We love stage races; the adventure, the comradeship, the journey of it all – it’s bloody brilliant. Over the past few years we’ve been closely involved with Australia’s two leading multi-day stage races, the Port to Port MTB and Cape to Cape MTB, and so we’re pumped to hear that another event has been added to the mix, with the Reef to Reef MTB.
This brand new event will be held over four days in August, in Tropical North Queensland, a part of the world that needs little introduction to Australian mountain bikers. The region in and around Cairns is one of the birthplaces of Australian mountain biking, it’s rammed with amazing trails, and of course has hosted the World Champs and World Cup multiple times. We’ve spent a lot of time in the region too, exploring all it has to offer by bike, and it’s one of the most unique and diverse places you can imagine.
Read on for the official word from IRONMAN, the folk behind the event, for all the details!
The Australian mountain bike stage racing calendar just got even more exciting with the announcement of Reef to Reef, a multi-day Mountain Bike Stage race to be held annually in early August in Tropical North Queensland.
IRONMAN Oceania Managing Director Dave Beeche, said Reef to Reef will be a four day stage race for professional, elite, competitive and recreational mountain bikers and will complement the highly successful multi-day stage race events, Port to Port MTB (held in Newcastle in May) and Cape to Cape MTB (held in the south west of Western Australia in October).
“Reef to Reef completes a triple crown of outstanding Australian mountain bike stage races now available to riders and while it will be will be modelled on “sister” events in NSW and WA, there will be a truly distinctive Tropical North Queensland flavour to the four day event. The 25+ year tradition of the Triple-R Mountain Bike Challenge (formerly the RRR) lives on within Reef to Reef with the inclusion of the iconic one day event with its 70km and 35km course options in the event schedule.”
Mr Beeche said that Reef to Reef’s world class course will showcase the variety of Tropical North Queensland’s rainforest, tablelands, farm lands and MTB parks, providing riders with a stunning range of trails, riding surfaces, trail types and landscapes that will ensure it quickly becomes recognised as a must do event.
Want to read more about the kind of amazing terrain you’ll find in Tropical North Queensland? Check out some of our trips to the region below:
“While the course will be challenging it will still be achievable, with riders of varying abilities able to choose whether they race hard or simply come for the holiday and enjoy the journey with their mates while soaking in the region’s stunning hospitality.”
“Reef to Reef will be held over four stages across four days and participants will have the option of being able to ride as individuals or teams of two who must ride the whole race together and not more than two minutes apart. Teams are eligible for 10 qualifying spots for the world famous Cape Epic an eight-day adventure through the Western Cape region of South Africa,” Mr Beeche said.
Tourism and Events Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Leanne Coddington said it was a major coup to host the event in Tropical North Queensland.
“This event will not only bring benefits to the Tropical North Queensland tourism industry and economy, but it will be a spectacular showcase of this beautiful region which is sure to inspire participants to return again for future holidays,”
“Queensland has established itself as a major events destination and the stunning backdrops our regions offer make those events truly memorable. I welcome this new event for Tropical North Queensland and look forward to it being a huge success for IRONMAN, the participants and local tourism industry,” Ms Coddington said.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning welcomed the addition to a bustling sports events calendar for the Cairns region.
“This event is ideal for Cairns, celebrating our tropical terrain and thirst for adventure sports action. It comes on the back of the successful Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, and further builds on our partnership with IRONMAN through the ever-growing Cairns Airport Adventure Festival.”
“We look forward to welcoming athletes to our region next August for this exciting MTB event,” he said.
Key Event Detail
Reef to Reef – 9 – 12 August 2018, Solo or Teams options
Stage 1 – Smithfield MTB Park. Distance 30km
Stage 2 – Davies Creek MTB Park. Distance 50km
Stage 3 – Mount Molloy to Wetherby Station. Distance 60km
Stage 4 – Mount Molloy to Port Douglas. Distance 55km
The ten or so seconds between when Tracey Hannah went over the bars in her race run and when she finally got the wheels rolling again was the longest we can remember. She was on a blinder, and the collective feeling of shock which reverberated around the finish arena when she went flying into the vines was crushing. The amazingly dusty surface was so unpredictable, and Tracey has simply pushed too hard at the wrong time.
As she got cranking again, and hit the next split, the arena went bananas. Somehow, god knows, she was only two seconds back! But there was no miracle finish, and Tracey’s World Champs dream would end with a bronze medal. Tahnee Seagrave, the other favourite, also went down hard, and suddenly the race was there for the taking – Canadian Miranda Miller seized it.
Danni Beecroft absolutely killed it too, charging to fourth, with Sian A’hern also grabbing a top ten. You can get the full results here, and jump in below for our massive photo gallery.
The final race of Saturday’s XCO bonanza, the Elite Men’s, was truly epic. The battle between Jaroslav Khulhavy, Thomas Litscher and Nino Schurter was intense; Khulhavy’s brutal pace couldn’t unsettle Schurter, who waited until deep in the final lap to hit the afterburners, ripping himself a gap on the climb and then storming the descent to victory.
Aussie Dan McConnell showed incredible grit, clawing his way back into ninth place in exciting style, his best ever World Champs finish too. You can check out the full results here, right after you’ve soaked up our massive gallery below!
Australia’s squad of six elite women was headed up by Bec Henderson, along with Peta Mullens, Eliza Kwan, Kath Mcinerney, Anna Beck and Tori Thomas. Get into the dust below, with our huge photo gallery and grab the full results here.
This course is really living up to its reputation as a breaker of bikes and bodies, but Sam Gaze had no troubles taming it. In fact the only thing that seemed to worry him today was the cork on his champagne bottle, blasting him in the face on the podium.
The Aussie contingent was led home by Reece Tucknott, who followed in his sister’s footsteps bringing home a 31st place, with the rest of the Aussie young guns all finishing on the lead lap. Check out our massive photo gallery below to get an idea of just how tough the fight is out there. Savage stuff!
1. Mick Hannah – 3:30.620 – AUS
2. Loïc Bruni – 3:31.730
3. Jack Moir – 3:32.870 – AUS
4. Aaron Gwin – 3:33.120
5. Rudy Cabirou – 3:34.810
12. Sam Hill – AUS
21. Connor Fearon – AUS
24. Josh Button – AUS
30. Dean Lucas – AUS
37. Jake Newell – AUS
62. Troy Brosnan – AUS
Elite Women (Timed Session)
1. Tahnée Seagrave – 4:03.420
2. Myriam Nicole – 4:06.160
3. Tracey Hannah – 4:10.090 – AUS
4. Emilie Siegenthaler – 4:14.550
5. Eleonora Farina – 4:18.620
9. Danielle Beecroft – AUS
11. Ronja Hill-Wright – AUS
13. Tegan Molloy – AUS
14. Sian A’Hern – AUS
15. Kellie Weinert – AUS
16. Shelly Flood – AUS
17. Kaitlin Lawlor – AUS
Junior Men (Seeding)
1. Finn Iles – 3:38.000
2. Joshua Clark – 3:40.360 – AUS
3. Joe Breeden – 3:43.980
4. Harry Parsons – 3:45.170 – AUS
5. Matt Walker – 3:46.650
6. Ben Zwar – 3:48.360 – AUS
7. Pat Butler – 3:50.110 – AUS
12. Darcy Coutts – AUS
14. Matthew Carter – AUS
15. Baxter Maiwald – AUS
40. Bryce Heathcote – AUS
Junior Women (Seeding)
1. Shania Rawson – 4:32.450
2. Paula Zibasa – 4:38.490
3. Flora Lesoin – 4:40.850
4. Ellie Smith – 4:42.700 – AUS
5. Melanie Chappaz – 4:44.340
12. Sally Potter – AUS
Cameron Wright stormed the field today in the Junior Men’s, leaving a dusty, shellshocked train in his wake, riding the kind of aggressive race that was only going to end one way: with a gold medal around his neck. This is the first XCO World Championship won by an Aussie for over a decade, and it was done in dominating style. Bloody ripper!
Today it was all about the XCO, and it was a bloody good outing for the Australian team overall – Matt Dinham took seventh in the Junior men’s, and our junior women were fearless, stomping the A-Lines all day in some pretty hairy conditions. The team spirit is high, let’s keep it rolling!
Did Nanna drop the talcum powder? Cairns continues its run of serving up weather extremes – this time it’s not mud riders are contending with, but blinding, choking dust, the ankle deep powder making it seriously treacherous on the rocks. Put your front wheel into a hidden rut or grab a little too much brake and it’s game over! We saw a tonne of riders flung down the cheese grater of Jacobs Ladder, or walloping themselves after coming in a little nose heavy on Rodeo Drop. With a few hundred more sets of wheels over the course during the next couple of days, it’s going to like the surface of the moon by the time we reach Saturday’s XCO main events.
What a day, what a place, it’s good to be back in Cairns, and it’s even better to see Australia on the top step! Make sure you watch our Rainbow Warriors edit now for all the behind the scenes action from the Aussie team too.
The downhill race track is also a little different to what riders were racing all season, with a steep and rocky start that flattens out toward the finish. That calls for some interesting tech to give the riders the best setup possible.
With one quick wander about the pits, we saw some seriously cool stuff, have a look here.
The DH track has received a lot of work to allow easier foot traffic up and down the course, so there’ll be less tramping through the jungle to get to your favourite section of track to watch the race, good news for sure. In the previous World Cup events on the same track, spectators would have to walk the LONG way around to reach the whoops and rock gardens up high, but for this World Champs, there’s a track right up alongside the race track.
Cairns City Live Site
From Thursday to Sunday, the CBD will host a Live Site right next to the Cairns Lagoon with a stage playing all the action, DJ’s, live music, stunt rider demos, family activities and a mini-expo. Oh, and a BBQ.
Tully lies just a couple of hours south of Cairns, but it’s a world apart. The only nightclub here is the monthly gathering of the bridge club. Surrounded by an incoming tide of green, the town chomps back at the cane fields, feeding the bustling refinery that in turns feeds the blood sugar levels of Australia. It’s also the gateway to the incredible Tully Gorge and its impenetrable, stunning rainforest, which is what we’d come to experience.
This whole region is often called the Cassowary Coast in honour of the slightly terrifying, prehistoric looking flightless bird that roams the rainforests of the region. Despite bumper stickers and roadside warnings galore telling me to Look Out, Cassowaries About, I’ve never seen one, but it’s a nice name for the place all the same.
We decided to kick off our time here with a sunrise pedal on the hard-packed, majestic sweep of Mission Beach, hoping for one of Queensland’s trademark killer sunrises. But Tully’s weather was blowing eastward today, clouds and drizzle scuttling along the coast. With the sun refusing to honour its part of the get-up-early-get-good-photos bargain, we headed inland to Tully and the gorge beyond.
There’s not a lot of information about the riding around here; the purpose built mountain bike trails of Atherton, Smithfield and Davies Creek tend to get the limelight, and so searching out some solid intel on where to mountain bike in the Tully region took a bit of investigating. After a couple of emails and phone calls, some Strava sleuthing and a bit of time on Google, I’d settled on a ride; Ryan and I would take the H-Road to Elizabeth-Grant Falls, which we’d been promised were a spectacular and underrated sight.
Driving into the gorge, the banana plantations and cattle paddocks are slowly squeezed by the narrowing walls of green, until the road is soon running right along the river’s edge. It was here we pulled off into the dirt and unloaded the bikes; we knew we had about a 10km pedal in each direction to reach the falls, but beyond that we were in the dark.
The greasy clay fireroad seemed to have had little recent traffic, which made it all the more surprising when the road came to a stop in a campground, currently attended only by two fellas wearing blue singlets and footy shorts, harbouring four cases of beer between them. “Mate, we come here every year for a weekend,” one of them croaked, “enjoy the peace and quiet, a bit of a reunion.” And to get super drunk too, by the looks of it. Apparently another couple of mates would soon be arriving to give them a hand with the grog.
From here on, across the river, the ride began take on a different tone. The jungle came in closer, and any sign of traffic, either foot, bike or 4WD, totally disappeared. Thick strands of Wait-a-While vine kept you looking ahead, and the gloop of the red clay began to build up on our tyres till the tread disappeared entirely. Around us, the jungle continued to press in thicker and thicker, thousands of textures and shades of green, so alive you could almost feel it breathing.
Apparently, somewhere up ahead, lay the falls, but at the moment any sight or sound of them was swallowed up by the rainforest, leaving us alone with the noise of a grinding drivetrain and the occasional ‘too-whip’ bird call in the trees. Every so often a particularly incredible tree would catch our eye, and we’d stop to take a photo of it, before noticing another even more stunning specimen right next to it, and then another, and then another. Every step off the track into the forest brought something new and incredible to look at, you could spend a lifetime here, seeking out the secrets of the jungle.
The trail narrowed again, slippery roots coming to the surface, demanding attention be given to the patch of dirt just a couple of metres ahead, which is what made it all the more incredible when we popped out suddenly into a tiny clearing. “Oh shit!” laughed Ryan, and that was just about the only way to put it; somehow we’d made it right to the edge of steep gorge, and we were now looking across the expanse to the 300m cascade of the Elizabeth Grant Falls. The contrast between the green tunnel vision of the past hour and the sudden expansive movement and noise of the falls was a seriously dramatic.
This was the pay-off, and I’ve got to say it was easily as rewarding as railing a perfect corner, or blasting a descent after grinding up a long climb. Once again, I was reminded that it’s these kind of experiences that are really at the heart of what mountain biking is all about – your bike is a doorway to places and things that just wouldn’t be on the radar otherwise. And up here in the Tropical North, the potential is endless. Embrace the jungle, get off the beaten track, you’ll never regret it.
For more info on the mountain biking in Tropical North Queensland, check out the Ride Cairns site right here.
In these raw, sweaty, bleeding old vids, shot by Glen Jacobs and associated lunatics, the resounding attitude seems to be “let’s see if we can ride down that.” And in Cairns, where the mountain range comes crashing down from the tablelands to meet the sea, there’s endless potential to find steep things to ride down. It’s the perfect petri dish for downhill; at various times there are said to have been up to thirty downhill tracks in the mountains around Cairns.
Today, it’s our mission to sample two of the true originals – a pair of absolutely classic, but entirely contrasting descents. The legendary Kuranda downhill, claimed as the first proper downhill track in Australia, and the Bump Track, an ancient bullock run that mountain bikers have been blasting for decades.
