How good is it when grass roots passion gets recognised and is rewarded on the grand scale? New England Mountain Bikers, based in Armidale in the New England High Country in NSW, are simply a bunch of enthusiastic riders, who – when they’re not out pedalling local tracks – work collaboratively with council, government and land managers to develop new trails in the region. Their efforts helped see the region host the 2018 MTBA Cross-Country National Champs. And now, they’re hosting the WEMBO Asia/Pacific 24 Hour Solo MTB Championships in November 2019, followed by the WEMBO World 24 Hour Solo MTB Championships in November 2020.
Very helpful in all of that is the open-seven-days sporting complex at the University of New England and the mountain biking trails just out the back of it that have been put in over the last few years, New England Mountain Bikers President Peter Hosking says. There’s also a spate of other reasons the region is so suitable for events, as well as casual riding, Peter tells Outdoor.
“We’ve got undulating hills; you can’t get out for a ride around New England without getting hills,” he says. “Flat country can be a little plain, so that’s the key.
“It’s also been crucial that we provide locations close to town [Armidale]. Currently there’s about 10 kilometres of trails near the university, and there’ll be about 15 kilometres by the end of the year. That’s very central. It’s on the end of a bike path in the middle of town, so it’s really accessible.
“There’s also our climate in summer. We start thinking it’s hot around 32 degrees. It’s often around the 30 mark, so it’s just nice riding, whereas in a lot of WA, NT and SA, mountain biking is only really realistic in winter.
“The other key thing with our trails, we’ve got everything to ‘green’ trails. It’s like a ski field. We’ve got green trails going right through to black trails. Doing that gives people at every level a nice challenge.”
Talking to Peter, it’s clear this is a group of riders with a vision, who have – lucky them – found themselves with some mint riding terrain. The tracks are, of course, open to the public.