25 Years of the RRR, Tropical Queensland: Event Preview

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.DCIM100GOPROG0019446. RRR 13

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

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Video: The Yakima Sunshine Series, Qld

The crew in Queensland’s South East corner love their racing: the Yakima Sunshine Series must be the best attended local series in the country, with over 300 riders at every round. Full credit must be given to a passionate bunch, lead by QLDMTB, who have put together a very professional series, with quality timing, courses, sponsorship and prizes. This feel-good vid shows off what the series achieved in 2014.

 

Must-Ride: Cairns and the Tropical North

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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.

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Read more about our time in Smithfield here.

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[divider]Port Douglas[/divider]

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[divider]Mareeba[/divider]

Read more about the riding in Mareeba right here.

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[divider]Atherton[/divider]

See more shots from Atherton and learn more here, or watch a video all about the trails here.

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[divider]Cassowary Coast[/divider]

Learn more about riding the Gorrell Track right here.

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Mission Beach at sunrise

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Wait-a-while vine. It'll stop you better than any four-piston brake.
Wait-a-while vine. It’ll stop you better than any four-piston brake.

Must-Ride: Cassowary Coast, Gorrell Track

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Mission Beach

 

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.

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Wait-a-while vine. It'll stop you better than any four-piston brake.
Vines that grab your attention. It’ll stop you better than any four-piston brake.

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!

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Another crystal clear river crossing.

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.

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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.

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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.

Snake bite? Or snake bite?
Snake bite? Or snake bite?

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.

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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.

For more information on riding in around Cairns, check out www.ridecairns.com.

Local Video: Riding the Milkmaid, Queensland

This trail looks incredible! What’s more, we didn’t even know it existed! How many more gems like this must be hidden across the country, just waiting for your tyres…

Milkmaid. The final edit. from Riley Taylor on Vimeo.

The Milkmaid is located in Wooroi National Park, just outside Noosa in Queensland. Cheers to the local crew for sending this edit over. Have you got a cool local video to share with us? Get in touch via Facebook and let us know.

Must-Ride: Mareeba and Atherton, Qld

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It was time to head up into the hills to the tablelands.

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.

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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.

 

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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!

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Creative trail building. This might steep slab of granite is an optional offshoot from the main trail. Plenty of chain-snapping traction here!

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.

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Hooking in to one of the amazing turns at the start of Trail 9.

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.

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The climb is broken up into mellow, rolling pitches, and takes in some great views and features to make you forget all about your legs.

 

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.

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Richocet feels like you’ve been thrown down a bobsled track.

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.

For more information on the trails in the Cairns region, check out www.ridecairns.com.

 

 

 

 

 

The Croc Wrestler: Gerhard Schönbacher of the Crocodile Trophy

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.

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Back in the day. No helmet, five spoke carbon wheels.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Setting up camp alongside a billabong where possible is one way of battling the heat that can get well into the mid-forties.

 

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.

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Feeding the Croc. She’s a hungry beast – check out Gerhard’s stats below!

 

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:

  • 25kg pineapples
  • 60kg bananas
  • 100kg melons
  • 40kg dry pasta
  • 20 litres milk
  • 12 dozen eggs
  • 60kg meat/steaks
  • 40kg fish (if on the menu)
A mid-stage depot ready to refuel riders.
A mid-stage depot ready to refuel riders.

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.

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Gnarly.

 

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.

 

Cory Wallace, flat out at Cooktown at the race's end.
Cory Wallace, flat out at Cooktown at the race’s end.

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.

 

Must-Ride: Cairns, Smithfield

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This berm alone is worth the trip to Cairns.

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.

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Exceptional trail building on Black Snake.

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.

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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!

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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.

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With graded, signposted, mapped trails, Smithfield is hassle-free riding of the finest quality. It’s the perfect place to get your tropical northern mountain bike adventure underway.

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).

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Flowing through the sea of green. Everything is alive and growing in the forest.

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!

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Terrible place. Just awful.
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The drive north to Port Douglas is stunning. You can see just how the mountain range plummets straight into the sea.

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.

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Bike n Hike Adventure tours, ready for action.

Flow Nation Cairns 9

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Get back to work, Mick!
Get back to work, Mick!

 

For more information about all the riding in and around Cairns, check out www.ridecairns.com. 

 

Cairns 2014: Friday’s bangers from Breach

Friday saw the qualifying for downhill and the finals of the XC eliminator. With heavy rain overnight, the conditions were going to be a tough day for both racers and photographers. Flow’s Damian Breach stood in ankle deep mud all day to bring you his view of the World Cup.

