Paul Carlsson is a worthy winner of our fourth Pearl Izumi Local Hero Award. Read on to find out why.
Our fourth Pearl Izumi Local MTB Hero is Paul Carlsson. Paul is the Trails Manager and Downhill Coordinator for the Central Coast Mountain Bike Club (CCMTB). He also runs Transition Extreme, a shuttle company that operates at the fantastic Ourimbah Mountain Bike Park.
When he’s not shuttling riders to the top of Ourimbah’s gravity network, Paul puts countless hours into maintaining the trails, so they’re in top condition for the unprecedented number of riders they’ve experienced in recent years. The overwhelming sentiment amongst the Ourimbah Community is that without Paul, the Ourimbah trail network wouldn’t be in the condition it’s in today.
‘Paul runs the shuttle company at Ourimbah Mountain Bike Park, and not only does he run the shuttle system as a full-time job, but he also spends countless hours building the rad trails and organising club events. I didn’t realise just how much work he is putting into these trails until I started helping out around the park.’
Another area that came up constantly around Paul’s dedication to both Ourimbah and the local riding community was his commitment to developing and helping young riders.
‘Paul has been a great help with my mountain bike career building at Ourimbah Mountain Bike Park and allowing me to jump on the shuttle bus he owns and train on the tracks. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.’
When we spoke to Paul, his dedication to not only the younger generation, but the whole Ourimbah riding community was clear. Whilst his shuttle business hasn’t been able to operate during Covid, Paul remains upbeat and sees the positive side as more time to build trails for everyone to enjoy.
‘It’s been about fourteen weeks since I was last able to operate, but on the flipside, it’s given me plenty of time to work on the trails! What I really love is to build trails and see riders enjoying them. The shuttles create a wage for me to build trails during the week, so realistically I shuttle Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then work on the trails from Monday through Thursday.’
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One of the projects that Paul has kept himself busy with is a new pump track, which is designed to allow for head-to-head racing, and is a unique facility on the Central Coast. The pump track is Polymer coated, and Paul camped next to the Pump Track to ensure nobody rode the track while it dried so that the club wouldn’t have to pay for more expensive materials if somebody rode it prematurely.
‘They’re (pump tracks) really good for giving the community somewhere to hang out and build skills. The pump track at Ourimbah is quite neat, as it’s designed for head-to-head races. The club will be able to have pump track races, and at other races we could finish up and have some fun around the trailhead.’
Whilst Paul comes from a Downhill background, one of the things he likes the most about Ourimbah is that the trail network caters to all levels.
‘Ourimbah is pretty much community supported. We’ve got a really good committee and locals who’re really supportive also. I’ve been in Australia for four years and on the committee for three, initially as Downhill Coordinator, and now as the Trail Manager also. When I first came on a Saturday and a Sunday there was a handful of cars in the carpark, but with how well the park is managed now it’s developing quickly and there’s something for every level of rider, with a packed carpark most weekends.’
Community is a real theme that came up both talking to Paul and around the Ourimbah Mountain Bike Park in general. Paul has two kids, and they both love hanging out at Ourimbah with Dad.
‘I’ve got a son and a daughter, and my daughter is a really competitive mountain biker. I wanted to make the trails progressive for people’s skills, so that Ourimbah is somewhere you can build your confidence up to go from taking the B line to the A line. Something we did for the younger riders was support a team called the ‘Gravity Groms’, and I’d give them free shuttles to just go and have fun and develop their skills.’
An example of Ourimbah’s progressive nature is a jump affectionately known as ‘Carlsson’s Kicker’. A big double near the top of the Downhill Track, it was the first jump Paul built at Ourimbah and it remains one of his favourites.
‘It was actually the first jump I built out here, it’s been really good for junior development because it’s got a B line, which is also a jump, and there’s quite a big case pad on it.’
If you live in NSW’s most populous cities of Newcastle, Sydney, or Wollongong, there’s a good chance you’ve ridden, raced, or done both at Ourimbah. Whilst the trails there have always been fantastic, there’s been a noticeable increase in the number of trails, improved trail features, and just the overall quality of the network in recent years. Paul Carlsson is one of the most important people in this shift, and for that reason he’s a deserving winner of our fourth Pearl Izumi Local Hero Award.