Sunshine and massive orange jumps | Crankworx lands in Cairns this May


Grab some sunscreen and your best party shirt because Crankworx is returning to Cairns May 22-26, 2024. Yes, that means it’s only a few days after the UCI Masters World Championships, which also descends on Cairns from May 16-19.

Oh, and did we mention that Crankworx is also hosting the Oceania Champs Downhill? Talk about an action-packed couple of weeks in Cairns.

With so much bubbling away, we caught up with Crankworx Cairns Event Director Nathan Bassett to see what they have been cooking up in Tropical North Queensland.

Jam-packed schedule for Crankworx Cairns

For 2024, Crankworx Cairns will have the whole gamut of headline events you’ve come to expect from the festival; however, the event team has tweaked the order to maximise viewing potential.

“This year, the event will culminate with Slopestyle on Sunday, which means super Saturday is now a doubleheader with Speed and Style and then Pump Track under lights which won’t disappoint in bringing the party vibes,” Bassett Says.

So with the deck shuffled, the Specialized Dual Slalom will be the first event off the rank with Pro finals on Thursday evening. Then it’s into the RockShox Downhill on Friday, which will double as the Oceania Champs this year. Illinbah near the Gold Coast was pegged to host the Continental Champs, however with the constant wet weather SEQ has had since before Christmas has caused quite a lot of damage and the course won’t be ready in time.

The festivities in Cairns will kick off with the Downhill.

Then, on Saturday, when we have the Speed and Style, Pump Track doubleheader, which will be a massive day for folks on the ground. With the strong showing from local shredders like Caroline Buchanan, Ryan Gilchrist, Mike Ross, and Haz Burbidge-Smith in this pair of events in 2023, it’s a safe bet there will be some fireworks from the home team on display.

Finally, the crescendo will hit its maximum intensity with the Slopestyle finishing out the weekend on Sunday.

Tropical Cyclone Jasper put quite a whalloping on the beautifully shaped orange dirt features. However, with some areas needing a rebuild, it gives World Trail, Elevate Trail Building, Flux Trail Building more creative license to reimagine the course.

The slopestyle course will look a bit different his year, and there is plenty of dirt to be moved.

“The dirt halfpipe on the Slopestyle course has been heavily impacted, so this is a real opportunity to rethink this section and innovate on a new exciting feature,” says Bassett.

With the build to kick off soon, Bassett wasn’t able to provide any hints as to what things will look like, as the designs are still in the mind of the trail builders, but he did tell Flow there will be some cool new innovations and an evolution of the features.

Crankworx is not just for the pros

While the pro competition and the race for King and Queen of Crankworx dominate the coverage of the festival, there are amateur categories in the Dual Slalom, Downhill and Pumptrack.

The Downhill course is going to get a workout with hosting a pair of events over about a week.

The Master’s World Champs are only a few days prior to Crankworx, so there is the opportunity to squeeze in a boatload of racing in not a lot of time, with Smithfield hosting both the XC and DH events. A new XC course is currently being constructed, and portions of the Worlds DH course are being reimagined for the event.

Inside the event itself, Bassett tells us there will also be side events specifically for spectators like Best Scrub or the Brapp-Off. The nuts and bolts of exactly what these will be are still being worked out, so keep an eye out for more info as things are announced.

Kidsworx is back, and the event team won’t be changing much as last year was a winning formula.

There’s also ways for groms to get involved with Kidsworx.

“We’ll be doing the Cairns Esplanade activation on the weekend prior to Crankworx in central Cairns with the balance bike course and jump lines, and at the event there will be free come-and-try activities and participatory events that kids can enter,” says Bassett.

He also tells Flow Crankworx Cairns will continue its push to provide events for adaptive riders. Last year the Push Mobility and Bowhead team were on the ground, and they are working on plans to get those riders on course again.

“Our goal is to continue building further opportunities to get adaptive riders on course at Crankworx. Last year we had Grant (Allen) and Renee (Junga) at the event and had them sample a lot of the local trails,” he says. “Both did exhibition laps on the Dual Slalom course, and Grant actually completed the first-ever Adaptive top-to-bottom run of the Worlds downhill track prior to the Pro Finals. We are excited to keep working with the athletes to build on this in May.”

Crankworx is doing everything it can to create opportunities for adaptive riders to get involved.

Bassett also says they’re pushing to include more adaptive riders and aiming to have the Push Mobility team there with a couple of Bowhead bikes and adaptive demos down the line.

Bring your bike and try some new gear

A big part of Crankworx is, of course, the gear expo. Exhibitor entries are currently open, but based on the last two years, it is set to be a star-studded affair.

“The first two years of Crankworx Cairns has seen the best in the MTB industry descend on Cairns with nearly 50 brands represented onsite. We will release the exhibitor list closer to the event, but you can expect another world-class bike expo,” he says.

There are always demo bikes available from all the big brands, but these do tend to book out fast — so the protip is to plan ahead and if you’d like to try the latest newly released bike, book ahead.

Party time in TNQ

Beyond the racing, Crankworx is one big party, so don’t forget your dancing shoes. With the event now in its third year, and the foundation solid, now the event team are working on a number of exciting concepts to maximise the party vibes.

“Cairns is world-renowned for its nightlife and our first few events has seen some cracking parties. We are working with our partners to build on this and ensure we deliver the best MTB party in the country,” says Bassett

He also tells Flow there will be a heap of poster signings and meet and greets where folks will have the opportunity to interact with the athletes.

While most of the coverage on Crankworx is of the elite riders, there’s plenty of opportunities for the rest of us to get involved.

Explore new trails and hit the Reef

Cairns is already an established holiday destination attracting droves of tourists from around the world to the reef and the rainforest — there is some pretty good riding to boot. Since you’re already coming all that way, you’d be silly not to stay for a bit and check out everything that Far North Queensland has to offer on and off the bike.

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Bassett tells us that Smithfield will be open to ride around the Crankworx event, but there is also a metric tonne of great riding nearby. Take an afternoon and hit the legendary Kuranda Downhill, or take a day trip up to Davies Creek or Atherton.

Right next door to the Crankworx venue is AJ Hacket’s Skypark, where you can go bungee jumping, and let’s not forget that Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. There is diving, hiking, waterfalls, swimming — you name the adventure, and Cairns has a spectacular landscape to show you.

Festival passes are on sale now

Crankworx Festival passes are on sale now and selling fast. For more info and to get your spot, head over to the Crankworx website.


Photos: Clint Trahan / Crankworx, Con Chronis/ Crankworx

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