This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that's better than what happened later in the day - as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that’s better than what happened later in the day – as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Everyone's favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing however see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
Everyone’s favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing, however to see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It's worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it's not so bad for him.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It’s worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it’s not so bad for him.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section.  Respect.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section. Respect.
Even know the rain held of for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud of today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.
Even though the rain held off for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.

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This isn't child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
This isn’t child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
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The alien tree is big and alien like. It’s also right next to a very sloppy and slippery part of the trail which the aliens would probably like.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That's right, it's not a berm, it's a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it's clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That’s right, it’s not a berm, it’s a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it’s clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying the shoe choice or popularity was none at all.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying – the most popular shoe choice was none at all.

 

With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was by far not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th. Sam is carrying a little hand injury that will surely be hurting his confidence.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th.


Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let's hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Vicking is on the podium.
Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let’s hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Viking is on the podium.
Conner Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Connor Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Just as the XC eliminator started, so did the rain.
Just as the XC Eliminator started, so did the rain.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines - all within arms reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard long sprint up a muddy hill.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines – all within arm’s reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard, long sprint up a muddy hill.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still cam out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still came out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
The top of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice soothing mud bath.
The top section of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice, soothing mud bath.
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
There's nothing better than poaching someone else's flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.
There’s nothing better than poaching someone else’s flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.

 

Cairns 2014: Friday's bangers from Breach

Friday saw the qualifying for downhill and the finals of the XC eliminator. With heavy rain overnight, the conditions were going to be a tough day for both racers and photographers. Flow’s Damian Breach stood in ankle deep mud all day to bring you his view of the World Cup.

This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that's better than what happened later in the day - as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that’s better than what happened later in the day – as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Everyone's favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing however see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
Everyone’s favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing, however to see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It's worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it's not so bad for him.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It’s worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it’s not so bad for him.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section.  Respect.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section. Respect.
Even know the rain held of for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud of today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.
Even though the rain held off for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.

WEB_NEWS_CAIRNS_WC_FRI_DB-11

This isn't child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
This isn’t child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
WEB_NEWS_CAIRNS_WC_FRI_DB-7
The alien tree is big and alien like. It’s also right next to a very sloppy and slippery part of the trail which the aliens would probably like.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That's right, it's not a berm, it's a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it's clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That’s right, it’s not a berm, it’s a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it’s clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying the shoe choice or popularity was none at all.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying – the most popular shoe choice was none at all.

 

With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was by far not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th. Sam is carrying a little hand injury that will surely be hurting his confidence.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th.


Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let's hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Vicking is on the podium.
Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let’s hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Viking is on the podium.
Conner Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Connor Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Just as the XC eliminator started, so did the rain.
Just as the XC Eliminator started, so did the rain.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines - all within arms reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard long sprint up a muddy hill.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines – all within arm’s reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard, long sprint up a muddy hill.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still cam out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still came out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
The top of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice soothing mud bath.
The top section of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice, soothing mud bath.
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
There's nothing better than poaching someone else's flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.
There’s nothing better than poaching someone else’s flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.

 

Must-Ride: Atherton, Queensland

Atherton has been receiving a lot of attention lately, after the tireless work of local mountain bikers secured a near unprecedented level of funding for trail construction as part of a regional development grant. Over the last twelve months this funding has been put to work, dug into the rocky hillside of Mt Baldy. Almost 40km of professionally designed and built singletrack has been put dug in so far, with close to another 30km to be built throughout 2104.

Naturally, Flow had to check it out.

Atherton is about an hour inland from Cairns, up on the tablelands at around 800 metres above sea level, amongst the rolling hills of cattle country and banana plantations.   It’s cooler, and a little drier, than Cairns down on the coast, making it the ideal escape from the maddening humidity that can plague this part of the world. We have a feeling this town will become a popular refuge amongst the Europeans in Cairns for next year’s World Cup!

There are plenty of things that make Atherton a special place (the volcano lakes and colossal pubs are two), but the proximity and the quality of the trails are really amazing. A five minute pedal from the coffee shop will see you deep in singletrack, where you can lose yourself for a few hours in the steep terrain, riding deep benched flow trail. The local crew are all quality folk too, and more than happy to have an outsider lob in on their ritual morning ride, leaving at 6:00am every single day.

We’ll let the photos and video tell the story. Atherton is truly one of Australia’s must-ride destinations. Ah, take us back, we can still taste the mangos!

