Article from the September 2012 Central West Daily
Some Happy Riders Tales
G'day Will - Just had a look at all the photos you sent me ..... AWESOME!! It just makes me want to go back there even more. There's some real rippers on there! Brought back some great memories.Trevor (April 2013) - Flow NZ MTB Trip 2013
Can't think of anything I would change. The weather was great and the trails were mind-blowing. Before going on this trip I new it was going to be good, but I never expected it to be soo much better than expected. This trip exceeded all expectations I had.
Ravi (March 2013) - Flow NZ MTB Trip 2013
I would like to thank you for the amazing time that was had in New Zealand, truly it was one of the greatest times of my life. The trip has made me fall in love with mountain biking as a whole all over again.
Pat (March 2013) - Flow NZ MTB Trip 2013
I wanted to take this opportunity to once again thank you for a fantastic experience at the Haute Route. Whilst the event itself was a cracker, fantastically well organised and incredibly challenging, just as I had hoped, your supporting tour was even better. I loved that I didn't have to think about anything after each ride, and not just because of the fact that I simply couldn't! A cold drink and Joe's friendly face at the end was invaluable, as was the serenity of each place we stayed, especially Risoul. And the fact that you were pretty much always available to everyone, both on the road and afterwards, certainly made everyone relaxed about the challenge we were all facing. Should I feel the need to be as physically challenged as that week ever again, and I should I entertain the thought of ever getting back on a bike, twowheeltours.com.au will be the first website I look at.
Simon (August 2012) - Haute Route 2012
So was a top bike trip, maybe my best ever considering the total package of fearsome intense riding, a very fine ride group, excellent support by Joe and yourself, and a great hotel at each end. Memorable.
Bill (August 2012) - Haute Route 2012
Article from Breathe Magazine Volume 6 Issue 2 2012
Article by Marg Fedyna pg 13 - 15
I can only repeat how much of a great time we had with you in Italy. Your selections of accommodation, restaurants and activities were superb. Your planning and attention to detail made everything run so smoothly.
Peeter (June 2012) - Private Italy June 2012
You are a master at your craft Will, and I don't mean cycling. Your thoroughness in making thoughtful arrangements to ensure we non-riders were engaged in the local cuisines and environments was second to none. Clearly you are a people person and the care and attention you put in to the non-riders holiday was very apparent and much appreciated. I had no idea I would enjoy a cycling holiday so much!!!
Gail (June 2012) - Private Italy June 2012
Our trip was great, thanks to you! Our first impressions, well how could you go past strawberries and chocolate! The crew in Stein am Rhein [Switzerland] were great, organizing shoes, hiring high quality Trek suspension bikes, helmets. Great service. All appreciated. Expert skills coach in Fussen [Germany], delicious food and beer, what more could you desire. Throw in the Disney castle, cascading river and enormous slugs! Not to mention a wonderful Swiss inspired BBQ. Plus another bonus, the dry weather. As well as tasty apple, rhubarb, apricot, kiwi fruit strudel with cream.
Scuol [Switzerland] was great. The variety of rides - single track, trails, ups and downs, amazing bridges, castles, churches and natural scenery. Vernie and his residence and gastronomical experience. Xavier, the welcoming fit young guide. We were lucky at Scuol, the "Sun was IN".
Even though the weather wasn't in our favour we still enjoyed our trip to Predazzo. Yvette and Alberto also welcomed us. Their local knowledge was great ; thick hot chocolates, Speck house food and local drinks. Will, your photos and cooking were certainly an added bonus. We have never had so many quality holiday snaps; especially of us on the bikes, the odd cow and even a [Fiat] Panda or two! So many memorable moments - riding at high altitude (2,500m) in the snow, riding into the field of grass and flowers near Predazzo. You captured everything in photos for us!
Helen (June 2012) Private MTB EU Tour - Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Italy
I will recommend you and your company to others and wish / hope / plan to do more organised rides in future!
Michael (May 2011)
Many Thanks and hope you see you on another weekend sometime in the future.
David (May 2011)
Thanks for being such a great guide. We loved having you lead our group.