The plan is to get started early, but I wasn’t sure if Berend and Ryan might miss our 5:45 meeting. Cairns had been in full swing last night, after the Queensland rugby league team completed their annual demoralising of their southern rivals. There’s a lot of state pride at stake for Queensland, and I feared the boys may have gotten caught up in the celebrations, but they’re right on time. We load the bikes up in the dark, and begin the winding drive up Kuranda Range.
In the front seats, the guys debate the origins of Kuranda downhill. Is it an old moto trail? Was it Jacobs who unearthed it and claimed it for mountain bikers? Regardless, the track has been there as long as they, or anyone, can remember. And now, after at least a couple of decades of riding, it’s more popular than ever.
Local operators have been running shuttles regularly, and there’s been a tonne of trail work done to improve, maintain and diversify the classic old track, so there are now variety of lines you can take from top to bottom. It’s cool to think that this track is becoming more relevant, not less, even as the sport evolves. Berend provides some caffeine, and we take some time to appreciate another beautiful Cairns sunrise. This is winter in paradise; while much of the nation shivers, we’re in our summer kit, watching the sun bloom.
It’s folk like this who keep the wheels of mountain biking turning.
After the rains last night, the dirt is in full hero configuration, the series of berms at the top of the track grip like Velcro, and the boys barrel into a run they’ve done dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Drops, roots, chutes, perfectly grippy linked turns matched with zero-traction off-camber sections, the track has huge diversity, and it’s improving all the time.
Near the bottom of the run, we come across Luke, one of the local builders, wielding a Macleod tool and tweaking a section that wasn’t 100%. It’s 8:00am, mid-week, and Luke’s out on his own, pouring his selfless passion into the dark dirt. It’s folk like this who keep the wheels of mountain biking turning. He’s a classic character, cracking me up with a tale of woe from a recent trip to Whistler (he goes over every year) that involved a deeply bruised manhood, banged up ankles and an anaphylactic shock from a wasp sting.
After breakfast by Ellis Beach we head north, to Port Douglas. The road between Cairns and Port snakes beneath palm fronds, tracing the line between the mountains and the sea, it’s a stunning drive. As the coastal plains broaden just before you hit the five-star strip of Port Douglas, you’ve reached foot of the Bump.
Kuranda might be ancient in mountain bike terms, but the Bump Track stretches it out to another level. It’s certain that this path was originally trod pre-colonial times – the terrain around here is so steep and the jungle so dense, you’d imagine there are precious few feasible routes through. Settlers used the Bump as a stock route, and the thought of driving cattle and carts up some of the steeper parts of the Bump Track is brutal. It’s hard enough climbing up with 42-tooth cassette!
For a lot of local Cairns riders, there’s a standing annual date with the Bump, during the RRR race (Rural, Rainforest and Reef). This event has been running for over 25 years now, and it brings out all kinds of folks to take on the unique course that finishes on the sands of Port Douglas. “It’s unreal,” says Berend, “people walk up the Bump and perch up on the cuttings above the trail to cheer.”
The track itself is a bit of a journey through changing landscapes. Beginning in cattle country, it starts to get into a rhythm, a quick-rolling coaster of brown dirt, charging through incredibly dense jungle. “Watch out for Wait-a-while,” is the call from Ryan. Fat strands of the savagely hooked vine dangle on the fringes of the trail, ready to snag cloth and flesh, keeping you on your toes.
It’s old-school fun – eye shaking, braking burning, hysterical speed.
On paper, you might wonder what the fuss is about. After all, the Bump is a wide fireroad in most parts. But the appeal for mountain bikers is simple. It’s wildly fast. After you pass through Robbins Creek, the trail starts to plummet, water bars coming up faster and faster. It’s old-school fun – eye shaking, braking burning, hysterical speed.
Berend can’t resist the temptation to line up one of the final water bars for a spot of long jump, hitting it again and again, seeing how far he can send it. A group of distinctly European tourists hiking up the trail see the camera and hang about to watch, egging Berend on in French. It’s a classic scene as Berend launches for the cheering mob; I can’t help but wonder what the stockmen of the 1800s would’ve made of it.
With fatigue threatening to bring on the kind of crash that results in an Ambulance call out, we wrap it up for the day, stoked to have two completely different, but equally classic, descents under our belts. Two of the original trails in Cairns – Kuranda and the Bump Track – might be old-school, but as today proved, they never really get old.
For more info on the mountain biking in Tropical North Queensland, check out the Ride Cairns site right here.
Know where to look for final approach, and you can see the trails, including the famous downhill start gate with its views out to the reef. The sun strikes the window. I’d left the concrete of Sydney in the dark, and now I’m about to touchdown in a paradise seemingly never touched by cold.
If there’s a better place in Australia to be in July, I’ve not found it.
Jeans off, shorts on. The quick car park change is liberating, it’s the middle of winter, but the temps are pushing high into the twenties. If there’s a better place in Australia to be in July, I’ve not found it. Smithfield is a just few minutes’ drive from the airport, and on the way I pass mangroves, palm trees, cane fields and sweating backpackers, lumping their lives about. It’s like a montage of tropical clichés, just missing the croc.
Pulling into the trailhead carpark, I recognise a familiar face. It takes a moment to place her – Jade is one of the crew from the Like a Local vid I’d watched recently, a cool film that followed some of the region’s awesome female riders. It turns out she’s coming for a pedal today too, and she chuckles at me when I tell her the forecast had been for four days of rain. “Never trust the weather forecasts in Cairns,” she laughs, “it’s completely random up here. You’ve just got to go with it.” That’s a pretty good mantra for life generally up in the tropical north I think.
Ryan and Berend soon pull up too. Berend is born and bred Cairns – a local ripper, his jersey announces he’s sponsored by The Woolshed, one of the town’s most notorious party spots. It doesn’t get more local than that. Ryan’s a Cairns convert, like so many folks around here. As one of the World Trail crew, he’s spent a good chunk of his years travelling Australia building trails. Earlier this year he decided to call Cairns home, buying a house literally three minute’s ride from Smithy. That’s quite the endorsement of Cairns if you ask me.
The two fellas met in Whistler, but you’d swear they’re related. Both tall and lanky, the similarities continue to the trails too, and watching them ride their styles are so well matched, you can tell they’ve spent plenty of time following each others’ wheels.
We’re soon into the jungle, the wild tangle of green a contrast to the perfectly manicured berms and jumps.
We’re soon into the jungle, the wild tangle of green contrast to the perfectly manicured berms and jumps. Bizarrely, strung up between the vines are a series of full-blown street lights. At first, I thought it must be a joke, but Ryan tells me they were installed for night time racing during Gravitate, an annual week-long festival/party celebrating the Cairns mountain bike lifestyle. It’s that kind of place; let’s string up some lights in the jungle so we can shred at night! Why the hell not?!
Next, we’re on to Black Snake, and I get a full appreciation of what a masterful display of trail building has been employed here. With the vegetation pushing in so hard, it’s sometimes tricky to actually get a feel for the terrain around you, but on Black Snake, it’s clear – this narrow, shale ridge, sandwiched between a waterfall and a deep gully is a trail builder’s nightmare. “They told Glen (Jacobs, of World Trail) he’d never get a trail up here,” says Ryan. That must’ve been like a red rag to a bull, and a series of painstakingly stacked switchbacks, all built by hand, were woven into the ridgeline, gaining elevation for one of the coolest descents in the park.
The red clay has been reworked into an insane, multi-line, slot-car racing kind of experience.
For more info on the mountain biking in Tropical North Queensland, check out the Ride Cairns site right here.
With the World Champs returning to Cairns for the first time in 20 years, there’s been a rash of building to freshen things up, and one of the trails that has benefitted most is Caterpillars. The red clay has been reworked into an insane, multi-line, slot-car racing kind of experience. There are berms and kickers all over the place, just begging you to get creative and find new lines. Berend is up for the challenge, hunting out new gaps to huck, as he looks “to unlock the secret level,” as he laughingly puts it. We session the trail again and again.
“Watch yourself,” cautions Jade, as Berend starts eyeing up new challenges – a nose bonk off a rock here, a transfer gap there – “I don’t want to be marrying man covered in scabs!” It turns out they’re getting married the following week! A big crew is flying in from interstate too, with a bunch of group rides planned in the lead up to the big day. These two totally embody what the Cairns mountain biker lifestyle is about – they’ve both started their own businesses, so they’ve got the flexibility to ride more – and it’s hard not to love the pair of them.
His tyres just barely kiss the dirt, leaving long sliding scrapes across the clay
As I clamber up into the vines to find an angle, Ryan warns me to “keep an eye out for a light green, heart-shaped leaf.” That’s the sign of the infamous stinging tree, a nettle so painful it’s said to burn for years. But it’s not me that’s in peril, it’s Ryan, who has decided he wants to set a land speed record over one of the rollers and tries to scrub it low. His tyres just barely kiss the dirt, leaving long sliding scrapes across the clay, and soon he’s travelling sideways down the trail, his eyes wide. Somehow he rides it out, and the jungle rings with the hoots of a man who has dodged a bullet.
As the jungle begins to darken, a few fat rain drops start to bounce their way through the canopy to the trails below. It’s tropical rain, pleasant, the water warm, not like the icy drizzle down south. Before long the red clay of the trail is splattered everywhere, and the surface gets a fun slickness to it. The trails are too dark for shooting now, so we head back to the carpark where the rain has flushed out a surprising number of riders for a weekday arvo, and the banter flows as people line up to give their bike a hose off.
Our plans to head to Trinity Beach for a sunset drink are washed away as the deluge starts to beat down more heavily, and we call it a day. As a notorious control freak and phone flicker, I go to check the radar, just in case a window of clear weather is on the way, but then realise I’m bringing the wrong attitude to the party here. We’re in the tropics now – stress less, all you can do is go with the flow!
Today marks 50 days to go until the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, held at Smithfield Regional Park, James Cook University from the 5 – 10 September 2017.
With only two UCI World Cup events remaining before the world’s best mountain bike riders make their way to Australia’s iconic mountain biking destination in Cairns, Australians are dominating in the Downhill discipline, currently holding the male and female number one UCI ranking.
Cairns local Tracey Hannah and Troy Brosnan are both in career best form and will arrive in Cairns assured of a boisterous show of local support.
Fans will be relishing the looming battle between home town hero Hannah and legendary Downhill rider and current world number three, Britain’s Rachel Atherton, which is shaping up to be one of the sport’s biggest showdowns in Cairns this September. Atherton, undefeated since 2014 until a heavy crash four weeks ago, has previously had the edge over her Aussie rival, but Hannah will bring a new level of confidence after her recent World Cup win and top of the table ranking.
Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green said the form of the Australian riders would ramp up excitement levels for spectators travelling to Cairns for the World Championships.
“All Australian mountain bike fans should be booking their tickets to Cairns. The upgrades to fan routes and zones in the rainforest will make it easy to get out on the course and cheer on Tracey, Troy and the other Aussie riders.” – Nick Green
Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones said the 2017 UCI Mountain Bike (MTB) World Championships provided an incredible opportunity to showcase Tropical North Queensland globally.
“The appeal of Tropical North Queensland is another enticing factor with the destination offering an array of adventure tourism experiences like mountain biking, and also known as home to amazing natural assets from some of the world’s oldest rainforests to the Great Barrier Reef.” – Kate Jones
The most notable change to the schedule is the shift of the two disciplines from last year’s World Cup format. This year the Cross Country (XCO) competition will be contested on Saturday 9 September while the Downhill (DHI) event will take place on Sunday 10 September.
Prices for adult tickets start from $15 and $40 for families with children under 10 FREE to experience explosive action from the worlds best Mountain Bike athletes.
Working in this sector the challenge, for me, is to find ways to discuss women’s riding with integrity. Ways that reflect the sport as riders experience it, vaginas and all.
I often find mountain bike media that syphons women’s riding into its own special category somewhat artificial. To rephrase a gay marriage meme, I don’t put women’s petrol in my women’s car to women’s drive down the women’s freeway. And I don’t women’s mountain bike in this way either. Or do I?
When you get a group of female riders together for an extended period, something special happens.
When you get a group of female riders together for an extended period, something special happens. Defences come down, chattiness goes up, and conversations, rhythms and images appear that contrast to the sport as it’s often portrayed. I saw this again and again last month while spending four days filming ‘Like a Local: Tropical North Queensland’. I was working in a group where the women outnumbered the men.
Some of the things that stood out reminded me of things I value in any crew: people who look out for each other, a sense that we’re in it together, an attitude that a social ride is a social ride (not a competition), and that all good rides start or finish with good food. There was also a strong sense of femininity that came through in the way these women enjoyed cycling as part of an active lifestyle. This is a femininity that I don’t always see in mountain bike media or advertising material that tends to focus more on women who race and those who are getting into the sport for the first time.
This is a femininity that I don’t always see in mountain bike media or advertising material that tends to focus more on women who race and those who are getting into the sport for the first time.
Take Cassie Abell for example: “It’s called a ‘vaginjury’,” she yelled at the top of her lungs in the middle of the forest, explaining what happens when you smash your groin. She didn’t just say it quietly to the trees or the person next to her, she yelled it. Part of me empathised with the region of bike inflicted, saddle munting pain she was talking about, as I think any female would. But as a writer I couldn’t help but love this word for its humour, its agency, its economical clarity, and its ability to make something awkward no longer awkward at all.
Take Jade Robinson: “I can’t get a good tan when I’m wearing kneepads riding a bike,” she explained to the camera on the way to the reef. It’s a comment that seems like a joke at first but one that a lot of other riders can relate to, even some dudes, and even if they don’t want to admit it.
When asked about her favourite trail, Mandy Michna’s perspective wasn’t so much about the trail itself as what it signified at a certain point in her life. “My favourite trail out at Smithfield is a trail called Blake Snake,” she said. “It was a personal challenge for me when I first started riding. Straight after I’d had my second baby – about two months after that – the fitness that I needed to achieve to get to the top without stopping…I got there. And that’s kind of memorable for me,” she added. “And then there’s a really great, fun, cut in descent on the way down,” a mountain biker through and through.
