top of page

Eclectics: Paul Iles

Paul Iles remembers a chance meeting with two mountain bikers 20 years ago that led to his first mountain bike ride. “I went out with them, and it was like meeting an old friend again, because it’s what we did as kids. It wasn’t called mountain biking then, but we built trails and jumps with shovels and rakes out in the bush.  From then on, I never ran again,” says Iles, a former runner. At the time there were only four to six other people in Margaret River, Western Australia, who mountain biked. 


Paul and a few other cyclists began building trails, managing them and keeping them secret. But more and more bikers discovered them. Says Iles, “We knew that it was going to catch on. Margs [Margaret River] was perfect for it. We haven’t got any elevation, and the proximity of the forest to the town and the amenities of the town--the breweries, the accommodations--were perfect.”

Photo: Paul ILES, owner of the Hairy Marron, Margaret River, Western Australia

As popularity grew, bikers formed Margaret River Off Road Cycling Association (MRORCA)) to keep the trails open. Iles was one of the founding members and continues to work with local government.


Iles was so enthusiastic about the sport that 2015, he opened the town’s  first shop devoted to mountain biking. The Hairy Marron, named for the threatened freshwater crayfish located only in Margaret River, supports riders and trails, and offers drinks and baked goods. Says Iles, “We’ve set the shop up as a service center.  The shop is here to keep everyone out on the trails. You could come in and want a brownie or a double espresso or you could come in and want a bike tube repaired. People come in, and we’re happy to talk about how the trails are running, what’s running good, what’s blown out, or what wineries to visit.  We run the shop like a hospitality outlet.”


Iles continues to work on the trails in a sustainable way--designing them so they drain properly to prevent erosion, pruning back plants, taking part in Aboriginal surveys, and involving specialists to check for soil diseases such as dieback.


“As mountain bikers, we see ourselves as conservationists,” says Iles. “No one is ever going to log the forests where mountain bike trials are. It’s not the conservationists who are going to stop them. It will be the business community in Margaret River, or the community saying, ‘Were not losing those trails where we and our kids ride.’ Or the businesses will say, ‘This is why our tourists come down.’ The best way for us to conserve our forest is to get the public in our activity.


“I look forward to coming to work every day,” says Iles. “I never grind my teeth and say, ‘I’m sick of this place.’ It’s never happened in the nine years we’ve been open.”


Bình luận

bottom of page