Racers make their way out of the Kellevie race village.
The Avantiplus Hellfire Cup is back for a second year. The event, held in Kellevie in South Eastern Tasmania, is a 4 day multi-stage Mountain Bike Race. Attracting elite riders as well as weekend warriors, the event has attracted people from all over the country to 4 days of racing in the Tasmanian countryside. The event offers both pairs racing and a Lone Wolves category for solo racers.
The lead up to, and the actual 2013 Hellfire Cup event, was a gruelling experience for organisers. The Tasmanian Bushfire emergency struck days before it was originally slated to run in January 2013 (nearby Dunalley was devastated by the fires) and the event was rescheduled to run November 2013. Ironically, very different conditions met competitors in November, and torrential rain necessitated a reduced race format, and a race village evacuation that truly demonstrated the spirit of mountain biking.
So, after 3 long years of preparation work, the 2014 event is the first time the full course has been unveiled. On day 1, the race village is, buzzing and full of competitors keen to ride on some of the best trails Tasmania has to offer.
STAGE 1: DESCRIPTION
The trails are riding fast and fun, and on return from Stage 1 the nervous smiles of competitors were replaced by grins and war stories from the first hit-out for the event. The Mill Road loop is the 25km opening drumroll to the Hellfire Cup. It showcases a mix of riding experiences, departing from the Kellevie race village on vintage Tasmanian XC trails which lead into a firetrail ascent which literally takes a rider’s breath away. On the return journey, riders are rewarded with the Mountain Trails Serpent – a hard earned downhill section of flowing switchbacks that opens out into a extremely fast riding valley descent with a stunning views as riders emerge from the bush.
STAGE 1: RESULTS
Team Torq came out very strong and took out both the Elite Female (Em Parkes & Jenni King – 1h:25m:38s) category AND the Male Category (Chris Hamilton & Mark Tupalski 1h:12m:40s) with some blazing fast times. Trek Factory racing (Bec Henderson & Dan McConnell – 1h:20m:27s) took out the the Elite Mixed category.
STAGE 2: DESCRIPTION
The second stage is a fast-blast team relay, based on a 4 laps of the 6.5km Kellevie Onetonne rodeo XC Course. Pairs riders do a lap and alternate, but lone wolves find themselves doing all 4 laps. After leaving the race village the riders descend into the Kellevie rainforest. This section is a fast-riding, winding path that rewards riders willing to brave the encroaching trees for an opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. The course also features a short, sharp ascent up the Shimano Switchbacks across the crest of the hill. Following a quick paddock sprint, they riders meet the 4SHAW rock garden. The return leg is ideal for riders with big engines as pure power here will be the determining factor on the undulating blast back into the Race village and transition.
STAGE 2: RESULTS
A gentle spattering of rain fell on competitors as they gathered on the start line for Stage 2. This went some way towards keeping the dust down and providing a just-so slightly tacky racing surface that riders love so much. The race pack steamrolled out of the village and disappeared into the Kellevie rainforest in a matter of seconds. Dan McConnell put down a blistering first lap to take the early lead overall for stage 2 for the mixed pair elite team, Trek Factory Racing.
Team Torq continues to dominate, with both Elite Female (Em Parkes & Jenni King – 1h21m:11s) the Elite Male Category (Chris Hamilton & Mark Tupalski 1h:08m:07s) on a short sharp course. In the Elite mixed category. Trek Factory racing (Bec Henderson & Dan McConnell – 1h:12m:24s) is leading the Elite Mixed category.
OVERALL RESULTS – End of Day 1.
In the Elite Male category Team Torq will go into day 2 with a 3 minute 10 second advantage over AvantiPlus Launceston (Ben Mather & Alex Lack) who are followed followed by Team 4SHAW (Tom Goddard & Scott Bowden).
For the Elite Female category Team Torq leads WillyLocke (Rebecca Locke & Naomi Williams) by 2 minutes 6 seconds.
The Elite Mixed category is predicted to be extremely competitive with Trek Factory racing leading Jeffy & Pesta (Jarrod Moroni & Peta Mullens) by 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
AvantiPlus Hellfire Cup Is back for 2014 and entries are rolling in.
What: 4 day 7 stage mountain bike race consisting of relays , TT, hill climb, crit, and adventure stages
When: November 20th –23rd 2014.
