The Forrest 6hr has a bit of history, for those not sure, here is a brief overview.
In 2008 the mountain bike trails had been built and the town was almost blissfully unaware of what was to come.
The then owner at the general store was perpetually reminiscing about the logging days with the mills running all day and night and how it will never be the same, with the shop for sale for as long as I had known Forrest, it was finally sold to Sally. It is a very warm and welcoming Forrest General Store now.
The Forrest pub was sometimes open, sometimes not and then it stayed shut indefinitely, before finally becoming the Wonkey Donkey.
The Forrest Brewing Company was only just in the very early stages of planning and it was a couple of years before the mountain bikers had somewhere to hang out post ride.
The Forrest Guesthouse was similar to the pub, open on days when you least expected it, but not really any reliability.
There was even a stage where a cafe was open for a brief yet very successful period in Blundy St! Problem was it got too busy!
Then Norm and Jess Douglas opened up The Corner Store Forrest, thinking the odd mountain biker might need a spare tube or a pre or post ride coffee, forgetting that the locals were after something too. Since then we have onsold it to Cathy and Andy who are taking it up another level again.
People bought into Forrest, holiday rentals were being invested in, caravans bought in the park, and people were coming to Forrest.
Jeff Fox - long loooong time born and bred local had helped create most of the trail network over the years and it was earth moving contractor and Forrest born, Sam Evans who had also been involved in the actual building of some of the work. These two men would see Forrest change before their eyes and become ‘local identities’ in their own rights.
The youth of the town did create a mountain bike club, which was supported via the community house.
However, it was not creating a pathway for the future so along with Holly Lusher, Roland Eck, Matt Bradshaw, Jeff Fox, Norm and Myself(Jess) asked to create a more formal club structure that was aligned with MTBA.
The vision was, and still is, to create income opportunities to support financial investment into the trail network so it can be continually grown, improved and creating a “go to” place on any cyclists list, including interstate and overseas market. It was a holistic vision, ensuring that visitation stayed healthy and fresh, to support the private investment into the hospitality sector that evolved from cycle tourism.
In 2009, The Forrest 6hr was born to be that event that injected $$$ into the trails each and every year. Not only that, it was a course that showcased some very fun trails in an environment to enable families and friends to enjoy a day out on their bikes.
The club has seen some healthy injections of funds over the years. Sometimes equipment was purchased, sometimes man hours on trails, sometimes assessments that needed to be done and paid for, and most recently a dollar for dollar outlay of a total refurbishment of the famous Red Carpet.
Many people have come and gone and many have stayed, Roland and Holly moved to Tasmania and their energy was missed. Norm took the reigns for a while as did Marie Middleton, and even yours truly resided Presidency for a short stint.
Your club president is now Mr Alexander “Sandy” Maxwell and it’s been a long time coming to see the fruits of the labours back in 2008/09 but we are really seeing results.
In any trail network, it’s not just about energetic volunteers with rake hoes and whackers, it’s the relationships with land managers and learning the ways of grants and funding and talking the talk and letting things evolve organically.
We are now in the 8th year of the Forrest 6 hour and it continues to inject funds into the club for trail improvements.
Forrest is flourishing and the off season is really only July, August and half of September.
Businesses are creating a reason for you to stay longer, providing employment to local people and investing in the future of the town.
Forrest is now often used as a “template” of how to build a trail network around a little town.
Towns like Derby in Tasmania have directly been as a result of the small amount of success Forrest has had.
For this we thank you, for being part of this small seed that has become a ‘go to’ event, and we welcome Sandy Maxwell who will be thanking you all at the Forrest 6hr presentations on Saturday 7th May.