Woolgoolga Sets the new standard for Adaptive Flow Trails

Woolgoolga is quickly establishing itself as the go to gravity destination on the Mid North Coast of NSW. The trails situated in Wedding Bells State Forest, north of Coffs Harbour, just got an upgrade with a new skills park and a brand new flow trail built by world cup downhiller, Josh Button and his Trail Net team.

The team at Woolgoolga Mountain Bike Club has been setting a new standard for “adaptive” trails, showing that adaptive doesn’t mean, dumbed down!

We were stoked to join Australia’s Adaptive National Champion, Hank Duchateau at the launch of the new trails and this is his story of the day..

It’s 9th December and we are getting ready for a new adventure. A New Flow Trail. I am a adaptive Mountain Bike Rider and I have a Explorer 3 Handcycle, which is made in Poland. My wife Diane rolls the bike out of the shed, so I can work on it from my wheelchair.

This is just a pre ride check, of nuts and bolts, lube the chain and making sure that I have the right pressure in my tyres. I ride with a low pressure in my 3 wheels and am able to do so because I have Tannus Armour inserts in my tyres, I can actually run completely flat if I shred a tyre. These were put in so as a adaptive rider I can get myself out of the MTB trails if I had an issue with tyres.

We load up the car and head North from Coffs Harbour to Woolgoolga MTB Trails in Wedding Bells Forest. 

We drive at the trail head and Diane unloads the bike from our VW Caddy Van and I do my final pre ride check on my bike.

While we do this we are talking to our MTB Family the Woolgoolga club members, I ask what I need to be made aware of on the new trail.

Most riders particularly in top level MTB racing events, walk the trails especially a new trail, this is done to check trail for what maybe in store for them.

As an Adaptive Rider, I can’t do that In a wheelchair, as it would take to much time and would be very difficult, you can rely on some one else but unless they are an Adaptive rider you really don’t get the right feed back that you need.

The Adaptive rider has 3 lines to think about because of 3 wheels, where as a 2 wheel bike the force of travel is a straight line from back to front wheel, but a Delta configuration has 3 lines of force or direction, makes reading the trail critical, as you have not much room for error on a adaptive MTB bike.

Ok the first ride on the new flow trail, sight unseen. On the start line your heart rate increases, your body starts to tense up, you try to relax. But your brain and body is trying to say, I don’t know whats coming, You have to rely on your skill of reading the trail, on your skill on the bike and of course the bikes capability. Last but not least the trail builders who have built this new flow trail.

You Finish your first ride down the flow, it was exhilarating but not the smoothest as it was a first look while trying to control chaos on wheels. Slipping and sliding in sections while trying to read a new trail at the same time.

But you finish with a smile on your face and a feeling of accomplishment, you don’t feel that disability feeling when you are in your wheelchair, struggling to fit in or participate in society you feel free, you have done something that a lot of people take for granted. Your in Nature, your with fellow MTB riders, you belong.

Now that you have done that first ride, the trail has flowed into your body, your brain accepts the condition of the new trail, your at the start line again, you are ready, your relaxed, your heart settles down. You go.

That second ride is so much smoother and flows beautifully, you can feel the joy and have that moment of complete freedom and its great to be alive.

Thank you to Josh the trail builder, a beautiful job, well done.

Thank you Woolgoolga MTB club for your support and patience.

What Is Adaptive?

If your keen to learn more about adaptive trail building please check out Hank’s article he wrote for us early this year.

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