Format: Pairs mountain bike racing with options for solo riders
Location: Kellevie in the Sorell Municipality in South East Tasmania.
25 minutes from Hobart airport 50 minutes from Hobart CBD
Race Director: Duncan Giblin
Company: Stormbay Promotions
Entries open: Entries Opened on March 1
Entries close: September 7th 2014.
Entrant capacity for 2014: 500 riders
Entry: $445 per rider
- Free camping
- Lunch included
- On-site child care options
- Food and coffee vendors
- After party concert
- Iron House bar
- Free wifi
- Appliance charge station
- Onsite mechanic
- Bike retail
In its second year the AvantiPlus Hellfire Cup is again based at Kellevie and rides into different areas of the Wielangta State Forest and surrounding areas each day, riding on private land and forestry land. The race course has myriad of tracks, forest trails, and awesome descents in beautiful landscapes. The event has 7 stages offering a good mix of single track and adventure riding. Our philosophy is that the course should not be too dumbed down and have should have lots organic single track and also require effort to conquer hills making it more rewarding. But we have designed it to still be achievable and enjoyable for someone new to stage races with a reasonable level of fitness.
The event is classified as a stage race but differs significantly from most other events of this type, having one base that competitors start and finish from each day to limit the logistic headaches for riders, support crews and families.
We have made vast improvements from the first event including a new timing system that is state of the art providing preliminary results online instantly. We have received funding from Events Tasmania enabling us to purchase this system. We have also improved rider comfort at the race village with new gas showers and more services on site so people can get comfortable and warm if we have a disagreement with the weather gods. Also upgraded is the food on offer with more substantial lunches and food vendors on site for evening meals.
The event has one of the largest prize pools for an event of its type in Australia
The 2014 Prize pool includes:
$26,000 cash for elite rider podiums divided equally between genders.
$52,000 in random spot prizes/ competitor giveaways (and growing) is on offer for competitors including two bikes from major sponsor Avanti plus.
The pointy end of the field.
From the word go the Hellfire Cup has attracted significant interest from elite riders. Titles attained by Elite riders who entered the inaugural event last year included: international Stage race title holders , national marathon title holders, world junior champions , Australian multisport champions, national xc title holders, XCO, Short course, enduro , world 24 solo hour champions, 6 Olympic representatives, Australian junior champions, national 24 hour solo champions. This year we already have current World XC Eliminator World champ Paul Vander Ploeg, Australian Women’s Marathon Champ Melisa Ansset , plus national stage race, marathon and xc enduro winners such as Rebecca Locke, Naomi Williams, National Female Masters Marathon champ Traci Lonergan , World number 2 world cup u23 Rebecca Henderson either signed up already or indicating they will be back for 2014.
The vibe of the thing
Equally as exciting for us as the elites attending is the interstate and overseas interest from your everyday riders in this years race, as bringing lots of new people together for 4 days of bike madness is what we love to see.
Last year the event culminated in presentations ceremony and after party with local bands Matt Bayes Blues, Guthrie, and MOFO curator and cycling advocate Brian Ritchie and friends. Elite rider trophies and awards were presented by Mike Tomalaris from SBS Cycling Central. This year we’ve got more entertainment lined up and for us the festival and race village environment is as important as the racing. Ride, relax ,eat and repeat.
Further enquiries: Storm Bay Promotions, Race Director – Duncan Giblin
Phone 0448 599 612
E-mail [email protected]
The upside is that this crew have been forced to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. Flow sat down with Event Director, Duncan Giblin, at the end of the four-day race to talk about some of the battles he’d faced getting this event off muddy ground.
Duncan, first fires and then floods. The environmental impact on the event is obvious. Can you talk us through some of the extra challenges you’ve had in putting on Hellfire Cup that riders might not be aware of?
From the outset we wanted to put on a race that we felt suited the riding that we really like doing in this area. It’s a very beautiful area. One of the big challenges for us was the process of change within the forestry industry that was going on, so getting land tenure was pretty interesting. One of the land managers that we use was a major forest holdings group that went into bankruptcy. Then with the Tas Forests agreement going on, where there’s changes to things like logging access, there was uncertainty about who was going was to manage the land and what people were going to be able to do there. So there was a potential risk to access for stuff we’d previously been given permission to use. We now have all this resolved which is great for the event’s future.
