Tasmania is getting some well deserved riding love at the moment, so we'd thought to keep the vibes going and look back at Scott's Belgie Disc adventure up Mount Barrow.

When setting up a bike for the first time you should take the bike on a small local ride so adjustments can be made easily. But if the opportunity presents itself to christen a bike on a ride up the side of a remote mountain over dirt road and ruts 100km from home, then you should never ever say no.

Since completing the ascent of Ben Lomond last year as part of the Rapha Prestige, Ben (my mate, not the mountain) and I have been eyeing off his little brother (only just), Mount Barrow. Arthur, Barrow, Ben dominate the eastern skyline of Launceston Tasmania. While Ben is the most famous of the three, Barrow provides a road less ridden of equal beauty and even more brutality.

Ben Lomond

The Belgie arrives late Friday afternoon and with the leave pass arranged for Saturday morning, my night is spent a madly assembling the bike. Once together, it's a thing of beauty to behold. I am so excited to get out there, but a weather check shows that the window for success is sketchy at best with a sizable front coming through. We had no idea at the time or how sizeable this front would turn out to be but more about that later in the story.

Belgie Disc

The beginning of a chilly Tasmanian early winters morning finds Ben (again, the rider not the mountain) and I heading off through the rolling hills of the Tasman Highway. The forecast is grim but the blue skies ahead fuel our enthusiasm.

The beginning of the Barrow ride commences with a right turn off the tarmac onto a dirt road winding its way through green rolling hills of Tassie farm land. Then you hit the steep first ramp that pops you out of the green into the tall timber forest. The 14km climb is a battle of climb-rest-climb-rest, the blue skies begin to grey as we ascend through the forest to the exposed open rock scree road. Winding its way like a snake through the field of boulders is a rutted and rough dirt road to the summit - this what we had came for and why this ride is touted as harder than “the ladder” on Lomond.

Mount Barrow Climb Cycling

Some notes on the Belgie once adjusted the bike handled the climb with ease. The compact gears balanced with the sure-footed nature of the Curve wheels provided made easy work of the rough terrain. This was especially noticeable in the tight loose switchback of the climb which from past experience on similar Tassie roads normally make road bikes squirm.

Gravel Climbs

Ramp-turn-ramp-turn the exposed roads climbs ever upwards with the final pitch placing us in the clouds. We make the top, take a few minutes to recoup and explore the landscape, but it is clear that we should make our way down, with the weather closing in. 

Going down the dirt ramps give us a chance to hit 70 km per hour over the open straight gravel sections, but then it was hard on anchors before entering the loose off camber corners.

Mt Barrow Climb

Back down to the safety of the bottom, we make our hasty retreat with thoughts of cold beer and warm food of Launceston. I had a chance to reflect how the Belgie shined, it was sure footed and calm under fire. The speeds hit during the decent felt controlled and predictable on roads that were anything but. What can I say there is nothing quite like flying down a loose bit of gravel on a surface are barely wider than your little finger but at no stage did I feel out of control on this bike.

Barrow and its big brother The Ben are the essence of what Tasmanian riding should be about. Just one turn off the main road can turn an afternoon's ride into an afternoon of adventure, all within 100km of home.

Belgie Titanium Bicycle

So back to the subject of our chasing clouds well,  they ended up dumping a wall of water 200-300ml of torrential rain behind us on to the slopes of Barrow as we retreated, turning the roads into rivers. This same cloud front continued its path washing away roads and causing wide spread flooding and damage throughout the Tamar valley. So what is the recipe for great adventure; a window of opportunity, willing participants and just a little bit of luck.

Scott Mattern

Adam was in some good company last weekend, and lucky enough to take the GMX through some of Tasmania's spectacular terrain. 

My weekend in Tassie was a win! Here I was, feeling pretty lucky with an invite to come and ride Tassie thanks to local Launceston rider Scott Mattern (via Tourism Tas). The other rider on the invite list, was none other than the famous bike blogger, John Watson, aka John Prolly aka The Radavist. Our task was pretty simple, get from Launceston to the Central Highlands and back in a couple of days and share this “Credit Card touring” experience with you all.

John Watson aka John Prolly aka The Radavist

It was set to be a “big tyred” weekend, we all wanted it all - the rugged trails, the beautiful winding bitumen and everything in between.

Scott and I were on Curve Titanium GMXs with 29x2.2 tyres and John was on a 44Bikes steel off-road tourer with some oversized 27.5 x 2.8s built by New England, USA. All our chosen wheelsets were carbon.

 Our day 1 destination was the Thousand Lakes Lodge; Being 100kms+  from Launceston it was nothing too strenuous by normal Curve standards, but still plenty of gravel, vert, and silky roads to work over the legs and earn a good feed. Cycling Tasmania with Curve CyclingThe Leafy Fall climb to the plateau included some lovely tree lined roads and some steep gravel pinches, which was rewarded with stunning vistas, crystal clear lakes and the ancient geology that the Tasmanian highlands are known for.

An oasis in a barren landscape, our accommodation was was spot on. The Thousand Lake Lodge was a former Antarctic training centre, and was recently converted into a stunning lodge by racing car legend Marcos Ambrose. Lush couches, some bloody amazing local beers, wine, a nice feed and then a comfy bed to sleep in. Thousand Lakes Lodge

The ride back was just as nice, albeit with a rather adventurous downhill to finish off the day.Hydo Scheme Tasmania

This section of the Tassie Trail was pretty smashed, littered with huge rocks and washed out areas saw us walking much of it, when you could mount the bike it was pretty wild ride. There were plenty of ways down the hill, and Scott was a little worried about his chosen route - but we didn’t give a shit, in fact the whole thing just added to the smiles and adventure.