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60km of purpose built mountain bike singletrack, that is plenty!
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Being up high in the tropics is a unique experience, like nowhere else in the country.
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A social ride at 6am happens every day, as there is a healthy riding scene in town and growing.
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This trail is named Bandy Bandy, which evidently the name of a snake. We didn’t see one, just deliciously green bush and deep flowing turns.

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Best coffee in town, Gallery 5, and coincidentally the hub for any social cycling gatherings in Atherton.

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Can a trail flow up a hill, too? Yes.
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Bush tucker and Stans Sealant, make sure you’re running tough rubber and a tubeless setup, or else.

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A short and scenic drive from Atherton, is Millaa Millaa Falls. Heavenly!
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The tropics can dish out some big afternoon storms, which can both cool down and boost traction to the trails.
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High up in the clouds, the beginning of Ricochet Track is the place to engage ‘extreme mode’.
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Keep an eye out for sneaky gap lines and doubles on Ricochet, the keen eye will see many creative lines to shortcut through the air, if you’re game.
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There must be at least 8000 big, fast berms on the Ricohet descent.

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It’s not the type of trail you’d normally find in the middle of the Aussie bush – rather under a chairlift in Europe or Canada!

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Dirt Art were munching away at the earth when we were in town, adding a bunch more singletrack to the area.
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From Leasie’s Lookout you can sit on a stone sofa and feast your eyes on the green rolling hills of the tablelands. Absolutely stunning views.

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Chase a chook, ride a horse or squash a cane toad, all in a day at Atherton.

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Early bird gets the nicest conditions, with the middle of the day quite warm, we snuck out at first, and last light to make the most of it.

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It was hard to pick our favourite trail, but Ridgey Didge is a solid contender. Following a rolling ridge line this track milks the terrain for speed and maximum fun.

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Lake Eacham, the ideal way to spend the hot hours of the day. Swimming in a big, blue volcanic lake. Simply divine! And there are turtles.

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Rock armouring on the sensitive areas will ensure the trail can withstand heavy rainfall, high traffic and the slim chance a fiery volcanic apocalypse.
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Waterfall Track was one of our most favourites, for the scenery and natural features that it takes in. Chapeau to the trail builders, they’ve not only made them fun to ride, but a great way to experience the beautiful bushland.

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This big corner, named Croc Belly is a masterpiece. Just check out the amount of work that has gone into it!

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The green grade trails around the flat lands open up the area to all rider abilities, once you master them it’s time to head up into the steeper terrain for the juicy stuff.

 

Racing: UCI promotes Crocodile Trophy to category level S1

The Crocodile Trophy is the oldest mountain bike stage race in the world and in 2014 will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In honour of this jubilee and major milestone for the event, its organisers decided to join the UCI.

The most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world will become a UCI event category S1.  As an official UCI race the Crocodile Trophy will still be open for professionals, amateur racers as well as recreational cyclists.

The infamous event is not only the oldest and most renowned mountain bike stage race in the world, but it also features the biggest solo competitor field of any stage race of that dimension.

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The organisers confirmed that for the 2014 anniversary race, there will be at least four completely new stages in the nine-day tour program. With a new and larger infrastructure the Crocodile Trophy will be able to host more participants than in previous years. The new stage plan through the remote Australian Outback and lush rainforests in Tropical Far North Queensland with the new stage finishes and spectacular tracks and trails will be publicized by the end of January.

The event dates are:  18th – 26th October 2014

Online registration has already been open since 1st December on www.crocodile-trophy.com!

For further information please check our website www.crocodile-trophy.com or contact:

Tested: Specialized S-Works Camber 29

It wasn’t too long ago that we declared our desire to “marry” a Specialized test bike (the Stumpjumper Expert Carbon), so deep was our love. But now, it seems that we’re lusting after another… we’ve had an affair with the lady in red, and it felt good. Ladies and gents, our new love, the Specialized S-Works Camber 29.

The Camber confused us for quite a while. There aren’t many bikes in that 110mm-travel category; in Australia we’re used to seeing 100mm-travel cross-country bikes or 140mm+ trail bikes. With so little apparently separating the Camber from the Epic, we didn’t really understand its place in the world.

But after a few days together on the trails of Atherton in Tropical North Queensland, we’ve definitely got a handle on what this very glamorous bike is all about. We know it’s easy to be wooed by the superb components, immaculate finish and low weight of the S-Works version of the Camber, but the fundamentals that make this bike so great are echoed throughout the Camber range.

Watch the video and learn why the Camber might just be the one you’ve been looking for too.

