The Wild Penguin kicks off the 2024 Quad Crown series in Tassie

The Quad Crown hit the ground running in 2023 with its inaugural four-event series, aiming to take riders to places they wouldn’t have raced before. The series is back for 2024, kicking off in northern Tasmania with the Wild Penguin event.

Coming in hot, this event is set to take place on the 8-10 of March in one of the hidden treasures of Tasmanian mountain bike destinations; the Wild Mersey and Penguin trail network.

With stages only 30 minutes west of Davenport, the event is full of courses to take racers far and wide, and social events to keep the atmosphere lively, on and off the trails.

To get some insight into the first event of the series, Flow caught up with Course Director, Quad Crown Designer and Stage Creator, Liam McGuire, to get an overview of the stages and how the Wild Penguin event will set the sights high for the remaining destinations in the series.

Check out last year’s Wild Pengiun below

The Prelude | A fast beginning to the weekend

Beginning the event, the course directors have riders’ best interests at heart — expecting racers to travel long distances with packed bikes and bags, only to be thrown headlong into massive stages over the weekend, is not how the Wild Penguin event rolls. So, to kickstart a big weekend of riding and racing, the Friday afternoon Prelude will be held in the seaside town of Penguin, just a 20-minute drive from Davenport West.

“It’s designed to be a half-an-hour head-out where people who have travelled (get the) chance to stretch their legs a little, but also check if there are any bike issues which need attending to”, says McGuire.

All smiles on the start with a rad stage ahead.

From a self-seeded start, riders will roll out into a swift 9.8km loop of singletrack at the Penguin Mountain Bike Park. The course includes flat and fast sections of trail, also sampling some of the descent from the Iron Tor loop — a trail which McGuire praises as being on the same level as descents found at St. Helens or Derby.

“The Iron Tor loop was built by Next Level Mountain Bike who are the same people who are building the new Mogo trails (in New South Wales)”, McGuire says. “It is one of the best descents I have ever ridden.”

Littered with fast sections of trail and countless, spectacular berms, the descent will spill out onto the Montgomery Loop to lead riders back to the finish line.

While riders can take the prelude as a warm-up lap before the weekend, times will be used to seed folks for the next day and will be added onto the racer’s overall result. The prelude also sets your handicap in the competition to take the overall position of Wild Penguin Weekend Warrior — more on this later.

The social events give you the opportunity to spend some time with your fellow racers and exchange war stories from the day.

Stage 1 | Riding Raptor Ridge | 53km

Saturday houses the biggest stage of the event; a 53km pedal through the Wild Mersey trail network. Similar to last year’s course, the stage will begin just 10 minutes from Davenport in a place called Warrawee in Latrobe.

From a quaint country town, Latrobe turns into a bustling mountain bike haven as riders push off at 9am to tackle the first stage of the weekend. Racers are led through the town of Railton, feeding their way into the Wild Mersey wilderness, then onto the highlight of the stage — the 10km Raptor course.

Big views and even better riding, the course for stage one sends riders on the EPIC Raptor Ridge climb and descent.

This trail leads its way up and over Raptor Ridge, where stunning views and even better mountain biking will be on the cards. Tackling a 5km climb through switchbacks up Raptor Ridge, this section of the stage will get the blood pumping. Thankfully, what goes up must come down, and folks will definitely have earned their turns as they begin the descent from Raptor Ridge.

“(The way down is) via a track called the Railton Express which is about 15 km of really flowy, nice singletrack which basically takes you back to the finish,” McGuire says.

With a heap of singletrack to offer, along with flat, steep and fast sections, Stage 1 provides riders with a blast of adrenaline and speed to start the weekend on a high.

Last year, the race got special permission to send riders over the suspension bridge that connects Latrobe to Railton, meaning they were the first people to ride over it.

Stage 2 | A totally different side of Wild Mersey | 37km

On Sunday, Stage 2 will see competitors tackle 37km of singletrack and trails through Wild Mersey bushland.

The first section of Stage 2 has changed from last year — instead of beginning with a technical climb, riders will kick-off the stage in the epicentre of Railton, on a road just off the main street. Then it’s onto a track called the Railton Rattler, traversing through a range of picturesque countryside, following a nice gradient through the hills.

“We changed Stage 2 a little bit responding to feedback about the start being too difficult,” McGuire says. “Last year it had a big climb at the start, so we’ve changed it this year and it’s going to be a lot more fun.”

From the Rattler, the stage leads riders into the Sheffield end of the trail network. Different from the Wild Penguin event in 2023, the trail will drop racers out at about the halfway point of where riders joined it last year. Here, they’ll be presented with a completely new section of the Wild Mersey Mountain Bike Park.

“The tracks we’ve ridden on Saturday aren’t involved in Sunday’s stage,” says McGuire. “It’s a whole different set of tracks.”

McGuire says that it is a great way to truly experience the whole destination where the event is held, as you will be taken far and wide around the region during each stage.

After completing the new loop around the Southern section of the network, racers will ride back along the Railton Rattler for 8km of flat and downhill riding into Railton to finish and celebrate where they began.

Wild Mersey is one of the most underrated trail networks in Tassie, and the Wild Penguin takes you on a guided tour through its greatest hits.

The handicapping system and the Weekend Warrior

The Wild Penguin event will have podiums and prizes for each category, but high praise will also be given to the Weekend Warrior. The Weekend Warrior is not necessarily the fastest rider in their category, but is the rider who has shown that they have had a solid performance across the whole weekend.

The Warrior Crown is awarded to the rider with the most consistent performance over the weekend — regardless of where they finish in the field. And yes, you do get an ACTUAL crown!

Through the event’s handicapping system, a racer’s personal improvement and consistency throughout the event can shine through, putting them in the running for the Warrior Crown. A rider’s average speed is calculated from the Prelude as a baseline of their performance and will be compared to how they fare over the next few days of racing.

“We’re trying to reward the rider that typifies the kind of rider we (want) to attract to the event,” says McGuire. “It makes it not all about the elite riders and the fastest in categories. It’s the person who turns up and has a great event. If (someone) has a good event, no mechanicals, no crashes, we can pick someone out of that bunch and reward them for that.”

Pinkies up, the Quaddie team has sniffed out the best venues for post-ride rehydration and a feed to host the social events.

Social events throughout the weekend

With categories like the Weekend Warrior and the mini-stage race format, the Wild Penguin is not like other races… but it still has more to offer. The Wild Penguin event will not only take riders for a tour on the trails around the area, but also the fantastic breweries and venues to be found there, too.

After Friday’s Prelude, racers will roll down to the Penguin Brewery for the Welcome Function, which is conveniently close to the finish line of the Penguin Prelude Loop. It’s a great way to get to know other riders and have a good time off the bike, as well as on… most likely with a beer in your hand.

Saturday will then house a big afternoon function after Stage 1. Being held later in the afternoon than last year, folks will have time to get some lunch, have a swim in the ocean or do a bit of sight-seeing, and then come back and be part of the festivities at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Finally, after the race on Sunday, riders will be stepping off their bikes just off the main road of Railton, right next to the Seven Sheds Brewery. This fermentation palace has a great location in the centre of town and is where the presentations will be held. Riders will have time to have a few drinks and lunch at the venue before the presentations begin at 1 o’clock, closing off a great weekend of bikes in the best way possible.

How to enter

Registrations are now live on the Quad Crown website, so head over to learn more and get in the running for Weekend Warrior at the Wild Penguin event!

The Wild Penguin is approaching fast; get your entry in quick!

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