One of the other challenges is that we’re in a smaller economy here, where unemployment’s really high. That means there’s not a lot of extra government money around for new projects or a lot of cash around for corporate sponsorship.
Financially too, running it again the second time after the postponement, you almost run two events off the one income. For your first major event like that you always take a loss anyway but that made it harder.
Do you think that following the influx of mountain bikers to the regional community over the last week, local businesses might be more likely to come on board for future events?
Yeh. A lot of local businesses and community groups have been fairly heavily involved and inundated with the bushfire recovery itself. Everybody from the mayor to the guy who runs pub are part of the bushfire recovery group. I think they’re at a place now where were they are really able to embrace mountain bike development in the area. They have been really supportive of the event and its future.
Do you think that for some of the local community, having seen the amount and the type of people coming in, might be more interested in being involved in future events too?
Totally, they needed to see it first. We had a few concerns about traffic management from community members. Now people in the community are there cooking sausages for riders and asking when the next race is on. They were a major part of providing alternative venues to keep the first Hellfire going.
On the topic of the race just past, things were looking good for the rescheduled event, but then the rain came to town. What did you have to do, logistically speaking, in order to keep the stages running each day?
Our goal was to try to make sure that we’ve got a rider experience that people can engage in that’s worthwhile. We also had to work out competitor safety.
What a day like that looks like is we come home from the race village and we look at maps, and weather maps and we then go back out in the bush and we make changes to the trail at night. We reset a whole course while we’ve got a little bit of daylight and then drive back home and do the admin and answer the emails. We also do the work plan to get the next stage happening. We’d do that until about five in the morning, then get up and actually run the stage.
Did you also have to deal with road closures and permission to access different areas to hold the redesigned stages?
Yeh, so when we change a stage, people might think it would be a great idea to just go somewhere else. But to get access to the public roads and the management of that, that’s a formal process. We had to use routes within our existing road permit. Also a big thing for us is that we use properties that have shared use, so if we change something it affects so many other people. It changes the plans and the requirement on the volunteers, it puts them under more pressure too.
We also have to look at the logistics of the race itself when we change; how do we manage our timing, how do we manage our basic rider comfort and safety, how do we manage the concerns and the requirements of the media guys and the promotion opportunities for our sponsors.
Did you ever think of just calling it off?
We thought about it, but basically we didn’t come this far after the fires to just pull the pin on it. People came here to ride and so we were going to ride. That’s basically that.
Given the time that has gone into making these decisions, do you think the things you learned from this event make for a much better management plan for next year?
Well we know we’ve got a good fire management plan, we know we’ve got a good flood management plan. Look really, I don’t have any worry about our abilities to adapt the racing, but what we are focused on is dealing with adverse circumstances and maintaining the quality of the event.
What improvements do you think you’d make to the event overall having seen the experiences riders had this year?
I think anything that supports that atmosphere that we have, which just makes it an enjoyable experience. I have a background putting on raves and other events, and I like to bring that whole feeling to bike races. Our 24 hour events have always had great a great atmosphere, I want to improve that, work on it more.
We’ll have an elite only option so it’s fairer on age category guys competing against them. We had hot showers that we were going to use at the race village and the problem when we had to relocate is that we weren’t able to set those up. And they should have been set up earlier.
We’ve engaged a site manager for next year so we can get earlier set up and more transferable services. The lunches will be more substantial and we are looking at increasing the variety for the evening meals including some more gourmet product. We’ll also have an electronic timing system that will be used for the 2014 event.
Some riders have been saying they’d like to see less prize money and more funds going into ‘all you can eat’ kind of catering. At the same time, the amount of prize money pitches the Hellfire Cup, in terms of the public perception and marketing, as a world class event, which gets people here. What are your thoughts on that?
We are planning to improve of the quality of all services, including food for competitors, without compromising an attractive prize pool for professional riders. We want the experience to be great for all riders punter or pro.
What does it mean having so many people from all over the country, as well as high-profile international riders, come to the event?
It’s really nice to be supported like that. I think for us it makes us more determined provide riders with great trails and good times. It’s been really good for the local community and most people have been really happy about being part of that community recovery, just by coming here and riding their bikes. It also shows that people are interested in what we’re up to and what we want to do. Although it’s been hard over the last 18 months, it makes us more determined to actually provide a better experience and support our local community by having people here.