We tested the Camber up in Atherton, in Tropical North Queensland, where we stayed at a fifth generation farm.
We tested the Camber up in Atherton, in Tropical North Queensland, where we stayed at a fifth generation farm.
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The greasy berms and jumps of the Ricochet track proved just how relaxed the Camber is even when the tyres are sliding about and the landings are harsh.

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Looks nice from this angle too.
Looks nice from this angle too.
The Formula brakes are lovely to look at. Specialized specced a 160mm rear rotor and a 180mm up front.
The Formula brakes are lovely to look at but we feel their performance is not in line with the rest of the componentry. Specialized specced a 160mm rear rotor and a 180mm up front.
Brakes, suspension and drivetrain aside, everything else on the bike is made by Specialized, including the Henge seat and Command IR dropper post.
Brakes, suspension and drivetrain aside, everything else on the bike is made by Specialized, including the Henge seat and Command IR dropper post.
The Camber uses a 15mm axled fork - it's another small difference that gives this bike a very different ride to the Epic, despite the two bikes being quite close in travel and geometry terms.
The Camber uses a 15mm axled fork – it’s another small difference that gives this bike a very different ride to the Epic, despite the two bikes being quite close in travel and geometry terms.
The cockpit setup is key to the Camber's confident and playful ride. The stem is 70mm, the bar 720mm - ideal in our minds. We spent a bit of time adjusting the bar position - it has a lot of backsweep, and so rolling the bars back or forwards it in the stem has a big effect on the ride feel.
The cockpit setup is key to the Camber’s confident and playful ride. The stem is 70mm, the bar 720mm – ideal in our minds. We spent a bit of time adjusting the bar position – it has a lot of backsweep, and so rolling the bars back or forwards it in the stem has a big effect on the ride feel.
The Camber gets Specialized's new SWAT system, which stands for Spares, Water, Air, Tools. Basically it's all about carrying these items on the bike, rather than on your body. There is a multitool mounted to the bottom of the bottle cage. We initially thought it was a bit of a silly idea, but sure enough it came in handy on a few occasions!
The Camber gets Specialized’s new SWAT system, which stands for Storage, Water, Air, Tools. Basically it’s all about carrying these items on the bike, rather than on your body. There is a multitool mounted to the bottom of the bottle cage. We initially thought it was a bit of a silly idea, but sure enough it came in handy on a few occasions!
Unlike the Epic or Stumpjumper, the Camber doesn't use a Brain shock. Instead, it's equipped with a standard FOX CTD Kashima shock. We have to say, as good as the brain is, we prefer this setup.
Unlike the Epic or Stumpjumper, the Camber doesn’t use a Brain shock. Instead, it’s equipped with a standard FOX CTD Kashima shock. We have to say, as good as the brain is, we prefer this setup.
Another element of the SWAT system is a chain breaker, mounted underneath headset cap.
Another element of the SWAT system is a chain breaker, mounted underneath headset cap.
The Control SL carbon wheels are spoked with a radial pattern on the non-disc side up front. They're plenty stiff, and have a lively feel and sound on the trail.
The Control SL carbon wheels are spoked with a radial pattern on the non-disc side up front. They’re plenty stiff, and have a lively feel and sound on the trail.
Wow, that is a truly striking bike.
Wow, that is a truly striking bike.
The DT-made rear axle is as neat as it gets, cinching up the 142x12mm dropouts without tools or fuss.
The DT-made rear axle is as neat as it gets, cinching up the 142x12mm dropouts without tools or fuss.
With a 2.3" up front and a 2.1" out back, the Ground Control tyres are ideal for this bike. We didn't suffer any cuts or tears in the rocky testing terrain (this can't be said for other bikes we were testing on the same trails).
With a 2.3″ up front and a 2.1″ out back, the Ground Control tyres are ideal for this bike. We didn’t suffer any cuts or tears in the rocky testing terrain (this can’t be said for other bikes we were testing on the same trails).
There are Formula brakes on a large swathe of the Specialized range this year. The T1 Racing brakes took quite a long time to bed in - a trait that seems to be common across all Formula brakes. The master cylinder piston works on 'pull', rather than 'push' mechanism. Once they'd bedded in, the power was decent, but not incredible.
There are Formula brakes on a large swathe of the Specialized range this year. The T1 Racing brakes took quite a long time to bed in – a trait that seems to be common across all Formula brakes. The master cylinder piston works on ‘pull’, rather than ‘push’ mechanism. Once they’d bedded in, the power was decent, but not incredible.
Some riders might be concerned that the Camber uses a 32mm fork, not a 34mm-legged fork, but we disagree. The 32mm fork is light, and because the travel is only 110mm, there's less flex than with a longer travel fork.
Some riders might be concerned that the Camber uses a 32mm fork, not a 34mm-legged fork, but we disagree. The 32mm fork is light, and because the travel is only 110mm, there’s less flex than with a longer travel fork.
The cabling is all internal, and we had no problems keeping it all clear of the frame for zero cable rub.
The cabling is all internal, and we had no problems keeping it all clear of the frame for zero cable rub.

