Steve and Tara are blazing the trail and bringing others to Experience the Flow
It was a warm December eve when Steve and Tara hit on the Blue Derby Pods Ride concept. Soon after, they left their full time positions to follow the unknown bends of this trail and developed a three-day mountain biking experience in North East Tasmania with exclusive accommodation pods.
Steve and Tara Howell grew up in Northern Tasmania. Tara, a city girl lived in Launceston, while Steve was just 15 minutes out of town and mountain biking brought them together.
Despite busily climbing their respective career ladders, the couple knew there was potential to combine their passions and create something special together in the Tasmanian landscape.
“We both loved the outdoors and mountain biking was an emerging opportunity. We left our jobs to pursue Blue Derby Pods Ride. I was 23 and Steve was 25, says Tara.”
The pair then went to Canada, a country with well-established trails and a burgeoning mountain biking scene, for market research. The trip gave them the confidence to pursue their vision back in Tasmania.
“It took three and a half years for our idea to come to fruition,” says Steve. “Looking back we were young and naïve, but we had an idea and we were well supported by key people, so we forged ahead.”
“Our motto throughout the process was to keep working hard to open new doors and move forward. If we came to one we literally couldn’t get open, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. There were plenty of times the door was a bit stuck, but we made it!” adds Tara.
Today Blue Derby is a purpose built, world-renowned mountain bike trail network spread over more than 85 kilometres. Located in the temperate rainforest of North East Tasmania, it encompasses some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in the State and features a mix of green, blue and black trails.
Steve and Tara’s Blue Derby Pods Ride is a three-day adventure mountain biking experience that combines Tasmania’s world-class Blue Derby trail network with unique private pod accommodation and exceptional food and wine. The architecturally designed pods, located in Derby’s Myrtle forest, sleep two people and offer views of the surrounding tree canopy and night sky. The equally impressive Hub provides a beautiful central space to eat, drink, shower and socialise at the end of the day.
The couple were keen to tap into local skills and knowledge to design and build their exclusive accommodation.
“Employing locals and engaging local contractors was an intentional focus for us and continues to be the case. We have a great relationship with many local businesses and support them in our ongoing operations.”
The business is barely one year old and success has come swiftly. Every review so far from TripAdvisor, Facebook or Google Review has been 5/5. In their first season, nearly 100 groups experienced the Blue Derby Pods Ride. Bookings are equally busy this season, with two new staff to share the load.
“We’re coming into our second season and things are going really well. What we’re most proud of is the amazing feedback we’ve had,” adds Steve.
When the pair are not busily coordinating the next Derby trip, they enjoy time on their acreage just outside Launceston.
“We are so lucky to live and work here,” says Tara. “The Tasmanian lifestyle means that you’ve always got nature at your doorstep. Wherever you are working you can be running an amazing business and walk out the door and be somewhere beautiful. We certainly make the most of that when we can and often hop on the bikes ourselves!”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Blue Derby Pods Ride.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.