En-route to the Victorian High Country from 24-27 February 2022, The GOAT is a brand new four-day stage race, boasting the best trails at Bright, Yackandandah and Mount Beauty.
With multiple categories, an expo village and events for the kids, it’s clear the team behind this one aim to include everyone in this inaugural event.
What is The GOAT?
Mix one part XC marathon, three parts timed descents, garnish with some gravity, charge up with e-MTBs, pour into a schooner glass from Bright Brewery, and you have The GOAT.
Thanks to funding from the Victorian Bushfire Relief Effort, GTR Events is launching The GOAT, a multi-day mountain bike race through the Victorian High Country. Stopping at Yackandandah, Mount Beauty and Bright, this isn’t a race about Type 2, bordering on Type 3 fun; there will be a bit of suffering along the way, but from what we can gather, this event looks to maximise the ratio of fun to lactic acid.
Watch the official GOAT video here:
Four race categories; XC, gravity, e-MTB and kids
For the tight, light and bright riders, the XC GOAT category will be for those fighting with gravity and pushing towards the pointy end on the climbs. The XC category will follow a tried and tested format— think the Cape to Cape, Port to Port or the Redback — covering a total of 120km with 2000m of elevation over four days. The first person across the line will win each stage, and the rider with the lowest overall time will earn their horns as XC GOAT champ.
For those who prefer to have gravity on their side, the gravity category will follow a similar format to an enduro, with only the descents being timed. Gravity GOATS will ride the same course as the XC riders, so don’t expect the descents to be as aggressive as a full-blown gravity enduro event.
The details of this format are still evolving at this point, so stay tuned to the website for clarity on exactly how this segment plans to carry out.
The E-GOAT follows the same race format as the XC, for riders on e-MTBs. The first person across the line takes each stage, and the rider with the lowest overall time will be crowned the e-GOAT.
For all the groms out there from ages 2-12, while the riders are on course, PMBIA-qualified instructors from Gravity Oz will be running coaching sessions for the mini-shredders.
The Billy GOATS will be learning the skills needed to race with the rest in a few years, taking place at the Mt Beauty trailhead during Saturday’s stage.
The four stages
The local knowledge behind the course design comes from Shannon Rademaker, who owns All Terrain Cycles in Bright and knows the VIC High Country like the back of his hand. Working with Justin Lane from GTR Events, they selected the trails for their fun factor, not necessarily for technical difficulty.
They predict the racers at the pointy end of the field will finish each stage in about 90-min, while the midfield and slower riders will be closer to the three-four hour mark.
Stage one – Yack Tracks, Yackandandah
Ya(c)ks and goats are both members of the Bovidae family, so it’s fitting the first stage of the event should see racers duking it out on the infamous Yack Tracks.
The trails here are the tamest of the three stops with seeming endless kilometres of flowing cross-country singletrack. Many of the Yack Tracks are shaped by the areas mining past, with the trails running through gullies, caves, and water races cut into the clay in search of precious metals.
Riders will roll out of town on 5km of gravel roads and the Creek Path, which was constructed as part of the Indigo Epic Trail project, before diving into the network.
The 43km course sees 939m of climbing, starting and finishing at the Yackandandah Sport Oval. The course maps are still under wraps, and we can’t tell you the names of the timed descents for the Gravity Goats. But, we can give you a few details on what to expect on the inverse climbs.
Gravity GOAT segments:
- Descent 1: 2.1km with 147m vert
- Descent 2: 4.6km with 190m vert
- Descent 3: TBD
Stage two – Mystic Mountain, Bright
Stage two takes riders to Bright for their first day at Mystic Mountain Bike Park. Friday is the Queen Stage, starting at Pioneer Park; riders will pedal a few trails near town before heading up the mountain.
Covering 35km, the vast majority of the 946m of climbing is knocked out in one hit, so settle in, find your tempo and enjoy it. This ascent takes you along the ridge of the pine plantation, past The Clear Spot Lookout, and shoots the gap between Eagle Peak and Lyrebird Peak. It’s a sustained climb, but it’s not steep and takes you up above the bike park for some of the best views the Victorian High Country has to offer.
