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Mt Buller – Copperhead

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to score an invitation to come along to Mt.Buller for the grand opening of the new ‘flow down’ trail – called Copperhead.

This has been under development for a few months, and (apparently) cost close to $200,000 – in conjunction with Glen Jacobs and his World Trail team.

The new trail is the first of it’s kind in Australia, a combination of Cross Country and Downhill – suitable for beginners (me !) – as well as flat out DH’ers.

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Here’s a quick teaser video – and details of the “Copperhead Launch” day.

Mt Buller Resort Management has been working with Glen Jacobs and his team at World Trail to develop Copperhead – the first-ever flow down trail in Australia.

This gravity offering combines the best of both cross-country and downhill riding featuring banked turns, descending terrain and jumps. The 2.7km trail has a rolled capped surface and is shaped like a huge smooth single track, so it’s perfect for your hardtail, XC machine, DH rig or freeride bike.

“No one has built anything like this in Australia”, said Glen Jacobs. “Copperhead is a unique concept, incorporating a flow country style but with a downhill edge.”

Excited much ?!   I was !

So – I packed up my Specialized Camber in the Festiva, and set off about 6am.   Was an amazing day out, blue sky – and I got to Mt.Buller about 9.30am.

Between Yea & Mansfield – cloud/fog on the hills…

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I was meeting up with some Twitter buddies about 10am – @mattunderground – who had invited me along, as a guest of “Specialized” – and @leftiant – another MTB’er pal from Albury.

As I was a little early, I took a sneak-peak at the new trail.

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And – then headed to the hotel to check-in and meet up with Matt & Ant.

There was a big crowd gathering for the launch, and there were even danishes & pastries being handed out – and glasses of champagne to ‘toast’ the opening – yep, at 10am, BEFORE a ride – ha ha !

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Glen Jacobs was on hand to say a few words, and officially CUT the ribbon, along with the director of activities from Mt.Buller (name ?)

Then – it was time to ride Copperhead !

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We were warned to take it easy the first run – as it’s called Copperhead, and it CAN bite – so you gotta respect it !  

It DID feel rather steep and fast at first – I was on the brakes for most of the first run – there was lots of pea-gravel, and it felt fairly slippery.   Some amazing banked turns, and flowing corners – and some big jumps & gaps – not for me, but the faster lads would be having a ball with it.

When we got to the bottom, there was a shuttle bus and trailer ready to take riders back to the top again – 20 people at a time.

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There’s Shannon Rademaker from All Terrain Cycles, he’s the guy in the initial teaser video – and has been involved in the development of Mt.Buller for a few years – and he was the instructor/guide for my previous tours at Mt.Buller – in March 2010, and again in December 2010.

Some great chit-chat on the bus – lots of happy & friendly MTB’ers – I had to take a quick photo of this girl’s helmet – gotta love the tagline on the back :

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When we re-grouped back at the top, we bumped into Chris Southwood, from the “Australian Mountain Bike” magazine – he must get recognized everywhere he goes (on MTB trails !).   Was fun to talk to him, and when I mentioned I was GrumpyWookie – he said “oh, that’s YOU, is it ??!?   LOL !”

We did another TWO runs down Copperhead – getting a better feel for the trail and the flow in/out of corners.   Matt & Ant both had camera’s strapped on – GoPro + Contour – so it will be great to see some of their footage.

After that, we headed off for lunch (awesome burger + chips) – before riding some Cross Country trails at Mt.Buller.

There is such an extensive trail network now – you could ride 50km’s or more, without repeating anything at all…

We rode down GANG GANGS – very VERY good trail – and headed down to SILK LANE – and over to the Howqua Gap hut.

This is at the base of Mt.Stirling – and is the start of the STONEFLY trail.

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This is another trail I’ve been keen to try out for quite some time – was completed for LAST summer’s season at Mt.Buller – and is regarded as one of the best in Australia.

We initially took a wrong turn – riding UP the section that is the normal DOWN trail – only 1.5 km or so – before we turned around.

The climb UP to the top of Mt.Stirling is pretty tough, with lots of loose sections, and uphill pinchy turns – we were wondering if we’d ever get to the top.

Personally, I found it really tough – and had to stop a few times to catch my breath – might have been the altitude (?) – and then pushed on.  Great views and fresh air – and not many people around.  

What a great way to spend the day :

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My bike rode pretty well all day – and no mechanicals or problems, other than some squeaky brakes – no biggie.

Ant wasn’t so lucky – he was riding along and a rock dislodged and rolled onto his back dereilleur, and bent the hanger, pushing it into his spokes.

He stopped immediately, and had to spend 10 mins or so with a multi-tool – adjusting his gears, and bending spokes – so that he could ride on.

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Matt was OK from a mechanical perspective, but had a minor crash – falling off a bridge into a sludgey section of river – I came around a corner to find him upside down, on his back – holding his bike upright.  He was muddy, but OK – he was more concerned about his bike falling onto the bridge panels, and damaging / scratching the carbon frame.  

We got to the top of STONEFLY, and had a drink re-fill, and muesli bar, before the charge back down hill.   I’d been told that it feels like “35 seconds” – and yep – was over pretty quickly !

We then had to ride back UP to the top of Mt.Buller to the chalet & village where we were staying overnight.

This was a very tough climb – slow & steady pushing along a gravelly forest road, with big rocks & dust.   Was some grinding away in granny gear – took a while, but we made it there – slowly but surely.

When we got back to the chalet – we were all knackered beyond belief – and headed to the spa for a relax – as well as a high-pressure multi-jet shower – amazing !

As well as the overnight stay at the Mt.Buller Chalet, there was also a VIP function, with dinner & drinks – and I chatted a bit to Glen Jacobs, and some other folk – nice !

And THEN there was a movie night – showing the Victorian premiere of the new “FROM THE INSIDE OUT” MTB movie.

Wow – what a day…    By about 10.30pm, I’d had four beers, and was starting to fade – after a huuuuge day of riding – AND – having left home at 6am, for a three hour drive.  So – sleep was next on the list.  

The next morning, I had to get up early again – and scoff down some brekky, before another three hour drive to get home for a lunchtime “kid’s party” !

What a great weekend – it was great to be a part of the opening event for Copperhead, and to try out the new trail – as well as Gang Gangs (my fave for the day) – and Stonefly too…!   

*phew*

I recorded the trails with my iPhone, but it died about 1/2 an hour from the end – so here’s the SAME trail/track that Matt recorded using his Garmin – click the map to see the details :

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Thanks again to Matt from Specialized for inviting me along – and to Ant as well – for a great day out – I was the slowest of the bunch, but that didn’t matter – we still had a blast.   Cheers guys !

And – big thanks to Glen Jacobs and his team – Copperhead is a great trail – a great addition to Mt.Buller – which was already the best MTB’ing destination in Australia.

(I’m already planning another trip – at the end of January – to try some DH trails)

Smile

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