Mar 21, 2023 Jenni King and Mark Tupalski
Mar 21, 2023 Jenni King and Mark Tupalski

Jenni and Mark’s Tasmanian trail tales

Jenni and Mark rekindle their friendship and explore the trails of north west Tasmania, Australia on board the new Neuron.

Jenni and Mark’s Tasmanian trail tales Jenni and Mark rekindle their friendship in Tasmania onboard the Neuron

When we design and build new mountain bikes, we don’t just throw any old thing together. We get input from the world’s best athletes, our talented employees and ambassadors from around the world.

With the launch date of the new Canyon Neuron fast approaching, we wanted to push the limits of this bike before delivering to you.

Jenni and Mark’s Tasmanian trail tales

Let the planning begin

Jenni King and Mark Tupalski live in Australia and go way back. They met while Mark was a cross-country and MTB marathon racer in his early 20s. Both he and Jenni were in the midst of Commonwealth Games team selection and forged a unique bond that has resulted in a lifelong friendship.

“I was taken by Mark’s seemingly endless knowledge on just about any topic of conversation. He would be the first to offer help cleaning bikes, fixing mechanicals, cooking dinner and cleaning up. I made sure to keep in touch with him after my racing career,” says Jenni.

Mark’s talents lay not just in the road racing scene. Before long he tackled 24 hour races, MTB marathons and cross-country racing. Eventually, he also closed the chapter on his racing career and went on to study at university before meeting his now wife Eliza. Mountain biking continues to take up most of their spare time together.

A quick and enthusiastic phone call between the two confirmed the adventure ahead.

“I went on a family holiday last year to Tasmania. We spent a few days in Derby, a quaint little town in the north west. It’s otherwise known as ‘mountain bikers paradise’. With its world class trails that cater to any level of rider, I knew that was where we had to go with the Neuron,” says Jenni. She’d heard of a trail called “Bay of Fires” while she was there but never had time to ride it.

“Derby was one of the last places Jenni and I raced together so it seemed fitting that we returned there,” said Mark as he gave the green light on Jenni’s exciting plans for the pair. “I’d also ridden ‘Bay of Fires’ on my honeymoon, so I knew what to expect and had a great idea for a warm up trail at the start.”

The trail covers amazing singletrack descents and granite rock features from the trailhead in Blue Tier Forest Reserve. The trail weaves through the forest and more exposed singletrack over the course of 42km. Eventually, you’ll find yourself at Swimcart Beach.

“Mark’s so-called warm up trail added another 10km to the route and I didn’t think much of it at the time,” says Jenni unaware that Mark’s research confirmed an additional 400m of climbing, granite boulders, potential hike-a-bike, mud bogs and creek crossings. This route wasn’t for the faint hearted.

Excitedly the duo made their way to Geelong in Victoria to take the ferry across to Tasmania. They sat down at a nearby fish and chip shop for a quick brief of the days ahead. As it was an overnight sailing, Jenni and Mark settled down and awaited the morning announcement alarm clock on board.

Jenni and Mark’s Tasmanian trail tales

Arrival in Tasmania

After disembarking the “Spirit of Tasmania” it was time for Jenni and Mark to channel their own spirits and they made their way to Derby just a couple of hours’ drive away.

Upon arrival, they dialled in the bikes and packed their bags. Australia in the summer can be a hostile place, so they made sure they had plenty of suncream, water, food, spares and MTB kit. Mark called in to a local bike shop to grab a few last minute bits.

“I told the young guy in the shop about our plans to ride the uphill trail and he looked a little concerned,” laughs Mark. “I thought a 10km trail can’t be that bad but he said, ‘if you get through there, it’ll be at least half a day’s riding’ – sounds fun!”

With a final weather check, the pair checked into their accommodation at the Derby Lodge and settled in for the night.

Blue Tier’s uphill struggle

Their 4am alarms woke them from their slumber. Since the ride was a day trip, they wanted to maximise their time on the trails. After a pre-sunrise coffee and a final weather check, the pair set off from Weldborough just a short drive from their digs in Derby.

As the sun came up, the “Little Chook” trail gave a short warm up before the climbing really began. Though a few swear words were muttered, Jenni soon relished the challenge.

“The rainforest singletrack sections were beautiful and the loose, rocky climb kept us on our toes in terms of line choice,” she recalls describing the plentiful ferns and creek crossing they experienced. “A short descent with plenty of ruts to negotiate gave us a short reprieve. Another creek crossing signalled the start of the long, steep uphill punctuated with giant boulders.”

Mark and Jenni were further challenged when Mother Nature called and offered up a rainstorm making traction tricky. Not wanting to live up to the bike shop guy’s expectations of a half day quest, they pushed on.

Steep pinches with massive granite steps separated by tree roots had the pair reminiscing a stage race they did years ago.

“The Neuron was more than up for the challenge. It was super responsive whether I needed it to change directions on the spot or give a kick of power to get up a step,” says Mark describing the rocky terrain they had to navigate before they reached the top of the climb.

As they got higher, the flora around them changed. The trails were lined with towering eucalypts which gave way to tree ferns, myrtle, pepperberry bushes and the odd celery top pine. As they crested, the trees opened up to reveal a panoramic coastal view. A prime spot for refuelling ahead of a 13km descent.

Stop, rock and roll

What followed a rugged rise to the top was an exhilarating descent of non-stop fun: berms, jumps and drops. Through a tunnel of ferns, Mark and Jenni carved their way down the trail. Though she was hesitant at the top, Jenni found her groove and used the full travel of the suspension.

The lower section of the trails rolled through an open eucalypt forest where the ferns gave way to scrub and coarse broken-down granite soil. It took a few corners to adjust to the changing terrain but the pair meandered their way down to a rocky lookout where they paused for thought.

“My energy levels began to drop and I mentioned to Mark that a caffeine hit wouldn’t go astray,” says Jenni. “To my surprise, he pulled out his stove setup, built a fire and brewed me a coffee – what a champion!”

With their energy levels revitalised, they pushed on to the top of the final climb. There, they noticed rain clouds on the horizon so they had to get moving.

Jenni and Mark weaved through red rocks for the final 7km descent. On arrival at Swimcart beach, they were greeted with crystal blue water and bright white sand. Mark parked his bike and ran into the water to cool off before the rain came down. Jenni laughed from the sand in awe of the experience complete with flashbacks from their younger years.

Jenni and Mark’s Tasmanian trail tales

Cleaning the bikes and heading home

After sorting out the bikes and packing all their gear ready for the trip back home to their families, they swinged by The Hub restaurant for pizzas before hitting the road.

“It was super hard to focus on my medical school studies when I got home,” says Mark still reeling from the trip. “It was partly fatigue from a whirlwind tour and partly remembering just how much fun it all was.”

Jenni echoed the same feelings. “I haven’t stopped raving about the awesome trails Derby has to offer. I couldn’t think of a better bike to handle such varied terrain and I’m so stoked that I got to experience it all with my mate Mark.”

They don’t know when they’ll ride together again but one thing’s for sure: the next time they swing their legs over the saddle of their Neurons, they’ll remember just how much fun they had down in Tassie.

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