While it’s hard to pinpoint to a single moment, or event, or type of rider, this femininity came through in the multiple ways this crew, all at very different stages in their lives, talked about their reasons for mountain biking, the friendships they’ve made and their goals on certain trails. It came through in the clothes they wore while riding and at the bars we visited afterwards, the language they use to describe bike mods, whether and when they chose to wear makeup, and the comfort and ease with which they do these things and more.
These women don’t need to be one of the guys to have people to ride with. As the scene has developed there’s a much bigger space now to (quite happily) be one of the girls.
These women don’t need to be one of the guys to have people to ride with. As the scene has developed there’s a much bigger space now to (quite happily) be one of the girls.
“The girl gang is amazing. I couldn’t imagine my life without them anymore,” said Jacinta Pink listing off the endless number of activities everyone gets up to on a typical weekend.
“I’m a mum and I’ve got kids at school and I hang out with mums who don’t really do anything for themselves,” said Cass. “I really want to get them back into having fun and finding themselves and finding the ‘rah’ woman, you know, rather than just being mum and unappreciated.”
Audience comments have been interesting too. “I feel so good being able to be a girl now,” said a friend talking about the clothing options available for female mountain bikers that no longer make them look like blokes.
If there’s a group of people in your own riding community who enjoy the sport in different ways to the majority, take more notice of the things they say or share when given space and time to do so. My hunch is it will make the rest of us become better at talking about the myriad reasons all sorts of people enjoy this sport and better reflect on our own experiences while we’re at it.
Tokyo Swim Team made a film about making a film about it. In Tropical North Queensland. With Specialized Australia riders Fiona Dick and Ryan De La Rue.
There’s mountain biking in Smithfield, there’s as many activities as a human can do on Fitzroy Island, there’s some sweet air at AJ Hackett, there’s rafting in the rainforest down the Tully River, and there’s a meal so good even the camera crew had to sit down. So much Yes!
With so much on offer in and around Cairns, which Yes-es make you want to get outside the most?
Beyond biking, these riders share their enjoyment of the food, leisure and lifestyle opportunities nearby.A quick swim at the top of a waterfall, a palm tree trunk climb challenge, a search for sea turtles and some time out to offer their thoughts on why they’re proud to call the region home.
“You know when people travel and everyone tells them the tourist things to do? When mountain bikers travel, they want to know what the locals do. So we decided to make a film about that.” – Tokyo Swim Team
The 22nd Crocodile Trophy finished after eight days of racing through its home in Tropical North Queensland in Port Douglas. The legendary event started last Saturday in Cairns with a lap race at the Smithfield MTB Park and continued onto the Atherton Tablelands on Sunday. It was the climb onto the Atherton Tablelands and the tough undulating course of the second stage was the hardest, the riders all agreed. Three stages were raced in the Atherton MTB Park and also in the Herberton State Forest and surrounds, very technical and demanding on the riders.
From the rainforests in Cairns into the bushlands of the Tablelands and via the so iconic Outback to Skybury Coffee Plantation was next on the stage plan. The racers enjoyed two nights in the tropical Skybury estate and raced through the Mareeba Wetlands on Thursday.
Yesterday the race stopped over at Wetherby Station after a marathon stage via open Outback Highways – a fast race in glistening heat. Riders were in for a treat – a 30km timetrial down the infamous “Bump Track” from Wetherby Station into the holiday paradise of Port Douglas with the final finish on the beautiful Four Mile Beach.
Urs Huber wins his fourth Crocodile Trophy title
The Swiss Marathon National Champion claimed his fourth Crocodile Trophy victory after winning before in 2009, 2010 and last year. Only one man before him has won this legendary race four times, Jaap Viergever from The Netherlands (1997, 1999, 2001 & 2002).
He said the race was a tough mind game for him this week clocking in a total of 23h52:51.6.
“The week was really tough, not physically but mentally because the gap [to Sebastien Carabin] was always really small and I had to stay concentrated for the whole week. I couldn’t make any mistakes – I could manage that really well and so, the win is here.
He complimented his biggest opponent Sebastien Carabin as being equally as strong. “We both were very strong. He just had one bad day and I didn’t. And in the end, that was the difference.”
The “bad day” was stage two from Cairns to Atherton, which pushed most of the riders to their absolute limits. A long stage in very hot and particularly humid conditions, so hard that even a world-class rider like Sebastien Carabin suffered and ultimately cost him too much time.
Overall, only 1:48 minutes separated the top two finishers of the 2016 event with Huber taking the day’s stage in 52:59.3 with a gap of five seconds to second-placed Carabin.
With an incredible performance in the time trial the Belgian Michiel van Aelbroeck defended his third position overall and has a gap of 1h05 to Huber. The 40-year old Dutch racer Bas Peters took out fourth (+1h11:05.4) and the Austrian Matthias Pliem came in fifth (+1h16:29.0).
Alice Pirard wins the Women’s Trophy
The Belgian Marathon National Champion finishes her 2016 season with a win at the Crocodile Trophy, her second appearance at the legendary stage race. With strong performances all week she dominated the technical stages and the dark horse, but well-known rider, in the field Annemiek van Vleuten was a strong opponent. The Dutch Olympic road racer had claimed to “race the Crocodile Trophy as a holiday”, but half-way through the week caught the racing bug on the flat and less-technical stages.
Twice riddled with bad luck by missing turns and loosing a lot of time, Annemiek van Vleuten still claimed three stage wins and was the fastest woman in the time trial with 1h03:45.6.
Overall the women’s result has Alice Pirard finishing with 30h34:45.0 ahead of van Vleuten (+44:15) and the Australian road racer Ruth Corset (+1h06:27).
The marathon specialist Sarah Kaehler from Cairns came in fourth (+5h39:57).
This year, for the first time the Crocodile Trophy’s local partner, the Cairns Mountain Bike club is offering four public race stages, where everyone can get a “Taste of the Croc” as part of their “Gravitate Tropical MTB Festival”. The club will be hosting Stages 1+2 and the final Stages 7+8 for anyone who wants to join the Crocodile Trophy peloton on their racing journey – this is the chance to be part of this legendary event and to catch the racing bug – and a discount – for one future full edition of this stage race.
As the oldest mountain bike stage race of its kind in the world, the Crocodile Trophy is also one of the toughest that’s out there and to compete in it with racers from all over the world is as much commitment as it is an amazing experience. The Crocodile Trophy has its home in the heart of tropical north Queensland in Australia and goes for eight days from the jungle in Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands with bush singletracks in one Australia’s most popular MTB parks to the unique Outback and finishes on the breathtakingly beautiful Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas – all that via picturesque towns, the Skybury Coffee Plantation and Wetherby Cattle Station. This is one of the most versatile stage plans out there.
“We are launching this supporting event especially for Australian and local riders, so that they can be a part of the legendary Crocodile Trophy”, said Cairns MTB Club president, Frank Falappi. “If you’ve always wanted to ‘do the Croc’, this would be the ideal event to get into it.”
The stages are split over two weekends so it easy to do both with a holiday in between, he added. It certainly presents a great opportunity for a holiday in the tropics, visit the reef and enjoy the many attractions the Cairns and Port Douglas regions in Tropical North Queensland have to offer, agreed race organiser Gerhard Schoenbacher.
“For overseas amateur racers it’s the experience of a lifetime and even though we do get quite a few that come again and again, we know it’s a big time commitment. We’re hoping that this new supporting event will suit especially the Australian riders – if you’re a local racer, you really only have to take one day off- day the Friday for stage seven”, Schoenbacher explained.
The entry fee for two days is $220 and $390 for the four-day event, which will be a part of the club’s Gravitate Tropical Mountain Bike Festival. The club will support racers with shuttle services and has arranged lunches and feed zone access with the Crocodile Trophy organisers. To sweeten the deal, all “Taste”-racers will get a discount towards one full Crocodile Trophy registration, equivalent to your entry fee to the Taste the Croc race.
The young fellas got it started this early morning, with a strong Australian contingent in the Under 23 men’s race. Scotty Bowden gritted his teeth and hung on for seventh place, the best placed Australian. Trek Australia and the TORQ Merida team had a stack of strong performances too, and massive praise must be given to both of these teams for supporting young riders in Australia.
Elite and Under 23 Women
With a small Under 23 women’s field the decision was made to combine their racing with the Elite women’s, which was a good call as it also ensured the younger riders had a great crowd in attendance. American super-star in the making, Kate Courtney, took the win, looking comfortable the whole time. She’s set for big things, no doubt. Holly Harris, always positive, was the lone Aussie Under 23. She tamed every section of the intimidating course and will surely carry a lot of great racing knowledge away from this one.
The Elite men’s race was the closing event of the weekend, and all Australian eyes were on Dan McConnell. He got things started in exciting style, leading out the start sprint, and soon finding himself in the lead group of four, which also included a very composed looking Nino Schurter.
On the fifth of seven laps, Nino decided it was time to go – he just found another gear and the rest of the lead bunch began to suffer. McConnell hit the wall, going backwards over the final two laps, while Schurter soon found himself riding on his own up front, a position he’s very familiar with. Maxime Marotte was the only rider who could keep Shurter in sight, while Absalon rode like a man possessed back into third place after a flat tyre on lap one ruined his dreams of winning again in Cairns.
And so concludes a wild few days in the vines, mud and dust of Cairns. It was fantastic that the weather came good after a dicey start, letting this venue really show the world what riding in Cairns is all about. We’re sure that the crowds and racers are all now feeling just as pumped as we are about returning to Cairns next year for the World Champs! We’ll see you there.
We said yesterday that Button was one of the most under-rated riders on the circuit, and we knew a top 15 or maybe even 10 was within his grasp, but to see him sitting in the hot seat almost to the very end of racing today was amazing. In his first World Cup race in years, the laconic, wry veteran of the Australian scene ended up in fifth, behind Gwin, Hannah, Brosnan and Bruni.
Take a look at that podium again – three Australians. And it’s not like the rest of the world weren’t in attendance, the field was stacked with all the big names.
The course was in perfect form too. After two days of sun and drizzle frustratingly swapping shifts, Cairns gave us the blue skies that we’ve all been hanging out for, and the track dried up into a grippy, fast surface for racing. It was great to see this venue finally present conditions that allowed riders to really perform – this track might cop a little bit of flack for the final sprint, but riders and fans were loving it come race day.
You can always trust Queenslanders to go all out in the fan department, but Cairns locals took it to another level of madness in the rock garden. The noise could be heard from almost the bottom of the track; if it made noise, you’d be able to find it alongside the track today! How anyone focused on their line in there is beyond us!
Mick Hannah came so close to making magic happen in front of his home crowd, and while he couldn’t take victory, it was great to see just how pumped up he was after crossing the line. A third today shows us that Mick Hannah is far from done with World Cup racing, he still has all the pace to cut it and he’ll be full confidence now.
Brosnan was the last rider down the hill, with Loic Bruni the man to beat. The battle between these insanely talented Specialized riders is going to be very exciting to watch over the next few years we feel. The Frenchman was too quick though, and Bruni was handed his first World Cup gold – we’re sure it’ll be the first of many.
The dream upset we’d been hoping for in the women’s didn’t come up, but Tracey Hannah has got to be happy with second place behind the dominant Rachel Atherton. Short of a serious mistake by Atherton, it was always going to be a big ask for Tracey to knock the Brit off her perch. And with both riders having a clean run, Atherton did it again by seven seconds, adding time to her lead with every split. Danni Beecroft will be happy with a top ten too, as she makes a return to World Cup racing.
The junior field always has a super strong local contingent at World Cups and today saw a fleet of Australian under-19 riders cut loose. In the junior men’s field, Brit Matt Walker spoiled the party for the otherwise all-Australian top-five. Remy Morton rode into second, which is pretty impressive after coming to almost a standstill in the rock garden, with Harry Bush in third, Jackson Frew in fourth and Josh Clark in fifth. Sian Ahearn was the lone under-19 woman and she should be stoked with the way she rode too, hopefully we see more young Australian women following in her footsteps.
The excitement and hot tropical sun has us zapped, so we’re going let a huge photo gallery do most of the talking now. Enjoy! See you soon for the XCO!
The day started in soggy fashion, riders emerging from the downhill track coated in filth, which sent mechanics from the more well-resourced teams into a frenzy of mud-proofing. Spike tyres, silicone spray, moto-foam in every crevice – it was all about making the bikes shed mud. The particular blend of Cairns mud is so gloopy, it can easily add a few kilos to a bike, which you’ve then got to haul across the dreaded flat sprint into the finish, so keeping it mud free is all important.
As it would pan it, all the panic was soon replaced with more positive vibes as the tropical sun that’s been playing hide-and-seek these last few days finally made a more sustained appearance. Things dried out fast with the 30-degree heat and breeze, leaving the track in ideal condition for downhill qualifying.
Far more cross-country riders were in attendance today as well, with the first official practice sessions getting underway. The XCO course here in Cairns draws universal praise from riders; it’s not just a straight up and down sufferfest, but has some genuinely good fun flow to it as well as plenty of technical challenge. The huge Australian junior contingent eagerly made the most of practice, mixing it up with sweating Europeans who were heard cursing the humidity.
We didn’t catch a glimpse of either of Australia’s medal hopefuls Dan McConnell or Bec Henderson, but Julien Absalon was out there and riding with a dropper post too. He was happy to point out that even if it didn’t actually make him go faster, he was having a lot more fun with it on the bike!
The crowds on course for downhill qualifying were doing their best to make it feel like race day up there. We hope they’ve all still got voices left to yell for tomorrow!
They’ll have plenty to scream about too, with Mick Hannah and Troy Brosnan qualifying in first and second, ensuring they’ll be the last two riders down the hill tomorrow! The atmosphere is going to be wilder than Bull Riding night at Slippery Jim’s Backpacker Shed, Cairns. Tracey Hannah has been looking solid and focused this week too, and her third place today shows that she’s right on pace with Manon Carpenter and Rachel Atherton too. A Hannah double would be the dream outcome; we’ve had a taste that it’s possible now, so join us tomorrow to see if it can become reality.
Cairns has had an incredibly dry ‘wet’ season so far, but that has been threatening to change today. Showers blowing through ensured that even the dense jungle canopy couldn’t keep the rain out, turning sections of the course into an icy gloop that had a least one World Champion Frenchmen muttering, “merde”.
