With arguably his best ride in his storied Red Bull Rampage history, Kurt Sorge took home gold at the 12th edition of the most coveted mountain biking event in the world. Rounding out the Red Bull Rampage podium was Cameron Zink, freeride mountain bike icon, coming in a close second, and rookie Ethan Nell, a twenty-year-old Utah local who was competing in the event for the first time, taking home third.
Kurt Sorge – first place
Cam Zink – second place
Ethan Nell – third place
Sorge, Zink and Brandon Semenuk were all battling it out for the first ever Red Bull Rampage hat trick. At the end of the day, with a score of 92.66 in his first run, Sorge came out on top and not only became the 2017 champion but the first athlete to take home three golds – cementing him as the winningest athlete in Red Bull Rampage history.
“I am speechless. I can’t believe it. It was a lot of work out here for a couple of weeks, and to make my diggers, everyone back home and the fans proud, is out of this world,” said Sorge.
“All riders were going huge and doing technical tricks off all of the big features – putting together really technical flowy lines,” said the champion.
Judged on four sets of criteria, including difficulty of line, air amplitude, control and fluidity, tricks and style, all athletes worked to impress the judges as they rode down the other-worldly terrain of Virgin, Utah, just outside of Zion National Park.
Semenuk, the winner from Red Bull Rampage 2016, and Brett Rheeder both fell in their first run and then took on their second redemption run with confidence, putting together solid performances to claim fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Building upon the success of last year’s format changes, the elite group of 18 riders and their two-person build crews created their own manmade lines down the mountain without the use of power tools. As a result, no two riders’ paths down the near-vertical sandstone ridges were the same.
RED BULL RAMPAGE 2017 FINAL RESULTS
1. Kurt Sorge (CAN) – 92.66
2. Cameron Zink (USA) – 90.33
3. Ethan Nell (USA) – 90.00
4. Brandon Semenuk (CAN) – 89.66
5. Brett Rheeder (CAN) – 89.33
6. Thomas Genon (BEL) – 89.00
7. Carson Storch (USA) – 87.66
8. Kyle Strait (USA) – 87.33
9. Tyler McCaul (USA) – 87.00
10. Tom Van Steenbergen (CAN) – 84.33
11. Andreu Lacondeguy (SPN) – 83.00
12. Antoine Bizet (FRA) – 81.66
13. Darren Berrecloth (CAN) – 81.00
14. Vincent Tupin (FRA) – 78.00
15. Pierre Edouard Ferry (FRA) – 76.33
16. Logan Binggeli (USA) – 69.66
17. Bas Van Steenbergen (CAN) – 68.66
18. Ryan Howard (USA) – 67.66
The South Hobart slopes of Mount Wellington are home to a collection of steep, rough and raw trails with a handful of burly jumps, all built by the local riders. One of those locals is Ollie Tice. The 17-year-old has earned some success in the Tasmanian Downhill Series and is also getting a taste for enduro. Magneir Media and Ollie teamed up to create a project showcasing the impressive variety of tracks and high level of riding under the mountain’s shadow.
Adelaide’s Fox Creek trails were home to the 2017 Gravity Enduro National Championships over the weekend. Hosted by the Inside Line Downhill Club, racers were faced with the most technical and challenging stages this renowned trail network could offer. After eight stages of racing over two days, Troy Brosnan (SA) and Rowena Fry (TAS) won the 2017 elite men and women’s championship titles.
Brosnan, who was four seconds behind Connor Fearon (SA) heading into the final day, was able to pull back the time to take top step by three seconds ahead of fellow South Australian Fearon and last year’s champion Chris Panozzo (VIC).
“It’s kind of interesting to actually be an enduro national champion; I’m not even the downhill national champion,” the Adelaide resident remarked. “After yesterday I knew I had to make that time up and really gave it all on that first stage and surprised a little bit it worked out.”
For Fry, the 30-second gap she held to the 2016 champion Phillipa Rostan (SA) was enough to take out her first national enduro title with Shelly Flood (SA) in third.
The Tasmanian two-time cross-country Australian champion proved she was an even match for the local downhillers on their home track and added another title to her already impressive resume.
“I was always a little bit worried cause I didn’t actually feel that great on the bike today but knew I had a bit of time up my sleeve and could be a bit more conservative and stay upright,” Fry said.
There was more local joy with junior men up-and-comer Sam Walsh claiming the green and gold jersey making it a perfect season after winning the national series.
Sam’s time of 17:58:24 would have placed him 5th in elite men.
More than 200 riders were part of the weekend hosted by Inside Line Downhill MTB Club which used 22km of Fox Creek’s best trails.
If you have shoe fetish, then Shimano are here to satisfy your needs. The big S have been rolling out enough new models over the past two years to keep even this bloke happy. There was the M200 (review here), then the ME7 (which we rate as one of the best all-round shoes available), plus on the XC side there’s been the new XC5, XC7 and XC9, and the premium S-Phyre range too.
