Graeme Scott, wine maker and mountain biker, knows that his backyard is a pretty special patch of turf.
James Estate in the upper Hunter Valley is breathtakingly beautiful; rolling valley plains filled with green rows of grape vines and bookended by the sandstone ridges of the Wollemi wilderness area. It’s the place that Graeme calls home, it’s the place where he works, and it’s also where he plays on superb, hand-built singletrack.
When Graeme set up shop here at Baerami, three hours from Sydney, he moved away from the singletrack that he loved. If he was going to ride trails, he was going to have to make it happen himself. And so that’s what Graeme did; escaping into the bush on the vineyard’s fringes with a shovel and pick, he began to create his own personal mountain bike playground.
Fast forward a few years, and the native bush that abuts the Wollemi Wilderness area is a net of singletrack, the product of one man’s toil. And the other staff at the vineyard, who once thought him crazy, now have the bug too, with three of the crew now taking to the trails as well.
This year, for the very first time, one of Sydney’s premiere mountain bike events is coming to James Estate. The JetBlack 12hr, after many years at Dargle Farm, will roll on in to the upper Hunter Valley on 12 July 2014. And if endurance racing is your kettle of fish, this is one event you’d be foolish to miss.
The trails are fantastic and absolutely ideal for multi-lap racing, with a good mix of flowing singletrack and fast fire road across the 11km loop. There’s camping amongst the vineyards (and if it’s a clear night, there’ll even be a full moon) and the setting is as perfect as you’ll ever encounter on your mountain bike. Oh, and there’s a lot of good wine too, so the post-race party should be a cracker.
The fun, friendly and relaxed feel of the JetBlack 12hr is legendary, and when you combine that kind of vibe with a setting and trails like these, well you’re kicking some serious goals. Get involved in the JetBlack 12hr.