Flow Gone Troppo – Tropical North Queensland Part 4, Cooktown and The Croc Trophy

Words by Flow | Images by Tim Bardsley-Smith, Mick Ross

How far north can mountain biking take you in QLD? Well, the Crocodile Trophy has finished in Cooktown the last couple years and we were really quite privileged to not only take the journey up from Port Douglas to Cooktown, but as guests to The Croc Trophy we actually had a rare chance to ride the final stage of the race.

We were a long way north now, and loving the climate, food scenery and chilled QLD vibes. But our road trip was winding to an end, and that was not to be loved.

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Cooktown has a west-facing harbour which makes for a beautiful sunset over the water.

In between Port Douglas and Cooktown wasn’t any chance for real mountain biking as such, but we took a few opportunities along the way to stop and soak in some colourful tropical sights, long beaches, incredible ice creams and freaky animal spotting.

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Fresh ice cream made from the fruit trees on the property, delectable! Don’t rush from point to point when travelling in North QLD, stop every now and then to soak it in.

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QLD, so hostile yet so inviting!

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Now, for this Flow fellow, participating in The Croc Trophy stage race is a far fetched reality with the sheer difficulty of the event enough to frighten away any inkling of consideration. Nine stages, 850km from Cairns to Cooktown, through absolute gruelling conditions and terrain. It’s a logistical challenge from a riders point of view, hence the $2500+ entry fee, and would take the best part of one year to prepare for.

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Hydration preparations before The Croc.

But, 48km isn’t too far really, and we were just along for the ride so we put our hands up and we said yes to riding from the remote town of Hopevale to Cooktown, and join the final stage festivities and presentation.

Off we went, the fresh legged impostors hidden amongst the weary croc warriors.

Off we went, the fresh-legged impostors hidden amongst the weary croc warriors.

Liesbeth Hessens from Belgium won every stage, pure Belgium dominance. The press buzz around her on the final day.

Liesbeth Hessens from Belgium won every stage in elite women, pure Belgium dominance in shorts and a helmet from 1999. The press buzz around her on the final day as she toyed with the elite fields endurance.

The final stage was really just a bit of a celebration, a cruisy ride to the finish like the Tour de France ride into Paris, but it’s too hot and bumpy to be drinking champagne like those high rolling roadies do. The majority of the categories were pretty much wrapped up, and only a serious setback or mechanical would change the results. So, when we set off about ten minutes before the fast bunch we settled into a comfortable pace, but always kept an eye behind us for the elite riders that would most certainly catch and pass us before the finish.

Don't get in the way of Martin Wisata and the finish, he's on a mission!

Don’t get in the way of Martin Wisata and the finish, he’s on a mission!

Dry, dry and hot. But we certainly kept those thoughts to ourselves, the guys and girls that we were riding with had ridding in far drier, much hotter and for nine days by that stage!

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We’ve all heard about the Croc for as long as we can remember, we’ve read the reports, seen the photos and watched videos, but to be there in person and get the feel for how damn tough and strong the competitors are. We learnt another level of respect and admiration not only for the Euros that travel so far to battle it out in the intense tropical conditions, but the fact that The Croc has grown into an event that can also support and welcomes participants, not just the pros.

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This was the part where the elite bunch mowed us down, we held onto them for about five minutes before we almost had to get off and walk.

This was the part where the elite bunch mowed us down, we held onto them for about five minutes before we almost had to get off and walk.

Mike Tomelaris from SBS Cycling Central is the patron of the event, he tells us to stop eating bananas and get back to it.

Mike Tomalaris from SBS Cycling Central is the patron of the event, he tells us to stop eating delicious bananas and get back to it.

Finished!

Finished!

The final stage was a celebration, with fancy costumes and good cheer to sign of the epic nine days.

The final stage was a celebration, with fancy costumes and good cheer to sign off the epic nine days with a laugh.

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Local croc imposter.

Mangoes everywhere, we tried slicing one in the spokes of our wheels, it didn't work.

Mangoes everywhere, we tried slicing one in the spokes of our spinning wheels, it didn’t work.

The presentation dinner and closing party starts with a few mid strength beers with your new mates.

The presentation dinner and closing party starts with a few hundred mid-strength beers with your exhausted new mates.

The amount of food consumed is hectic!

The amount of food consumed is hectic!

Farewell Tropical North Queensland!¬†We’ll be back under your delicious tropical canopy soon for the Cairns World Cup, in April 2014.

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Back to reality for us!

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