The latest to land are the new AM7 and AM9, two new SPD shoes that are intended for everything from trail riding to downhill. If you don’t clip in, there’s a flat pedal equivalent too, the GR7 and GR9, though we haven’t grabbed a pair of them to review yet.
We first saw these shoes a few months back when we headed to the Rockhampton round of the National Gravity Enduro series with the Shimano team (read the write up from the weekend here – it was epic), but they’ve only just landed for sale this past week, right in time for the National Enduro Champs, where Chris Panozzo rode the AM9 shoes to third place.
First impressions? They’ve got that classic Shimano set-and-forget feel, with just the right amount of friction between the shoe and our XT Trail pedals.
There are plenty of similarities between the two shoes. Both have the same grippy sole with the huge pedal channel, which really helps guide clipping in and keeps the cleat nicely recessed for plenty of shoe/pedal contact, and both use a velcro strap for ankle closure. On both shoes, the top box is a semi-firm plastic, for more toe protection. The AM7 runs laces however, and a slightly lower ankle which has the same neoprene cuff as seen on the ME7 to keep rocks, dirt and water from entering the top of the shoe. There’s a little more tech going on with the AM9, which has speed laces and a flap to keep it all tidy. There’s a more ankle protection too, with a higher cuff using more padding. They’re still not a bulky shoe, and a significantly slimmer looking than the previous version of the AM9000.
We’ve begun riding the AM7s already, with a couple of outings under our belt so far. First impressions? They’ve got that classic Shimano set-and-forget feel, with just the right amount of friction between the shoe and our XT Trail pedals. They’re not too wide either, easily clearing the girthy seat stays found on our new Commencal Meta AM test bike.
The AM7s will retail for about $179, the AM9s at $219. In terms of the flat pedal shoes, GR7s will also be $179, with the GR9s at $199.
Central Coast NSW local and Bergamont team rider Patty Butler cuts a wild and fast one down the Awaba DH track for the lens of Matt Staggs. No music, just some pinned riding and the sounds of a downhill bike at work on one of the roughest tracks in Australia. Enjoy!
So what’s new? For 2018, the crew from Rapid Ascent have opted to make the most of Mt Buller’s seriously epic descending potential. They’ve shifted the event focus away from the longer cross-country formats, following the market demand for more gravity and enduro style stages. The event now even includes a proper multi-stage Enduro race.
You’ve got to give credit to the Rapid Ascent crew – they’ve kept this event evolving. If you’ve done Bike Buller in years past, you’ll find it’s an entirely different experience now.
They’ve also introduced a new Gravity Gods combined title, which will be awarded to the rider with the best overall position across the ABOM Downhillm, Gravity Enduro and Outlaw All-Mountain events.
Cross country isn’t overlooked – there’s still a 30km XC stage, taking in the ridiculously good singletrack of Stonefly and Cornhill – but the shift towards more gravity is definitely a good evolution. After all, Buller’s descents are what make this place such a standout destination! Read below for the official word from Rapid Ascent.
When: Saturday 10th – Monday 12th March, 2018 (March long weekend – VIC) Where: Mt Buller, Victoria, Australia What: A 3 day mountain bike festival on the spectacular trails at Mt Buller in the breathtaking Victorian Alps. The event coincides with the renowned ‘Picnic in the Park’ food, wine and music festival
GRAVITY RACES: ABOM Down Hill
Outlaw All-mountain Trophy
XCOUNTRY RACES: 30km Stonefly / Corn Hill circuit
SPECTATOR EVENTS: 16” Dual Slalom
Pump Track Pursuit
Picnic in the Park
KIDS EVENTS: Village Ride
Picnic in the Park Bike Fun
Entries are now open for the 2018 Shimano Bike Buller Festival that will see three massive days of mountain bike racing on Mt Buller’s internationally-recognised trails from the 10th-12th of March, 2018.
The mighty 10th edition of the event features a packed schedule of racing for all types of riders, including downhill, gravity enduro and cross country races, as well as spectator and kids events.
There will be a greater emphasis on gravity in 2018 that will see the return of the Mt Buller Super-D, and the Gravity Gods title for the key gravity races; The ABOM downhill, Gravity Enduro (Round 4 of the Victorian Gravity Tour) and the Outlaw all-mountain trophy.
The new 30km Stonefly-Corn Hill Circuit features all the best cross country single track in a ‘royal loop’ of the mountains, and the 16” Dual Slalom and Pump Track Pursuit round out the three-day schedule of racing.
Over 600 riders are expected to race at Mt Buller for the event, with an even larger number of friends and family who also come to the alpine resort to spectate and enjoy the range of other, non-riding activities on offer.
Sam Maffett General Manager of Rapid Ascent Event Management said he was thrilled to have officially opened entries to the 2018 Shimano Bike Buller Festival.
“We are stoked to be bringing the 10th anniversary of the Bike Buller Festival to riders of all backgrounds and levels. Mt Buller is Australia’s most epic mountain biking destination, with some of the best trails in the country. Combined with a stacked schedule of races and full social calendar the appeal is high for groups of friends to come to the event together as well as riders and their families,” said Maffett.
