Helicopter mountain biking
Yes, it’s a thing and you can do it in Ipswich.
What do you get when you combine a helicopter and an electric mountain bike?
While it sounds like the start to a really bad dad joke, the answer is one of the best days out I’ve had in a long time.
I had never been in a helicopter before and could not remember the last time I rode a bike, let alone on single-track mountain biking trails, and I’m not sure which I was more nervous about.
Luckily, our pilot Brett from Elite Helicopters, Archerfield, was both a fantastic flyer and an accomplished mountain biker who filled us in on some of the finer points of off-road biking as we flew towards Hidden Vale Adventure Park, Grandchester.
Any nerves I had vanished as soon as we left the helipad and I took in the stunning views from the cockpit. If you think the view from a plane is great – the uninterrupted view from a helicopter is next level!
Brett pointed out the major landmarks as we flew and regaled us with tales of his years as a pilot.
Before we knew it, we were landing at the entrance to Hidden Vale Adventure Park and being fitted for electric mountain bikes.
Brett provided us with a map of the park’s trails and recommend a few that would be suitable for our (lack of) riding skills.
We rode along a fire trail to get used to the bike’s electric features – the greatest invention in biking: going uphill is just as much fun as going downhill – before tackling one of the “easy” 10km single tracks.
This is where the aforementioned lack of riding skills came into play.
Somewhat counterintuitively, the safest way to ride through sharp bends, over large rocks and other obstacles is to maintain speed rather than slowing down. This led to a couple of spills as my first instinct was to heavily apply the brakes which, I soon found out, only increased your chances of skidding out and falling off the bike.
It took a few kilometres of track to get confident riding through obstacles at speed but once I did, I had a blast.
Getting out into the bush was a lovely experience and we encountered huge kangaroos, wallabies and some stubborn cows who weren’t keen on moving off the trail.
There was even the decaying skeleton of a light plane, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, which we stopped to explore.
We completed the 10km circuit in about an hour and headed to Spicers Hidden Vale, next to the Adventure Park, for a well-earned beer, burger and chips at the recently reopened Homage restaurant bar before our return flight to Archerfield.
With the guests at Spicer Hidden Vale watching us board the helicopter, it was hard not to feel like a bit of a rock star – especially with all the children waving madly at us as we rose above the resort. After all, it’s not every day that you get chauffeured by helicopter!
If a long, relaxing meal is more your scene, Elite Helicopters also do lunch flights as well as pub and winery tours, heli-golf and island getaways.