Whilst the others went for spa relaxation and food-wine debauchery, I took a detour into Margaret River’s dirt trails on a mountain bike. The cool and dry weather during Spring-Summer transition provided the ideal temperate for getting outdoors – your sweat quickly evaporates away while the soft dry terrain leaves you only with some dust on your clothes and shoes.
Rob Oostdam, the co-owner and lead guide for Dirty Detours met me at 9am sharp at the Margaret River Visitor Centre to show me what’s on offer for outdoor thrill seekers (or those just tired of the wineries and shopping) on Margaret River’s off-road mountain bike trails. Originally from Albany, Rob and his wife had been travelling the world for over a decade, and had worked on mountain biking and rafting tours in Canada for a while, gaining vast experience in outdoor hospitality. Rob even had some muay thai (Thai kick boxing) fighting experience in Thailand, under his belt. You don’t want to mess with this dude. Having returned back to Western Australia over 3 years ago, they decided to start a boutique mountain bike tour business in Margaret River realizing an opportunity to share the diverse biking trails with domestic and international travellers as well as schools and businesses.
Our initial plans to head-out to Boranup Forest, popular for its tall hardwood Karri trees were cancelled as some trail sections of the forest were still damaged from the recent bush fire. Instead, we went to the Pine Forest Trails located only a few minutes drive from town center. Labelled with such names as Brown Falcon, Bear Grylls (!) and Double Espresso, any rider with different competence levels will be able to enjoy their ride here in Margaret River. Rob and local mountain bike enthusiasts from the Margaret River Mountain Biking Club (MRORCA) volunteer to create and upkeep the trails here.
The trails zig zag across the apex of the hill with a variety of man-made and natural obstacles (the hardwood karri and pine trees!) providing sufficient challenges, which range from easy ride to hardcore extreme. Needless to say, being an absolute beginner, Rob warmed me up on several beginner trails before increasing the intensity to intermediate downhill runs. I’ve only had a single day of practise in Kuala Lumpur’s renowned technical mountain bike trails in Kiara Hill before the flight here. Even then, it was mostly on tar roads with a short detour down a 150m wet clay patch. Enough practice? Not really.
Throughout my 3 hour ordeal with Rob, I crashed 3 times including a ludicrous head-on collision with a tree trunk which would have garnered a million views on YouTube. As I write this, I look upon my battle scars healing on my right elbow and left leg. A special mention goes out to my Cullman 600 backpack which carried my precious camera, lenses and various other gadgets – not only was the bag comfortable to wear and had a rain cover, it cushioned each one of my hard tumbles on the dirt trail. None of my electronic equipment would have survived without it!
While the Pine trail circuit is open to public to ride, whether you are a professional or an amateur rider, you will need someone familiar with the trails, to show you the entries and exits plus prepare you for the course obstacles ahead. Obstacles may change without notice. A wrong turn or being unfamiliar with the traps on the courses may lead you to the infirmary. Rob with his vast experience in mountain bike riding had been very accommodating to a beginner like myself. Patient, calm and observant he had the right qualities of a guide to share knowledge on handling a bike, preparing you for every unique trail, and was able to design a tour just sufficient for my experience level in short notice.
I had a good workout and got to immerse myself in nature. Get in-touch with Dirty Detours for any sort of mountain biking programs in and around Margaret River – from gentle rides through vineyards, farmlands to hardcore trails!
Do enquire about the Cape to Cape multi-day program, and Railway Heritage trail which is a new circuit on the old railway line built during the timber boom here.
Contact Dirty Detours (Rob or Tam)
Mobile: +61 422 343 341
Landline: +618 9758 8312)