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Specialized's Auto-Sag suspension is brilliant! Inflate the shock to 250psi or more, hop on the bike in your riding gear, depress the valve under the red cap. That's it! Perfect suspension sag in seconds.
Specialized’s Auto-Sag suspension is brilliant! Inflate the shock to 250psi or more, hop on the bike in your riding gear, depress the valve under the red cap. That’s it! Perfect suspension sag in seconds.
We were truly impressed by how easily the wheels and tyres sealed up for tubeless use - getting the tyres to bead was simple, even with a standard track pump.
We were truly impressed by how easily the wheels and tyres sealed up for tubeless use – getting the tyres to bead was simple, even with a standard track pump.
Specialized have gone to the trouble of colour matching the gloss black finish of the frame and fork. The shiny black looks fantastic against the gold Kashima fork legs.
Specialized have gone to the trouble of colour matching the gloss black finish of the frame and fork. The shiny black looks fantastic against the gold Kashima fork legs.
The Camber is equipped with the new internal routed Command IR dropper post, with 125mm of adjustment. The small remote lever is integrated oh-so neatly into the grip lock-ring. Compared to the standard Command Blacklite post, the new IR version is far superior.
The Camber is equipped with the new internal routed Command IR dropper post, with 125mm of adjustment. The small remote lever is integrated oh-so neatly into the grip lock-ring. Compared to the standard Command Blacklite post, the new IR version is far superior.
Carbon hoops! The bike comes tubeless ready - just install the supplied valves, add goo and go.
Carbon hoops! The bike comes tubeless ready – just install the supplied valves, add goo and go.
Bike schmike, give me some shit to roll in.
Bike schmike, give me some shit to roll in.

Must-Ride: Atherton, day 3 in paradise

Our third day on the fine Atherton trails was all about catching a juicy sunrise from the sweet singletrack high above the luscious town of Atherton.

Building trails atop a ridge line makes for some fast undulating riding, Ridgey Didge is a great fun track joining up three hilltops above town has gorgeous views and ripper singletrack that undulates its way high up in the range. When passing through Leasies Lookout the day before we knew that this would be a particularly nice spot to start the next days exploring, with its easterly aspect overlooking green pastures. Returning there just after sunrise dressed in no warm clothing whatsoever, we were greeted with a glorious warmth in the air and on our faces as the sun began its day of cooking everything it touches.

Early bird catches the warm hues, and low temps.
The early bird catches the warm hues, and low temps. Leasies lookout, a fitting place to park up and soak it in.

We thought we were up early, but it turns out we weren’t alone, many friendly locals passed by on their morning ritual on world class singletrack before their day grinds onward. It’s clear that mountain biking is becoming more integrated into the way of life up here, the locals are embracing it, and we even bumped into a German couple making their way from Canada, USA and Australia with their mountain bikes. They too were surprised what they discovered when the rode out from the quiet country town and into the forest.

Ridgey Didge is filled with line choice options, with a drop or small step-down on the insides of corner to hit on your second run through.
Ridgey Didge is filled with line choice options, with a drop or small step-down on the insides of corner to hit on your second run through.

From Ridgey didge, up Bandy Bandy we went, snaking our way up big switchback turns that seem to help you elude that unsavoury feeling of grinding up a long climb. And from crackling dry scrub, to whistling casuarina forest, random rocky outcrops and pockets of bright green bracken, Bandy Bandy takes it all in.

With berms big enough to hold more than twice your speed we hurtled back down the other side and around to the start of the loop, wondering how the descent could have given so much back, earned from what seemed like quite an enjoyable climb.

Dropping in off a sneaky inside line on Ridgey Didge.
Dropping in off a sneaky inside line on Ridgey Didge as the day warmed up.

We are really getting a feel for the lay of the land up here now, you could really take in some epic loops as many of the trails link together really nicely.

It’s a good life up here, we are loving the gentle pace of lifestyle, exciting and unique climate, great trails and remarkably sweet pineapple.

