We sometimes hear about a lack of community feeling in our suburbs these days. That may be true of some areas but rest assured, on the Northern suburbs of Sydney there is a community so strong they epitomise the very word and they all have one thing in common; a love of mountain biking.

Actually this community shares two things in common, a love of mountain biking and a love of the land on which they ride their bikes. This was on full display at the recent Mt Narra Festival, organised by the Garigal Gorillas, a group of like-minded mountain bikers from all walks of life, young and old who all have a huge respect and love for the environment here.

The mini festival saw the Garigal Gorillas and community come together in an impressive turnout, for a day of social rides on the local beloved trails, a post-ride yoga session to loosen up those joints, a raffle with some awesome prizes and a monster BBQ! What’s not to love about that?

There were a variety of trails to ride on the day, all set in a stunning landscape. Making your way to the top of the mountain you get to see incredible vistas of the surrounding areas and understand why this area has a special place in their hearts. You just have to stop to take it all in. The trails themselves are first class and have plenty of variety to keep everyone entertained, for all skill levels.

There was a surprisingly large mix of riders who turned up to ride the trails. Riders at world championship level to the tiniest of tots, were all seen on their bikes and all with a huge grin on their faces and why not? This is what it’s all about, being outdoors with family and friends, all sharing common interests and having a good time.

Unfortunately the rain came and dampened some of the trails, but it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits. After the riding was done, everyone headed over to the local clubhouse for the big BBQ, which was kindly donated by a local business.

At the clubhouse there was a skills trail set up in the park to keep the kids entertained, while adults got stuck into the grub and had a sneaky beer (or two). The vibe was maxed out on positive with good tunes and old friends re-united, plus new friendships being made on the day.

Towards the end of the event there was a raffle draw, with some impressive prizes donated by local businesses and friends of the group. A few of the key group members got up and talked about the day’s events and the purpose of the festival. You could feel the sense of community here. It was tangible and incredibly positive.

It’s evident that mountain biking brings so much joy to this community and others like it around Australia. Health benefits, bringing people together, encouraging more people to get outdoors are just a part of it. If more people are experiencing the outdoors then it leads to a better understanding for the environment and the desire to care for it.

The Mt Narra festival was a great success in many ways. It showed us that there is a strong sense of community here, and that the community is growing. The trails are some of the best we’ve ridden in Sydney. This is due to the stunning location, the obvious care and respect for the environment in which they reside, and maintenance that goes into them.

Most of all, it showed us that mountain biking can be the common denominator that brings people together, from all walks of life, young and old, in a positive way. Mountain biking is not just a hobby; it’s a way of life for many people and communities around Australia.

We’re really looking forward to the next event and hope to see more like replicated in other communities around Sydney and Australia.

Story // Jason Lorch

Photos // Richard McGibbon

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