ACT Greens spokesperson on sport, Shane Rattenbury, has called for more investment to solidify Canberra as a leading mountain biking destination.
Citing the city's position as the 'bush capital', Rattenbury believes more needs to be done to take advantage of the rural area surrounding the Limestone Plains – which makes excellent mountain bike territory.
With suburbs bordering nature reserves and more rugged terrain on offer just a short drives away, Canberra riders are well-aware of their unique advantage in the mountain bike game, but this is all about attracting others to the area.
"We are seeing places like Derby in Tasmania, Jindabyne, Thredbo, these sort of places, really putting some resources into developing their mountain bike facilities. And if Canberra doesn't put a bit of money in, we just won't keep up," said Mr Rattenbury.
And tourism is an important piece of the puzzle.
"If we want people to come from other places, we need to tell them what we've got here and make sure what we've got is fantastic."
The president of Canberra Off-Road Cycles, Matt Battye, described the sport as exploding, and warned that if Canberra did not evolve with the sport, the city would be left behind.
In a submission to the ACT government's consultation on mountain biking, the Greens called for an expansion of Stromlo Forest Park in terms of facilities and tracks, as well as other recommendations, including:
- A dedicated tourism campaign should promote mountain biking in Canberra, and a user-friendly landing portal should be built to assist tourists considering visiting
- The economic value of planted forests should include their recreational value, not just the value of timber felling
- Trail development should only be done in an ecologically sensitive way and sensitive environmental areas should remain protected and off-limits to mountain biking.
- The Government should look for opportunities to advance other outdoor recreation activities, like walking, running and horse-riding, in a complementary way.
Mountain bikes bring big bonus
In the same week as Canberra calls for more investment, Evedon Park in south-west WA are singing the praises of mountain bike tourism.
With more than 400 of Australia’s best enduro riders set to descend on the region for an Enduro World Series qualifier, Dardanup shire president Mick Bennett has described the event as a massive boost for the region.
“There should be more of these events,” he told The West Australian.
“This is a magnificent opportunity for us to get ourselves really on the map.”
According to WA Gravity Enduro director Steve Janiec, the Evedon Park trails will present riders with a new challenge.
“We really wanted to highlight the natural terrain and the raw, rough, rocky sorts of trail racing,” he said.
“Hopefully it will bring a lot of value and benefit to the local economy and mountain biking in WA.”