Words by Rapid Ascent | Images by Rapid Ascent, Andrew Railton, Mandy Lamont

Mt Buller celebrated a huge weekend of mountain biking action at the GT Bike Buller MTB Festival presented by Fox, over the March Labour Day weekend, 12-14 March.

Now in its eight year, the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox has become the ultimate biking weekend on the annual calendar, with the variety of events and lively social scene providing appeal for riders, friends and family.

The three-day event consisted of seven core mountain bike races, two spectacle events (the 16” dual slalom and pump track pursuit), a trail running race, three kids’ events and a whole bunch of added social activities.

With events to cater for riders of all disciplines and ability levels, the diverse crowd included plenty of cross country riders, downhill and gravity riders. Local riders enjoyed the increased level of competition, with participants from around Australia and as far afield as Chile, all making the most of the Victorian long weekend.

Day one of the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox (c) Mandy Lamont

Day one of the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox (c) Mandy Lamont

Hans ‘no way’ Rey, considered to be the world’s leader in extreme mountain biking, was a major drawcard to the event this year. Along with numerous race accomplishments, Rey is a three-time trials riding world champion, as well as a showman, a stuntman and an adventure mountain biker.

Hans led a 40km social ride along Mt Buller’s Alpine Epic Trail, which saw nearly 80 guests taking the opportunity to ride with the mountain biking legend, and share a beer with him at the end of the day. Hans followed the ride with a lively presentation that covered his career highlights, an entertaining evening for all.

Back by popular demand were the combined race categories, giving an overall weekend winner in both the gravity and cross-country riding disciplines. A rider’s individual times are combined, with the lowest cumulative time determining the victor.

Gravity Gods: 
Race the three designated gravity events to contest the Gravity Gods combined races category: Outlaw All Mountain Trophy, ABOM Downhill and Gravity Enduro.

Overall winning male: Ben Forbes
Overall winning female: Sarah Booth

XC Whippets:
Race the three designated cross-country events to contest the XC Whippet combined races category: Stirling Circuit 50km, Brake Burner Enduro, 20km Corn Hill XC.

Overall winning male: Paul van der Ploeg
Overall winning female: Melissa Anset
There was no shortage of competition this weekend. Several riders left the mountain with race titles and prizes; and everyone else left with a huge sense of satisfaction, having enjoyed the magnificent Mt Buller trails and festival atmosphere.

General Manager from Rapid Ascent, Sam Maffet summed up the weekend nicely.

“We’ve had a fantastic weekend celebrating the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox and overall, it’s gone superbly well. This event brings riders from all levels and styles together in one place and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to be than at Mt Buller. There’s definitely the festival vibe here with so many events taking place across the weekend, and we can’t wait to do it all over again in 2017!”

This is how all the action unfolded.


SATURDAY 12TH MARCH:

Stirling Circuit 50km
This was a spectacular – and by all accounts extremely challenging – XC circuit over Mt Stirling and back again including Stonefly, the Corn Hill trails and a chairlift up Mt Buller at the end.

Overall winning male: Paul van der Ploeg
Overall winning female: Melissa Anset

Day two of the Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox (c) Mandy Lamont

Day two of the Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox (c) Mandy Lamont

Stonefly Circuit 35km
The rewarding XC race also took riders to Mt Stirling and back on the phenomenal Stonefly trail with chairlift at the end.

Overall winning male: Jasper Albrecht (17 years of age)
Overall winning female: Julia Clarke
GT Bicycles Outlaw All Mountain Trophy
In this mind-blowing all-mountain race on two of Mt Buller’s DH tracks – Outlaw Express and Yellow Post – riders completed 5 timed descents with an untimed chairlift back to the top. The fastest 3 descents made up the riders’ overall race time.

There were plenty of smiling faces and great tales told at the end of the descent as riders caught their breath as they jumped on the chairlift with their bikes.

At the end of the day it was Shannon Hewetson who posted the fastest men’s times and accomplished mountain biker Sarah Booth who won the women’s event.

Overall winning male: Shannon Hewetson
Overall winning female: Sarah Booth
Fox 16” Dual Slalom
There was plenty of noise from the crowd, encouraged along by the Red Bull Energy DJ, as two riders went head to head down a grass dual slalom track on Bourke Street, on 16” kids bikes! There were loads of stacks and cheering from the spectators as 32 riders took on the challenge. In the winner-takes-all elimination format Ben Forbes won the final round in a hot contest against Shannon Hewetson.

Overall winner: Ben Forbes

16 inch Dual Slalom event during the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox at Mt Buller (c)Mandy Lamont

16 inch Dual Slalom event during the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox at Mt Buller (c)Mandy Lamont

Lezyne Pump Track Pursuit
The trackside bar and BBQ and Red Bull Energy DJ kept the crowd pumping and after some thrilling head to head racing on the pump track. In a do-or-die elimination format, Gaelen Slaney managed to take the crown ahead of last year’s winner, Jackson Frew.

Overall winner: Gaelen Slaney 


SUNDAY 13TH MARCH:

6.5km Trail Run
A spectacular and challenging trail running race took runners along the scenic walking and riding trails up to the Mt Buller Summit, with a beautiful 3.5km descent back to the Village Square.

Overall winning male: Ross Hopkins
Overall winning female: Lauren Crowe

 

Gaelen Slaney and Jackson Frew following the final round of the Pump Track Pursuit_(c) Mt Buller_Andrew Railton

Gaelen Slaney and Jackson Frew following the final round of the Pump Track Pursuit_(c) Mt Buller_Andrew Railton

Gaelen Slaney during the head-to-head knockout round in the Pump Track Pursuit at the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox (c) Mt Buller_Andrew Railton

Gaelen Slaney during the head-to-head knockout round in the Pump Track Pursuit at the GT Bike Buller Festival presented by Fox (c) Mt Buller_Andrew Railton

GT Bicycles Brake Burner Enduro
The most popular race for the weekend was the multi-lap enduro down a 7km XC/DH course to the base of the chairlift and back up again until the final 12km Super-D (Race 9) to the Picnic in the Park festival at the base of the mountain.

Overall winning male: Bret Murray
Overall winning female: Sue Thompson

 

Fox Mt Buller Super D
This exhilarating 12km Super-D race took riders from the top of Mt Buller all the way to the bottom – descending over 1100m in a single run. Riders flew down the Delatite River Trail to finish in the Picnic in the Park festival at the base of the mountain.

Overall winning male: Brad Wadsworth
Overall winning female: Alice Matthews

 

GT Bicycles ABOM Downhill
A single timed descent down Mt Buller’s original downhill track, ABOM from top to bottom.

Overall winning male: Tim Eaton
Overall winning female: Sarah Booth

 


MONDAY 14TH MARCH:

Corn Hill Crankfest XC 22km
It was a tight race on the challenging XC 22km Crankfest on the flowing single track around the Mt Buller Village and neighbouring Cornhill trails.

Overall winning male: Adrian Jackson
Overall winning female: Melissa Anset
Adidas Eyewear Gravity Enduro 20km
A gravity enduro around the most popular Mt Buller and Cornhill trails with 5 timed descents interspersed with untimed climbs and transit stages.

Overall winning male: Ben Forbes
Overall winning female: Philippa Norton


For details and entries visit www.gtbikebuller.com.au

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