If the stunning scenery and endless recreational activities weren't enough to get you to Bright, perhaps the mountain bike trails might be just the inspiration you need. Having ridden around the surrounding mountains on the road bike, I’d always wondered whether the off-road trails could possibly live up to the region’s tarmac orientated options.
Every year thousands of cyclists flock to Bright for any one or several of its many cycling events. However for 2015, Bright and in particular the Mystic Mountain Bike Park, put themselves right in the mountain biking limelight by hosting the National Championships. The weekend saw some fantastic racing across all disciplines, but more importantly showcased the high caliber of the trails on offer. You don’t get handed National Championships without good reason and after our recent trip to Mystic this has been emphatically confirmed.
One of the most recognizable features of the Mystic Mountain Bike Park is the vast pine plantation that houses many of the areas handcrafted trails. The plantation itself is unique in the way they are working with the local community to create multiple uses for the logging areas. Through the Alpine Community Plantation project, land managers and the local residents are working together to solidify relationships that will bring more and more trails to the region over coming years. The bulk of the trails within the park have been created using only manpower and the imagination. When you see the terrain that these trails traverse, it’s astounding to think they were all created without machine assistance.
There are two distinct areas within the park for riding.
The lower region is home to various trails that would suit almost anyone, whether it is young children or first timers. The upper slopes would be the playground of your more experienced riders and provide a noticeable increase in difficulty. We had plenty of time getting familiar with both and came away suitably impressed at either end. Moving through the park, you’ll notice some very obvious changes in the terrain under your tires. Along the river and through the surrounding lowlands you’ll experience sandy trails with lots of smooth river rocks and boulders scattered everywhere. Once you start to gain some elevation and move onto the newest trails of the park, you’ll still find plenty of rocks, but now they are held together by red clay. As you head further up the hill you will notice the terrain getting steeper with every passing meter and the surface underneath shifts to loose soil and of course, plenty more rocks. If you need any further convincing of this, hunt down some footage from the downhill racing at the recent National Champs to see what I mean.
With many of my local trails being on hills rather than actual mountains, I found Mystic to be a very refreshing and challenging place to ride. I loved being tested by natural terrain and not my current fitness level. On more than one occasion I found myself in rather precarious situations but it only enhanced my appreciation of the tight and technical nature of the trails. You won’t find any meter-wide flow trails and you won’t dodge any natural banks or gullies along the way. These trails have been created to use the landscape that’s presented and they do so in such a fun and well thought out manner.
Along with the hosting of the National Championships, there has been plenty of time and energy injected into this venue. Signposting has been erected at many of the trailheads and we have inside knowledge of a great trail map that’s very, very close to being available. Once this map goes live, you should have no problems finding your way around the park and riding trails to suit your ability. We also learned there is a new master plan being developed with the help of some of Australia’s top trail builders, Dirt Art. If this place wasn't already being compared to the best this country has to offer, we can assure you it will be in the near future.
There’s no arguing with the diversity of the trails Mystic has on offer, from the tame riverside region all the way up to the world renowned Mystic DH. A track that is often rated the premier downhill track in Australia, and ranks highly on a world scale. Having had my first taste of the quality trails around Mystic, I’m already planning my next trip to the alpine region for another serving of fine single track. Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later!