Until next time, we’re off for a XXXX.

 

Must Ride: Atherton, day 2 in paradise

The mountain bike community in Atherton is a dedicated mob, and we’re not just talking about their persistence, patience and perseverance in acquiring over $1.5 million in trail funding.

Our morning's ride began on the cruisy green trails of the park's flatlands, before heading up over Ridgey Didge.
Our morning’s ride began on the cruisy green trails of the park’s flatlands, before heading up over Ridgey Didge.

Every morning at 6:00am sharp, a local crew gathers for a ride in the main street, sometimes on the road bikes but generally on the mountain bikes. From town, they roll the two kays out to the trails and get in some quality singletrack time while most of the world is still sleeping. We figured that joining some locals for a dawn ride was as great way to meet some of the crew and get a feel for the trails on our first day in town.

Atherton Knowles Nard
This bit of trail is named after Atherton Cycle Sports Club president, Mark Knowles. It celebrates the glory of his Nard… whatever that is.

On this particular morning four fellas happened to have turned up for the daily social ride; there was Drew, Dean, Mark and Chris. As we rolled through the mellow entry-level trails that occupy the lower slopes of the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park we learnt a bit about them. The crew – a mixture of recent arrivals and lifetime locals, business owners and semi-retirees – took us up and over the fantastic Ridgey Didge and then back into town for a surprisingly great coffee.

Stormy skies gather over the local crop.
Stormy skies gather over the local crop.

This is the tropics and our trip comes right on the cusp of the wet season. Needless to say,  as the day warmed up, the storm clouds gathered and the heavens opened. But our local ride guides for the afternoon weren’t deterred – they had a true gem of a trail to show us.

Ricochet (trail number 9 on the map) starts way up high above Atherton on Mount Baldy. While many of the locals pedal up the fire road, we took the lazy man’s option and piled the bikes into the back of the ute, driving up into the clouds.

Mountain bikers in the mist.
Mountain bikers in the mist.

 

The scene at the trailhead was straight out of Jurassic Park, the mists swirling through the vines, but the trail itself was more like Disney on Ice! The afternoon’s rain had turned the top third of the run into a super slick slide; following 15-year old Behailu through the greasy berms was an education is going with the flow. This kid is one to watch, his style and playfulness on the bike are unreal, not to mention his commitment! Behailu spotted a gap that would have been tricky enough in the dry but was borderline impossible in the wet, but he wasn’t going to be talked out of it. You’ll have to wait for the video to see how it all went down, suffice to say we’re still not quite sure how he stuck the landing.

Behailu leads the way with a fearlessness that made us feel very, very old!
Behailu leads the way with a fearlessness that made us feel very, very old!
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By the sixth berm like this, you’re pretty dizzy.

It’s hard to do this trail justice – it feels like the flowiest parts of Whistler’s A-Line have been mellowed out for trail bikes and then transplanted into the Australian bush. Huge berms, rollers, doubles and drops come at you in rapid succession. While the trail stands alone from the rest of the network at present, it’s only a matter of weeks until a 12km linking trail is completed and it’ll be possible to string together a truly epic loop crowned by the Ricochet descent.

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The flat out lower section of Ricochet tempts you to make gap jumps out of rollers that seem impossibly far apart until you hit Mach 1.

Must-Ride: Atherton, day 1 in paradise

Up where the cassowaries play and the kangaroos swing from trees (for real), there’s a little town called Atherton. A little town, with a big plan for mountain biking.

Over the past twelve months, we’ve heard ever increasing amounts of talk about Atherton, and finally we decided to pack our bags, head way north and see it for ourselves.

Three hours from Sydney, and you're in Cairns, add one more hour and you're in Atherton with singletrack galore.
Three hours from Sydney, and you’re in Cairns, add one more hour and you’re in Atherton with singletrack galore.

Atherton is real banana bender territory; it lies about 80km from one of Australia’s seminary mountain destinations, Cairns, but away from the coast up on the tablelands at about 800 metres above sea level. It’s cooler, calmer and there are far fewer poisonous jelly fish. It’s incredibly beautiful too, with volcanic crater lakes, rolling pastures and rainforest clad ranges.

Signed, mapped and growing.
Signed, mapped and growing.

But Flow’s here for the mountain biking, and over three days of filming and shooting we’re capturing what riding in Atherton is all about. There’s over 30km of amazing singletrack in the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park already, but the long-term plans for mountain biking in the town are colossal. As the old saying goes, ‘build it and they will come’ and that’s exactly what they’re doing here, with plans for well over 60km of world class trails.