This weekend and the company I shared, sums up about what I love about cycling;

Hanging with John Watson was pretty damn cool. He may be “world famous”, and “living the dream”, through the sharing of his two-wheeled stories, but down to earth nature and his fame doesn’t come without awesome talent and hard bloody work. He is on a mission to promote cycling and has taken big risks in driving his opinion to support those who give back to the industry. Chapeau!

John Watson aka John Prolly aka The Radavist in Tasmania 

Scott on the other hand is not in the cycling industry, he is a full time scientist, a Dad, a proud Tasmanian, and an all-round good bloke who just dead set keen to share his home turf with the rest of us. He gambled his valued time to help create this ride to help get Tassie on the cycling map.

Scott Mattern Tasmania local hero

Then there is me, the guy representing Curve. I love sharing the good vibes that these rides bring and get a real buzz from hosting rides that put the “awe” in awesome. But, ultimately we risk it all to make sure our products are worthy of the race you doing, the ride you are about roll on, or the adventure you seek.

Adam Lana Curve Cycling 

So here we have three pretty different riders with more-or-less the same goals; to share and enrich others through this awesome pass time we call cycling.

There were plenty of other cyclists who helped make it awesome, so a huge thanks to Scott for organising it all. Thanks to John for the insight, Enduro Ben for being so chilled. Rob for the trails and Troy and Co from Sprung for the wrench. Thanks to Will from Van Dieman's Brewing, for the Pork, Lamb and Beer!


Tasmania Cycling

Sad news that Jesse Carlsson has pulled out Race to the Rock. After speaking to Jesse and from his facebook feed, this what we have ascertained;

After doing all the rocky difficult single track, and coming to the end of the Mawson trail, Jesse had a big stack on an unsuspecting smooth gravel downhill run. He was heading west into a setting sun and was briefly blinded by glare as he approached an unseen clay wash out full of ruts. The bad timing saw him come down very hard, heavily winding himself (and puncturing a hole in jersey in his chest), throwing his back out and also sustaining injuries to his wrists and ankle, plus some deep and dirty cuts and grazes.
He managed to remount and ride one handed in agony about 30kms to Parachilna where he stayed the night. He still wasn't sure of the extent of the injuries "in these races everything hurts anyway, so you don't really know how bad the injuries are".
After resting he awoke to a very swollen ankle and wrist, but headed out for another 60km ride on one arm, one leg and lots of rough gravel to Leigh Creek to see a doctor. The doc. cleaned him up but suspects a broken wrist (no x-ray machine in Leigh Creek), so with Jesse not being able to hold on to the bars, he has understandably decided to pull out.
Hard bloody yakka is what Jesse is made of, and even though he won't finish, Curve  and Jesse can proud of what Jesse has achieved for this race in such a short time. Luring riders from Australia and the world to take on this adventure with him. Plus the stunning coverage with Cycling Tips ensures that more people will attempt this crazy but amazing ride. Now he can also be proud to see Sarah Hammond, the only female entrant, who was sitting in fourth on day 3, has now taken the overall lead. 

What a race! Well done Jesse.


Race to the Rock starters group shot

They are off and riding... Starting from Victoria Square in Adelaide's city centre 20 brave riders have committed to packing their bikes for a 2300 km solo adventure into the great Australian outback. Ranging from early 20's to early 70's the age range is huge. It's a male dominated ride with Sarah Hammond being the only female.

I arrived at 5:15am September 3rd 2016 to the start point for what was to be my first experience in real life as to how an ultra endurance race event starts. Photographer Lana Adams emerges from the darkness, followed by participating rider Ty Domin. By 5:30am, 5-7 riders arrive. By 5:40am, another 10 or so appear. There is a mix of excitement, nervousness and curiosity. Everyone is checking everyone else's bike, meeting and greeting eager to get going. I try to meet all the riders as they arrive and take a pic of their bikes. Bikes are in no particular order, and not a complete gallery of every bike. (Apologies for not attaching riders names to each bike.)

At 5:45 Jesse and Sarah arrive and the starting group is quickly gathered for a obligatory group photo before commencing at 6am sharp.

Race to the Rock rider Ty Domin

Race to the Rock bikes

Race to the Rock bikes

Race to the Rock bikes

Race to the Rock bikes

Race to the Rock bikes

Race to the Rock bikes

Race to the Rock bikes

 Once the group shot is taken and 6am arrives, everyone gets moving. Having insight to Jesse's plan on day 1 (His whole race schedule for that matter.) I wanted to ride out to the outskirts of the city and into the hills to get an idea of the pace the leaders will settle into. RCC members join us as the meandering bike path turns into bitumen on Gorge Road, then takes a sharp climb of 10-15% into Batchelor Road where the group gets split up. Jesse, Justin and Gunther were nowhere to be seen. They accelerate once the tight bike path opened up and off they went.

Race to the Rock day 1

Race to the Rock day 1

Race to the Rock day 1

30kms from the start point, I wave goodbye to Sarah and the rest of the riders as they begin day 1 of their journey that is Race to the Rock.

Im happy to have shared the morning with the riders and wish all of them luck.

Ride Safe

Steve Varga


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