Clay (August 2010)
I just wanted to thank you for doing such a wonderful job taking care of us. You really went out your way to make it a wonderful trip. You literally gave us the coat off your back and saved us on a special hill climb. One of the best parts of the whole trip was becoming friends with you.
Kevin (August 2010)
Some Happy Riders Tales from our brother company mtnbike.com.au
Many thanks Will, I had a brilliant weekend. Very well organised from start to finish. Brie (May 2011)
AWESOME, AWESOME WEEKEND. GREAT VALUE, DEFINITE CONFIDENCE BUILDER, GREAT LEADER (THANKS WILL) GREAT GROUP OF WOMEN. I WILL DEFINITELY BE RIDING BACK IN CANBERRA AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!! Linda (May 2011)
Everything was extremely well organised. Flawless execution and timed perfectly ... I’ve spent all morning planning when I can go back to tackle it again! Overall, triple thumbs up and I would recommend your company to anyone interested in these trips. Thanks again :)
Jill (May 2011)
Thanks Will, I had a fantastic weekend, and would highly recommend this trip. Look out for my name on the another session, it won't be my last!
Lisa (May 2011)
Great weekend - definitely keen for more!
Katie (February 2011)
Hi Will, Great weekend. I am still smiling. Thanks for the photos. I really want to be out on a trail, not stuck in a office. Hope to do it again soon.
Mel (February 2011)
Hi Will, I wanted to thank you for a fantastic weekend.
- Great organisation
- Great people
- Great Riding
Money well spent!
Frederic (February 2011)
G'day Will - Thanks once again for the weekend, I enjoyed every aspect of it. Great value all around, I'm going to try & fit another weekend in very soon.
Thanks for the fantastic experience you facilitated it so well, from the coordination of the logistics, which was excellent, to keeping us in one piece! I truly enjoyed my experience, the skills sessions and the beautiful locations you selected.
Elizabeth (November 2010)
Will, I thought the whole experience was excellent. Very professional, yet informal and fun. The progression from skills session to Sparrow to Secret to Stromlo was very logical and looking back, I can't believe I rode the Stromlo trails given my skill level before the trip. That is a testament to the building up of skills over the two days at a pace that suits the rider. Well done. The whole set up with the AIS is a brilliant score ... It also adds a novel "sporting" theme to the weekend ... I really enjoyed the rides with you ... because you would intuitively know when to ride in front for demonstration, then when to ride behind for assessment & instruction. It can be a fine balance between learning versus fun but I think you nailed it. Overall I will definitely recommend these trips to others ... I would struggle to even think of any suggested improvements to be honest ... I wish you all the very best and believe that you have the skill set and personality to make this business a success.
Nicole (June 2010)
Thanks so much Will for taking us on a memorable adventure which was so well organised. I loved that the weekend had structure, but was still so laid back with plenty of choices available to everyone ... The freedom you gave us to go into smaller groups and ride on our own was also appreciated as we could ride at our own pace, enjoy riding with our 'new friends' and feel like we could create own little adventure. Thanks again for taking the time to organise the food, accommodation, travel, skills day, bike transport, pick up and drop off and FUN, so well!!
Wendy (May 2010)
Such a well organised weekend with a great group of girls and a lovely guide. I was really impressed by everything, from the food to the amount of riding we did and particularly being able to ride such different terrain.
Julia (May 2010)
I had an awesome time. It was really well organized & good value. Thanks Will!! ;-)
Lidia (May 2010)
Hi Will - Just wanted to thank you again for the fantastic GUG weekend! It was really well organised and it was great to get a taste of different places to ride in Canberra plus the cafe and pub you took us to. I loved staying at the AIS too! ... I look forward to another ride and trip somewhere with you.
Raquel (May 2010)
Hi there - just wanted to drop you a line to say thanks for a great weekend event ... I think you have a very good product ... Both Sonia and I got a lot out of it, and staying at the AIS was a real experience. I have emerged with some of my old confidence back.
Sandra (May 2010)
MTBO National Event Lithgow Area - finally, thanks to Will Levy of mtnbike.com.au for transporting a group of our interstate riders up to the events by bus.
