10 Aug 2018

From the jungle to the dry bush of the tablelands! Day 2 of Reef to Reef MTB was a complete contrast to the opening stage. Fast, open, dry trails - the perfect terrain for a bit of bar-to-bar action. Here's how it went down.

The sounds of legendary Gang Gajang were humming on the breeze today – “Out on the patio we’d sit, and the humidity we’d breathe, we’d watch the lightning crack over canefields. Laugh and think, this is Australia”. Women’s Pairs leader Anna Beck was humming it for a good hour, but it was a more than adequate theme to the activities today at Reef to Reef up in Davies Creek.

The pack of leaders roll out onto superbly fast trails.

The day started briskly as riders grabbed early coffees and migrated inland to Davies Creek – a 45min twisty drive from Cairns – for the promise of 50km filled with fast and flowy single track, supported by ~1000m of climbing.  Yesterday was all about sweet, flowy, rainforesty single-track and grovelling up 30 percent inclines. Today would be a stark contrast with hard packed gravelly trails wrapping through endless scrubland and wide open bush sections – the real Australia.

Anna Beck, Aussie racing icon. Her pedals stayed attached to her bike. Her team mate’s did not.

The day started, and then started again as the first “start noise” was just a practice run – much to the bemusement of Jon Odams who led the charge of riders down the chute one minute early. After the “real” start, a lap of the event centre was enough to break up the field adequately so as to squeeze through a gate before some of the big boys and girls commenced dishing out watts along vast sections of open and undulating fire road.

Jon Odams and Brendan Johnston are working well as a team, riding to each other’s strengths.
Anthony Shippard, on the hunt.
Today’s stage was a complete contrast to day 1.

Sections of single-track followed, where most riders probably started a re-enactment of “Bambi on Ice” as they accustomed themselves with pea gravel cornering.  The advertised climb of the day came at 15km up a beautiful set of switch backs hugging a ridge line. The reward for tapping your way up was an amazing fast and flowy descent back into a valley with plenty of corners, kickers and berms. A few loose rear wheel moments just added to the fun!

Open trails, dry bush, make for quick racing.

The second half of the stage featured some more firetail traverse and a few creeks to really get your feet wet, but all with plenty of energetic volunteers cheering you on (or laughing if you encountered an unplanned dismount into the cool, fresh water). The best was saved up for last, with over 5km of gullies and bushland smattered with simply wonderful trails built and maintained by the local club. They had a bit of everything, including “Grug” shaped bushes, a few sneaky A-Lines and plenty of opportunities to get your wheels in the air. Hold your speed and have plenty of fun, rewarding yourself and your team mate with a burger and beers at the end.

Beers under brollies, it’s nice to be in the tropics.