Despite being postponed from 2020 to 2021, the inaugural Dragon Trail MTB Stage Race went off with a bang in March 2021. The concept of three days of mountain biking linking popular trails is nothing new. But there was a lot that made the Dragon Trail event unique, right from the get go. Here at MarathonMTB.com we have often said that being a part of a first year event is special. And while that holds true for the Dragon Trail, there are still plenty of reasons that made this event a great experience, and reasons that should have you entering for the race on March 17-19 2022. Here’s why.
You connect some of Tasmania’s best riding
If you’re thinking about a trip to Tasmania to go mountain biking, chances are that Blue Derby, the Blue Tier, Bay of Fires Trail and St Helens are on your list. Well, you’re in luck. With a start in Branxholm, you’ll race to and through Blue Derby, then tackle the Blue Tier to the Bay of Fires Trail the next day, and ride St Helens on the last day. This is all some of the iconic mountain biking in the north-east of Tasmania.
Of course, you’d be mad not to tack on a couple of days ahead of the event, or afterwards, to ride the best bits again, or even ride some of the trails the event has to pass by.
You race point-to-point
This goes with the above, but incase it wasn’t obvious, you start and end in different locations every day. Logistical nightmare? Yes – for the race organisers. But for the rider, it means you are continually moving through the terrain. This is a marathon stage race, it is not the place to be doing circles.
While this might sound trivial, once you’re on the ground and moving, you realise how unique it is. Even when you have a low point in the race, it’s a reason to keep going. As what else are you going to do? Stopping part way through a point-to-point race does not guarantee a quick finish. The Dragon Trail is a journey. From Branxholm, through Derby, to Weldborough, over the Blue Tier and beyond to the coast. Get more course details on the event website.
The Dragon Trail is well organised
This goes with the above. Geocentric Outdoors bring global event expertise to the world of mountain bike racing. And while all of us at MarathonMTB.com love mountain bike events – professional logistics and organisation aren’t always involved in every event. Mountain biking attracts plenty of dreamers!
And while there would have been some good dreaming when coming up with this route, the execution is top notch. From the event camps, the mix of facilities on offer, the course selection, the rider handbooks, all the way down to the 10 second start gaps. Yes, due to the amount of singletrack, you start in 10 second gaps to prevent bottlenecks. And the Geocentric Outdoors crew made that work without a hitch.
They also have options for pick ups and drop offs from each end of the event, plus airport transfers and lots more. Any of the difficulties associated with a point-to-point races are all accommodated.
There’s lots of time to socialise
Thanks to the nature of the event, you’ll find plenty of time to catch up with friends old and new at the Dragon Trail MTB Stage Race. Most riders stay in the camp, but even if you don’t you’d be mad to miss the event social hub. This is the perfect time to grab dinner and a drink, find a chair, and spin a tall tale from the day’s escapades. Or, tune in to whoever is giving a talk that night. Whether it’s Huw Kingston’s tips on keeping flies away, or an elite athlete talking about training and racing, there will be something going on.
Not interested? There’s enough room in the event area to find space to catch up with old friends, reminisce, laugh until you cry, and go to bed happy and tired.
It’s a truly unique route
Tell me another event where you get to race up a sustained, technical climb on a mix of old singletrack and mining trails, before moving straight into a 12km purpose made mountain bike trail, descending from a sub-alpine plateau through a myriad of forest types.
The Dragon Trail stands out not just because you get to ride on some of the best mountain bike trails in the world – but also because you leave the groomed trails. Whether it’s flying along the Ringarooma river towards Weldborough, on a trail that has likely evolved under high revving 2-stroke, or the old trail up to the Blue Tier through myrtle forests, to time off the marked routes is a big part of what makes the event what it is.
Now, couple that with sublime singletrack in a setting not short of stunning scenery – and you get an ideal combination for racing and mountain bike fun.
Take the time to switch off at the Dragon Trail
Tasmania isn’t a backwater in technological terms, but with reception being patchy at Weldborough after the first stage, why not take the chance to keep your phone on silent, turn off notifications, and enjoy the world and the people around you?
With your guidebook for the event, an event centre where almost everything will be in ear shot, and your start number stuck to your handlebars, there’s no immediate need to be glancing at your phone every few minutes. So take the time to strike up a conversation, and lose yourself into the comforts of camp – especially when at Weldborough, possibly the best camp location. It’s a special corner of the world – you don’t want to miss it.
All the event services are there
At an event like the Dragon Trail, you can do less. Sure, you need to push the pedals. You need to steer, and you need to manage your pacing and nutrition (trust me on that one). But cleaning and maintaining your bike? No, you can get someone to do that. And that can include building your bike and boxing it back up if you’ve flown to Tasmania for the race.
On the course as well, you can send your own items to the feed zones, and there is fresh food at the finish. With camping, you don’t need to have done Scouts or Guides in your youth – you can just choose to hire some camping equipment. There are food trucks for meals, breakfast boxes, coffee carts – and even somewhere to charge your devices.
There are plenty more reasons to ride the Dragon Trail in 2022 – but the big one is if it sounds like the mountain bike experience you need. Tasmania is full of adventure options, and whether this is part of a big trip, or something you just fly in and out for, it’s well worth doing. For all event details, pricing and more, head to the Dragon Trail event site.