Craft in Tasmania – Joe Cruz and Scott Mattern

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Craft in Tasmania – Joe Cruz and Scott Mattern

Craft in Tasmania
Words by Scott Mattern
, photos by Joe Cruz and Scott Mattern

The Tasmania of reputation and myth is an island of remoteness, wilderness, and wildlife. This isn’t wrong but it’s just the surface. A deeper sense of a place—not just that of passing through, but being in it—is from knowing what people there love and make. It’s from meeting the unique locals and craftspeople, sampling the produce and products.

Global mass production enables our modern world but leads to generic lifeless products with each one looking, feeling and tasting the same as the last. And so we find ourselves celebrating individually crafted handmade things with a uniqueness to them that sets them apart. With access to quality and unique raw materials, Tasmania has this craft tradition. One of the ideas I find appealing about bikepacking is that it allows you to immerse yourself not only in the wilderness and wildlife but also to create opportunities to make local connections to the food and culture of where you traveling.

A Weekend at the Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails in North Eastern Tasmania

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A Weekend at the Blue Derby Mountain Bike Trails in North Eastern Tasmania

The history of Derby is riddled with ups and downs. In 1874, it began as a tin mining outpost, on the East Coast of Tasmania, employing lots of Chinese immigrants who began building mines and excavating land in search of this precious mineral. Prosperity came with a booming tin industry and in the late 19th century, the population of Derby topped 3,000. That might not sound like a huge number, but keep in mind the people living in Derby were served by and worked for the tin industry.

In early April 1929, heavy rains caused the tin mine’s dam to burst. Consequently, the Cascade River flooded the town, killing a dozen or so people and wiping out most of the buildings. Eventually, the mine re-opened, but never reached the same output, forcing it to close in 1948. For almost 70 years, Derby was a sleepy town, offering no real appeal for tourists, Tasmania’s 1.3 billion dollar a year industry. Then, in 2015 the Blue Derby mountain bike park opened and suddenly, things began to change for this sleepy town.

Exploring Northern Tasmania by Bike: Climbing Jacob’s Ladder in the Ben Lomond National Park

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Exploring Northern Tasmania by Bike: Climbing Jacob’s Ladder in the Ben Lomond National Park

An entire gallery of just a single climb? Why not. When I first saw photos of Jacob’s Ladder, many years ago, it solidified my desire to ride bikes in Tasmania. There’s something about a series of switchbacks or hairpins cascading their way down a mountain pass that is not only incredibly photogenic but a very satisfying feeling to tackle on the bike. With each corner resulting in a feeling of accomplishment, the climb always feels a bit shorter.

The Ben Lomond National Park attracts all kinds of tourists, but I’d argue cyclists might appreciate the final approach a bit more than any motorists… Enjoy! No matter which way you ride it, Jacob’s Ladder is an out and back.

Many, many, many thanks to Tourism Northern Tasmania for funding this jaunt, Scott for being a model and Rob for providing the shuttle from Derby to Ben Lomond. Also, thank whatever kept me from falling 100′ to my death while I was scaling up the rock faces to find a new vista…

Exploring Eastern Tasmania by Bike: Freycinet Penninsula and Bay of Fires

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Exploring Eastern Tasmania by Bike: Freycinet Penninsula and Bay of Fires

Things don’t always go as planned. I awoke after our Central Highlands ride with what I can only describe as the worst allergies I’ve ever experienced. Or as the locals say, “pissa hay feva’ mate!” Turns out, a rather wet winter, followed by a series of storms brought on a serious amount of allergen-related illness this summer in Australia, so I didn’t feel so bad, at least not socially anyway. Still, I had a bloody job to do. We had an agenda and I was sticking to it. For the most part anyway. After all, I’ve been wanting to travel to Tassie for years to ride bikes and I was finally here…

Exploring Northern Tasmania by Bike: the Central Highlands Loop

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Exploring Northern Tasmania by Bike: the Central Highlands Loop

Tasmania, or Tassie for short, has long been on the list of places I’ve wanted to visit my whole life. Even as a kid with his nosed pressed in nature magazines, the landscape, flora and fauna of this island inspired many daydreams about trekking throughout the backcountry. Over the past few years, trips to Australia came and went, never allowing the extra time to explore this island, its roads and tracks. Each time, locals would say, “mate, you’ve gotta go to Tassie next time!” Everything I’d seen made it look like an exceptional place to ride bikes and with a handful of newly-opened mountain bike parks opening, I began to make moves…

Rule the Mountain on the Kingdom Vendetta X2 Titanium 27.5+ Hardtail

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Rule the Mountain on the Kingdom Vendetta X2 Titanium 27.5+ Hardtail

One of the challenges of writing about and riding bicycles is finding your flow. Sometimes both just seem to propel themselves, and other times you hit a dead end. Luckily, my time on the Kingdom Vendetta X2 was not the latter. Rather, upon the first shakedown ride, I knew I was going to love riding this bike because of one reason: specialization.