We’re not likely to see the weather deteriorate to the extent of the 2014 World Cup here (AKA. The peanut butter suprise) but mud is definitely going to be part of the game once again. Who can keep it upright when they roll the dice in some of the truly slippery sections?
Besides the threat of rain, the other story of the day was, unfortunately, injury. No one likes to see a rider down, but three serious injuries in quick succession on the high speed Ridgeline jumps put things on hold for a couple of hours, while the riders were carted out. Our thoughts and healing vibes go out to all the riders and their families, as there were some pretty frightening scenes.
We also hope that the UCI can work out a better plan for handling severely injured riders on this course, because it’s horrible to see a rider in pain laying trackside when they should be in ER half an hour ago. While the far more important issue is getting the riders to care safely and quickly, the delays also meant that practice was cut short for both Group B and A, which raised a few grumbles on the hillside.
To the UCI’s credit, after the injuries, they were quick to step in and slow down the entry to the jumps by bunting the run-in a little tighter.
The course is largely unchanged from 2014. The rock garden is still one of the most intimidating pieces of trail you’ll ever see; with a bit of mud on it, it’s slicker than a greased piglet. When you see the world’s best riders reduced to a tripodding, traffic-jammed pile you know it’s hard to ride. Brook MacDonold and Josh Button were just about the only riders we saw hammer through cleanly on their first run. Josh Bryceland was reduced to a giggling mess, “Oh my word! I’ll be putting on flat pedals for sure!” he laughed in his usual Manchurian way.
As noted above, the Alien Tree is causing all kinds of dramas too – high line, low line, no line, it doesn’t matter. Only the most committed are getting by without a dab. Speaking of commitment, the way riders were sending the final massive triple on the Ridgeline was pretty terrifying to watch – the sound of rubber and carbon in severe protest as it slams to the ground from 20 feet up at 50km/h is awesome.
The Corkscrew and Mick’s Drop are unchanged, but the whoops have been given a bit of a sharpen up, so they’re even more imposing than before. Two years of weather have made sure the bottom section of the course is raw and exposed – ruts and roots, a proper bobsled. Finally, riders will need to find a little more length than before to clear Ronning’s Ramp, the last jump on the course has been stretched out to give riders a bit more down ramp to work.
As we type, the rain has stopped sprinkling, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? This is Cairns after all.
With the Cairns World Cup kicking off in less than two weeks, it’s time to grab your tickets, dust off your cowbell, buy some sun screen and snake repellant, and get pumped. We thought we’d have a chat with Glen Jacobs, Mr Cairns, and learn a few things about the World Cup that you won’t find in a brochure.
What is the largest snake spotted while building or maintaining the World Cup courses?
The biggest python we’ve ever seen up there was seven metres. We called him Snappy McToothy, but that was many years ago when we built the original course, so he is either dead or gone into hibernation to shed its skin. In recent times we’ve been fairly lucky, we’ve come across only a handful of baby medium-sized rock pythons on the downhill, averaging around four metres.
It’s good to remember, April is mating season for all rainforest snakes. So we warn everybody not to be too concerned if a large snake wraps around you, and pulls you up into the treetops – just ask someone for help while you are still on the ground or play dead.
When I was a kid I asked my grandad if the large snakes would “eat ya’ whole.” He said “Na, not at all, they spit that part out.”
How many stinging trees remain in the Smithfield area that you’re aware of?
All stinging trees have been removed from the main downhill track or spectator routes. But the cross-country course is a different story; due to the limited numbers of track marshals available, we have replanted most of the stinging trees and some large wait-a-while vines on the switchback sections, just to catch any short-cutting by riders.
Deeper in the jungle there are some large clusters of hybrid stinging trees that have somehow bred with illegal marijuana crops, and these plants really mess with anybody smoking the leaves. You usually can tell by the red eyes and swollen lips.
How long does the pain of the notorious stinging tree stay with you?
It depends where you are hit on the body with the leaf. Closer to the bone, the sharper the pain, and longer it lasts. I had one hit that lasted six years, and every time the weather got cold, it would start stinging.
Over the years we found out a few things, like if you wax the wound, it removes the nettles immediately and the pain is gone. If you urinate on the sting, the initial pain reduces dramatically too, just don’t get stung on the face. Many backpackers seem to get stung when they unknowingly use the soft looking leaf as toilet paper in the bush.
Which section of the cross country or downhill track was the most difficult to construct?
On the XCO, it was the steep multiple choice climb of Whiskers O’Flaherty, and rebuilding the drop descent of Jacob’s Ladder. On the DH it would have to be the rock garden, manipulating boulders and rocks into place was tough.
What is the size, from lip to lander, of the largest jump on the Cairns World Cup downhill track?
The largest jump is on the ridge line sitting at 25 metres, if riders take the big line. But most riders take a line that averages around 16 metres. Ronning’s Ramp near the bottom of the course, can be stretched out fairly long with enough speed too.
What does the World Cup mean to Cairns?
A lot, historically because Cairns was were the World Cup first came to the southern hemisphere in 1994 and it’s a real recognition of the role Cairns played in Australian mountain biking, but financially too. The last World Cup had an economic impact of over $3.57 million, and brought more than 300 riders from 35 countries to Cairns.
To deliver a successful World Cup round, Mountain Bike Australia and Cycling Australia require the support or a range of key stakeholders including a team of enthusiastic and committed volunteers.
The World Cup only happens thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of the World Cup Crew – the volunteers who congregate in Cairns to deliver the best mountain bike event on the planet.
Volunteer applications for the UCI World Cup 2016 Cairns are open now:
If you are over 18 years of age and keen to volunteer and be part of the team charged with delivering a successful Cairns World Cup, register your interest by completing this form. Expressions of interest must be submitted 31 March 2016.
If you have any questions with regards to volunteering please contact Mountain Bike Australia via email: [email protected] or phone 07 5628 0110.
Key functional areas, include but not limited to
2. Course marshals
6. Site services
9. Volunteer management
Here’s what joining the crew requires:
* You must be at least 18 years old (sorry we can’t recruit anybody under the age of 18, no exceptions)
* You should be hardworking, enthusiastic and prepared to take on all roles as directed by team leader
* You must be prepared to work long hours whatever the weather conditions
* You don’t need experience but if you have specific skills, other languages or have volunteered at a World Cup or mountain bike event before please tell us!
* Volunteers are required for variety of projects both before the event and during the week of the World Cup
In return you will receive: * Volunteer ‘goody bag’ including several items of branded clothing – your uniform
Look and Feel Team Members
Look and Feel Team Members assist in creating the visual impact of the event. Look and Feel Team Members are required to work in a number of locations, venue, course, spectator zones to ensure that that all spectators, athletes, workforce and VIPs can identify routes and brand the event with major sponsors.
Spectator Information Team Member
The information marquee, located in the main venue, will be the first location spectators will access and be directed to for general enquires, spectator guides and village maps. It will also be the central location for Lost Property or Lost Children.
Support Services Team Member
Ensure the course is safe for the athletes as a priority, provide information to spectators, allow spectators to cross when safe and clear of riders
Course Team Member
Course Marshals have the most direct role in ensuring safety on the course. Course Marshals stand at key marshal points on the course to ensure everyone is safe and going the right way. Marshals have a variety of jobs on top of their primary tasks depending on their course marshal point such as: spectator crossing points, warning riders of upcoming obstacles and communicate any problems or injuries.
Transport Team Member – Shuttle
Responsible for transporting all accredited staff/officials/media/athletes around the internal ring road that links the event facilities to the event venue site. Drivers will need to hold a valid drivers licence. Drivers will work on a constant rotational course, moving accredited personal as required.
Timing & Results
Assist Swiss Timing in the installation of the timing system and distribution of transponders.
Support TV Broadcaster with Rigging and de-rigging of camera cables, Strong able-bodied people required. Support camera person during event operations.
Transport Team Member – Permits
Assist athletes and managers to load and unload their bikes on the designated trailers. This will be done at a quick pace, and personal will need to have attention to detail, ensuring all bikes are secured and tied down correctly.
Registration / Welcome Centre Team Member
Assist in the distribution of Athlete/Team Registrations, Accreditation and Vehicle Access Passes.
Workforce Team Member
Meet and Greet for all Workforce; Check in staff on arrival; Issue equipment as per role requirement (i.e. Radios, high-vis vests etc.); Distribution of uniforms and meal packs; General enquires; Assist with general event operational duties as they may arise
Expo/Venue Team Member
Assist and maintain the event bike parking area utilised by spectators; Implement the bike parking ticketing system, ensuring access is restricted to ticketed riders and event staff only; Provide general event information and directional information for riders including rider briefing locations, start lines, expo, stage, toilets, etc.
As requested by supervisor follow a nominated athlete ensuring they are always in sight and shadow them until they have attended the testing facility, once they have been called to produce their test they will be instructed to leave by their supervisor
To assist in the hospitality facility; greeting guest on their arrival; Ensuring the facility is always presented well assisting with clearing when requested
Protocol Team Member
To assist with preparing awards in the green room; Ensuring the green room is kept tidy and clear of rubbish; Replenishing the cold drinks for the athletes; Ensuring there are clean towels and water for washing
Support Services Team Member – Timing, Commentary, Officials
To distribute timing documents such as heats, qualifying times, start lists and results to various locations as directed by supervisor
Transport Team Member – Load Zone
Assist athletes and managers to load and unload their bikes on the designated DH MTB Trailers. This will have to be done at a quick pace, and personnel will need to have attention to detail, ensuring all bikes are secured and tied down correctly
Construction Team member
Provide support in all construction aspects of the village and course construction. Task will vary day to day.
After Troy Brosnan was invited to Cairns, the task was set to ensure he got to experience everything Cairns could throw at him within a week.
Troy went scuba diving for the first time on the Great Barrier Reef, fed giant saltwater crocodiles, took on bungy jumping, glided over rainforest mountain ranges and got sent sky high hot-air ballooning. In between experiencing all this for the first time, the Cairns UCI World-Cup DH course was going to be the most important part to Troy’s stay.
In 2014, Troy had a less than ideal race in far less than ideal conditions. Cairns saw a cyclone skirt past the region days before the event, leading to the post-cyclone rain to fall down as racers began to hit the course. Conditions were bleak, and the track fell apart infront of our eyes.
While the event ran smoothly and the region hailed for its efforts ensuring so, all riders left with unfinished business as no visiting rider got to experience the course to its full potential. Troy had multiple sessions on the course during his visit, each time finding new and daring gaps and lines not even fathomable during racing in 2014. His time on course in the dry left Troy eager for his return in April, with a head start in what to expect in any condition of racing.
Whether a returning athlete, visiting spectator, local or far away tuning in online – we know this race is going to be a step further in the right direction as Cairns perfects itself in preparation for the 2017 UCI Mountain-Bike World-Championships.
For more on the region, places to ride and info on the upcoming World Cup this April head to – www.ridecairns.com
There are only 100 days until the world’s best Cross Country and Downhill riders hit Tropical North Queensland for the second round of the 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup.
The 2016 event will feature nearly 300 riders from 35 countries competing in the Cross Country (XCO) and Downhill (DHI) disciplines.
Cairns local, and Elite Women Downhill World Number 3 Tracey Hannah, says there will be a huge buzz surrounding the event, which will be held at Smithfield Regional Park and James Cook University on the 23-24th of April.
“Words can’t describe how exciting it is to compete in a World Cup in your home town. I am away from home 8 months of the year so to be back in the most beautiful part of the world and compete against the world’s best is unbelievable.”
April will mark the beginning of a massive 12 months for the sport in Tropical North Queensland, according to Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green.
“We’re excited about returning to Cairns for the 2016 World Cup which also commences the countdown to the 2017 UCI MTB World Championships.”
“With the Rio 2016 Olympic Games just around the corner, we look forward to seeing the best in the world compete on our shores.”
“As mountain biking continues to grow in popularity across Australia, it’s great to have world- class events and facilities like James Cook University and Smithfield Regional Park so accessible for competitors and fans,” Green said.
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said the 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup and the 2017 UCI World Mountain Bike and Trials Championships reinforced Tropical North Queensland’s position as a world-class sporting events destination.
“The Palaszczuk Government is proud to support these events through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of the It’s Live! In Queensland events calendar,” Mr Crawford said.
“More than 300 of the world’s best mountain bikers competed at the 2014 World Cup at Smithfield Regional Park, attracting thousands of visitors from across the globe.”
“We expect the 2016 World Cup to be as successful and a premier international sporting event ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“Major events such as this play an important role in promoting a destination on the global stage, driving visitation, supporting jobs and fostering community pride.”
“They are also important to our local tourism industry, which contributes $2.4 billion to the Tropical North Queensland economy and supports 14,600 local jobs,” he said.
It is the objective of Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) to leverage these UCI events through the Ride Cairns brand, to position Tropical North Queensland as the premier destination for tropical mountain bike riding globally.
The event will have significant TV and digital viewing presence including the distribution of television broadcast to a cumulative audience in excess of 6.13 million globally across 18 different nations.
For further information visit www.mtba.asn.au/mtbworldscairns, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter @UCIMTBAustralia or follow the conversation #mtbworldscairns
The 2014 and 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World Cups were bid for and secured, along with the 2017 UCI World Mountain Bike and Trials Championships, by Cycling Australia with the support of the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland and the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing, in partnership with Cairns Regional Council, James Cook University and Tourism Tropical North Queensland.
Cairns, Tropical North Queensland. Home to Round 2 of the 2016 UCI World Cup MTB series and one of the most unique and diverse tourist driven destinations anywhere on earth.
Troy Brosnan spent a week in Cairns sampling the very best on offer from riding the trails in the famed Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, to feeding saltwater crocodiles, gliding over rainforest canopies and diving the Great Barrier Reef.
Follow on with Troy, and stay tuned for part 2 – a personal and very fast journey down the Cairns UCI World-Cup DH course.
With a seventh stage win on the final day at the 21st Crocodile Trophy the Swiss Urs Huber claimed his third race victory since 2009 and 2010. Soren Nissen from Denmark claims the second place ahead of Australia’s Marathon National Champion, Brendan Johnston from Canberra.
