When Paige and I first arrived in Tassie and established ourselves in the biking community we uncovered a mountain biking racing network. Australian’s love adventure sports so it would be natural that they would have a huge mountain bike race circuit. But this was not your usual XC or DH mountain bike race, these are multi-day, pair, long K’s adventure races in the bush. This seemed to be a big part of the culture for Australians and in particular in Tassie so we decided we should do one together. There are a few to choose from so we had to pick carefully so we did not go in over our heads as far as training and ability. We decided on the Hellfire Cup which was new this year but unfortunately was postponed due to the bush fires here in Tassie. The other option was the Blue Dragon, which we heard a lot of great things about. What is it with the gnarly names though? Should we be scared?
The Blue Dragon is a two day mountain bike race in the North East of the state that is pairs only. The first day is a 52 km route with a lot of climbing to complete before we would drink our first beer. Day two was just as much climbing over 42 km and thus was described as “easier.” I think I have stated this before but Tasmanian’s are pretty competitive, in a healthy way, so for the race I would have to tame my urge to “race” and have a fun adventure ride with my partner Paige. We have both been riding quite a bit on group rides and solo missions but partner racing is a different game. So Paige and I adopted the common partner racing communication number system: 1 – I am going slow, we can speed up, 2 – just right keep it at that pace, or 3 – you are going way too f-ing fast. Slow the f down.
We left Friday night after work to get to the campsite where the race would start. The drive was long and we went the “scenic” route which took us on some forestry roads with wallabies darting in front the whole way like a video game. We might have squashed one… We finally arrived at the campsite around 11:30 at night and instead of dealing with the tent we decided to sleep in the Cruiser. Luckily the Cruiser proved to be a good decision because it was really windy and most people we talked to did not sleep very much due to the wind. The race started at 10 am on Saturday but by 8:30 people were in their race gear and riding around getting ready for the race. We put our new BikeRide kits on and headed to the start.
Around 300 people had come to this little tiny town of Derby (population of about 30) to compete. We got going with the first long climb and were both loving the vibe; everyone was friendly and in good spirits (remember we are in the back of the pack). Once the trail starts to get into the single track there was enough of a gap between groups of people so we could do some shark attacks and heat up the pace. Though everyone warned us about the first 20 km climb, it really wasn’t that bad thanks to our Wellington training. When we got to the top the wind was so strong we had to fight it to not get blown over. There was a really steep technical part in the wind that I started going down and I told Paige just to walk it if she wasn’t comfortable. I got to the bottom and start to turn around to look back to see where Paige would be and she was right there! My little trooper just went down a very technical decent that most of the guys were walking. The decent took us down some forest single track section that was fun and fast. We loop around a river and another big climb passing rivers, forests and rocky sections to complete the total of 52 km for Day One. Phew, time for beer. Everybody gets back to the campsite and has a beer or two and washes off the blood from their knees or elbows. Paige and I were drama free, just like our team name: “No Dramas”.
Day two started off a bit on the weird side. The start was a very technical climb with not much room for passing and most people could not manage to get up it. Paige and I started in the back again just so we can shark attack but this was a bad decision. For the whole climb we had to start and stop as people got on their bike just to find out they did not have the legs and eventually fall over blocking the trail. To add to the technical part of the climb people were not letting us pass and just seemed a bit edgy. Once we got to the top of this section Paige started to take off on the decent but I told her let’s wait and gather our composure (well mine– I was annoyed and needed to calm down). We then start on this amazing decent that was very fast and had large sweeping corners. We eventually finished that section and headed into the rain forest. Yes I said it, rain forest. This area of Tassie has a few different micro climates and the trails were a true test of that. The rain forest was awesome, huge man size ferns that covered the trail as we snaked around trees and passed mushy creeks. That was my favorite section of the trail. To finish off day two we went through Paige’s favorite section which hugs the river and is fast and a bit sandy. We turned on the burners to finish hard– beating an older couple to the finish line. We rode a total of 94 kilometers and probably over 6000 ft of climbing. I had a great partner that stuck to team No Dramas’ three rules: 1 – stay together, 2- be aware, and 3 – have fun!