HITTING THE MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS AROUND ALICE SPRINGS
When you think of comfortable places to hit the trails, you don’t immediately think of Alice Springs. In the scorching centre of the country, at least a day’s drive from anywhere, Alice Springs is often overlooked as a mountain biking destination. But after a recent visit, I can tell you; it shouldn’t be.
I took the plunge and bought my flight to the Red Centre. I packed the bike up and away I went. I can tell you, Alice Springs is unforgiving. But that is the fun of it. It is terrain that is meant to test you and your bike, and there is immense enjoyment to be had pushing yourself to the limit.
IT IS NOT THE PLACE FOR QUESTIONABLE KIT
Before you start tearing up the rugged terrain around Alice Springs, it is important you make sure your gear is in peak condition. You will be climbing and descending constantly, hitting tight uncambered turns, surrounded by jagged rocks and loose terrain. You want everything to be in good nick and as up for the challenge as you are.
If you want to get your bike serviced, tell your local bike shop where you are going, they will likely give it more than just a once-over. Don’t take anything you think is on its last legs.
With so many short pinch climbs, a single chainring setup will do the job. You shouldn’t come across too many long, extended climbing segments. The ground is jagged, hard, loose and thorny. As a result, I would really recommend a tubeless setup. Without it, you may find yourself having too many punctures and ruining the whole experience.
I would also opt for a wax-based chain lubricant. You want something that isn’t going to pick up sand and dirt. For the best results re-apply it every evening.
The most popular trail around Alice Springs is the West MacDonnell Track. It is a 5km ride from Alice Springs to the start line. Then 15km one way, with an 8km route back to the town itself. It is well-signposted and clearly marked.
There are a whole host of shorter routes around Alice Springs, many of link up with each other and the MacDonnell track to create a whole system of singletrack trails and downhill sections. But it is worth noting there is no water out on the tracks, so you will have to transport it all with you.
For competitive riders, the Lasseters Easter in the Alice Ride is a gruelling three-day race. The riders complete between 15 to 25km per day.
WHEN TO GO
Alice Springs is best ridden in autumn or springtime. The climate for the Easter event in March every year is very temperate. I went last May, and it was still a lovely temperature, and we could ride all afternoon. In the summer, riding is really limited to sunrise and at after sunset.
Few places provide an authentic Australian mountain biking experience like Alice Springs. The red horizons and rugged terrain epitomise this country and in my opinion, carving it up on two wheels is the best way to see it.
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