Nicholas Pettina comes in fourth overall and the young Austrian Lukas Islitzer in fifth. Sarah White from Cairns (AUS) takes the win in the Elite Women’s category on the podium at the breathtaking Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas after more than 700km and 17,000m of elevation raced since the event started nine days ago in Cairns.
Today’s time trial stage started the rider field in reverse order of the general classification onto undulating, historic gold rush mining trails and then down the infamous “Bump Track” into Port Douglas, which is a very steep and technical descent through the dense rainforest surrounding the popular holiday destination in Tropical North Queensland. The race leader Urs Huber was released last and said that he knew he had a healthy gap and didn’t take any risks on the rough descent.
Once again proofing this week that he is the deserving 2015 Crocodile Trophy Champion, he won today’s stage in 54:24.0 min, breaking last year’s record time by almost four minutes.
“I’m really happy about my third victory at the Crocodile Trophy. This race has changed so much since I won it last in 2009 and 2010”, Huber said about the event that was founded in 1994.
“Nowadays you really have to be a complete cyclist to win this event – you must have the skills and strength to do well on all terrains: singletrack, rainforest and bush trails and the wide open Outback roads”, he added and explained that to win you had to be an all-rounder and be able to deal with race tactics, especially on the later and longer marathon stages. “Of course the conditions in Australia are always a challenge, but exactly what makes this race so unique!”, Huber concluded.
In second today was the Italian Nicholas Pettina (+1:28.1 min) and he claims the fourth overall placing in the race. “I’ve had a bit of back luck and lost a lot of time, but I’ll be back for sure, I know now what it takes to do well at this race”, Pettina said.
The second place overall was claimed by the Danish athlete Soren Nissen and having participated in marathons and stage races back to back since January he said caught up with him, but that he was hoping to be up against Huber again next year in Europe to get even. “I’ll be ready to go up against him again at the Alpen Tour Trophy next year in Austria”, Nissen said, referring to the organisers’ four-day UCI stage race in the Austrian Alps in June.
Today’s third-fastest time was clocked in by the event’s Best Australian Brendan Johnston (AUS, Canberra) with a gap of +2:01.0 min. Finishing third overall in the strongest elite field in the history of this legendary race he said, made him proud, “This was the hardest race I’ve ever done and certainly the longest stage race. I’m still young and it was a fantastic experience to race with such strong racers from all over the world. To race onto the top-three podium, I’m happy with that.”
Crocodile Trophy has everything
Johnston further agreed with Huber that it took a complete racer to win this event. “The Crocodile Trophy has everything you could ever imagine riding on a mountain bike – steep descents, long climbs. Technical singletrails, wide open roads. Rocky and sandy sections. Rainforests and bush. Outback and beach. Rain, mud and heat. There is literally nothing that mountain biking includes that isn’t in this race”, he said.
Sarah White from Cairns is the elite women’s champion in 2015, finishing in 36h56:30 over the 9 days. “I really enjoyed this race, my first stage race. I’d love to race it again and would love to see more women in the field. It’s a tough race, yes, but absolutely doable – to win so close to home makes me really proud”, the steadfast ex-ultra marathon runner said.
From jungle to bush to Outback to beach
The final kilometres were be raced on the sandy beach, right on the water and for many riders the start in the jungle around Cairns seems long ago. Since last Saturday they raced in on the Atherton Tablelands’ MTB Park and rainforest surrounds. For stage five and six the Crocodile Trophy raced in the bushlands, mining country and the Outback in the Irvinebank region before arriving at the tropical Skybury Coffee Plantation on Friday. Last night the set up camp at the historic Wetherby Cattle Station and for the second time in the race history, the event finished on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
The racers received a warm welcome in Port Douglas with more than 500 spectators cheering them on as they crossed the final finish line for 2015. Many were reunited with families and friends and the international racers will spend more time in Tropical North Queensland, some taking up to three weeks here to recover from the strains and pains of the legendary mountain bike stage race that is the Crocodile Trophy.
STAGE 9: TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 54:24.0 min
2. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 55:52.1 min +1:28.1 min
3. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 56:25.0 min +2:01.0 min
4. Thomas Engelsgjerd (NOR) #32 // Energima Abax Hr // 57:11.6 min +2:47.6 min
5. Greg Saw (AUS) #1 // Energima Abax Hr // 57:28.4 min +3:04.4 min
STAGE 9: TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 1h13:30.8
FINAL OVERALL TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 26h32:40
2. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 26h54:06 +21:26 min
3. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 27h13:39 +40:59 min
4. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 27h23:52 +51:12 min
5. Lukas Islitzer (AUT) #20 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 27h38:26 +1h05:46 min
FINAL OVERALL TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 36h56:30
Chris Panozzo (VIC) and Em Parkes (ACT) have been crowned as the inaugural Mountain Bike Enduro Australian Champions at a thrilling event presented by Mountain Bike Australia in Palm Cove, Far North Queensland.
The Enduro discipline, also known as Gravity Enduro, has been Mountain Biking’s fastest growing competitive category in recent years.
The popularity stems from Enduro racing mirroring the riding that mountain bikers participate in with their friends, transitioning up hills and then racing down.
The event started on both weekend days in picturesque Palm Cove, with a transition ride taking riders to race stages at the iconic Smithfield Mountain Bike park, the venue of the 2014 and 2016 Mountain Bike World Cups.
With 2015 World Champion Jared Graves (QLD) absent, competition was fierce for the green and gold title in the men’s event.
Chris Panozzo (VIC) came into the event as the favourite, confidently winning the 2015 National Enduro Series.
The fastest rider in the prologue on day 1, Panozzo was almost untouchable on race day, winning 4 of the 5 stages to take the overall win by 10 seconds.
“It’s pretty exciting to be the first Enduro National Champion” said Panozzo. “It was difficult out there today, a big day with changeable conditions, with rain during sections changing powdery dry trails into slippery clay”.
Panozzo is now looking ahead. “The focus is now on solid training over summer, racing some Aussie downhill events with an eye on the Enduro World Series in 2016”.
Second place went to Berend Boer (QLD) and Shannon Hewetson (VIC) rounded out the podium in third.
In the women’s event, the favourites were 2015 National Enduro Series winner Jaclyn Schapel (TAS) and Em Parkes (ACT).
Parkes has had a landmark 2015, winning the Under 23 Cross Country National title and finishing in the top 10 for the Eliminator discipline at the World Championships.
She would end up with the perfect race day in the Cairns rainforest, winning all 5 stages to record her second Enduro race win in a row to take the win and the National title.
“It feels great” exclaimed Parkes reflecting on taking another National title.
“It was a nice experience to re-ride some of the world cup cross country course – it was a positive feeling to ride the A-lines, and it gives me good confidence going into the Cross Country World Champs in 2017”.
Jaclyn Schapel took second place for the Elite Women and Angela Williams finished third.
The Mountain Bike Australia 2015-16 National Series encompassing Cross Country, Downhill and more commences in November, with information available at www.mtba.asn.au
The Italian Nicolas Pettina wins the first stage of the Crocodile Trophy with a respectable lead of 3:18.07 minutes at Smithfield MTB Park in Cairns ahead of Urs Huber from Switzerland and the Australian Brendan Johnston. It was a hot start to the nine-day mountain bike stage race in Tropical North Queensland and the local racer Sarah White took full home advantage, taking an almost 6 minute lead in the elite women’s against the German Regina Genser.
Nicolas Pettina credited not only his cross-country race background for his win against one of the most high-profile elite men’s line-up in the history of the Crocodile Trophy. He also blamed a lucky charm – with his luggage still lost in transit he raced in the event cotton t-shirt and is cheekily contemplating keeping it that way.
“Today was a great start to the race, I love racing these kinds of trails – they suit my cross-country background extremely”, the Italian National Marathon U23 Champion said at the finish of today’s race, that he completed in 1h30:42.98 and which included five laps of a 6.5 km circuit at the Smithfield MTB Park just outside of Cairns.
Crocodile Trophy promotes mountain bike destination Tropical North Queensland internationally
Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive officer Alex de Waal said the Croc Trophy attracted widespread international media coverage, which was invaluable to the Cairns & Great Barrier Reef region.
“Mountain bike enthusiasts around the world know Ride Cairns is a world-class mountain biking destination with exciting trails across a diverse range of landscapes, including World Heritage rainforest, thanks to the publicity generated by the Croc Trophy,” he said.
“This helps raise the profile of Cairns and Great Barrier Reef as a must-do destination for recreational riders and encourages travellers to explore our region further.”
Urs Huber from Switzerland proofs that the event’s powerful media campaign with distribution of reports, photos and videos all over the world not only attracts new racers every year, but also tempts them to come back. Ever since winning this event in 2009 and 2010, the Swiss Marathon Champion Urs Huber had wanted to race the Crocodile Trophy again.
“Following the race reports and the transformation of the event since them made me curious to race all the different terrains that are included now – I extremely enjoyed the Smithfield trails today”, he said and admitted that the hot temperatures and midday sun were tough on the body, but added that he was excited about the coming days and the challenges ahead, which will include bridging the almost three and a half minutes gap to Pettina.
The Australian National Marathon Champion Brendan Johnston took out the third spot today (+3:35.69 min) and said that he was looking forward to tomorrow’s marathon stage from Cairns onto the Atherton Tablelands.
Local lead in elite women’s
Two riders are competing in the elite women’s category in this year’s race – today Sarah White from Cairns took full advantage of racing on her home track and won against the German marathon-athlete Regina Genser only 23 minutes behind the men’s winner in a time of 1h53:39.92. “I tried to stay calm today and had a strong race”, said the 35-year old local rider and added that she would relax on the beach this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s second stage, which will take the riders to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands.
After a neutral start at The Esplande in the centre of Cairns at 9:30am, the official race start will be 12 km outside of town and the total elevation to cover will be 1500 m.
TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 1h30:42.98
2. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 1h34:01.05 + 3:18.07 min
3. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 1h34:18.67 + 3:35.69 min
4. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 1h34:53.44 + 4:10.46 min
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 1h53:39.92
2. Regina Genser (GER) #113 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 1h59:25.30 +5:45.38 min
STAGE 2 – Cairns-Atherton (74km/1500m)
Urs Huber takes overall race lead with stage win at Lake Tinaroo
Urs Huber (SUI) claimed today’s stage win at Lake Tinaroo ahead of Denmark’s National Marathon Champion Sören Nissen and yesterday’s winner, Nicholas Pettina (ITA). The Australian Brendan Johnston finished ex aequo in fourth with double-Crocodile Trophy winner Ondrej Fojtik from the Czech Republic. The Australian elite female, Sarah White, increased her race lead in the women’s to a respectable 23 minutes, winning her second consecutive stage ahead of Germany’s Regina Genser.
Today’s second stage of the Crocodile Trophy was a 74km marathon from Cairns onto the Atherton Tablelands. After a 12km neutral ride through the tropical city on a misty morning, the climbing started and the official race start for just before Copperlode Dam, the town’s water reservoir. Being used to training and racing in the European Alps, the Swiss marathon athlete Urs Huber coped with the 1500m of elevation and early wet conditions well. After 2h28:13 he crossed the line, just half a minute ahead of the Dane Soren Nissen.
“After losing a bit of time yesterday, I knew today I’d get the chance to make up for it”, said Huber. “The Danish and Italian riders kept up with me all day and just before the finish I attacked and was able to stay ahead of Nissen”, he recounted.
The two had a good gap to yesterday’s winner from Italy, Nicholas Pettina who finished in just over two and a half hours with a gap of about five minutes. The Czech Ondrej Fojtik and Australia’s Brendan Johnston followed ex aequo with a gap of almost seven minutes.
This result shakes things up in the overall standings – Huber takes over the race lead and has a gap of 1:24 minutes ahead of Nissen. Pettina is in third ahead of Johnston and Ondrej Fojtik.
Sarah White puts a line in the sand: 23 minute gap after two stages
In the women’s classification, Cairns-racer Sarah White increased her gap to the German Regina Genser to 23 minutes. Coping with the conditions well and banking on her knowing the trails through the Dinden State Forest and Barron Creek National Park well she can rest easy tonight on the shores of the picturesque Lake Tinaroo.
Notably missing from today’s stage plan was the grueling climb over Mt Edith, which is dreaded by returning Crocodile Trophy racers. “We work closely together with local councils, mountain bike clubs and riders who always give us input about more ideal and sometimes new routes. Over the last three to four years our stage plan has evolved and has been very popular with our racers. But we like to keep it fresh and interesting too”, said organiser Gerhard Schoenbacher who founded this iconic race in 1994.
For now the Crocodile Trophy will set up camp in Atherton until Wednesday morning. After an 18km neutral ride from Lake Tinaroo to the town of Atherton, tomorrow’s stage will have two 27km loops in the Atherton Mountain Bike Park in store for the racers. With the so typical bush single trails it has become one of the most popular cycling destinations in Australia. The race with then set up camp for two nights on a nearby farm for a classic 80km marathon through the Herberton State Forest on Tuesday.
STAGE 2: TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 2h28:13
2. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 2h28:44 +00:31 sec
3. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 2h33:04 +04:51 min
4. Ondrej Fojtik (CZE) #17 // Force KCK / Progress Cycles // 2h35:06 +06:53 min
4. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 2h35:06 +06:53 min
STAGE 2: TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 3h42:07
2. Regina Genser (GER) #113 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 4h00:03 +17:56 min
OVERALL: TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 4h02:14
2. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 4h03:37 +01:23 min
3. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 4h03:46 +01:32 min
4. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 4h09:24 +07:10 min
5. Ondrej Fojtik (CZE) #17 // Force KCK / Progress Cycles // 4h11:50 +09:36 min
OVERALL TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 5h35:46
2. Regina Genser (GER) #113 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 5h59:28 +23:42 min
Stage 3 – Atherton Mountain Bike Park
59 (77) km / 1300 (1500) m
Urs Huber and Sarah White defend Elite leads in Atherton today
Urs Huber scores his second stage win at the 2015 Crocodile Trophy ahead of the Australian Brendan Johnston and the Italian Nicholas Pettina. Sarah White stays in the overall women’s lead with a third consecutive stage win in Atherton today.
