The AvantiPlus Hellfire Cup: Sharing the Holler

Words by Kath Bicknell & Duncan Giblin | Images by Duncan Giblin/StormBoy Photos

The AvantiPlus Hellfire Cup showcases the holler-worthy trails of Wielangta State Forest, 45 minutes from Hobart. The pairs format stage race with a festival atmosphere was ready to kick off in January, only the area surrounding the event was hit by devastating bushfires three weeks from kick-off. The race was rescheduled for November 21-24.

What goes up must come down.

What goes up must come down.

Flow caught up with Duncan Giblin, the driving force behind the Hellfire, to find out how the bushfire recovery effort has impacted the inaugural event. The bushfires didn’t reach the trail network used for the Hellfire so, like all keen trail builders, Team Hellfire have used the last nine months to build more great trails designed with hearty hollering in mind.

The AvantiPlus Hellfire Cup was born from a desire to hold a stage race that combined a festive atmosphere with a course that would make riders holler as they rode the trails. After much planning and a solid effort by our legendary trail team we were ready go in January 2013. We were looking forward to meeting people we had been communicating with from all round the world, sharing the new trail network we had put together.

Experience the Tassie bush through the twists and turns of carefully crafted trails.

Experience the Tassie bush through the twists and turns of carefully crafted trails.

We were ahead of our first year trail schedule and we couldn’t wait. We felt we had great mix of adventure riding, challenging sections and holler worthy trails. All things considered, the planets had lined up pretty well.

Then it happened. We found ourselves in the midst of Tasmania’s biggest bushfire for 50 years three weeks out from the race. We went from finalising things with caterers to jumping in our car, evacuating from our home. We waited anxiously to hear from friends and family who were unaccounted for.

The January bushfires had a big impact on our community.

The January bushfires had a big impact on our community.

Our community was severely hammered. People were homeless, the fire was still active and emergency services, civilian services and community members were now involved in dealing with an epic natural disaster. Fortunately there was no loss of life.

We had mixed emotions – we were so glad that everyone was safe but were very concerned about friends who had lost houses and businesses. With the fire still present near the race village, and everyone involved in managing the race now engaged in recovery and essential services, it was with a heavy heart we postponed the event.

Seeing the forest after bushfires is an eery experience.

Seeing the forest after bushfires is an eery experience.

Slowly some normality returned and Team Hellfire got together and thought about how we could use the extra time. We got busy with working bees and held a six hour mountain bike race as a fundraiser for our community. Then we started to think about how we could improve the overall stage race experience for people who would come to our event from near and far.

We’ve added some new services; like showers, activities for kids and child care bookings during race stages. We already have a massive prize pool for elite riders, but our events are as much about hanging out with people who like to scream in delight as they hit their favourite trails as they are about the racing. So we have focussed on new trail work – that’s why we ride and that’s what we want to share with people.

New works include a trail called “The Elevator”. Instead of riding up and down a fire road for the hill climb, the whole hill has trails cut from top to bottom in sweet, rich, loamy soil.

The more we rode newfound trails, the more we relished the fun we were having screaming and yelling on descents. We started to think about how cool it would be to share some of these trails.

The more we rode newfound trails, the more we relished the fun we were having screaming and yelling on descents. We started to think about how cool it would be to share some of these trails.

When designing the climb for The Elevator we wanted people to feel like they had really achieved something without it being impossible. We came up with a mighty good, short climb that winds along through stands of white gums overlooking open valleys. The race village looks very small, very quickly. When you head back down The Elevator into the race village you are met with 16 grippy berms that slingshot you back to earth.

Race sponsors, MTN Trails, will be adding some more new sections and refining “The Jet Tech Luge”. They are adding hard pack white clay corners in sections where the harder you ride when you swap lines from one corner to the next, the faster you’ll hit the open fire road.

Can you hear the holler?

Can you hear the holler?

“The Serpent” is another flowy trail that has been popular on our ride days – it’s getting better with more MTN Trails activity too. These guys have built a masterpiece of ridgeline single track that uses opposing berms to eject you onto a pump track rollercoaster. Then it shoots you through controlled scree drops before more pump sections. It’s fun. If you work hard, it’s even more fun.

The Serpent takes you to a fast open descent. If you want let the dog off the leash, you can disengage the brake fingers as you hammer out of the bush into a plantation track through more MTN Trails work. All this comes after kilometres of our hand built trails taking you through red clay and fast technical riding.

We wanted to hold a stage race with a festive atmosphere and a course that provided access to a mix of genuine adventure riding and superbly crafted trails.

We wanted to hold a stage race with a festive atmosphere and a course that provided access to a mix of genuine adventure riding and superbly crafted trails.

That’s just the first morning! The full course has stunning coastal trails for the Time Trial, old growth forest with crazy tramline descents in the adventure stages and a hard pack enduro course.

Remember when you first went exploring and found new trails? Did you holler? Did you grin so hard people thought you had something wrong with you at the car park? If so, we have something for you. Come share the holler.

Head to www.hellfirecup.com for more information on the event. Entries are open now, and close on 1st November 2013.

 

 

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