Big peaks, deep valleys, long descents and panoramic vistas are inextricably part of what makes mountain biking great. Images and stories from high places draw us in, as bikes and riders are dwarfed by the scale of the landscape in which they play.

This Alpine guide celebrates big mountains, and Australia’s alpine areas are alive in summer with people who enjoy the outdoors by bike and by foot.

Big rides in these places leave us more vulnerable but also reward the planning and preparation. If you’re considering a trip to one of the great alpine bike parks, read on and enjoy our Alpine guide.

Words: Neil Martin    Photos: Matt Staggs, Andrew Railton and supplied


THREDBO
SEASON : 17 Nov 2018 - 28 Apr 2019

If you keep standing still, then you ultimately go backwards. Thredbo certainly understands that concept as they continue to develop their network to offer longer and more interesting trails to keep mountain bikers coming back every year.

It’s not that long ago that the Cannonball DH run was pretty much the be-all and end-all of the action in the shadow of Mt Kosciuszko. Of course it was an exhilarating roller-coaster of a ride, but (as they also say) variety is the spice of life.

The next progression was the emergence of the Flow Trail, offering a somewhat smoother and more gradual descent, but still plenty’o’fun.

And now, taking it up another level once more, the All-Mountain trail is fully open and fully linked up for the summer season – providing what is believed to be the longest purpose-built MTB descent anywhere in Australia.

The track extension, which properly joins the All-Mountain trail to the Thredbo Valley Trail that is now even more technical - resulting in a 35km long ride from the Eagles Nest Mountain hut, down into the village and through the valleys dropping around 900m vertically overall.

And there are plans for even more, with the ultimate goal being a sensational 60km trail from the very top of Thredbo down to the shoreline of Lake Jindabyne, which should be open in early 2019.

Of course, there’s still the classic 4.6km Cannonball run that drops 600m from the top of the Kosciuszko chairlift, featuring technical rock gardens and berms, optional huge jumps - and dare you attack the famous Milk Run Wall at the bottom?

As well as that, the Flow track’s popularity remains high, thanks to its seemingly never-ending rollers and smooth berms. With the chairlift running regularly every day from 9am-4pm, perhaps the biggest danger is burning out too quickly - especially given the fact that it’s perfectly possible to do 10 completely different adrenalin-inducing, thill-packed runs between breakfast and dinner (and still have time for a spot of lunch).

Thredbo also boasts numerous valley trails that are perfect for families, which means there really is something to keep everyone well satisfied.

And then there is the village itself, which has a distinctive European vibe and is increasingly buzzing throughout the summer months with shops and bars and restaurants. If you want to mix it up and have some time off the bike, there’s even the chance to do a bobsled run, or play some disc golf, or normal golf, or go horse-riding, or play tennis - so there’s absolutely no excuse if you claim to be bored on an extended visit.

Thredbo knows how to throw a party too, with the Cannonball Festival perhaps the best of the bunch featuring more than 600 competitors battling for a combined $70,000-worth of prizes in a range of events, attracting some of the best riders in the world - plus banging entertainment.

The Thredbo Super Enduro will take place in late February to test the true all-rounders by utilising all three gravity trails - or if you like some 12-bar melodies to go with your riding then head to the Blues Festival in mid-January.


 

Costs
1-day MTB lift pass:
$77 (adult), $55 (kids)

2 any-day MTB lift pass:
$150 (adult), $106 (kids)

4 any-day MTB lift pass:
$240 (adult), $171 (kids)

Events
5-9 December: Cannonball Mountain Bike Festival
23-24 February.  Thredbo Super Enduro
 

Bike rentals
All-mountain bike:
from $148 per day

Downhill bike:
from $148 per day

E-MTB usage Allowed on gravity runs (from top to bottom) and XC trail network, provided bike is pedal assist, weighs less than 30kg and with maximum 250 watt motor.

Clinics
Kids - $60
Beginner (Skills Park) - $60
Intermediate - $60
Advanced- $60
Downhill Dudes- $60
Gravity Girls- $60

Where to stay
The Thredbo Hotel is always a favourite, but for the budget conscious try the YHA – but it books up fast!