The most typical terrain that you would encounter as a mountain biker in Australia are narrow trails, lots of small pinch climbs and to make a local rider’s heart skip a beat, they are packed with rocky sections, tight corners, switchback climbs and big berms. The first reactions in the finish of the two top elite men’s finishers reflect this uniqueness nicely:
Urs Huber said that it was the toughest Crocodile Trophy stage he’d ever ridden and that’s coming from a two-time winner of this iconic race. “My whole body aches, especially my lower back, that was hard work today”, he said after a race time of 3h01:57.
With 39 seconds gap in second was Australia’s Marathon Champion, Brendan Johnston – according to him today “was exactly what I love about mountain biking – I’d rather do 100km on this sort of terrain than race on a road or fire trail”.
The 24-year old rider from Canberra, who is holding the leader jersey of the fastest Australian in the race, explained that it was his first stage race that runs over such a long distance and that his strategy was to take one day at a time. “Urs [Huber] and I race together all day today and with 2km to go he attacked. My plan is to race a smart race, we still have six stages to go and the really long days are still ahead”, said Johnston, who kept his overall fourth spot.
Asked how he was coping with the Crocodile Trophy camp life he said that it was an additional challenge, because you had to be organised, but that he enjoyed it. “I’ve heard so much about this event in the past and this is all part of it.”
Italy’s Nicholas Pettina was again in third with a gap of 2:39.6 min to Huber. He praised the trails and said he enjoyed race in Atherton and that he was content to still get a podium spot today and moves up the overall ranking into second spot ahead of Denmark’s Soren Nissen, who finished fifth today behind Spain’s Milton Ramos.
Sarah White still feeling strong after stage three
The Cairns local racer was again in her element today. “This was just too much fun today”, she beamed after 4h06:24 back at the event centre. “Don’t get me wrong, it was tough and when we were on top of the first climb rain set in, which made some of the rocks really slippery. It took all my skill to stay upright and I’m glad I could keep my lead”, she admitted and added that she was respectful ahead of tomorrow’s stage in the Herberton State Forest and even though she now has a 37:26 minute lead, she indicated that she was still watching two German women closely.
One of them is the elite Regina Genser, who finished in second with a gap of 13:44 min today. Still buzzing with excitement she recounted her race in the finish: two crashes, a flat tire and a slipped chain, but she said she was happy and still couldn’t believe what was on the menu for the riders today, “I’ve never ridden so much single track in one go ever! You don’t get that in Europe anywhere, especially not in a marathon, what an experience!” She added that tomorrow’s stage should suit her, “I don’t mind climbing.”
Strong field of amateur riders impresses also in overall rankings
The second rider to watch is Kristin Endres, the amateur female racer from Darmstadt who actually held the second position outright among the women after yesterday’s stage. A considerable number of riders suffered mechanicals on the tough terrain, she said, but was spared herself. “I love riding on single trails and in the forests near my home and the second half of today’s loop was so scenic and pretty – I was flying, it felt like dancing. But it was tough and towards the end it was almost overwhelming”, she said. Today she finished in 4h29:32.6 and leads the women’s amateur category by almost one and a half hours. These women don’t leave anything out on track and are racing hard every day.
The leader jersey for the amateur men stays with Germany’s Christian Leschke from Nuremberg; he leads ahead of fellow A2/30+ racers from Australia, Lincoln Carolan (+59 sec) and Bart Duraj (+12:30 min).
Tomorrow’s stage profile includes massive climbs taking the riders from Atherton onto the top of the Great Dividing Range in the Herberton State Forest and will be a classic 80km marathon with 2200m of elevation.
STAGE 3: TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 3h01:57.0
2. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 3h02:35.8 +38.8 min
3. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 3h04:36.6 +2:39.6 min
4. Milton Ramos (ESP) #6 // Intense- Tow Car // 3h06:59.2 +5:02.2 min
5. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 3h07:19.0 +5:22.0 min
STAGE 3: TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 4h06:24.0
2. Regina Genser (GER) #113 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 4h20:08.0 +13:44.0 min
OVERALL: TOP RESULTS ELITE MEN:
1. Urs Huber (SUI) #3 // Team Bulls // 7h04:11
2. Nicholas Pettina (ITA) #7 // Gruppo Sportivo Forestale // 7h08:22 +4:11 min
3. Sören Nissen (DEN) #8 // Stevens Racing Team // 7h10:56 +6:45 min
4. Brendan Johnston (AUS) #4 // Trek Racing Australia // 7h11:59 +7:48 min
5. Milton Ramos (ESP) #6 // Intense- Tow Car // 7h17:29 +13:18 min
OVERALL TOP RESULTS ELITE WOMEN:
1. Sarah White (AUS) #114 // Astute Financial Racing // 9h42:10
2. Regina Genser (GER) #113 // CRAFT – Rocky Mountain Team // 10h19:36 +37:26 min
One sleep to go until the 21st Crocodile Trophy starts in Cairns on 17th October. The Crocodile Trophy is Australia’s and the World’s oldest and most iconic mountain bike stage race. It is endorses by the International Cycling Federation (UCI) with the highest possible category “S1” and offers valuable points to participants towards their international ranking. It calls the holiday paradise that is tropical North Queensland home and its 700+km stage plan from Cairns to Port Douglas is unique – every day is different!
From the rain forests into the Outback and back to the beach: during the nine days from Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands, Skybury Coffee Plantation and Wetherby Station to Port Douglas the competitors from 17 countries are in for a treat: jungle, single trails, river crossings, steep climbs and fast descents, old mining towns in the Outback, huge farms and the fertile Tablelands await them.
This year we are excited to present a high-profile participant line-up including some of the best marathon and endurance racers in the world, who will fight for the podium spots in a gripping race until the final day:
– Greg Saw from Australia: the Crocodile Trophy Champion from 2014 will be at the start to defend his title.
– Brendan Johnston: the Australian Marathon National Champion will challenge the international contenders on his home ground.
– Urs Huber from Switzerland: one of the most successful endurance mountain bikers in the world a double Crocodile Trophy Champion
– Ondrej Foitek: this Czech racer has claimed the Crocodile Trophy victory twice as well.
– Soren Nissen from Denmark is regarded as the dark horse among the elite field.
– Nicholas Pettinà, the Italian Marathon National Champion
– David Rosa: the Portugese rider was unlucky last year when he did not finish the Crocodile Trophy due to an injury; this year he has his eyes on the overall win.
– Rotem Ishay: this nine-time National Champion from Israel will have some aces up his sleeves.
Apart from ringing names from the mountain bike athletic scene, at the start of the 21st Crocodile Trophy there will also be government and some interesting industry representatives, including:
– The Hon. Paul de Jersey, Governor of Queensland will attend the official race start at Smithfield MTB Park on 17 October.
– Mr Craig Crawford MP, Member for Barron River, will join us at the race start in Smithfield on 17 October
– Koenraad Vanschoren from Belgium from BEMC, which is one of the biggest mountain bike stage races in Europe, will stay in Australia for four weeks with his family and will participate in the race.
– Joko Vogel, the organiser of the Swiss Epic event will join the event for the last three stages
– For the first time we will have a Para-Olympian at the start – Arnout Matthys from Belgium will participate in the race.
We expect over 100 cyclists from all over the world and Australia, for many this race is the challenge of a lifetime and for everyone it is an experience that they will never forget.
Part 2 of our mini 3-part series highlighting the region and its perfect fit with Mountain Bike adventure features Evan Winton and Sam Fraser attacking some fast and fun descent in the thick Tropical North Queensland hills.
No berm or jump is left un-tamed as the duo soar into the blue skies on a custom-built line of big jumps and berms right in the middle of the rainforest, bordered by the Kuranda Scenic Railway and the noble Glacier Rock point. Sit back and hold on. This one is going to be exciting!
The UCI announce the 2016 World Cup and World Champs calendar, diaries out, it’s time to book flights to Cairns!
9-10 Apr UCI MTB WORLD CUP – DHI Lourdes FRA
23-24 Apr UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Cairns AUS
21-22 May UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO Albstadt GER
28-29 May UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO La Bresse FRA
4-5 Jun UCI MTB WORLD CUP – DHI Fort William GBR
11-12 Jun UCI MTB WORLD CUP – DHI Leogang AUT
25-26 Jun UCI MTB MARATHON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – XCM Laissac FRA
28 Jun-3 Jul UCI MTB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – XCO/XCE Nove Mesto na Morave CZE
9-10 Jul UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Lenzerheide SUI
6-7 Aug UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Mont-Sainte-Anne CAN
20-21 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro BRA
3-4 Sep UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Vallnord
6-11 Sep UCI MTB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – DHI/4X Val Di Sole ITA
Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) is excited to announce that Cairns, Queensland, will host the inaugural 2015 Enduro National Mountain Bike Championships from 17-18 October.
The two-day race will be a standalone event separate to the 2015 Enduro Series and will be run on the Smithfield Mountain Bike Trails, under the guidance and hosting of the Cairns Mountain Bike Club, with the event hub located at the iconic palm fringed beach location of Palm Cove.
This is the first time a National Championships race will be held for the Enduro discipline in Australia, and the event will see riders return to the amazing venue that hosted a round of the 2014 UCI World Cup.
MTBA President Russ Baker welcomed the choice of Cairns to host the country’s first Enduro National Championships. “October will be a big month for Queensland and for Australian mountain biking, with several national events in that period,” he said. “Cairns, with its world-level history and future, is a fantastic location for our first National Enduro Championships and I thank all those involved in setting up and supporting this prestigious event in the newest discipline of our sport.”
CEO of MTBA Shane Coppin echoed this sentiment and said he is excited to see Enduro racing gain more recognition in Australia. “Gravity Enduro is one of the most talked about race activities on the mountain bike scene,” he said. “The discipline has seen significant growth in recent years, combining the thrills and excitement of downhill, with the fitness elements of cross country racing. “We are very pleased to be working with Cairns Regional Council, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Cairns MTB Club on this event, and I personally look forward to watching the growth of this exciting and popular discipline”.
The event is expected to attract a large number of domestic riders and their families, injecting sports tourism and spending into the area.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning also welcomed the announcement and the impending descent of riders on the city. “We’re very much looking forward to hosting the competitors and support crews of this international-level event here in Cairns,” Cr Manning said. “The sport of mountain biking is growing here in Cairns and our spectacular natural rainforest terrain provides an ideal backdrop. “I congratulate and thank Mountain Bike Australia and the Cairns MTB Club for bringing this event to Cairns.”
Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Alex de Waal welcomed the addition of the 2015 Enduro National Mountain Bike Championships to Tropical North Queensland’s growing list of must-do mountain biking events. “Through our Ride Cairns brand we are building Tropical North Queensland’s profile as a mountain biking destination for recreational riders with more than 550km of trails throughout the region,” he said. “A National Championship of this calibre will further draw attention to the excellent mountain biking in Tropical North Queensland and support TTNQ’s events strategy to further diversify our calendar of sporting, cultural and lifestyle events for the region.”
Australia boasts the reigning Enduro World Champion and World Series Champion, Jared Graves of Toowoomba Queensland, and he will definitely be one to watch this October.
The 2015 Enduro National Mountain Bike Championships will be UCI Cat. 3 listed and modelled on European events like the Super Gravity Enduro in Finale Ligure, Italy.
Further information on the event, including schedules and entry information, will be available in the coming months via enduronats.com.au.
Will 2015 see another World Cup duel between perennial favourites Julian Absalon and Nino Schurter?
It was fitting that the two men that have dominated the men’s cross-country circuit in the last decade, France’s Julien Absalon and Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, fought out an epic 2014 edition of the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup.
Absalon and Schurter went into the seventh and round of last season, at Méribel, locked on three race wins each following a World Cup series dominated by the pair. Schurter finished the French race in first but behind him in second was Absalon, and with that finish the Frenchman secured the overall World Cup title for a sixth time.
There is no doubt that these two will continue to be right in front of the competition for the 2015 edition of World Cup. Younger by six years, Nino Schurter remains the hot favourite for the overall but given last season’s form you can’t rule out the 34-year-old Absalon springing more surprises.
The rest of the field has very much been left in the shadow of these two greats in recent years with no one really emerging as a consistent challenger. Australia’s Daniel McConnell, a winner in Albstadt in 2013 and a man who has finished second and third in the overall in 2013 and 2014 respectively, could be the one to break the Absalon-Schurter hegemony, while other names worth looking out for with an eye to a World Cup win are Germany’s Manuel Fumicand his Cannondale team-mate Marco Fontana.
Check the video above for a quick recap of the 2014 season as a teaser for this year’s World Cup.
In the scheme of mountain biking’s comparatively short existence, 25 years is a long time. At a pinch we can think of a handful of familiar names that can boast such a long history – Shimano’s XT and the Specialized Stumpjumer for example – but certainly no other events spring to mind.
Born in 1990, the RRR will celebrate 25 years of sweat, blood and smiles this June. So what does it take to create an event that can capture the imaginations of mountain bikers for such a long time? We ventured north to find out.
The RRR (Triple R) came into being after two legends of the sport – Messrs Glen Jacobs and Peter Blakey – set out to ride an old Cobb and Co coach road from Mt Molloy high on the tablelands, off the escarpment, down to Port Douglas. When they arrived on the coast 35km later, they knew what they’d just ridden simply had to become a race. Straight away they coined it the RRR; Rural, Rainforest and Reef, in recognition of the diversity of landscapes the route captured.
And it’s that diversity which makes this race continue to stand out in the crowded arena of mountain bike events. The RRR course takes you on a real journey, it has a sense of adventure that you just don’t get at many single-day mountain bike races.
It all kicks off at the historic Wetherby Station, which is a magnificent cattle property just outside the old copper mining township of Mt Molloy. Past billabongs teeming with Magpie Geese, through creek crossings inhabited by huge pythons, along high ridge lines with views to Black Mountain, the RRR course spends the better part of 30km in Wetherby Station, before you head north-east onto the old Bump Track.
The Bump Track itself served for many decades as the bullock route connecting the harbour of Port Douglas to the gold mines up in the hills. Now mountain bikers make up the bulk of the traffic, and you can see why. The track punches through the thick rainforest with a rhythmic rolling gradient, its sides lined with fangs of Wait-a-while vines, and over stunning creek crossings. Eventually it reaches the edge of the escarpment, at which point there’s only way it can go, and it puts you into free fall.
