Words: Will Shaw

Photos: TBS

Thredbo has been a mountain biking destination in Australia for over thirty years. In the last few years their offerings have increased significantly, and there's now something on offer for riders of all ability levels. We visited Thredbo on our Snowies Roadie in 2020, and the resort is set to go for this coming season.

It doesn't get too much better than alpine riding at Thredbo!

As our visit was pre-season, we were taken up the access road with Thredbo's Danny and Timmy. We made our way up to where the trail crew was working on Ricochet. On the way up, Timmy filled us in on a new green trail called Sidewinder that was being built from the top of the Merritts Gondola all the way to the valley. This trail follows a similar path to the lower All-Mountain. The trail is open for this summer, and it'll be a great addition to the Thredbo network, and make the already inclusive resort accessible for absolute beginners.

Alongside the opening of Sidewinder, the Merritts Gondola will be open Friday-Sunday as well as every day during the school holidays. This will provide direct access to both Sidewinder and the Lower All-Mountain trails. There'll also be food and drinks available at the top of the Merritts Gondola, making a mid-ride fuel up easier than ever. 

2021 is Thredbo's 31st year of offering gravity riding to the public. It’s crazy to think that in 1990 pioneering mountain bikers took their bikes on the chairlift and bombed their way down the access road. Fast forward thirty years, and in 2021 Thredbo has over 35km of premium trails for all ability levels, as well as more riding in the valley.

Danny tames the famous Cannonball DH.

After our big day of riding, staying in the heart of Thredbo was a real luxury. We stayed at the Thredbo Alpine hotel, where you could almost coast from the bottom of the chair to the front door of the hotel. Once you’re inside, there’s secure bike storage right next to the lobby. From our rooms we had a beautiful view over the valley, and the pump track and skate park were both bustling with people getting their afternoon dose of fun.

Meals in Thredbo are a breeze. There’s the Cascades restaurant if you’re after a more high-end experience, and The Local Pub if you’re after some honest pub grub. In terms of a one stop shop, Thredbo makes it so easy to have a big day out on the hill, knowing you can see your accommodation from the chairlift and there’s great food options aplenty.

There's lots of great food options at Thredbo.

Day two of our visit to Thredbo started with a sunrise trip to the summit to check out sections of the All-Mountain, Flow, and Cannonball Downhill. We’ve ridden the All-Mountain trail plenty of times before, but being so high above the treeline, and the way the natural environment has been integrated with the trail never ceases to amaze us.

After riding the top section of the All-Mountain, we darted onto the Flow Trail down to the Snakes and Ladders section of the world-famous Cannonball DH. Once again, we noted the amount of pre-season trail work that has gone into the trails, the team at Thredbo really pull out all the stops to get the trails in amazing shape for opening day.

With how capable bikes are these days, you can take a trail bike to Thredbo and if you’re a skilled rider you’ll get down everything. That being said, Thredbo’s Cannonball Downhill is the kind of track where extra suspension and downhill oriented geometry come to the fore. We’re not embarrassed to admit that it was tricky to keep up with the longer travel bikes on our 140/130mm NS Define with trail tyres.

Trail bikes are better suited to trails like Ricochet and the All-Mountain Trail.

Whilst you can poke your way down on a trail bike, if you really want to go for it on Cannonball it might be worth renting a downhill bike for the day, and maybe even some coaching so you know the speeds required for the features.

Pricing wise, downhill bike rental starts at $159 a day, with big discounts for additional days. Lift tickets follow a similar theme, with a day passes starting at $65 for a post 1pm start. Lift passes also get cheaper the more days you book.

At the lower section of the downhill Timmy and Danny sped off to do a couple of laps of the famous GoPro wallride. It’s great to see the real passion for riding the staff at Thredbo MTB have, it’s more than just a job for them. Whilst they banged out laps of the wallride, we checked out the lower section of the Flow.

Speaking of the Flow, the Little Beauty Jumps line has been a great addition to the Thredbo network in the last couple of years, with more tabletops and features throughout. These jumps have a real progression focus, with multiple lip options throughout.

There's plenty of chances to get aerial at Thredbo.

Also on the jumping theme, the Valley Terminal jumps area at the end of Cannonball is a real highlight. There's multiple lines for all ability levels, and riders can expect back to back shark fins, hips, step-downs, and step-overs. In between racking up the airtime, Thredbo are some of the best in the business in sculpting big, deep berms for you to throw your weight into.

After a big morning on the trails we headed to the Thredbo Bakery to replenish ourselves. Sometimes resort food can be thoroughly underwhelming, but the Thredbo Bakery is a real gem. With an abundance of sweet and savoury, great coffee, and friendly staff, it’s our pick for a mid-ride refuel. We also like to stock up on snacks for the day ahead while we’re there.

We finished our time in Thredbo excited not only about the season to come, but the longer-term future of Australia’s home of gravity. The passionate Thredbo MTB team, constantly evolving trails, and all-around package that Thredbo provides is why it’s one of Australia’s most loved mountain bike destinations.

Where: Take the Friday Drive turn off the Alpine Way.

When you see this sign you know you're on!

Accommodation: There’s plenty of accommodation for all budgets. We stayed at the Thredbo Alpine Hotel, and we could see the pump track and bottom jumps from our window! With secure bike storage and easy access to the chairlift, restaurants, and everything Thredbo has to offer, it doesn’t get much better!

Riding style: Everything! Although Thredbo is the home of lift accessed gravity in Australia, and the Flow, All-Mountain, and Ricochet trails can be ridden by intermediate level riders. The new Sidewinder trail allows even absolute beginners to experience the thrill of gravity riding. There’s also some great XC and trail riding lower down with the Village, Friday Flats, and Golf Course loops. Last but not least, Thredbo is the starting point for the mighty Thredbo Valley Trail, which you can now ride all the way to Jindabyne!

Trail surface: Everything! From machine-built flow to some of the roughest tech you’ll find just about anywhere, Thredbo has it all. The trails have been done up and are in prime condition for big summer of riding. There's also a dirt pump track and skatepark in the village, which are great for a post lift session!

There's a variety of trails on the hill, and a fantastic pump track and skatepark in the village as well!

Don't forget: Protection! Even on the tamer trails the speeds at Thredbo can get pretty high, so you’ll want all the protection you’ve got if you do come off. If you’re not normally a knee pads and full-face kind of rider, Thredbo MTB Retail & Rental is a huge store with options from all the major brands.

What's on? This summer Cannonball MTB Festival returns on February 8th - 12th. They're also running the five round Thredbo Gravity Series again. Thredbo have also expanded their MTB School, giving riders of all ages and skill levels more opportunities to progress their riding. You can find more information on their website

Local shops: Thredbo MTB Workshop is a fully stocked repair workshop, as well as the expansive Thredbo MTB Retail & Rental, which has bike hire for riders of all sizes.

More details: Check out Thredbo’s website for great accommodation and lift ticket packages, as well as up to date trail conditions.