The final day of Reef to Reef 2018 is upon us and the effects of three days of onerous racing are unequivocal as riders slowly pull themselves up the two steps on to the shuttle buses headed for Wetherby Station, up in the mountains west of Port Douglas. The coffee line is far reaching and the pre-race stretching seems more common compared to previous days – but with an amusing backdrop of “mooing” from some of the local cattle.
Cattle country is where riders start, negotiating farm tracks, stock runs, pinchy climbs and loose, off-camber single track that hugs some of the ridge lines. The tenderness in everyone’s legs seems to be put to one side as attacks are launched in all sorts of places, right across the field – put a foot out and be prepared to dig deep for five minutes in the hope of catching back on to the wheel.
You know you have finished the first loop when the cows welcome you back to Wetherby with their distinctive and astonishingly loud moos. Shortly after the farm roads end, the rainforest begins as you sweep through some of the trails used yesterday on your way out to the famous “Bump” track.
I’m not quite sure why it is called the “Bump” track, other than the fact it does have a number of bumps in it – but riders lose a great deal of elevation in a very short amount of time as they fly down, down and down the old road used originally by Indigenous people and early pioneers to connect Port Douglas with the Hinterland.
From the base of the Bump Track the final 9km of Reef to Reef awaits you, which includes a stunning pedal along Four Mile Beach, where all you can contemplate is finish arch, the cold drinks and the salty water you are going to float in as soon as you can get your cycling shoes off.
I’m calling the inaugural Reef to Reef a great success – with four days of varied riding, it made for a great race at the pointy end as a great deal of fun across the rest of the field. It’s the ideal place to bring the family and escape the miserable winter conditions that grip the southern states. As with Port to Port and Cape to Cape, organisation is impeccable and event staff/volunteers make you feel most welcome with every interaction. This race will only grow in stature in further years.