Chris and Mick flowing up - and out of - Bandy Bandy, one of our favourites loops.
Chris and Mick flowing up – and out of – Bandy Bandy, one of our favourites loops.
Ridge line razzing on Ridgey Didge.
Ridge line razzing on Ridgey Didge.
And as we've discovered, there is plenty of tropical goodness to entertain us off the bikes. This photo is not fake, Mick cops a freshwater head massage in the rainforest after lunch.
And as we’ve discovered, there is plenty of tropical goodness to entertain us off the bikes. This photo is not fake – this place exists – Mick cops a freshwater head massage in the rainforest after lunch.

Our impressions so far? These trails are sweeter than a Mareeba pineapple. We’re in heaven.

Flow Gone Troppo – Tropical North Queensland Part 3, Port Douglas and The Bump Track

From Cairns, to Atherton and now towards Port Douglas, Flow’s tropical trail exploration continues to put smiles on our dials.

Ryan De La Rue, may have had a brake malfunction, or is just completely insane. The speeds he reached down the Bump Track was frightening.
Ryan De La Rue, may have had a brake malfunction, or is just completely insane. The speeds he reached down the Bump Track was frightening.

The tropical north of Queensland is a fitting holiday destination for about three million reasons, it’s wonderfully warm, delicious fruit falls from the trees above, the water is enticing (but dangerous), forests are lush and if you know where to go the mountain bike trails are a blast too. The Bump Track, which riders in the popular multi stage race the RRR takes in on the final day is a must-do trail for a good hair raising run.

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Mark tames a ‘whoa boy’ with ease.

Perched up in the wild mountains behind the plush resort town of Port Douglas is The Bump Track. It’s not single track, it’s not purpose built flowing stuff like what we left behind in Atherton, it’s a classic old fire trail cutting through the jungle at rapid pace.

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Bump Track long jump winner competition goes to, Ryan for jumping nearly 500m.

“The Bump Track is full of ‘whoa boys’ so keep your wits about you” says a local rider, we all look at each other wondering what exactly a ‘whoa boy’ was. It took only a couple moments after we let the brakes off for gravity to push us down the fast track to find out what they were.

One of those descents that goes on for longer than you expect, the Bump Track is a classic not to be missed. It’s not an easy ride to do in a loop as such, and best accessed via a shuttle to the top, and riding into Port Douglas town from the bottom.

A river crosses our paths, how's the scene!
A river crosses our path halfway down, how’s the scene!

From the tablelands down to the rainforest at sea level we hurtled along with wide eyes dodging vines with spikes so strong they would pull you off your bike if you. We call them water bars, locals call them whoa boys, we all freaked out and we freaking loved it.

Racing side by side with our mates, we did our best to keep our wheels remotely close to the ground as we are launched by the many water bars along the way. Keep your eyes up though, the trail can surprise you with a tight turn at any moment.

Action
Action man
Reaction
And, reaction man

After cleaning up our wounded warrior who got a bit too much ‘whoa’ over one of the whoa boys, we were treated to a part of North QLD that we liked very much. A river crossing lined with fluorescent green vegetation, so tropical the mosquitos were as big as moths and mangoes floated into our waiting hands like magic.

We really felt a long way from home at that point as we reminisced of the crazy run down the Bump Track whilst cutting open a mango with out Lezyne multi tools, and munching on the sweet golden fruit.

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Cut open a mango with your multi tool, stringy but so incredibly sweet and tasty. Fresh enough?
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Going troppo with the loveliness.

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If the tide is right, you can take the scenic route from the bottom of the Bump Track into Port Douglas – the beach. Being such a long and flat beach, riding it is definitely an option. We missed it this time, but even riding into town on the road we were treated to high class resorts, lush streets and more mangoes falling from the sky.

The Bump Track was all the riding we got to do in the Port Douglas region, but only a short drive back to Cairns or Atherton there is more than enough. It’s a great option to plant your weary bodies for a few days holiday in absolute paradise.

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When in Port Douglas, do what Port Douglas visitors do, soak it in.
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Brekkie taco?
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Heaven, or Port Douglas? Same thing, really.
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Shit! A crocodile attacks our Australian born Kiwi!
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The Daintree Forest, greener that Kermit the Frog with gangrene.
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“Hi, I’d like to order two crocs, hungry ones please, we have well fed tourists”
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That old saying ‘Daintree, where the forest meets the sea’ is pretty darn true.
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Some nature is nice, some isn’t.
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Crikey!
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When in QLD, grab a XXXX Gold.
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The Lion Den, between Cape Tribulation and Cooktown. The best pub in the world, we could have stayed there for months.
This guy loves it at The Lion Den.
This guy loves it at The Lion Den.