“We welcome riders to enter just one or two races or lock in for the combined-races and contest the ‘Gravity Gods’ crown. It is the ultimate MTB event at the ultimate MTB destination. We can’t wait to see you there.”
The three-day celebration of mountain biking features an extensive Bike Expo with a range of social activities including the spectacle of the pump track and dual slalom races, MTB movies in the cinema, kids’ rides and the popular ‘Picnic in the Park’ food, wine and music festival held in the Mirimbah Park at the base of Mt Buller.
Toby Shingleton of Shimano Australia said he was excited to be heading to Mt Buller in 2018 for the Shimano Bike Buller Festival.
“As a supporter of MTB in Australia over many years our team is looking forward to joining riders from all over the country for this three day festival of riding in the Victorian Alps,” said Shingleton. “In addition to our Shimano Experience Project event centre, we will be bringing a team of our best sponsored riders across Gravity Enduro, XC and DH, as well as our fleet of STEPS E8000 demo bikes.”
The revolutionary Shimano Bike Buller Festival brings all that is great about mountain biking to the one location for a huge weekend of bikes, single track, fresh air and good times at a spectacular mountain top destination. Entries are now open for the Shimano Bike Buller Festival at BIKEBULLER.com.
Mt Buller will host the fourth Australian Mountain Bike Summit on 4 – 5 December 2017, the only conference in Australia dedicated solely to the mountain bike industry. Presented by Mt Buller Bike Park, this year’s program has been curated by Flow Mountain Bike and features the theme of Collaborate, Educate, Proliferate.
Group Marketing Manager for Mt Buller Resort Management, Gillian Dobson, said the Summit is a must-attend industry event. “The Australian Mountain Bike Summit was developed after we recognised a gap in the market for such an event and has become a fixture on the calendar for the industry. We have dedicated ourselves to bringing together key players to educate, share and deliberate the key challenges and emerging opportunities currently impacting the Australian and international mountain bike markets.
“Building on the success of previous years, we are excited to be launching a new-look Australian Mountain Bike Summit for 2017, with a program developed in conjunction with industry gurus Flow Mountain Bike. Flow are renowned as passionate advocates in the MTB industry; in their own words, they exist to inspire and educate, making them the perfect fit for the Summit.”
“The Australian Mountain Bike Summit is a unique chance for as diverse range of people from across the spectrum of mountain biking to get together and learn. This year we’ve been working with Mt Buller to help expand the scope of the Summit to include a more diverse range of viewpoints, and to change up the format to encourage more sharing of knowledge between experts from different areas of the sport.
“We believe the path to a flourishing mountain bike scene in Australia is through building stronger connections between all areas of the sport – from clubs, racers, retailers, events and wholesalers, to trail builders, advocates, coaches and more – hence our theme of collaborate, educate, proliferate. If mountain biking is to continue growing here in Australia, both in terms of participation and local industry strength, we need to begin pooling our knowledge and learning from each other’s experiences.”
This year’s Summit will again be hosted by renowned cycling commentator and journalist Matt Keenan, and will feature a number of local and international mountain biking experts. Speakers, including Russel Garlick of TrailFundNZ, Jen and Michael Geale from Mountain Bikes Direct, Jeff Moore and Fanie Kok from Specialized and Jason English, MTB educator and 24 hour champion will deliver a range of keynote addresses and workshops that allow participants to hear from specialists, share ideas and ask questions in a collaborative environment.
“Importantly, the program also includes a range of networking functions, where delegates are given great opportunities to get out on Mt Buller’s trails, enjoy the hospitality and expand their networks. Industry leaders come together with business operators, clubs, land managers and retailers to informally discuss topics of interests, make business connections and most importantly enjoy riding” said Dobson.
The Australian Mountain Bike Summit is preceded by the official launch of Mt Buller’s summer season on Saturday 2 December, which includes the full opening of Mt Buller’s trail network. Delegates are encouraged to arrive early make the most of the freshly opened trails, and get a weekend’s riding under their belt ahead of the Summit.
Registration for the Australian Mountain Bike Summit is now open. Registration costs $499 per person plus booking fee, which covers the two-day conference, all conference catering and networking functions including the official Summit Dinner, and three guided rides. An early bird discount of 10% applies until Friday 20 October 2017.
Cannonball MTB Festival | 5 Days | 5 Events | Massive $70k Prize Purse
The Thredbo Cannonball MTB Festival, Australia’s biggest and richest mountain bike event, celebrates five massive years in 2017 and with a packed program of gravity events and non- stop entertainment, this year’s event, 6-10 December, promises to be the biggest and the best yet.
The famous event, twice ranked Australia’s best event by the MTBA will see amateurs, rising stars and the world’s best descend on Thredbo for five days of dirt defying action and the chance to take home their share of a whopping $70k in cash and prizes. This is the biggest prize purse ever seen at an Australian gravity inspired event.
