Think Alice Springs and the first few things that come to mind are hot, desolate and arid. So it's ironically surprising that this remote town in the middle of Australia can offer such a unique, challenging and awesome mountain bike experience! We were sceptical to begin with, so when Tourism NT invited our customer service manager Rob and I for a 5-day MTB holiday in the Alice, it was an offer we couldn't refuse and it's certainly a riding adventure that stands on its own!
Why MTB the Alice?
It's the combination of hot, desolate and arid that come together to create such a unique riding experience. This is iconic Australian countryside and exploring by bike provides a fantastic way to experience the vastness and harshness of the landscape. Let's be clear though, this is not gravity-based, loamy rainforest shredding; the dirt is loose and dry, the rock jagged and grippy, and the vegetation sparse and parched.
So how does it ride?
Alice Springs delivers with what is best defined as an endless cross-country paradise of undulating, wide open, rocky and moderately technical terrain. There's potentially hundreds of kilometres of singletrack on offer, hand-built by a dedicated and passionate crew of local riders. Trails have been designed to navigate through or around the rocky terrain features for some awesome technical lines both up and down.
There is a mix of green and blue trails throughout that offer a variety of challenges, with several black diamond trails starting to emerge. We joined some of the local crew for a sunset trip out to Black Slabbath ; one of the most technically challenging trails in Alice with some serious fall consequences! However the vast majority of trails are designed for beginner to intermediate riders, with flowy, fast sections of trail punctuated by small-to-medium rock features and tight corners.
The trails can be broken up into three areas: the eastside trails, Telegraph Station trails and the newer west-side trails. At this point, only the 45km of Telegraph Station trails are officially sanctioned and signposted, however exploring the 200km+ of other trails is a must. We recommend hooking up a ride with Outback Cycling these guys have an awesome knowledge of the local trails and run guided tours for all abilities.
A personal highlight for me was the sunrise, sunset and night riding; this gave the true sense that we were in the outback! The rich shadows and colours that emerge as the sun climbs and descends for the day are absolutely breathtaking, and the trail design is really well suited to night riding. I strongly recommend packing the lights for some after-dark shredding!
How's the town?
The beauty of a MTB holiday in Alice Springs is the convenience. It's an easy 3 hour (approximate) flight from all capital cities and no car is needed; the Alice Wanderer airport shuttle gets you to and from your accommodation with ease. Then all you need in town is practically a few minutes ride away, including trailheads, shops and bars/cafes.
For pre and post-ride refuelling, the Todd St Mall contains a number of bustling bars and cafés with amazing food, coffee and beer, with secure bike parking throughout (be sure to pack a bike lock). A fave of ours was Epilogue, perfect for big post-ride meals and a few beers! And special mention to Page 27 Café for an excellent smoothie!
With so much track to explore, an active MTB club scene and big investments in trail development, we can't wait to get back here again!