyths Mill, Sawyers Valley
If you have a group with mixed ability, this Perth Hills 6km trail is perfect. Advanced bikers can ride hard and fast to make the most of tight turns and jumps. Beginners will love that there are no steep climbs or descents.
For more, see Trails WA
You may also like
TRAVEL GUIDE Pilbara Rocks!: Rocking around ancient region
In the Pilbara, Stephen Scourfield finds one of Earth's most ancient blocks of continental crust...
TRAVEL GUIDE Pilbara Rocks!: Local artists create their perspective
A rich, vibrant artistic heart beats in many regional hubs, says Stephen Scourfield...
TRAVEL GUIDE Pilbara Rocks!: Top time to take in northern sights
The Pilbara's best from now (May) until October, says Stephen Scourfield. Expect predictably mild and usually sunny days and cool nights. On some occasions in some spots, it may even touch freezing point.