The five mega events are set to showcase the diverse terrain on offer in the Snowy Mountains, and highlight why Thredbo is Australia’s home of gravity mountain biking. There’s something for all styles of MTB riding, with the festival attracting riders of all levels in a mix of events including the prestigious wearelusty Australian Open Downhill, Canyon Flow Motion Cup, Maxxis All Mountain Assault, SRAM Whip Wars Big Air and the RockShox Pump Track Challenge on the Village Green.
There are over 15 categories in each event, so no excuses – the Cannonball Festival caters to all and is a great introduction to the growing popularity of mountain bike competitions, just choose an event that aligns with your skill and ability.
Participation across all events is crucial for the pro field as these riders will have the chance to be crowned King or Queen of Cannonball. Points scored across each event will determine this factor.
The weekend offers just as much action off the trails as on them, with both sides of the resort pumping during the iconic mountain biking celebration. Thredbo’s famous village will play host to an awesome line-up of DJ’s and live gigs with the region’s stellar offering of bars and restaurants also open.
A massive prize pool, a roll call of big names and some of the best gravity tracks in the country, the Cannonball Festival is one not to be missed.
Event registrations are now open with a 15% early bird competitor discount for those signing up before midnight 31 October 2017. Click here to register now. Visit thredbo.com.au/cannonballfestival for full event details.
wearelusty Australian Open Downhill | Sunday 10 December
The wearelusty Australian Open DH will be raced on Thredbo’s famous Cannonball Downhill Trail the old school way, meaning we will include the upper fast and furious summer road. Riders will then be thrown into a technical masterpiece comprising of rocky chutes, features that launch and fast open sections with speeds not dissimilar to those found on a World Cup course. This event also boasts the biggest payday for a DH race in Australia. New to this year’s main event will be a seeding day for all categories which will go down on Friday 8th Dec. This will give riders a chance to see where they stand among the rest of the field, before heading back up to the start gate on Sunday Dec 10th for downhill finals.
Canyon Flow Motion Cup | Saturday 9 December
Saturday morning will see the Canyon Flow Motion Cup go down on Thredbo’s famous 5km Kosciuszko Flow Trail. Although not super technical, this race requires a fit efficient type of rider. A stack of steep banked berms and rolling traverses ensures that cornering and pedalling ability will be paramount. The Flow Motion Cup is also a great introduction to gravity racing.
SRAM Whip Wars | Saturday 9 December
The crowd pleasing SRAM Whip Wars will again hit centre stage Saturday afternoon, with some of the best mountain bikers from different genres sending it sideways on the super booter at the finish arena. The biggest sideways whip bought back will take the honours. A crowd pleasing trick will also fill your pockets with cash.
ROCKSHOX Pump Track Challenge | Friday 8 December
Get ready for the ROCKSHOX Pump Track Challenge, see Thredbo’s Pump Track in full flight as the smooth momentum masters set the perfectly sculpted course on fire. A test of ultimate skill and stamina, as riders pump, double and manual around the 2-3 lap course without a single pedal stroke.
Maxxis All-Mountain Assault | Thursday 7 December
The Maxxis All-Mountain Assault returns to 1800m above sea level at the top of the Gunbarrel Express Chairlift. The iron men and women of mountain biking will embark on a gruelling 7km undulating descend on a trail designed for a short travel mountain bike with times around 13 minutes to aim for. The All-Mountain trail has everything a rounded rider could ask for, technical descents, natural obstacles, smaller jump options and pinch climbs to push even the most avid enduro purist.
What are you waiting for? Get a crew of mates together and click here to register now!
Sydney’s Northern Beaches based clothing company DHaRCO are going from strength to strength. Their support of the local riding scene along with local and international riders gives them a legitimacy that can’t be imitated.
As the bike park closes and the leaves start to fall we’re stoked to remember an epic summer in and around Whistler. Matt Staggs teamed up with local riders Jaime Hill and Sterling Christensen to put together this edit; and Aussie Jake Newell who makes his annual pilgrimage to Whistler.
Follow Josh Carlson and the rest of the Giant Factory Off-Road Team to the coastal mountain biking paradise of Finale Ligure, Italy, where Josh had his best race of the season, finishing 15th including a top 10 in stage 3.
It has become an annual tradition for the Enduro World Series: The season finishes on the white-sand beaches of Finale Ligure, Italy. But first, two days of steep, rocky and physically challenging terrain that ranks as one of the year’s toughest events. For the Giant Factory Off-Road Team, the journey to get here was filled with ups and downs. Some hard crashes and triumphant finishes. But in the end, the finals gave reason to celebrate. Australian Josh Carlson found his form to post a top-10 stage finish. Canadian Mckay Vezina was healthy and strong after some mid-season injuries. And Liv Cycling rider Rae Morrison finished off an impressive first season with the team, wrapping up her 10th place overall ranking for the year.
Falls Creek has closed out one of its most successful ski seasons on record with perfect conditions for the 3rd annual McKayos mass start gravity enduro and Flow captured all the action.
