A visit to Blue Derby in Tasmania is a must - and here's how to do it right.
There is a reason that Kumma Gutza has earned the 2019 EWS Trail of the Year award; it is strewn with colossal granite slabs and boulders, and tricky off-camber sections with heaps of line choices to race your mates. According to the trail map it's a double black, but it's one of the less technically challenging trails of the EWS level singletrack in the network. The slabs are intimidating from the top, but there is heaps of traction (when it's dry), and you can slowly pick your way down everything.
Speaking of EWS trails of the year, it's worth checking out the infamous boulders on Detonate which earned the same accolade as its trail network mate. The crew from World Trail tells us they literally took a set of handlebars and cut the boulders to be just wide enough to thread the needle — and it's a tight fit at that. Be warned; Detonate can get pretty hairy, so don't expect a leisurely cruise.
If speed is more your speed, Flickety sticks is smooth, fast and flowy, with a few kickers thrown in for good measure. A trip to Derby wouldn't be complete without a spin through the iconic switchbacks on Rusty Crusty, or a ride through the infamous Derby Tunnel — initially used by miners to transport carts filled with rocks and ore, now the short descent takes you entirely underground for 350m and is complete with psychedelic blue mood lighting.
Derby's history has provided plenty of inspiration around the trail network. The Dam Busters loop takes its name from the Briseis Dam (which is now known as the Cascade Dam) disaster in 1929 after 125mm of rain fell in one-and-a-half hours in the catchment above the already swollen levee. Unable to hold the weight, the dam burst sending what's said to be a 30m high torrent of water down the Cascade River, inundating Derby.
The Dam Busters loop guides you around Cascade Dam, traipsing through old-growth beech and eucalyptus forest, and rolling past unsullied creeks, rivers and waterfalls along the way. The trail gains a good chunk of elevation over the first half, but the singletrack meanders up the hill depositing you directly on the shore of the dam — a perfect spot to cool down on a hot day. Dam Busters was already known for its descent, but World Trail has just given the downhill a facelift with new berms and plenty of opportunities to put air beneath your tyres on the way down. It's fast and flowy, and seemingly endless; your eyes will definitely be watering by the time you hit the bottom, but you will be grinning ear to ear.