Now, hardtails, while simple in their form, come designed for many specific uses. Within this realm of mountain bikes there is an endless combination of design and geometric tweaks, resulting in a bike that can either be tuned for a broad spectrum of riding, or a very specific niche. All this goes without saying, but you can design a hardtail that will climb exceedingly well and descend like a three-wheeled skateboard. Or descend like a banshee and climb like a one-legged pig. While most of these experiential data is subjective, a few key features are just straight up objective.

Currently, the cycling industry is at an all-time low, as in, the bikes are longer and lower – which is a good thing, but there’s a tipping point. A bike that rides well going up as well as going down, is going to have to strike a balance to reign supreme on the mountain. Luckily, that’s where the Vendetta rules in the Kingdom of mountain bikes.

Old Ghost Road and Heaphy Track – Tom Clayton

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Old Ghost Road and Heaphy Track – Tom Clayton

Old Ghost Road & Heaphy Track
Words and photos by Tom Clayton

I said to my friend Jesse one day I’d love to do a weeks riding in either New Zealand or Tasmania. Straight away he rolled off a heap of trails he’s got pilling up, as he’s got an encyclopedic brain for good riding and always keen to head out. After no persuasion at all there was myself, Jesse, Teef and Joan at the airport in Melbourne boarding the red-eye for Nelson, South Island New Zealand.

The route we’d planned was a seven day, 600km loop around the Kahuranghi National park—taking in The Old Ghost Road at the south and The Heaphy Track at the North. Fuelled mainly by fish and chips, stout beers and more single track than you could shake a stick at, we saw the best of nature, the friendliest people and an amazing network of eco-tourism.

I’d also get the daily distance wrong by at least an hour, Joan would look handsome in every photograph and we’d get rained on for the last 10km. And probably more fish and chips. A big thank you to The Cycle Shop in Nelson for graciously looking after our stuff while we pedalled around, Curve Cycling for making very fun bikes and our friends at Rapha Australia.

See our route at Ride With GPS.

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Follow Tom on Instagram, Follow Jesse on Instagram, Follow Sarah on Instagram, and follow Joan on Instagram.

2018 Handmade Bicycle Show Australia: Bastion, BAUM, Bikes by Steve, Curve, Damu

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2018 Handmade Bicycle Show Australia: Bastion, BAUM, Bikes by Steve, Curve, Damu

2018 Handmade Bicycle Show Australia
Photos by Andy White, words by John Watson

One show that has been on my radar over the years is the Handmade Bicycle Show Australia. This year’s showcase was located in Melbourne, Australia, and featured a mix of makers and companies, who bring a selection of custom bicycles and components to display. Photographer and owner of FYXO, Andy White was at the show, documenting each of the maker’s bikes, under the spotlight, and on the stage at the event. We’ll have a few big galleries up over the next few days from each of the builders present at the show. Beginning with…

It Takes a Village: The Radavist’s 2016 Year in Review

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It Takes a Village: The Radavist’s 2016 Year in Review

Over the years, we’ve all really strived to make the content and the characters here on the Radavist unique. It’s been a slow process, but as I’ve just spent a week sifting through the site’s archives from 2016, I can honestly say this has been our best year yet. These year-end recaps are always a joy to collate, as it allows everyone here at the site, as well as the readers to look back and relive some our favorite moments.

2016 was busy. Very busy. In fact, the archives are almost twice as long as the previous year’s, which were almost twice as long as the year’s prior, making editing the site’s content into a digestible post challenging. We’ve omitted bicycle reviews and Beautiful Bicycles for obvious reasons, leaving only ride, travel and shop visit Reportage as the meat of the gallery and storyline. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and I’d like to thank everyone for making this site, well, rad! That includes you, the readers and the commenters. I couldn’t ask for a better community.

Before things get too sappy, read on below for the Radavist’s 2016 Year in Review.

The Radavist’s Top 10 and Then Some Beautiful Bicycles of 2016

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The Radavist’s Top 10 and Then Some Beautiful Bicycles of 2016

Call it what you will, but 2016 was an interesting year and I’m not just talking politics! There were a lot of incredible bicycles featured here on the site, many with even more interesting stories and some were even affected by the events of 2016. We’ll get into that a bit later. Grading these beautiful machines is anything but easy and usually requires a few days of data compiling, including but not limited to social media chatter, visits, comments and time spent on that particular page. Since all bikes can be beautiful, this list includes both custom and production bicycles. Some of these will be a no-brainer, others even surprised me. Without further adieu, here are the Radavist’s Top 10 and Then Some Beautiful Bicycles of 2016, in no particular order.