Billed as a Snow-Dirt-Road Mountain Bike Enduro, the race incorporates a mass start on snow from the highest slopes of Falls Creek’s alpine ski terrain. Riders use extreme skill negotiating the snow-covered trails through to more traditional singletrack and National Park fire trails. This race is the only mountain biking experience of its kind in Australia.
McKayos has promised one thing it had yet to deliver in the past 2 years – a hectic mass start racing on a frozen snow course. Consider that debt paid.
You might have followed the epic snow season Falls Creek has had (2m depths across the board no trifling matter) and its impact was felt in the planning for this crazy bash. Dropping the traditional Mount McKay start from too much snow, the alternate route brought an excellent alternative – a seemingly purpose-built runway heading through snow fences & ski terrain from the resort’s Ski Patrol headquarters.
Next it was the weather’s turn. Brilliant blue skies with zero cloud this side of Albury set an incredible backdrop for the 87 strong field whilst a healthy overnight freeze did the desired job in locking up the freshly groomed corduroy. The result? the promised epic start we’ve all been waiting for!
With 2 time McKayos champ Paul Van Der Ploeg not in the field, Panozzo was the early favourite & this showed with strong form handling the unfamiliar surface in a pre-race shoot the day earlier. True to expectation, Panozzo was first out of the blocks and took an early lead ahead of a super fast field before turning into Shortcut where the fast and smooth ride was quickly a white-knuckle affair. Big bumps and sharp turns in a steep, narrow trail soon sorted out the pecking order as the spills stacked up.
The McKayos course is definitely unique but it’s safe to say there were plenty happy to leave the snow behind and get onto tarmac as the route made way into the village. Bombing stairs through the village Plaza soon took way to the singletrack Falls has earned a big name for before Junction Spur fire trail set the stage for the real racing to begin.
“Mountain biking is an intrinsic part of the culture at Falls Creek. We are excited to see more and more riders come to experience the resort”
In the lead pack it was a 3 way arm-wrestle between Ben, Seb and Chris with each taking turns as the lead. Panozzo emerged ahead heading within striking distance of Bogong Village before disaster struck. An ill-fated call by Panozzo to take the creek crossing offered Mcilroy & Jayne the chance to overtake via the longer B-line and pip him to the post for the finish.
The diverse field was a great result for organisers and included riders of both sexes from Junior U15 through to 50+ Super Masters. The Ladies Elite was a tight battle with only minutes separating Lisa Brydon, Indi Boer and Rebecca Feltrin. Indi was a sore sight climbing the podium, having overcome a major spill earlier to push back through the field and finish top 50 overall.
Josh Tanzen set it alight, bursting into the overall top 8 on his way to win the Junior U19 category & prove he is one to watch going forward. The same can be said for Joel Grimes who scored a tidy 11th overall from the same Junior category. Locals Dylan Cosgriff and Ayla Armitage were surprise packets in the Junior U15 categories with Dylan breaking the 45 minute barrier and Ayla continuing her impressive form from last season to finish the best-placed Junior female rider.
Falls Creek Mountain Bike Park will open its trails at the popular social ride event “Ignition” on November 17-18. Marking the official opening of the Mountain Bike season, this event is followed by the resort’s gravity shuttle service which operates every weekend. For more information visit fallscreek.com.au
The Arthurs Seat Trail Network on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula is home to the inspirationally zealous Red Hill Riders Mountain Bike Club. As advocates and caretakers of the trails, they welcomed everyone to join in the fun at their premiere event, the Red Hill Gravity Enduro Presented by Mercedes-Benz Mornington.
The two-day event attracted a sell-out field including two-time marathon national champion King and Paul van der Ploeg who recently returned to Australia after racing at the Enduro World Series Finale in Italy.
Mornington Peninsula born Jenni King and Rowville’s Jeremy Hamilton were crowned Red Hill Gravity Enduro Presented by Mercedes-Benz Mornington champions at Arthurs Seat on Sunday.
“It feels great to have taken the win at this year’s Red Hill Gravity Enduro,” said Hamilton, who was second in the 2016 edition. “I had six fairly clean stages and pedalled hard all day! Thanks again to Red Hill Riders MTB Club and everyone for putting on another well run event.”
For King, it was a return to both her hometown and racing after a year away from mountain biking. “Having had a year away from mountain bike racing, I had a few nerves leading into the Red Hill Gravity Enduro,” said King who grew up in the region. “However I pretty quickly relaxed, enjoyed the trails and was lucky to have a great bunch of girls to ride, and enjoy the amazing views, with. The trails that made up the six race stages were some of the best I’ve ever ridden and I had such a fun time pushing my limits down them. To finish up on top of the podium was a bonus to cap off a great day out,” said King.
The event consisted of six timed ‘stages’ throughout the 32km course, which took riders from the top of Arthurs Seat to the Boundary Road Reserve in Dromana before competitors rode back to the start, taking in 1200metres of climbing and stunning views over Port Phillip Bay.