David (Mar 2010)
Just wanted to say a big thanks again for the weekend, it was really awesome. I am having flash-backs of skyline as I type this and will definitely have to get down there again soon ... As far as feedback goes, I would rate you a 10/10. I have attended a few skills days before, and whilst they were run very well, I think it is a whole other level taking people touring and being able to maintain a comfortable social environment as well as a fun riding environment. Your enthusiasm and professionalism in running the tour will serve you very well on your quest for world domination!
Stuart (Mar 2010)
Will - We had the best weekend, thank you so much. We hope very much to come on another of your trips in the next few months ... Thanks again Will, the weekend was 10 times better than I was anticipating, and of course I thought it would be great anyway, and the company was excellent.
Libby and John (Dec 2009)
Hi Will - I just want to say thanks for a really great weekend. The trails, of course, were amazing, but I also really enjoyed the personal touch you added to the weekend - being a trail guide, giving tips on better riding, and lots of inspiration to go harder.
Good work Will – you’re an inspiration your someone who had a goal and went out and did it – I know in event planning the only time people speak up is usually when things go wrong – but I think everything went really well .Congratulation you should be really proud.
Troy (June 2009)
Lunch on Saturday was totally perfect. Top quality and heaps of it! That was great just sitting around the bus talking about the ride. I liked the skills session on Saturday - that was great! The food at the AIS was great. The conversation to and from Canberra was great. I loved Mt Stromlo, even though I had more stacks there. It was a hard course, but coming down was wicked cool and made it worth the effort. Sparrow was awesome...in fact they were totally different. Your commentary was good and it was clear what we had to do. A large group of mates, a bonding weekend and not having to worry about the hassle of driving and stuff plus the great food at the AIS, it rocked
Shawn (June 2009)
Trip 31 Oct - 1 Nov - Skills Session with Ben Henderson
The organiser / hosts made it an enjoyable experience for everyone.
The transport was safe / the hosts took shifts with rest stops.
The tour catered for every level of both fitness and ability. You could ride as little or as much as you liked. There were ample opportunities to practice what was taught. The importance of local knowledge was evident. It would be difficult to organise such a quality trip yourself for less. EVERYONE had a great time.
Byron (Oct 2009)
Hi there, on the weekend I went to Canberra with Will Levy & his crew from mtnbike.com.au and it was excellent they organised it all and I had to do nothing but ride 'Sparrow, Mystery & Mt Stromlo', even got to ride with Ben Henderson he taught us some skills. I would just like to let everyone know what a good time it was and that it was well worth the trip. Will had organised food accommodation & all the riding.
Chris (Oct 2009)
Thanks once again for a great trip.
John (June 2009)
EXCELLENT!!!! Thanks Will....
Stacey (June 2009)
Below is the weekend review from Trailflix - it can also be found via the following link - Thanks Grant S
About 8 months ago, Will Levy (mtnbike.com.au) contacted me via the Trailflix website, asking if we could meet for coffee to brainstorm a MTB tour opportunity he was exploring and was seeking feedback for. Will’s idea was to take a mini-bus of
Will did the right thing in those months in-between our get-together and the launch: - developing a business plan, speaking with MTB industry people, meeting Canberra & ACT tourism authorities, , brainstorming and fine-tuning the details with his mates, getting quotes for everything and even designing his own 20-bike trailer (which he tells me has lead to a tad ‘trailer envy’ amongst some in the MTB community). The fact that after all that, he’s keener than ever speaks to my comment a week or so ago about the benefits of being passionate about what you do for a job. It’s obvious he loves doing this.
