In the scheme of mountain biking’s comparatively short existence, 25 years is a long time. At a pinch we can think of a handful of familiar names that can boast such a long history – Shimano’s XT and the Specialized Stumpjumer for example – but certainly no other events spring to mind.
Born in 1990, the RRR will celebrate 25 years of sweat, blood and smiles this June. So what does it take to create an event that can capture the imaginations of mountain bikers for such a long time? We ventured north to find out.
The RRR (Triple R) came into being after two legends of the sport – Messrs Glen Jacobs and Peter Blakey – set out to ride an old Cobb and Co coach road from Mt Molloy high on the tablelands, off the escarpment, down to Port Douglas. When they arrived on the coast 35km later, they knew what they’d just ridden simply had to become a race. Straight away they coined it the RRR; Rural, Rainforest and Reef, in recognition of the diversity of landscapes the route captured.
And it’s that diversity which makes this race continue to stand out in the crowded arena of mountain bike events. The RRR course takes you on a real journey, it has a sense of adventure that you just don’t get at many single-day mountain bike races.
It all kicks off at the historic Wetherby Station, which is a magnificent cattle property just outside the old copper mining township of Mt Molloy. Past billabongs teeming with Magpie Geese, through creek crossings inhabited by huge pythons, along high ridge lines with views to Black Mountain, the RRR course spends the better part of 30km in Wetherby Station, before you head north-east onto the old Bump Track.
The Bump Track itself served for many decades as the bullock route connecting the harbour of Port Douglas to the gold mines up in the hills. Now mountain bikers make up the bulk of the traffic, and you can see why. The track punches through the thick rainforest with a rhythmic rolling gradient, its sides lined with fangs of Wait-a-while vines, and over stunning creek crossings. Eventually it reaches the edge of the escarpment, at which point there’s only way it can go, and it puts you into free fall.
Locals tell us that the Bump Track descent on RRR day is more like a downhill race than a cross country marathon, with people lining the sides of the steepest parts of the track, egging riders on while they do their best to tame high-speed waterbars with 55km of fatigue in the limbs! Eventually, with white knuckles and the smell of cooked brake pads in your nostrils, you shoot out into the coastal plain amongst the cane fields, before running four kilometres up the hardpacked sand of Four Mile Beach to finish right outside the Port Douglas surf club.
From iconic rural settings, to impenetrable rainforest, to the postcard beaches, Cairns and the Port Douglas region must offer some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia, and the RRR puts the very best of it on display in one big whack. In our opinion, it’s a sense of journey, the feeling of having gone somewhere and experienced different landscapes, which makes the difference between a good ride and a great ride. And that’s something which the RRR has in spades.
For more information on the RRR, or to enter in this special 25th year, head to the official website: RRR MTB Challenge 2015