Club President Terrence Toh was thrilled with the event’s success. “This year’s Red Hill Gravity Enduro Presented by Mercedes-Benz has been a huge success with a sell-out field of entries and an awesome atmosphere all weekend on Arthurs Seat and in the event village. Red Hill Riders Mountain Bike Club are proud of this unique event, which showcases our club, our trails and the Mornington Peninsula. I’d like to thank Parks Victoria, Mornington Peninsula Shire, and all of our sponsors for the event including Mercedes-Benz Mornington who have put in a huge amount of effort to support not only the event but the Red Hill Riders MTB Club and what we do.”
1. Jeremy Hamilton, Rowville (17:07.26)
2. Paul Van der Ploeg, Mt Beauty (17:16.08)
3. Shannon Hewetson, Werribee (17:19.67)
4. Murray Stephens (17:27.42)
5. Nicholas Swayn, Rosebud (17:39.13)
The Red Hill Gravity Enduro was held on October 7 & 8 at the Hillview Community Reserve, Boundary RD Dromana, Victoria. For more information head to www.redhillriders.com.au or visit the Red Hill Riders MTB Club Facebook to view the full event photo album.
Entries have opened for one of Australia’s most renowned mountain bike marathons, the Otway Odyssey presented by Focus that will see hundreds of riders race through the spectacular Otway Ranges near Forrest in south-western Victoria from 24th-25th February 2018.
The 12th edition of the event features the popular 100km Odyssey, 50km Shorty and 30km Rookie mountain bike races, as well as the kids’ 10km Pioneer event, all starting and finishing amongst a huge bike expo and food festival at the Forrest Football Ground.
“it really is a mountain biker’s marathon with all the sick single track! I love the Odyssey” – Peta Mullens
After its hugely successful inception in 2017, The Great Otway Gravel Grind (The GOGG) will also return so road riders, gravel enthusiasts and recreational riders of all styles can enjoy a scenic but challenging 49km or 97km ride on the Range’s smooth rolling dirt roads as part of this popular new riding format. The GOGG was an instant hit last year as it requires no specific skills, bikes or knowledge to enjoy a traffic ride through the areas magnificent tall timber forests.
A particular focus of this year’s Otway Odyssey is to increase female participation in the events with a broad range of initiatives, support and information for female riders under the banner of Otway Angels. Rapid Ascent is tackling the barriers for women wanting to take the first step into racing via a range of new skills programs, partnerships, networking opportunities, course recces and special events to help improve accessibility of the sport to female riders.
Defending Otway Shorty 50km champion and event ambassador Kim Willocks said she would love to see more women riding and participating in mountain bike events, and getting as much out of it as she does. “Pedalling through the bush on a mountain bike during a race, a social ride or even solo is so fulfilling,” Willocks said. “My advice to any females considering entering an event like the Otway Odyssey, who are a little apprehensive about taking the leap, is to choose an event like the 30km Pioneer designed for beginner riders, train as much as you have time for, and just have fun and enjoy the moment. This will be my fourth time racing the Odyssey. I love testing myself by racing my bike, especially through the bush alongside equally competitive riders!”
Along with increasing numbers of female riders, the Otway Odyssey always attracts many of the best riders from across Australia who not only chase the titles but also attempt win the $10,700 in cash prizes split between the MTB and The GOGG races.
“We want to extend a very big welcome to all female riders who may have been a bit nervous about racing in the past. We hope things like the women’s only 30km race start and other ideas make women feel welcome.”
Four-time 100km Odyssey champion and reigning Queen of the Otways, Peta Mullens, said the Otway Odyssey was her first ‘challenge’ marathon and is one that keeps her coming back year after year. “Over the years the course has changed and it’s gone from my most feared XCM to my most loved. I remember the walking and the mud in the early days! Instead of beastly climbs the track is made up of flowy single track for days; it really is a mountain biker’s marathon with all the sick single track! I love the Odyssey,” Mullens said.
The Otway Odyssey MTB Marathons have become the most well regarded races in Australia, providing an incredible MTB experience for any rider – from Australia’s elite to young juniors just starting out.
Race organisers at Rapid Ascent are gearing up for huge another weekend in 2018 with over 1,500 competitors and several thousand spectators expected to descend on the Forrest region for the event. “The Otway Odyssey is such a special weekend, it’s where riders from all over Australia and with all backgrounds congregate to experience both the thrill of racing on some of Australia’s best trails, as well as the satisfaction and reward of conquering a personal challenge,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager, Rapid Ascent. “We are particularly excited about the Otway Angels initiatives and we want to extend a very big welcome to all female riders who may have been a bit nervous about racing in the past. We hope things like the women’s only 30km race start and other ideas make women feel welcome.”
The action gets underway on Saturday 24th February with the mountain bike races; the 100km Odyssey, the 50km Shorty and the 30km Rookie, all starting and finishing amidst a huge bike expo and food festival at the Forrest Football Ground. The GOGG races and the kids 10km Pioneer MTB will be held on Sunday 25th February.