However, it’s what the market - not you - wants that’s important in business, and you have to admit,
However, if you’ve actually done the journey and driven all that way as Grant Byrne & I have now done a few times, then you’ll know it’s a loooong way for a day’s riding., so the idea of having someone ELSE do the driving, feed and put you up was darned appealing…
Andy & I arrived at the appointed pick-up place (outside a Bike Barn in Campbelltown - they pick up at 3 locations around the city). It was 8 degrees on a cloudless morning – first one for months! - and we’d been checking the
Pretty soon, Will’s (hired) 20-seater minibus and huge canvas-covered trailer arrived. The trailer has been Will’s pet project for several months and it’s really well-built, though he admits the racking system is still being tweaked. It’s apparently harder than it should be to drop the cranks into and get them out of the steel holders so he’s looking at ways of making it faster. Backpacks & helmets in hand, we hopped on the bus to meet the guys (including one girl) on this, the first ‘practice’ tour:
Will, Carl, Laurie, Shawn (AKA Burge),
Well over an hour later, desperate for coffee and a toilet break, we stopped at a large servo outside Goulburn. While parked, I interviewed a few of the crew, starting with Stacey & Kynan, a couple. She’s into MTB in a big way while he’s an experienced kayaker, a possible Olympian. They’ve both done MTB up and down Europe,
Sprawled comfortably into the bus seats, with coffee and eats in hand, we journeyed on, arriving about an hour later than scheduled at Sparrow Hill, and keen to get out. Will’s admitted the ambitious time-schedule just needs to be tweaked and already he’s worked out where efficiencies can be gained without taking away from the relaxed feeling we all experienced.
Will had arranged for us to meet Peter Dowse, Director of Canberra’s Capital Bike Hire for some MTB skills training. His bike hire company will loan riders a mount for the weekend if someone doesn’t have their own or it’s not good enough. He sometimes makes end-of-hire-life bikes avail for purchase and even had a buyer on our trip but had none actually available. He also runs a program with the PCYC, guiding under-privileged kids in MTB riding & maintenance and was in fact in preparation himself for the downhill comp at Majura Pines the next day. Busy dude.
After setting up the bikes we all lined up for class. I’m a pretty average rider so always keen to take on board someone else’s insights. And Peter was a great trainer; getting us to ride more tightly round small-spaced cones, lean the correct way on a turn, tips on how to jump a log and tackle downhill more safely and quickly.
After about 40 minutes of skills, Will asked the group to divide themselves into the ‘advanced’ (fast/experienced) and the ‘others’ (newbies, slower). I stuck with the learners hoping to get more video & photos. And it was the right choice because about 15 minutes along the track our group stopped to do some sessioning, riding round the tight switchbacks that are common in Sparrow. Peter watched closely as we all made different but common mistakes; leaning to the wrong side, not taking the outer line, putting on a speed burst in the wrong place. The newbies were starting to get it and the rest were honing half-forgotten techniques.
Later on, Shawn, riding just behind Pete, stacked it when a huge rock, unseen behind a tree until you came right up to it, became his nemesis. Instead of just riding over it, he focused on it. Pete got us off the bikes, and broke the corner down for us, taking us thorugh it , step-by-step, then got us all to ride the corner a couple more times and it was as easy as – such is the benefit of sessioning. The group rode off feeling that much more confident. Of course that can lead to overconfidence and we had a couple of spectacular stacks after that! ☺
The ‘Bobsled’ downhill near the end of the ride was everyone’s favourite. After lining us up for what was ahead Pete just took off and I suspect barely touched the dirt on the way down. This section rides like the ‘Roller Coaster’ at Ourimbah – still one of the fastest rides we have on film - and I can’t wait to get back to this trail to capture the Bobsled in similar fashion at some stage.
We met a couple of packs of mid-afternoon roo’s on the way down but as per usual they were too chicken to race us and fled into the trees. Back at the bus all were satisfied we’d had a fantastic ride, though I quietly felt another hour on the bike to do the full loop wouldn’t have gone amiss for me. That being said, if I’d joined the fast group I wouldn’t have benefited from the extra skills training and I’ve already seen how that‘ll stand me in good stead for a long while. Lunch was massive: a huge filled roll (we picked fillings by email a few days before the trip), yoghurt, juice pack, water, a protein bar and a banana and I’d already had a bar or two so I was stuffed. We weren’t going to go hungry!
We sat round on folding stools that Will had had tucked somewhere and enjoyed tales of the ride, discussion about the trailer construction and looking forward to the night ahead and another ride before dusk. Pete talked about his work with underprivileged youth & MTB and I told Will it would make a great short docco if I could get back there and spend some time filming it… Time = my greatest challenge.
