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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.

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!

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…

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.

Jetlagged: Sorry About That

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Jetlagged: Sorry About That

What happens when you take a night time allergy remedy and fall asleep in a dark room after battling jetlag all day? You wake up at 11am. I didn’t get a chance to look through content yesterday and woke up realllllly late today. Apologies! We’ll get back up to speed this afternoon.

Jesse’s Curve Cycling GMX Drop Bar Rigid 29’r

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Jesse’s Curve Cycling GMX Drop Bar Rigid 29’r

As an integral part of Curve Cycling, Jesse Carlsson has taken on various endurance races on their titanium machines, including Trans America and the Australian self-supported Race to the Rock. The latter called for something a bit more rugged than his TransAm Curve Cycling Belgie setup. While climbing wasn’t much of an issue in Race to the Rock, deteriorated roads, potential flash rainstorms and endless miles of washboarded roads meant he needed a bit more rubber under his bike. Luckily, Curve had just the rig for this race… The GMX is a rigid 29’r with drop bars and a proprietary suspension-corrected fork. You can see how Jesse set his up for Race to the Rock at Curve’s blog.

In its current form, the bike has been stripped of the many accessories and components needed for a multi-day, self-supported endurance race. Jesse loaned it to our troupe for the week, where it landed under Scott, my riding mate here in Tassie. It suited our needs just fine, as equipped. Well, perhaps minus that massive front chainring. Scott found himself hurting on many of our climbs as they teetered past 18%!

Some of my favorite details on the GMX include the yoke and the seat tube cluster. Others interested might also be turned on by the pricing: $2,999 for a frame or $3,790 for the frame and Curve carbon fork, in various sizes. I’m not sure how the USD conversion alters the pricing, but it’s worth the query if you’re keen on this design. Personally, I can say that I’m intrigued!

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.

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…

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Rapha Prestige Launceston

This looks amazing!

“As the sun set over Northern Tasmania’s Tamar Valley on Friday 13th March 2015, the Rapha Prestige Launceston began, with riders gathering on the deck of the Barrel Room Restaurant at Velo Wines. Teams huddled together, nervously discussing tactics and tyre/cog selections for the following day’s 170km adventure to the highest point of Tasmania’s only alpine region, the Ben Lomond National Park. Unbeknownst to the riders, just a week prior the summit had unseasonably received its first snow of the year. The brutality of the Tasmanian landscape and climate would be a defining feature of the weekend.”

Not that I needed another reason to go ride in Tasmania.