if you think derby is a bit out of the way wait until you are trying to get to maydena. once you leave hobart you don’t actually have to drive very far before the landscape looks more and more sparsely populated; that’s how you know you are going the right way.
when you start wondering if anyone actually lives there at all (what a strange place to build a road) continue until you get the distinct feeling that probably not even tassie devils and wombats inhabit the place. from there it’s just a bit further and then suddenly around a bend and over a hill maydena comes into view.
almost every second house has a ‘mountain bikers’ accommodation’ sign on it and a fireplace which is definitely not for show. looking for the trail head we walked past the biggest building in town, which had this ominously official and slightly punitive look to it. the bikers’ lodge next to it was called ‘schoolmaster’s dig’, a bit of a clue.
the school closed down a few years ago, they ran out of pupils. like the rest of town mountain bikers have taken over that building as well and converted it into the booking office / bike shop / restaurant / place to collapse after a few runs. apparently the bike park owes it’s existence to a failed experiment by the forestry to build a cool restaurant on top of a mountain.
remember what i said about maydena being remote? a mountain top above maydena predictably didn’t attract an awful lot of visitors and the whole thing stood empty until a man with a plan offered to take all of this off their hands if he would be allowed to build a few trails. it was all downhill from there. which is a good thing.
we had checked the weather before we booked; from st helens it’s a bit out of the way (hobart is pretty close though and it looks like most riders are coming in from there) and it’s not exactly a super cheap trip. the low clouds did not look friendly but they had a night to clear out, right?
well they didn’t but it wasn’t exactly pouring either. more the sort of unfriendly drizzle (mixed in with snow at the top) that’s not a good enough excuse to stay indoors but just bad enough to really spoil the ride. i usually feel that i can cope with moisture from below but really don’t like the kind that falls on my head. maydena made me change my views: the moisture from below can be quite as bad, especially when mixed with the maydena clay that sticks to the outside like … clay.
nat and i still enjoyed the ride. maydena is steeper, not necessarily in the scary ‘oh my god my front wheel just disappeared’ way, more as in a relentless downwards trajectory without too many parts where one can rest a bit. the corners require a slightly different technique and there are fun parts with amazing flow.
nat met a couple of local boys and they chased each other down the mountain. mountain bikers are an amazingly friendly and inclusive bunch, which is one reason why nat and i are never worried about riding in a new place. it generally takes about one run to find a few friendly faces and get some local knowledge and help.
the was one standout feature for us, though: the bike wash. i am unsure what we would have done without it. all in all it feels like we spent more time cleaning our bikes, gear and ourselves than we spent riding. sounds crazy? we’d agree.
is it worth the trip? definitely! i mean what rad mountain biking destination would not be worth it? will we come back?
sure … but we will want to have better weather.
btw the picture above was taken after the first run … we got properly coated after that.