The 2nd troop arrived back about 20 minutes later with their own tales of glory, having done the entire 30-odd km loop and loving it. About 45 minutes later we were checking in to the Australian Institute of Sport, our overnight accommodation. Check-in’s were well-organised (like the whole weekend); They had all our names and room allocations already listed. Plus they have all sorts of security - cards and guards - to protect the professional athletes, I guess, from yobs entering (mind you, they did let US in…).
The halls of residence rooms are spartan but functional, with 4 beds in 2 rooms, a TV room with a couch & table, small kitchen with stove, microwave, fridge, sink and all the dishes, and a large bathroom with shower, toilet and a tub to wash clothes. There are separate laundry facilities but we’d all brought enough for the weekend.
We agreed to throw our stuff into the rooms and then those who were keen to go out for the late afternoon ride to head back outside. It had been decided earlier that it was too late to drive all the way to Majura Pines and instead we would ride the local ‘Mystery Ride’. 10 minutes later, most of us turned up. Shawn had injured his ankle on his altercation with the rock so decided discretion was called for and a nap would be a bonus. The riders congregated and while we had been advised riding in the AIS grounds is not allowed, I think we must have forgotten that as we trundled off through the walkways to the next trail, officially known as a ‘mystery trail’ because it’s not a sanctioned ride.
That being said it would have to be one of the many highlights of the trip. The trails are:
1. Less than 5 minutes away from AIS
4. Unlike any trails I’ve been on in
Back at AIS we showered and took a wander round the place trying to spot famous athletes (met at lunch the next day a young woman rider from the Aussie MTB team who was there for the weekend doing some training on Stromlo. They reported they loved it but team members experienced two major injuries – a smashed face and a sprained wrist on the black diamond). On our informal AIS tour we saw the new and old swimming pools, plus the big arena… but I guess we already had built up a reputation, because all the well-known athletes were in hiding. My new autograph collection would have to wait… Then it was buffet dinner – all you can eat & (soft) drink - plenty of food choices and a great dessert. Pasta, bread, salad, rice dishes, curry, chicken something, fish something else – and all healthy. As it was 7pm, I had built up this huge appetite and fair tucked in, though after several return trips to the buffet, I could barely stand up! It was like Xmas dinner back home…
That evening we dropped one of the guys off to his friend’s birthday dinner while the rest of us hung out at a city pub, watching rugby while imbibing a few of the local ales. Nothing too extreme in the drinking stakes but the option was there if you wanted to make a night of it. Half the group sat out under the clear sky with the gas heaters taking the chill off the
Day 2 got off to a great start with a crisp pre-breakfast ride at Mystery Hill. I enjoyed it even better this time thru and I told the guys to head off while I took a few shots of the area. Even so I caught up with them when we crossed paths just 10 minutes later. Managed to get a little video but really they & I just wanted to ride. A massive breakfast was enjoyed by all, shortly thereafter. this was becoming a habit I could get used to. I wondered if I was too old to apply for the AIS…Actually I seriously think I put on a kilo or two over that weekend…so don’t think this is your Weight-Watchers, low-fat bike tour – far from it…
Andy, meanwhile, ate like a horse and still looked like a hunger-striker victim! At work we think he must have some sort of warped space or black hole inside him because the food goes in while he never appears to gain so much as a gram. Renowned at work as ‘The Food Vacuum’, he finishes off anything left out after someone brings in sandwiches or cakes from a meeting. I’m guessing he’s probably an alien criminal, stuck here on earth to help cause some of the world’s food shortages! AIS were probably very bloody lucky we were late arrivals at the breakfast, because if Andy had gotten in any earlier, there could have been a food riot.After breakfast we left luggage in a couple of rooms and headed to the bus, excited about talk of Stromlo on what looked like a fairly good day weather-wise, though clouds looked a little dangerous over to the west.
Over half the group had not experienced Stromlo before so this was another new adventure for them and a chance to re-explore for the rest of us. The car park at 10:00am was mostly empty so maybe the locals were away for Queens Birthday holidays. There were a few guys on the trails but as they say, there are no traffic jams in heaven.