Locals tell us that the Bump Track descent on RRR day is more like a downhill race than a cross country marathon, with people lining the sides of the steepest parts of the track, egging riders on while they do their best to tame high-speed waterbars with 55km of fatigue in the limbs! Eventually, with white knuckles and the smell of cooked brake pads in your nostrils, you shoot out into the coastal plain amongst the cane fields, before running four kilometres up the hardpacked sand of Four Mile Beach to finish right outside the Port Douglas surf club.
From iconic rural settings, to impenetrable rainforest, to the postcard beaches, Cairns and the Port Douglas region must offer some of the most spectacular scenery in Australia, and the RRR puts the very best of it on display in one big whack. In our opinion, it’s a sense of journey, the feeling of having gone somewhere and experienced different landscapes, which makes the difference between a good ride and a great ride. And that’s something which the RRR has in spades.
For more information on the RRR, or to enter in this special 25th year, head to the official website: RRR MTB Challenge 2015
The final round of the Australia-wide Gravity Enduro Series was hosted by the Cairns Mountain Bike Club at Smithfield on the weekend. The local rider Berend Boer from Holloways Beach stood his ground and a gripping finish against the Series Leader Dan MacMunn from Spring Gully (VIC) resulted in a tie between the two riders. In the elite women’s division, Genevieve McKew from Sydney won ahead of Rosemary Barnes, whose second place brought her enough series points to claim the overall win.
With some of the club’s strongest riders at the start of the final Australia-wide Gravity Enduro Series, more than a two thirds of the competitors had come from interstate – as the series leader, Dan MacMunn was the strongest contender for the Elite Men’s win against fellow Victorians Ben Randall and Ryan De La Rue. Canberra’s Rosemary Barnes had travelled to tropical Cairns to claim her title with a lead of more than 600 points ahead of Sydney’s Genevieve McKew, Vanessa Thompson and Kath Bicknell.
Cairns trails demand endurance and technical riding skills
The local Cairns Mountain Bike Club had put on six timed stages with neutral transition rides to the race starts. “Everything went really smoothly. These are the types of events we need and that we enjoy hosting – we were really happy to meet so many interstate riders that we could show off our fantastic trail network to”, said the club event manager, Craig Nissen.
In the elite men’s division it was a tight race from the first stage to the last. Over two days the final sixth stage was going to decide the race and it ended up in a tie to the second – both Dan MacMunn and the 27-year old local rider Berend Boer finished in 19:13 minutes. With an unfortunate crash right ahead of the finish, Rhys Atkinson from nearby Kewarra Beach still finished third with a gap of 24 seconds. As a precaution he had to be transported to hospital via ambulance due to a suspected concussion and was later cleared of any further serious injuries.
First gravity enduro elite series titles go to Victoria and New South Wales
The shared first place was still enough for the overall series title for Dan MacMunn. The 32-year-old fire fighter had participated in five out of the six series events and said that the final QLD round turned out to be his favourite. “The types of trails we got to ride and race here over the weekend are just ideal and a really fitting way to conclude this awesome series. It was tough, but exciting racing and I’m proud of my overall title”, he said.
The four elite women at the start agreed that they enjoyed the event and riding the trails together. “Some of those neutral rides to the starts were really tough – just steep and long, but the descents and timed stages were just so rewarding”, said women’s series winner Rosemary Barnes, who added that she was hopeful for more women to compete in these types of events in future. “We’ll spread the word until next year about how much fun they are”, she said.
More than 550 riders had participated in the series, which included events in NSW, VIC, SA, WA, ACT and QLD, covering almost all states and territories.
“We’re really proud that with our partner Alpine Gravity and our hosting clubs we were able to deliver this first all-Australian gravity enduro series to our riders. The rounds included a wide variety of trails and race formats and we are looking forward to a strong 2015 season”, said Rocky Trail’s Martin Wisata, who had travelled to Cairns from Sydney to support the hosting club for the final series event.
“Shuttle Rewind” is a retrospective look at downhill mountain bike culture in Tropical North Queensland, in particular the Kuranda Downhill Track.
Generations of riders have cut their teeth on the track, including Michael Hannah who set the long standing record for the most runs in one day (70) and went on to becoming a world class downhill competitor. The story follows Ryhlee Herd, an indigenous teen who has grown up in Kuranda and from the age of 12 started riding the Kuranda Downhill track. Rhylee makes a special pilgrimage along the paths of his ancestors through traditional Djuabugandji land where he meets Ben Bramham, who was an instrumental figure in shaping downhill mountain biking in Cairns and the world when they re-opened the Kuranda Track in the late 80’s and started racing on the track in 1991.
Shuttle Rewind pays homage to the traditional owners of the land as well the pioneers of mountain biking and the many waves of riders who have ridden the track for the last 2 Decades. The boom box painting and reference through the film pays respects to the crew who created the legendary Mudcows series, planting the Cairns downhill mountain culture into the psyche of riders around the world.
A word from the director, Landon Stroud
“As a born and bred cairns local who grew up riding the Kuranda Downhill track, I relished the opportunity to make this film as it is very close to my heart.
The Kuranda Downhill track has spawned hundreds, even thousands of stories from riders all around the world. This film represents just a few of these stories.
The history and culture of downhill mountain biking in Cairns needs to be documented and preserved and looking forward we need to make sure generations to come have the chance to make their own stories on the Kuranda Downhill track.
After curating the Cairns Adventure Film Festival, and judging the entries, the films which stood out the most and which tended to get people talking were the films with emotive story lines.
I truly believe that if we want to sell Cairns and the Tropical North Queensland as a downhill mountain bike destination we need to focus on the rich culture (scene) we have. I think that telling great stories will pique the interest in riders from around the world ad be more likely an influential factor in their decision as to where their next MTB destination trio will take them.
The locations, cane fields, old can barracks, barron river, Kuranda Rail, Barron Gorge have all been carefully chosen to truly give the film a heritage value and genuine Queenslander aesthetic. By choosing such iconic locations, we have tried to subtly promote the regions natural assets. Shuttle Rewind represents everyone who has been a part of this culture in Cairns for the last 25 years.”
But for Australian mountain bikers, that pilgrimage is to Cairns. This tropical paradise in Queensland’s northern reaches is the sweaty, un-tamed birthplace of mountain biking in Australia. It’s where our sport bloomed, where the limits were pushed and incredible talents grew quickly like sugar cane in the rich volcanic soils.
Flow headed not just to Cairns, but we mapped out a rough plan to explore some of the riding in broader region too. It turns out that while the nation’s mountain bikers have been focused elsewhere, the local contingent have been working harder than the bed springs in a Cairns backpackers – this place is officially going off!
Join us for a three-day razz around the region as we get a taste of the trails on offer at Smithfield, Mareeba, Atherton and the Cassowary Coast – three incredible areas all within a short distance of Cairns. Watch the vid, get your froth on, then head to www.ridecairns.com for more info.
Inland from the immaculate paradise of Mission Beach lies the Gorrell Track. It’s an old road, forced through the jungle long ago, part of an effort to connect the tablelands to the coast, passing through some of the most densely vegetated slopes imaginable. It’s proper rainforest out there, the air is thick with moisture and dangling wait-a-while vines and massive snakes move silently amongst the moss and decaying wood of the forest floor.
Having just left the easily-accessible, landscaped perfection of the Atherton Mountain Bike Park, the Gorrell Track couldn’t have provided a starker contrast to round out the whole spectrum of mountain bike experiences we’d had in the Cairns area. Where the Atherton trails roll out right from the centre of town, just getting to the trailhead of the Gorrell Track is an exercise in itself, with the track starting 20km off the sealed road. To remind us just how wild things are out here, our path in was blocked by a four-metre carpet python that was so ensconced in its sunny position on the fire road that only a prod with a stick would move it!
The Gorrell Track is a 24km long point-to-point ride – if you’re looking for it on a map, you’ll find it somewhere in a big patch of green between Millaa Millaa and Mena Creek – and at the time of riding, it has only just been opened up to mountain bikers. We parked a car at the far end and shuttled it, but if you were after an all-day outing, it’s perfectly rideable as an out-and-back from either direction.
While the whole trail is fire road, this is not a groomed ride, and the surface beneath you ranges from slippery clay to lumpy bits of black volcanic rock. The climbs are long, but the descents feel longer (and fast too), as the track plunges from valley to valley, with river crossings galore in between. Depending on rainfall, there’s a high chance that many of the causeways will be underwater too, but when we rode through only one was deep enough to cause any concern. Speaking of which, the water is good to drink, as you’re well away from any grazing country.
By the time we’d encountered our fourth black snake (including one we rode right over by accident) and had used our second and last spare tube, we’d begun to feel acutely aware of just how isolated you are out on the Gorrell Track. In three hours of incredibly scenic riding we’d seen no one else and we’d had zero mobile reception, and with the rainforest so dense around you there’s no outlook so it’s impossible to get an idea of where you might be in relation to the trailhead or finish. It’s really just you, your bike and the jungle. This is the kind of riding never, ever grows old.
After more than three hours, with our tyres pumped up rock hard to ward off another flat, we rolled out of the jungle, and not a moment to soon. Our plane back home was due to fly in three hours, and there was two hours of driving to be done to reach Cairns and two bikes to be boxed as well! Still stinking of the jungle, with mud on our faces, we crawled onto the flight south.
It was impossible not to reflect on the diversity of the riding we’d encountered in the Cairns region – from the history-steeped trails of Smithfield, to the surprise packet singletracks of Mareeba, the ever-expanding glory of Atherton and the wilderness of the Gorrell Track. In just three days, we’d tasted a motherload of sweet mountain bike fruits, and we want more. Next time we’ll be back to gorge on this tropical banquet properly.
After sampling the goods at Smithfield and Port Douglas, we turned our attention inland to continue our exploration of the riding on offer in the Cairns region. The first stop on the itinerary was Mareeba, home to a passionate club of riders who harbour a network of singletrack that’s even sweeter than the pineapples the town’s famous for.
Davies Creek lies about ten minutes outside of Mareeba, and it’s where the Mountain Goats play. We were joined on the trails by Rudi, the club secretary, who was fizzing at the bung to tell us more about the trails and show us their latest creations.
The feeling of riding a machine-built trail that’s yet to get chopped up or skidded out it is not an opportunity to pass up.
The arrangement at Davies Creek is a model we’d love to see more of across Australia. The land on which the trails are built is actually subject to a pastoral lease, with beef cattle roaming amongst the trails and termite mounds; the riders and farmers look out for each other, and both parties have a vested interest in keeping the place free from the scourge of rubbish dumping and motorbikes ripping up the trails.
Our timing could not have been better, Rudi told us. The club had recently secured a matched grant for the development of new trail, which was only days away from completion. And would we like to give it a test ride? Hell yes! The feeling of riding a machine-built trail that’s yet to get chopped up or skidded out it is not an opportunity to pass up.
The new Tank Trail is a gem. Just shy of 10km long, it takes in a huge variety of soil types and milks the most out of the terrain, but without feeling forced or awkward – it’s a great piece of trail building. After looping through gully after gully, the trail finishes up with a ridge-run that should top well over 50km/h once the ride line is established.
Davies Creek was a real surprise for us. The names of Cairns and Atherton are well-known in mountain bike circles, but little Mareeba, sandwiched in the middle, should not be overlooked. If you’re venturing up over the range from Cairns en route to Atherton, you’d be a fool not pull in to Davies Creek for a couple of hours and an ever greater fool if you didn’t get a milkshake from the joint down the road afterwards!
With a stomach full of dairy and still buzzing from the flow of Davies Creek, we rolled into Atherton once again. It was only a few months ago that we were in town for four days of amazing riding in this blossoming mountain bike hot spot, and it felt like we’d never left. Atherton is a fantastic town, and this place must go on your bucket list!
There’s a staggering amount of trail weaving across the slopes of Mt Baldy already, and the network is growing steadily. So to this the bike-ification of town, with plans to build a trail right from the centre of town into the singletrack, and business (like the Atherton Tourist Park, where we stayed) beginning to cater to mountain bikers with facilities like bike washes and work stands. We’ve got a feeling that within a few years, mountain biking will be the beating heart of Atherton.
Part of the reason for our return to Atherton was to ride a final piece in the puzzle that hadn’t been completed last visit, but which was now open for business. Ricochet (or Trail 9) is one of the gems of the Atherton Mountain Bike park, but until recently it was only accessible by a long, steep fire road climb – it wasn’t really part of the network. But that’s all changed now, with a new 14km section of Trail 9 completed, winding its way up to the pinnacle of the park, and this is what we’d come to ride.
It’s not often that a trail is so good that you’re forced, totally involuntarily, to scream with happiness. We lost count of the number of times that the opening section of Trail 9 reduced us to howling like girls at a Beiber concert. The first section of Trail 9 is genuinely one of the nicest pieces of trail we’ve rolled tyres over. It descends into a gully that’s so steep you’d battle to walk down it, so the trail is layered down the slope with a series of massive switchback berms that suck you in and spit you out so fast you don’t quite know what’s happening. And these berms go on, and on, and on, and on… By the time you reach the valley floor, you’re not even sure which way you’re facing.
With a descent like that under your belt, the climb back up is forgotten in the afterglow. Once again, the trail is superbly built, biting off the nine kilometre climb in easily digestible chunks, with incredible views and rest spots along the way. Before you know it the whole valley is laid out beneath you. There’s only one way back to town, and that’s straight down the bobsled track of Ricochet.
We’re not exaggerating when we say that the complete Trail 9 loop is one of the finest trails we’ve ridden in Australia. Nine kays of climbing may sound a lot, but it’s a fantastic ascent, and the opening and closing descents are ridiculously good. With the completion of this trail, Atherton reaches a whole new level, with some truly epic singletrack loops. And with plenty more trail in the pipeline, who knows how much better things can get here? We’ll definitely be back to find out again next year.
Now in its 20th year, the Croc is an Australian endurance racing institution, so it may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that the race’s founder is not a local; Gerhard Schönbacher is the Austrian masochist behind this most-brutal of stage races. Flow chatted with the Croc wrestler to learn a bit more about taming the beast.
The Croc turns twenty this year! Tell us about the very first edition of this legendary race.
