Famous for its koalas, kangaroos, eucalyptus forests, Vegemite, Hugh Jackman, and a million things that want to kill you, there’s still one thing not so well known about the Land Down Under. Australia is also home to some of the best mountain bike trail builders in the world, including Rhys Atkinson and Ryan De La Rue.
Ever broken in a wild horse? You can get a taste of what it’s like when you ride down one of Rhys’ trails. You know what’s coming, and you’re ready for it, but the stoke meter still goes into the red zone every single time. Rhys’ trails beg you to be on the limit and rewards you with fast inside lines and sneaky bonus lines and jumps. Rhys builds his own brand of dirt-adrenaline.
And dropping into one of Ryan’s singletracks? Equally thrilling, but unique. It’s like letting the current of a river take you on the ride of your life. Perfect. Flow. Ryan pieces trails together at the level of infinitesimal calculus; somehow always divining the optimal distance between a sequence of jumps, or a painstakingly perfect angle and height for a berm. The trail Detonate, which Ryan and his crew built in Derby Tasmania, is testament to this. Detonate is an absolute masterpiece and, in point of fact, won the first-ever EWS Trail of the Year in 2017.
We owe a lot to trail builders like Rhys and Ryan. It’s certainly not always apples (that’s Aussie slang for “fine”) in the woods, but whenever a fellow crew member gets discouraged, Rhys provides some perspective with wisdom learnt from years in the trenches.
“Just look where we are mate,” Rhys is fond of saying. “We’re building mountain bike trails on the side of a hill. And this arvo (afternoon), we’re gonna go ride them.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
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This article originally appeared on Bikemag.com and was republished with permission.
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