Race loop - 12km
Elevation - 300m
On the South-east outskirts of Ballarat you will find one of Victorian mountain biking’s best kept secrets. An easy 20 minutes ride from the CBD through Ballarat’s back streets and parklands will have you at Canadian Forest, and ready to take in some fine single track. After rolling out from Cafe Europa, we were headed for the Pax Hill Scout Camp as our start point.
See also: Ballarat's top three MTB rides
Canadian Forest is made up of mostly native Australian bush and grass trees. You won’t be finding any machine built bike park highways here; it’s old school hand-cut cross country trails at their finest. The climbs are short and never too steep and the descents make the most of the limited elevation. The climbing that you do is always rewarded, that is all you can ask for in a cross country trail.
The loop we rode was similar to what is raced at the Victorian Enduro Series, a 12km loop with approximately 300 metres of elevation. This loop can take from 35-70 minutes depending on your skill and fitness levels. The race track takes in some of the best trails Canadian Forest has, from the fast flowing Canadian downhill, to the picturesque switchback climbs through grass trees and the tight and technical mine field descent.
Easily my favourite track (and a local favourite) was the mine field descent. With its tight nature and undulations your skills are challenged to ride it fast, and if you’re game there are a few gap lines to test even the best. Not only is the technical nature of the track appealing, but it is quintessential Ballarat with the old mine shafts lining the track… It is a real reminder of the heritage of the area.
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For many years the efforts of the local trail builders and the Ballarat-Sebastopol Cycling Club have forged a brilliant trail network through the forest. The trails are not so difficult that they couldn’t be ridden by beginners and children, whilst at speed they provide a great challenge for the racers amongst us. When you come to ride here get on Strava to show you where the trails go, bring a sense of adventure and enjoy some raw old-school single track.
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