23 Apr 2013

The brand-new mountain bike trails on the award-winning James Estate Winery in the Upper Hunter Valley attracted a record-field of 300 riders and more than 200 spectators on Saturday to its inaugural racing event. Round 2 of the SHIMANO Mountain Bike Grand Prix series was held at the vineyards at Baerami, which has now established itself on the map for Australian mountain bikers.

Cheeky Velosport racers Andrew Lloyd (Barnsley, NSW) and Sarah Neumann (Kahibah, NSW) claimed the prestigious seven hour solo victories and James Lamb (Erina, NSW) and Susanna Fasold (Bonnet Bay, NSW) won in the four hour solo categories.With a huge contingent of local riders from the Hunter, Newcastle and Sydney areas not only participating at the event at James Estate but also claiming a lot of the podium positions in the race, the huge pool of racing talent and potential for the sport in the region was obvious on the weekend. With James Estate’s senior winemaker and trail builder Graeme Scott, who competed in the race himself as well, Muswellbrook Shire’s Mayor Martin Rush officially opened the mountain bike trails on the winery, which are now open for the public to use and enjoy. Mr. Rush welcomed riders from as far as Canberra, Dubbo and Port Macquarie at the cellar door in the beautiful vineyard setting at Baerami on Saturday morning.

Racing amongst the vineyards. Gee, I’m thirsty all of a sudden….

“This is a fantastic showcase for our region! Congratulations and thanks to the entire James Estate team and to Rocky Trail for bringing this event to the Upper Hunter Valley. We are excited to welcome so many mountain bikers and their families here and hope that a lot of you will come and visit us again,” said the Mr. Rush as he sent the riders off to the start line.

The race track put together by event organisers from Rocky Trail Entertainment was just under 10 km long and featured technically challenging single trails through the bushland surrounding the vineyards and fast fire trails, which offered spectacular views of the Upper Hunter Valley wine country. The riders literally rode through the winery, passing oak barrels before coming back to the event centre located right in front of the cellar door, which added a very unique touch to the race.

With 15 completed laps on the tough course, last year’s SHIMANO MTB GP Series Champion Andrew Lloyd from Barnsley was the outstanding solo winner of the day in the seven hour competition, completing only one lap less than the SHIMANO team of three riders who took out the overall line honours.The four solo competition was the most popular race of the day – riders finished just after lunch and took in the scenery, tasted the delicious James Estate wine and enjoyed the tasty cheese and olive treats from the region. James Lamb from the Central Coast took out the hotly contested solo elite race ahead of Jorge Baron Morris (Kensington, NSW) and Aaron Lakeman from Westmead (NSW), all three completed nine laps.

Andrew Lloyd on the way to the win in the seven-hour solos.

In the elite females the podium from Round 1 was repeated – Sydney’s Susanne Fasold won ahead Emily Cunningham and local newcomer to the mountain bike racing scene, Laura Renshaw from Merewether.Continuing the popular endurance racing series, Rocky Trail will host round three of their SHIMANO MTB Grand Prix at Ourimbah MTB Park near Wyong on the Central Coast on 15 June. For further and more detailed results, please visit www.rockytrailentertainment.com