The first Crocodile Trophy was held in 1994. We had 68 participants and they raced for 2,670km for 18 monster stages from Darwin to Cairns. It was all about surviving back then. We constantly ran out of water, food was scarce – replenishing our storage trucks with food and fresh water was the biggest challenge! During that first race, one of the trucks that was supposed to bring more supplies got lost and we had to stop in a small town and wait for it for a day or two. We didn’t dare continue the race without enough supplies. What an adventure that was!
I used to race in a pro-road team in Australia in the early eighties and have always been fascinated by the vast Outback of this country. I love the red sand, the rough landscapes and the lush rain forests that we now still race through. For the past decade or so the region of Cairns and Tropical Far North Queensland has been our home.
We were told that many roads and fields were still full of mines at the time and the risk was just too high.
Is it true that the Croc was almost going to be run in Vietnam? What would you have called it then?!
Yes, we tried very hard to put together a stage race from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City at the time. But the bureaucracy was just too hard to tackle. Plus, we were told that many roads and fields were still full of mines at the time and the risk was just too high. We were already toying with names – but I probably would have gone with Hanoi-Saigon Trophy.
The Croc Trophy is known as one of the toughest races on the planet; what is the single factor, in your mind, that makes it such a challenge?
The heat and the rough conditions in the Outback that challenge both rider and equipment – as well as us as organisers and my crew.
Why is the race so popular with Europeans? It’s a long way from home!
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I am from Austria and used to race in Europe professionally for many years. I know a lot of the pro-road and mountain bike cyclists and have been able to promote the race also during my other event, the Alpentour Trophy, with is also a UCI S1 stage event. We race for four days through the Austrian Alps in and around Schladming and many riders come from Belgium, The Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany and Austria of course. Everyone wants to visit Australia once in their life – if you’re a cyclist it’s tempting to experience the magic of the Outback in the saddle of your bike. We do get a lot of pros racing the Croc, but even more hobby riders and groups of friends who take on this challenge together, take some time off from their day-to-day working lives and love the adventure they have with us.
Everyone wants to visit Australia once in their life – if you’re a cyclist it’s tempting to experience the magic of the Outback in the saddle of your bike.
For the last three or four years we’ve put a big focus also on attracting Australian racers with our local partner, Rocky Trail Entertainment from Sydney. Martin Wisata will race the Croc for the fifth time this year and is a true ambassador for our race. His wife Juliane is our media manager in Australia and New Zealand.
In the history of the race, what has been the toughest battle for the win that you’ve ever seen?
I think it was the first year that Urs Huber from Switzerland competed was very impressive – he was up against the big favourite Bart Brentjens from The Netherlands who is an icon, Croc Trophy winner and the first Olympic winner in a mountain bike discipline! You had the experienced old-hand and the young gun ride their hearts out every day. Urs took it out in the end.
And who has been the most impressive competitor in your mind?
I’ve seen a lot of great athletes compete at the Croc, they’re all so determined and we really grow together as a family in those almost two weeks we spend in Australia. You get the pro-cyclists, many of whom are Tour-de-France competitors, you get the hobby mountain bikers who love the adventure and we all sit together at the camp fire in the evening exchanging our daily experiences.
We always have women competing also – last year a Belgian rider had a fantastic result, riding into the top 20 overall. A few years ago there were two hand-bikers, two American ex-soldiers who were injured in the war. They decided to participate together with an able-bodied friend who rode with them. They had their own support car and spent many hours out there often coming into camp late at night. Both had to drop out a few days before the finish due to health concerns and their friend finished the race for them. But what an amazing effort! Some sections of the track are tough to conquer on a quad bike or 4WD, there are river crossings, steep ascents… and these guys did it all out of sheer will. So… it’s hard to pick one rider out, they all come with such an impressive desire to do this race, to challenge themselves and to do their best.
The temperature at the Croc is a huge factor – what is the hottest it has ever been for the race?
We’ve had temperatures soar into the mid- to high-forties. Juliane once recorded 46 degrees in her media tent one afternoon. Nowadays the stages start very early, at 8am and by 2 or 3pm all riders are at the finish, which is when it gets really hot. Every 30km or so we have food and water stations or “depots” as we call them and there the riders can fill up on water, electrolyte drinks as well as fruit and muesli bars.
Most riders arrive a few days early to get used to the warmer and more humid weather in Cairns and I’ve even heard of some European riders who trained on a stationary bike in a sauna back home. But generally, everyone copes well and we have medical and physiotherapy staff that assist with the daily recovery. It’s important that riders cool down quickly, drink and eat a lot and right away – often we camp at billabongs or rivers that we can swim in.
Have you ever had to cancel the race because of the elements (too hot, too wet etc)?
Not the entire race but we neutralised individual stages – I remember one year where we had a bush fire separate the racing field in to two groups and practically halted the race. We got everyone back to the safety of our camp and re-started the race the next day. Only three years ago there were huge floods and rainfalls in Cairns and it was impossible for us to mark the second stage – two or three 4WD vehicles got stuck in the mud and it got too dangerous for our riders as well. We had them divert onto sealed roads and also neutralised that day. So, yes, everything is possible in this country.
Just how much food gets eaten every year at the Croc?
Huge amounts – and we encourage our riders to eat a lot and replenish their bodies! We have a chef from Austria who travels with us and together with Martin and Juliane from Rocky Trail and our local pasta and sauce supplier Il Pastaio he puts together a menu, which is based on pasta and rice and various meat and vegetarian sauces and side dishes to provide a balanced diet throughout the race. The estimated value of the all-inclusive catering offer is around $1100 per rider.
We always serve breakfast with bacon and eggs, various muesli types, bread and spreads. After the stage the riders get pasta and they can also help themselves to sandwiches and fresh fruit. For dinner we often add seafood as well as the usual beef and poultry and if we get it sometimes also kangaroo. We have a mobile kitchen with about 10-12 staff that cook in two teams for our riders. In terms of numbers, for instance in 2013 we used DAILY:
40kg dry pasta
20 litres milk
12 dozen eggs
40kg fish (if on the menu)
How has the Croc changed from its first year till now?
We’ve gained a lot of experience especially in the logistics area – we now have around 70-90 staff and hire 12 trucks, 2 campervans and 14 four-wheel drive cars every year. We have also been able to build up great relationships with local clubs in the Cairns and Atherton regions and have a crew of local quad bike riders who accompany our riders, transporting camera crews and sometimes also medical and organisational staff when vehicles can’t pass through a track section.
For the first time and our 20th anniversary in 2014, we’ve secured the UCI S1 status for the Croc. This is the highest status for stage races within the UCI and the Crocodile Trophy is the event with the highest number of individual starters in any stage race world-wide. This UCI level comes with a lot more commitment in terms of price money – we pay out $30,000 this year. We will also have a crew of UCI Commissaires among our organisational committee and we’ll get even more media attention world-wide. Our race report is already shown in 25 countries via more than 40 TV stations and we get reports on numerous online portals around the world as well.
And how has it stayed the same?
What we have retained from the very first event back in 1994 is the adventure aspect and the mission to explore and ride through this beautiful country, providing a safe environment. It’s still a tough race, many call it the hottest and most adventurous one. It’s certainly still the adventure of a lifetime and if someone wants to take it on, they can be sure that they’ll find a lot of like-minded riders from all over the world at the start line.
How do you see the Croc evolving in the future?
We certainly want to become bigger – traditionally we’ve had 100-120 riders and we’d like to grow it to 150-200 over the next few years. We’ve been working very closely together with the federal and local tourism organisations and councils in Far North Queensland – Cairns and Port Douglas will be the start and finishing hosting towns in 2014 and the Atherton region will be showcasing their fantastic network of mountain bike trails as well. On most stages riders will be able to not only camp with us at the event centre but also have the possibility to sleep in nearby hotels and cabins. This is to open the event up to people who are not so keen on the camping aspect, but prefer the comforts of a bed. In our camp riders can hire tents and camping beds that are erected by our crew daily.
We hope to have many more Australians race at our event and continue to attract all those riders from overseas and to keep shoawcasing this beautiful country world-wide.
The colourful Cairns mountain bike crew deserve a lot credit for the fantastic state of Australian mountain biking today. Back in the 1990s, up in the rainforests of the Kuranda range, a wild bunch on mountain bikes began blazing their own trail. They were developing mountain biking in their own sweaty microcosm, not caring a damn about how the sport was shaping up in other parts of the world. This was Cairns mountain biking; raw, slippery, fun and independent.
Soon enough the antics of the Great Cairns Hill Tribe began to capture the attention and the imagination of riders across the country and the world. Word and vision of just how far the Cairns crew were pushing the limits of mountain biking began to trickle out, and along with it an awareness of what an incredible haven of trails this mob had created. Eventually even the UCI caught wind, bringing the World Cup and World Champs to Cairns in 1994 and 1996. Suddenly Cairns was on the mountain bike world map. In this pressure cooker, talented riders blossomed; Kovarik, Hannah, Ronning and many others, all rising to the top of World stage and cementing the status of Cairns as a leading international mountain bike destination.
But then in the early 2000s, things went off the boil, and the Cairns scene went a little quite. It continued to simmer away until quite recently, when a concerted effort by riders, local authorities and mountain bike luminaries thrust Cairns and its surrounds back to the forefront of Australian and international mountain biking once again. In quick succession we saw the revitalisation of the legendary Smithfield trails, huge new trail developments at Atherton (just up the road from Cairns) and the announcement that Cairns had secured a World Cup round AND the World Champs – all our Christmases at once!
What locals are keen to emphasise now, is that Cairns itself is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to riding in the tropical north. In addition to the Smithfield trails, you’ve got Atherton, Mareeba, the Cassowary Coast, Port Douglas and a million different hidden trails in between, all within a couple of hours drive from one another.
Given we’d be in town already for the World Cup, the opportunity to explore the region was simply too good to miss. So we packed the bikes, rustled up some Hawaiian shirts and bug spray and hit the trails. First up on our itinerary, Smithfield! No sooner had the course marshals removed the bunting, than we were delving into the jungle to rip it up on the red clay.
Smithfield is the ultimate place to start any riding trip in the Cairns region. Not only is the closest trail centre to Cairns itself, but the trails are signposted, mapped and graded, so it’s practically impossible to get lost and find yourself a victim of the Minjin (local mythical mountain panther).
Given that Glen Jacobs was the driving force in the revitalisation of these trails, it’s no surprise that you feel like you’re carving through the vines on a hoverboard – these are classic flow trails for the most part, with a mesmerising rhythm, punctuated by the occasional A-line that requires you to really think about where you want to put your wheels.
There’s more than enough riding here for a full day of singletrack; get your fill, then head into town for some people watching by the lagoon – that’s our second favourite activity in Cairns!
Just north of Cairns lies the honeymooner’s paradise of Port Douglas. It’s the kind of place where you could easily spend way too much time; most of the ‘locals’ we met had blown in from some far-flung corner of the globe and found themselves mysteriously stuck seven years later.
For mountain bikers, Port Douglas is home to the brake-cooking Bump Track descent, plus a bunch of rough and raw trails that lead you to some fairly special swimming holes – with the range teetering over the coastline, there are innumerable magic spots where water cascades down cliff faces and into deep, clear pools. The trick is knowing where to find them! We joined up with local guide Tom Dayshe of Bike ‘n’ Hike tours to worm our way through the forest and unearth some of these gems. When you’ve cooked your legs on Smithfield’s trails in the morning, this is absolutely magic.
It’s that time of year again here at the UCI World Cup; the course builders have been out in force, the midges have been starving themselves and we’ve taped a microphone and a GoPro to downhill rider Claudio Caluori.
The guys at Aonach Mor have been busy too – vast swathes of the top section have been filled in and the taping in the woods is incredibly tight. Anyway, enough from us, over to the master.
In Episode 1.1, follow the team as they tackle the opening 2 rounds of the UCI World Cup in Pietermaritzburg (RSA) and Cairns (AUS), visit a local Australian school, and walk away with the team’s first podium for the year, also a first for Neko Mulally.
Emily Batty of Trek Factory Racing is invigorated for the start of the 2014 UCI World Cup season.
Hear some of her insights following the opening two rounds in Pietermaritzburg, RSA and Cairns, AUS.
Pedalling in the groove she netted a ninth and then followed up with a silver medal ride. With five more World Cup rounds remaining, the Canadian champion from Ontario looks to stay atop the World Cup XC scene.
Epic trails, fast lines, snakes, spiders and waterfalls.
Off the back of the UCI World Cup in Cairns New Zealand ripper and all-around nice guy Brook Macdonald headed off to explore some of the lesser-known local terrain. What he found, besides the snakes, spiders and all things deadly? Some epic lines that stretch right down from the rainforest to the sea. For more epic spots in Australia’s north check out ridecairns.com.
All work and no play makes Eddie a dull boy and that just wouldn’t be right for this Kiwi pinner.
Parental advisory – contains swearing and explicit language.
Fun-loving is just one of many ways to describe Eddie Masters. The flamboyant New Zealander appears to take nothing too seriously, but that shouldn’t distract from his talent on the bike.
After picking up some encouraging results as a privateer over the past couple of years, including a 26th place at Val di Sole last year, Eddie was picked up by the Bergamont Hayes World Downhill Team to race on the 2014 World Cup circuit alongside teammates Canada’s Casey Brown and Aussie Jack Moir.
In what proved to be his best weekend yet on the World Cup, we caught up with Eddie in Cairns to find out more about his philosophy on racing mountain bikes and life.
Tropical North Queensland, where everything can kill you, and will probably try… including Mother Nature. After covering the rocks in mud for yesterday’s downhill, the sun came out in backpacker-blistering force today, right in time to cook the world’s best cross country racers. On went the ice vests and out went the mud on a rapidly drying track.
It was another unreal day for Australian racers, with top tens in both the Elites and Under 23s. Buoyed by the screaming hordes gathered around the course’s pointiest bits, Bec Henderson and Dan McConnel absolutely flogged themselves and grabbed two huge results. In her first year in Elites, Bec Henderson had set herself the goal of a top ten this season – she got it on the very first round of the series, admitting she’d pushed far harder than planned with the crowd driving her on. McConnell, after finishing the World Cup season second last year, got things started on the right foot. He rode a flawless race to fourth. This is a man looks very comfortable at the fast end of a World Cup. He’s tasted victory and wants more.
You can view the full results here (Elite men’s and women’s, plus Under 23s guys and gals). Now feast your head windows on our gallery below!