Emma Rhymer enjoying a ride at the Awaba trails, Newcastle NSW last week.
Emma Rhymer enjoying a ride at the Awaba trails, Newcastle NSW last week. Contributed

Biking club warns 'vandalism' could cause serious risk

RISK of erosion and environmental damage could flow on from acts of "vandalism" to Southern Downs mountain biking trails, a sporting club has warned.

Official audits, months of planning and regular working bees have gone towards building and maintaining professional-grade mountain bike tracks in the region.

Southern Downs Mountain Biking Club member Emma Rhymer said trails built on Mt Marlay last year were designed to comply with Australian and international mountain biking standards.

"There is heaps of regulation around trails," Mrs Rhymer said.

"It was more than 12 months of planning before we even started building on the trails and they are audited for their environmental standards and water flow, as well as for safety."

But the discovery of new unofficial lines, where someone appears to have cut a new trail, has prompted an official warning from the club.

"We wanted to send a very clear message that we don't condone or support that," Mrs Rhymer said.

"You have ride the trails that are there. Once you cut your own lines in you run the risk of creating erosion when it rains."

Mrs Rhymer said mountain biking for her was as much about preserving and enjoying the natural environment as it was the thrill and challenge of tackling steep, rocky terrain.

Mounting interest in outdoor activity

Mrs Rhymer said mountain biking was increasingly popular on the Southern Downs.

Trail counters record roughly 280-300 bikes on Southern Downs trails each month.

Emma Rhymer racing at this year's Hidden Vale Epic 55km.
Emma Rhymer racing at this year's Hidden Vale Epic 55km. Element Video & Photography

"Popularity is building and the trails we have are very much used by people of all different ages," Mrs Rhymer said.

Now based in Stanthorpe, Mrs Rhymer stumbled upon mountain biking as a teacher on a school camp three years ago.

As a child she had not learnt to ride a bike, but determination to pedal ahead saw her changing gears and climbing peaks in the space of a few years.

"I enjoy lots of things: getting out into the big the green space and exercising outside, the thrill of the bike riding and having a goal and working towards that goal whether it is to go faster or further," she said.

Find out more about Southern Downs Mountain Biking Club on their Facebook page.

Stephen Lambert of Zest Bakeries, Stanthorpe, on our black trail 'Tankslapper'
Stephen Lambert of Zest Bakeries, Stanthorpe, on our black trail 'Tankslapper' Contributed


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