Exchanging Mountains for Monuments in London

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Exchanging Mountains for Monuments in London

This time of year, the idea of leaving the bike at home and swapping mountains for man-made monuments was very appealing, especially coming off a trip to Tasmania and showing my mom around Death Valley for three days. I’d become inundated with nature and London was going to be the perfect destination this time of year.

Enjoy the Weekend!

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Enjoy the Weekend!

My legs are still tingling from Tasmania and on Monday, we’ll wrap up our coverage with a killer photo gallery from Blue Derby, Tassie’s premiere mountain bike park. ‘Til then, get out and enjoy the weekend!

The Radavist 2016 Calendar: December

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The Radavist 2016 Calendar: December

This is the twelfth layout of the Radavist 2016 Calendar, entitled “the Ladder” Shot with a Canon 1dx and a 24-70 f2.8 in the Ben Lomond National Park, Tasmania.

Ben Lomond national park is renown all over Australia for its skiing. The locals say “if you can ski Ben Lomond, you can ski anywhere” due to its rocky landscape and shallow, often frozen snow. The same can be said about Ben Lomond’s infamous “Jacob’s Ladder” climb. A series of snaking dirt switchbacks ascend to the top of Ben Lomond Mountain at 5,150 ft and resemble many of the iconic European road climbs, but it’s all dirt! If you can climb this road and the climb’s approach through the Tassie bush, you should have no problem tackling any other ride!

For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2016 Calendar – December. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)

The mobile background also features Jacob’s Ladder. Click here to download December’s Mobile Wallpaper.

Riding and Relaxin’ at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat

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Riding and Relaxin’ at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat

After a cold and wet previous 48 hours, we were keen to seek the sun in one of Eastern Tasmania’s most beautiful landscapes: the Bay of Fires. While many believe the Bay of Fires is named after the bright red lichen that grows on the rocks surrounding the blue waters of the Tasman sea, it was in fact named in 1773 by Captain Tobias Furneaux, who upon anchoring off the coast of Tasmania, saw the fires of Aboriginal people on the beaches. Out of all the landscapes we have visited thus far on our journey, this region was by far the most beautiful. To boot, we had a wonderful place to lay our heads after a day of riding and exploring the land’s many backcountry fire roads and tracks.

The Bay of Fires Bush Retreat was recently opened by Tom and Anna, a couple who have spent the past few years working in the hospitality and restaurant industry in Eastern Tas. Tom had worked for a local dinner spot for years before making a name for himself and his cooking. Through utilizing his connections and a with the help of a few contractors, he was able to slowly build out this exceptional piece of property, while subsidizing his endeavors through catering private events in the area. His vision was simple: offer a bush camp-inspired getaway with all the luxuries of a resort but with a rustic edge.

Alongside local contractors, Tom spent a few years shaping this retreat into exactly what he envisioned to be the perfect weekend getaway spot with a beauty only rivaled by the majestic coastline, only a few kilometers away.

My Bush Blasted 44 Bikes Ute Rigid MTB Tourer

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My Bush Blasted 44 Bikes Ute Rigid MTB Tourer

Custom bikes are often the result of a person’s opinions formed by their lifelong experiences. Oftentimes, a custom bicycle does its best to address many problems or functions, resulting in a Swiss Army Knife of vehicles, aka jack of all trades, master of none. Personally, I’ve always tried to work with a builder to design a bike specific to one job, rather than fit in a slew of other functions. Over the years, I’ve relied on scalpels, versus cluttered, do-it-all devices to take on whatever kind of riding I’m interested in and while I’ve got a few mountain bikes, none of them were ideal for the kind of bikepacking or off-road touring I enjoy.

A Shifter Bikes Gilded Eddy Merckx Professional with Campagnolo 50th

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A Shifter Bikes Gilded Eddy Merckx Professional with Campagnolo 50th

It’s been over years since I’ve been to Australia, so I made a point to connect with a few of my mates in Melbourne while en route to Tasmania. One of which being Dan Hale at Shifter Bikes, a bicycle studio in South Yarra. Two years ago I shot some photos of a rare gold plated Eddy Merckx Professional at Shifter Bikes and on this recent trip, I got to document the bike, built from the ground up with a Campagnolo 50th group.

While most bikes of this rarity would end up on the wall, the owner of this Merckx enjoys riding it , hence the modern pedals and non-period correct seat post. I suppose when you come across a frame like this, you’ve gotta do what you can to make it road-worthy (just ignore the front tire) and the result is a bike with a patina that comes from years of continued use.