The Quad Crown finally received the kickoff it deserved, with riders from all over the country descending on Northern Tassie to take in the trails of Penguin and Wild Mersey.
“The decision to postpone the race was not an easy one, and we definitely had all those little voices in our head,” says Event Director Sally Hill. “Smiles were definitely the constant. It was everything that we wanted it to be, and the roll on to the Sunshine Coast is really positive.”
“We’re beside ourselves with the turnout, and the vibe, and the enjoyment level,” she says.
See what you missed at Quad Crown round one, The Wild Penguin
Hitting trails that hadn’t previously been part of a big stage race, including the brand new Raptor Ridge, the Quaddy started with a bang.
It was good times all around, from the elite riders who tested one another across the weekend, we also saw the first test of the Quad Crown’s unique handicapping system to award the Warrior Crowns.
What is the Quad Crown?
Run by the same folks who originally brought us the Cape to Cape and Port to Port back in the late 2000s, the Quad Crown is new series of mini-stage races.
Taking folks to fresh destinations that they have never raced, and many never have ridden at all, each stop consists of a prelude and and two XCM stages. The Wild Penguin in Devonport is the first stop in the series, with Sunshine Coast, Eden and Omeo still on the agenda.
Given that it is a series, points are up for grabs at each event and there will be an overall winner, both in the overall standings and for the Warrior Crown at the end.
- Want to know more about the Quad Crown and the other events in the series? Check out our full explainer article here.
The Wild Penguin
Friday afternoon kicked off with the Prelude, a 10km romp through the Penguin MTB park, using a loop known as the Full Monty, hitting the main loop of the trail network and the Montgomery Loop trail.
Today was key for both the elites and the punters, not only serving as seeding for the start waves but it also set the standard for the handicap used to determine the Warrior Crown standings.
For this, each rider’s average speed was calculated, and then they are ranked based on how they improve through each stage. The riders with the biggest improvement over the entire race are coronated King and Queen.
However for the Prelude itself, it was all about the being the fastest overall, and Jess Manchester and Sam Fox put down the quickest times on course.
Stage 1 | Wild Mersey
With the five starting waves set, the first stage of The Wild Penguin had a last-minute course reroute to include the brand-spankin’ new Raptor Ridge trail at Wild Mersey.
Now covering 59km, the course took in a quick loop on the Warrawee side of the river to hit the bermy goodness of High Voltage before making a beeline for Sheffield via the Railton Express — across the newly rebuilt suspension bridge — to hit the Raptor Ridge wilderness trail, before heading back.
The new stage featured over 1200m of climbing, making it a pretty darn big day on the bike.
For the elites, Peta Mullens was the fastest of the Women’s race, while Tassie local Sam Fox nosed ahead of the Men’s field.
Stage 2 | Wild Mersey
The grand finale of The Wild Penguin jetted to the middle of the Wild Mersey network in Railton for the start.
The day kicked off with a neutral rollout on Crokers Street behind a bright red Tonka Truck before heading into the Sheffield side of the network.
“I don’t think Railton has seen that many people in one place before. Between the riders and the locals who came out, everyone was so stoked with it,” says Hill.
For today the field went for a clockwise loop of southern end of the network, taking in basically everything available without riding the same trail twice, including Ewoks, Gnarvana and Green Mile. Then it was a drag race back to the Seven Sheds brewery for the finish and celebratory beverages.
Again it was Peta Mullens and Sam Fox who crossed the line first today in the elite field.
The first crowns awarded
The Wild Penguin is the first of four events on the Quad Crown calendar. While there are winners in each category on the day, there’s also the Warrior Crown centred around a riders improvement on their handicap. Points are also awarded towards the overall series win, which will be presented at The Big O, in Omeo later this year.
Peta Mullens and Sam Fox would hang on take out the Women’s and Men’s elite races, while Melissa Britt and Timothy Eagling were awarded the Warrior Crown for out-riding their handicap across the weekend.
Yes, they won actual crowns and currently sit atop the Quad Crown thrown, but each also received entries into the next three events to defend their post. As Hill explained to Flow, it’s now theirs to defend.
Next up is The Sunny 80 on the Sunshine Coast. Stay tuned for an event preview. For more on the Quad Crown series, click here.
For full results from the event or to register for the other stops head over to the Quad Crown website, and be sure to follow their Instagram and Facebook for the latest updates.
Photos – Grant Viney and Sam Newton / Magnier Media