Once you’ve ticked off the ascent, it’s time to let gravity do its thing. Back in the bike park, you’ll find a mix of sweeping machine-built trails and janky technical riding that will keep you on your toes. Once again, under the penalty of goat stampede, we have been sworn to secrecy with the course maps and names of the three timed descents, but we can summarise the stats.
Gravity GOAT segments:
- Descent 1: 1.4km with 193m vert
- Descent 2: 1.2km with 89m vert
- Descent 3: 0.7km with 77 vert
Stage three – Big Hill MTB Park, Mount Beauty
Day three sees riders tackle the steep, deep, and technical riding at Mount Beauty. The trails have been here for over 30-years now, and in the face of wide, smooth machine-built flow trails, Big Hill Bike Park has maintained its old school flair.
With only 25.6km to ride and 694m of climbing, don’t discount this stage; for what it lacks in distance, the hand-cut trails at Big Hill Bike Park more than make up for in technicality.
Kicking off from the oval at the Mount Beauty Secondary College, stage three sees riders climb and descend the entire mountain twice, taking in some of Big Hill Bike Park’s most beloved trails. Same as stages one and two, the course maps and names of the timed descents are double-secret classified, so we can’t reveal them just yet, but we can give you a few hints.
Gravity GOAT segments:
- Descent 1: 1.2km with 73m vert
- Descent 2: 1.9km with 158m vert
- Descent 3: 0.6km with 70m of gravity.
Stage four – Mystic Mountain, Bright
The final day treats riders to a Mystic doubleheader — two 16km laps with 768m of climbing, meaning two opportunities to ride each descent.
Rademaker explained the idea here is that with live timing, the Gravity GOATS will know where they stand in the field after each descent and how much time they might need to make up on the next lap around. With this being the last day, it’s a shorter stage with less climbing, and the course has been designed to maximise metres ascent to metres of fun.
Kicking off once again from Pioneer Park, the final stage heads straight to the top of the bike park and comes back down some of Mystic’s best-known trails. As with the other three, the courses are still under wraps, but here is what you can expect for the timed descents — they may sound short, but keep in mind that you will ride all three twice.
Gravity GOAT segments:
- Descent 1: 0.8km with 65m vert
- Descent 2: 0.9km with 130m vert
- Descent 3: 0.9km with 46m vert
The GOAT Village
From what we’ve gathered in talking with the GTR Events crew, the beauty of The GOAT is that it combines multiple events into one. The XC whippets and the enduro-bros and enduro-brodettes in your riding group can all take a weekend away together in the Victorian Highcountry to ride bikes.
The XC and Gravity riders will be sent out in waves, so you’ll probably miss each other on course, but at the end of the day, you can meet up in the event village to share war stories over a few beverages and some hard-earned food.
The home base will be in Bright, right next door to the brewery. This is where registration and presentations will take place each day, and there will be beers, food, and hopefully plenty of sunshine.
Who is the GOAT for?
There is no shortage of mountain bike stage races in Australia, with the list getting bigger seemingly every year. So, with the Cape to Cape, Port to Port and the rest of the Epic Series coming back for 2022, in addition to classics like the Redback, where does this new one fit in among all these other races, and who is it for?
The majority of these MTB stage races are long, where mid-pack riders may spend four hours grinding out 50km stages with 2000m of climbing, day, after day. That’s not for the faint of heart, nor is it the experience GTR Events are looking to create.
Compared to most stage races in Australia, the GOAT is shorter in distance overall, looks like a whopping amount of singletrack and all four stages are close in proximity. So we get the feeling this event will be less about testing your fitness and more about maximising trail time, and the goal is to keep each day under three hours of ride time. That way, you can give it a red hot crack during the race but still have enough energy to enjoy the region with less time spent travelling between stages.
We are looking forward to seeing how this inaugural event plays out; as we already have fond memories of riding the trails, it’ll now give us the chance to race them over four days.
For more info, pricing, and to keep up with the latest news, head over to the event website.
Photos: Georgina von Marburgfirstname.lastname@example.org, Flow MTB