The tracks are described in the Stromlo Trail Page so I won’t go into them in depth here, suffice to say I wasn’t up for the Black Diamond again. Up or down, it’s as hard as it sounds but well worth it if you have that level of skill. Being a newbie, Andy was happy to start out easy so we started round the novice track, which is at the base of the hill, all on the flat. Video camera in one hand, steering with the other, I followed he & Will (the rest had taken off already) and got some footage on the flat.
Feeling adventurous, Andy spotted a couple of piles of dirt and a trail and sped up them only to find the downside was more or less a straight drop. Spectacularly, he tumbled arse over tit. I was still carrying the video cam but had inadvertently turned the bugger off so it’s etched in memory but nowhere else. Shame. It was pure YouTube gold. He was shaken but not stirred – luckily the dirt was soft - and we carried on up the green track where he decided a tad more care might be in order. That made it easy for me to jump off the bike a few times and convince him to slow down so I could get more video. Nothing to do with hoping for another stack.
Overall though, I was really enjoying the riding, plus I didn’t want to interrupt other people’s biking, so I didn’t get as much riding footage as I would have liked. I decided to leave that for another time …We caught up to Will, Laurie & Shawn who were looking for a tool kit to do some minor bike-surgery. Will had loaned his out earlier and not had it returned. Repair done, we rode on, and up and up to the top. It’s a long steady ride with copious rocks and stunning views for miles.
By now a degree of fatigue had set in, so more than a few of the group were looking to reap the benefit of all that uphill expenditure. Near the top Shawn had a stack equal in scope to Andy’s tumble. He ended up on his back, crablike, over the ledge with his legs through the frame and seemingly unable to move. I had seen it all and AGAIN didn’t capture it on film (I was riding just ahead) and leapt off to extract the bike from his Cirque de Soleil-like position. He was largely unhurt and carried on but - like Andy - took it somewhat more gingerly thereafter. Having heard the MTB pro from the day before talk about ‘smashed face’ and ‘fractured ankle’ something must have reverberated.
At each major junction the lead riders stopped and we all gathered for the next section with Will giving some description of what lay ahead. I’m pleased to say I enjoyed Stromlo more this time because I knew what was coming up plus I had those new switchback and corner-handling skills that we’d acquired the day before so I was a lot faster even while I felt more in control.
At the end of the downhill, after some great little jumps, you skirt round the BMX track. A few drops of rain had started to fall but not enough to stop us all heading back up to the BMX start line (me downhill a ways with camera at the ready) to do a BMX trial. Several stacks and one broken bike (Will – I forget what he broke, but it was apparently unrideable afterwards) didn’t take way the immense fun that was had by all. I managed to get Andy stacking – twice! – and will include it in some bloopers at some stage.
But by the time the canvas was pulled over the trailer, the raindrops had become a drizzle and we knew we’d seen the best of the day. But apart from wanting to get back to
Lunch, showers and AIS checkout followed. And stories galore. I managed to get a few interviews in between the food, and decided then I had missed my calling: not an IT guy/filmmaker but a professional athlete with access to unlimited grub. Hell, I’m salivating just imagining it…!
Before we hit the Federal Highway Andy asked Will if it was OK to stop at a fireworks shop and buy a few crackers for his kids, since you can’t buy them anywhere outside
About 20Km out from Canberra I asked Will to stop, and I jumped off the bus, ran ahead along the Federal Highway and stopped to film the bus rolling on by and then ran up to them & jumped on. Anyone watching would have thought I was crazy and they’d have been right. Such is the lot of the filmmaker.
All in all, a memorable weekend : the riding – superb; the food – too much; the travel & accommodation – well-organized; the comradeship – typically keen MTB blokes (and token girl who was fantastic fun and a much better rider than many) who were laid back and loving it.
On the return journey, sleeping ensued for some but the adrenaline was still flowing for others so it was shared stories. Near
For Will, he has (at time of writing) 3 more trips already in the calendar and then he’ll see what comes out of the woodwork. A week after my editorial entry about the weekend someone dropped me a mail asking me for his website (mtnbike.com.au), so his adventure is definitely underway…