Afternoon Delight Paradise Loop
The Saturday afternoon loop has been extended this year thanks to Super Mario showing Dualsport Australia around to offer more tight sandy tracks through forest and an incredibly scenic road meandering through the aptly named Paradise Creek Station. All up it's 121km of top riding over three hours. The Afternoon Delight loop runs in the opposite direction this year, so after a short transport out of town it’s flowing dirt lanes with short tar links to Gilgai, then into the bush where the erosion mounds start. The track turns and weaves through unmarked trails making GPS almost essential. It'll be hard work just following a route sheet through here.
Popping back onto the tar, there's a short transport then back into more tight, sandy bush, the trail weaving through rocks and ruts, deeper sand in the corners, an easy climb up to an excellent lookout on Mt Topper, all in all a fantastic section the DRs will eat up and is still easily rideable on a big bike - probably just a fair bit slower.
Although Vince took the Africa Twin around this loop last week to good reports and no problems, he declined my offer of durability testing so I can’t say.
The one-kilometre run to the top of the Mt Topper lookout is the same way in and out, so some extra care is needed in that short section. Riders will need to watch for oncoming traffic. That could happen anywhere during the weekend as roads aren't closed. Remember to adventure ride, not rally or race, and you'll be fine.
After all the excitement of the tight bush, the 10km transport will feel like torture (well it did for me anyway), but this is soon forgotten as Paradise Creek works its charm. It's incredibly scenic as it winds its way across Paradise Creek and over hills causing conflicting thoughts from wanting to stop and take photos or just enjoy the fun riding. The riding won out, but there are a few photos that don’t really do the area justice. You'll just have to see for yourselves. All too soon you’re back through Elsmore and onto the delightful Old Armidale Road that was a highlight last year as you jump and rail berms back to Inverell.
It's a delightful loop well suited to the mainly enduro background of riders that turned up last year, while still offering the big-bike rider a feeling of accomplishment without beating the rider up. The Sunday loop from Dualsport Australia's VOL-3 (New England east and west) Inverell to Barraba is also much tighter with heaps more elevation changes compared to last year’s Ashford loop. With this year being a full navigation run (last year we marked the course) some extra care is needed to watch out for corners while navigating. The number of corners overshot last year was a bit of a worry. That style of riding could easily see a trip to hospital this year, with plenty of tight corners even over rises, without room to run off safely (this section has bitten me and three other friends hard) especially after lunch on Coreena Road and Baldersleigh Road. Add in huge sections of unfenced road bristling with stock, the odd Landcruiser, big kangaroos even in middle of day, a few gates to open and close, and plenty of things to watch out for. Ridden sensibly, it's a fantastic loop, fun and scenic, one of Dualsport Australia’s favourites. Slow down and enjoy a fun, cruisy adventure ride, not rally or race to Guyra hospital (which by reports is quite good but not everyone remembers being there. So are Armidale and Coffs Hospitals).