All courses of the Otway Odyssey take advantage of the extensive network of singletrack and 2WD roads of Forrest and the Otways. Combined with the beauty on offer in the Great Otway National Park, the electrifying race atmosphere and sense of satisfaction you get when you finish in the middle of the massive event festival, it’s an event not to be missed.
The dust has just about settled on Sam Hill’s dream finish to this year’s Enduro World Series, so what better time to share the highlights of his journey to championship victory! Sam Hill: A legend’s journey is befitting of a man who many counted out as a competitive racer. It features riding that beggars belief in parts, with Sam throwing his bike, body and flat pedals around the course like we wish we could understand – let alone try ourselves.
Of course, you want more. Watch Nukeproof’s behind the scenes video of Sam’s race in Finale Ligure, here.
Watch the full highlights video from the EWS finale in Finale, here.
After extending his overall lead in the series in Whistler, Sam Hill came to Finale with one thing on his mind, the 2017 Enduro World Championship. Sit back, relax and watch 100km of intensely close enduro racing over seven stages and two days in the 20-minute video highlights.
Don’t want it to be over? Watch Nukeproof’s behind the scenes video of Sam Hill’s race in Finale, here.
After 660km over eight days, the 2017 MEPT – Crocodile Trophy finished on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. Two Canadian elite racers had dominated the field for the entire week – Andrew L’Esperance took the final stage win in the 30km individual time trial and Leandre Bouchard successfully defended his lead to claim the overall race victory after eight gruelling stages. Amateur category winner Erik Dekker from the Netherlands finished in third outright ahead of Australia’s Daniel Beresford and elite racer Ben May, also from Australia, came in fifth, claiming the third elite position after eight stages. The winning female was elite racer Haley Smith from Canada ahead of amateur racer Daniela Erni Ruoss from Switzerland.
Riders from 17 countries started this 23rd edition of the world’s oldest and most legendary mountain bike stage race in Cairns on 16th September and then made their way through the Atherton Tablelands to the tropical Skybury Coffee Plantation. Wetherby Cattle Station was the stage finish for two stages, before the final race finish in Port Douglas. Overall, the Crocodile Trophy 2017 finishers completed more than 660km and climbed over 10,000 meters of elevation in eight days.
Leading the race from day one: Leandre Bouchard
The 2017 MEPT – Crocodile Trophy Champion Leandre Bouchard took the first stage win at Smithfield MTB Park on day one and defended the 1:30min lead ahead of fellow Canadian Andrew L’Esperance for the next seven days. Only on the last stage into Port Douglas was L’Esperance able to make up 15 seconds on the 30km time trial stage.
“I’m really happy that I was able to take most of my lead across the finish line”, said a relieved Leandre Bouchard in Port Douglas after a total 27h15:59.5 of intense racing behind him. He admitted that he hadn’t expected the steep climbs of the early stages and that he was so positively surprised by the positive atmosphere among riders in the Croc camp. He also said that the race had been more challenging than he had expected, “This is definitely a race for a tough person.” Of the final race days he said, “Andrew [L’Esperance] got really strong over the last few days and I really wanted to claim today’s stage myself, but am content with the overall victory, of course”, he said. He added that he loved racing in the so unique Outback and had been so impressed with the event and the organisation behind it, “It’s been a real adventure and I really enjoyed this week.”
Andrew L’Esperance said that he didn’t “didn’t really spend a whole lot of time thinking about the Croc beforehand”, as he had been so focused on the World Championships the weekend before in Cairns. “I went in without much expectations other than just knowing I was going to get to explore a pretty amazing part of Australia on my bike. That being said, it was everything that I wanted, even if I didn’t know I wanted it.”, he admitted and added that the thing that surprised him most was how challenging some of the stages were.
“At the front of the race it was tough and we were out there for the least amount of time. The athletes that were out racing their bike for hours longer than us each day were very impressive. Anyone who finished stage 3 is an animal, that was a tough one,” L’Esperance recounted of the race.
Crocodile Trophy still has a bite
Stage three was said to be the hardest stage this year by most finishers. The fourth-longest stage offered the most meters of climbing in one day this year and took its toll on the racing field. Haley Smith the only Elite Woman racing in this year’s event was impressed with her fellow riders, “[…] I was also surprised by how tough the other athletes were. A lot of the athletes that complete the event are not full-time athletes, and I found it so inspiring to see them just crushing it every day. Those were some very long days in the jungle, and I was just so impressed with the perseverance and drive of all the athletes.”
Smith is a short-course cross-country expert and had never raced a marathon before the MEPT – Crocodile Trophy, which was also her first ever mountain bike stage race. “I think, overall, I had a lot more fun off the bike than I expected to. The people participating were awesome, and I really enjoyed getting to know people at the race. This was something very different from my typical XCO style of racing. At our races, we don’t often spend any leisure time with our competitors, so it was very special to have that social environment and really feel the camaraderie. I also think I maybe underestimated how hard the terrain would be. The 4th day of racing was quantifiably the hardest day I have ever had on a bike – and that’s saying something!”
