not long ago derby was almost dead, at least as dead as a town can be. in 1874 tin was discovered in the hills around town and consequently mined until 1929, when after strong rainfalls a dam burst and flooded the mine. 14 people died and the mine never reopened. before the accident 3000 people lived and worked here, seventy years later less than 200 remained.
then a few mad mountain bikers convinced the local council, the state and the federal government to invest $3 million in a mountain bike trail network and everyone held their breath for a moment. the trails opened in 2015 and when the enduro world series (ews for short) first raced here in 2017 people really started paying attention.
today derby hosts 30,000 mountain bike mad visitors who leave a combined $30 million in the town and there is hardly a house left that is not in some what connected to riding the trails.
how could nat and i resist? we really couldn’t, we had to go and see this for ourselves. world trail, the now legendary crew who built the trails in derby (and who also work on the st helens trails) know how to build flow! in a new place nat and i like to start with something of a lighter colour, maybe not a green but say a nice blue.
something like flickity sticks to relics (past some old mining equipment) to deadly bugga and then through the derby tunnel, which is a very special experience.
that proved fun enough so we decided to dial it up a notch. return to sender was still blue but maybe a slightly darker shade. and since we were on that side of town we then dropped into air ya garn, a fantastically fast and rolling jump line with some exquisitely shaped berms that just want to be railed as fast as possible.
of course while we were there we also wanted to understand what ews racers really need to contend against. return to sender was an ews stage and so was part of air ya garn.
however, there is one that stands out quite visibly more than anything else: trouty. that’s a pretty black trail, at least the last few meters are, but natalie wasn’t really phased by that, she was more upset by the long climb up to krushka’s (named after the brothers who first found tin here) to big mamma, a huge swamp gum.
don’t get me wrong, she can climb like a mountain goat but at the same time she still has enough energy to complain all the way. funny. in the end she had to agree that the long climb was definitely worth it and trouty was good fun. so was black stump into shearpin into 23 stitches but my favourite was another ews classic: kumma gutza. the lower sections are fun and flowy but the upper part had some seriously big and steep rollers. scary.
we left a few trail to explore for next time. we are so looking forward to detonate. next time.