Stage four was the 122km race from Tepon Equestrian Park near Herberton on the Atherton Tablelands to the Skybury Coffee Plantation. On the day Smith had said that without other female racers in the elite category, she was chasing the men, “I just like racing people, doesn’t really matter who.” With a 14th place outright in the entire field, in the end, Smith really made her mark on this year’s race result, finishing the eight stages in 32h13:29.7.
Strongest amateur field in race history
With a stage win on day five the ex-road pro and four-time Tour de France stage winner Erik Dekker from the Netherlands took out the third place overall and the Amateur race title at this year’s event. A stage win had been a real goal at the MEPT – Crocodile Trophy, Dekker said, who had established a strong third position behind the two elite leaders Bouchard and L’Esperance early in the race.
Dekker had retired from professional road racing in 2006 and says the two scenes are very different. The Crocodile Trophy especially is a completely new experience. “Well, I’m here on my own, I had a flat tyre yesterday and normally I’d get a new wheel. Here I had to fix it myself”, he said laughing out loud.
He added that he enjoyed the Australian racing surroundings with wallabies and kanagroos keeping the riders company on most days. “I love this race”, he concluded. “I can’t see why I couldn’t do this again, we’ll see, but this is a historic race. I’m here because I realised [in my retirement] that I love cycling. I thought I’d never do the Crocodile Trophy or any more stage races at that, but 11 months ago when the race was on I was following Annemiek [van Vleuten] a bit and I thought, you only live once. I don’t believe in bucket lists.”
The female amateur title goes to Daniela Erni Ruoss the Swiss-born endurance rider from Melbourne in 34h53:33.7.
Australians enjoy international competition
Fastest Australian, like last year, and fourth overall, was Daniel Beresford from Wagga Wagga, the runner-up behind Erik Dekker in the A3 category by +1h06:50. “This Jersey means a lot to me! Its been a years goal to race this race. I prepared all year for this”, he said. To win stage four with Erik Dekker in his category had been a dream come true, he added. “I grew up watching him in the Tour de France. I only just had my last training session in the garage watching re-runs of the Tour de France and he was in a break away!”, Beresford said of the high-profile field of racers at this year’s event.
Third in the elite category overall and fifth outright after eight stages was the Australian Ben May. He said that the biggest surprise for him was that when he had finished the race and realized how much he had learnt from the whole experience, both from other riders and himself. “With all the riders doing a lot of training leading up, making a lot of sacrifices both with family time and other aspects of their life they put it all in and this created an environment where there was a group of really well trained, experienced and passionate riders in the one place”, the Brisbane-rider who has been riding and racing for eight years explained.
The fifth elite finisher this year behind the Japanese rider Hiroyuki Okamoto was Mike Blewitt, a well-know mountian bike journalist, editor of the Australian Mountain Bike Magazine and multiple Crocodile Trophy finisher. “The experience was really social for Australians. It was a small field this year but very, very enjoyable. Plus I think it shows that the Crocodile Trophy is a really good option for Australians. Canadian l’Esperance said he has got to practice his sprint finish 4 days in a row. That’s what a lot of Australia’s younger elite racers are missing out on here. Day after day they can race and try new things. I’d love to see more of our best racers here.”
Repeat riders like the versatile racing experience
One of the local Cairns-racers Brendon Skerke has participated for the 6th time at the event, this year for the first time in a team. This years edition was back to the old school style with long and tough stages in some of Far North Qld toughest terrain.. I love that each year it changes it up and gives repeat riders a chance to experience a different and unique race each year.”, he said.
Brendon said that he had training intensively for 12 weeks in the lead up to the event and his ex-pro team mate Bart said that he had lost the desire to ride after retiring from professional road racing, but got back into it by taking up mountain biking.”
As a multiple finisher of the event Skerke said in a recent interview with the Cairns Post newspaper that he enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the best at the start line, “There is no other race in Australia where you can race against true past and present world legends of the sport.”
The current record-holder of most events completed is the Austrian-born Martin Wisata from Sydney. Having completed his 8th Crocodile Trophy, the 39-year old said that after years of really battling across the finish lines, this year had been a solid and thrilling racing experience, fighting for GC and age group positions. “Getting the green [Austria-leader] jersey in Smithfield was a real surprise! A leader jersey of any sort had never been on my cards and it was a thrill to defend it for a few days”, he said handing it over to fellow Austrian Peter Urdl for day four. “So much preparation goes into this race – I know that Peter [Urdl] trained with a coach specifically for this event and it is the main motivation for all my training rides and races throughout the year”, Wisata said, who plans to return to the Croc start line again next year.
Back to the traditional October date for 2018
The organisers said that they were content with the feedback from the riders after this year’s race „We’ve had a great local team that supported us putting together the stage plan for this year and now more than ever am I determined to keep organising the hardest mountain bike stage race on earth”, race founder and owner Gerhard Schönbacher concluded and announced that the MEPT – Crocodile Trophy would return to Tropical North Queensland in October 2018. The confirmed dates are 13th – 20th October 2018.