From Atherton to Cooktown, with the Bump Track in the middle, good times and more to come. The final part of our Troppo adventures we land in Cooktown in time for the Crocodile Trophy to finish in town, and we even tagged along for the final stage.

 

Flow Gone Troppo: Tropical North Queensland Part 2, Atherton First Look

Atherton is a wonderful example of those instances where strong passion, hard work and community spirit succeeds in making things happen.

What the locals and visitors have in the way of mountain bike trails now is astounding. The small town with a big heart desperately wants to be known for its quality and quantity of trails, and from now on they will be. What we found in those hills behind the town was pure gold.

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Atherton locals can see the obvious benefit in creating something new and exciting like mountain biking to hopefully bring hungry, thirsty and weary visitors to town, and give the economy that is largely built around the agriculture a boost.

The Baldy Mountain Forest Reserve and Heberton Range State Forest, a couple minutes drive, or ride from Atherton town, are now littered with a network of singletrack that will quench the desires of the most demanding mountain biker.

Flow will be returning to Atherton in mid November to film a full Flow Nation dedicated video and destination piece. For now, here are some of our highlights.

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A sugar mill steams in the distance, as we wind our way up from Cairns to the Atherton Tablelands.

The drive from Cairns to Atherton took just over an hour, and was a great experience in itself.

It’s usually about 5 degrees cooler up in the Atherton Tablelands than in Cairns, making the hour trip more worth while for a solid days riding.

Sugar cane plantations galore, between Cairns and Atherton the agriculture is diverse and healthy.
Sugar cane plantations galore, between Cairns and Atherton the agriculture is diverse but not as healthy as it used to be.
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The tablelands sit high above the coast, green and lush fields of coffee plants, legumes, bananas, sugar cane, pretty much anything grows up there. Even mountain bike trails grow aplenty.

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Bananas, XXXX and those classic QLD houses will remind you where you are.
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Local ripper – Belaihu buries himself in a mega berm down the popular Ricochet track.

The trail building team – World Trail have been behind much of the latest trail construction, with many hours sculpting lines into the hardpack dirt with well-operated machines.

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Gravity fans will love it here, with many descents sculpted into lines that can be jumped, doubled and ripped apart very hard and fast.
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Left, right, left, right, left, right, jump, pump, left, right. Ricochet is one of those perfect trails that World Trail are known for.

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Rocky armouring of the trail through terrain susceptible to damage will help the trails last years and years.

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The climbs are actually quite fast, its amazing how a well built climb can carry you to the top of the hill without that feeling of grinding away for ages in your lowest gear.

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Vice President of the local mountain bike club, Leasie Felderhof has approached the project with both a scientific and passionate angle, and we take our hats off to her and her team, things are really happening in Atherton.
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Mountain Bike parks with such great singletrack make travelling worth while.

Put Atherton on the list for trails to explore, they are well and truly worth it. The QLD aspect of the region is especially fun for those coming from interstate.

So, stay tuned for our complete video report from Atherton very soon.

 

 

 

Flow Gone Troppo – Tropical North Queensland Part 1, Cairns

It’s easy to forget just how far north Cairns is, situated way, way up the east coast of our gargantuan continent. What comes with being so far north is not just beautiful tropical climates, sweet mangoes falling from trees, blonde backpackers lounging around the streets, epic coral reefs to swim in or oddly dangerous flora & fauna, it’s actually one of Australia’s most happening mountain bike hot spots loaded with premium trails.

It’s also easy to forget that Cairns mountain biking could also be thanked for putting us on the international mountain biking scene radar with the world stage being set in a World Cup in 1994 and a World Championships in 1996 in the steamy tropical jungle. April 2014 sees the return of the international elite riders, and Smithfield will once again go under the knife with a revamp of existing and some new trails to lift its game even further.

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A world away from your same old, same, same local trail that get really familiar after a while. And cold, oh so cold in winter. But not up here, the winters are especially glorious.

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On our journey from Cairns north to Cooktown and back, we took in some of the best destinations for our fat tyred exploits. Cairns, with direct flights from most major airports in Australia, is a quick hop-skip and a jump into paradise. Without a doubt, Smithfield Mountain Bike Trails are as iconic as the jungle itself, and riddled with fun singletrack.

Smithfield

Dubbed ‘Australia’s iconic mountain bike rainforest destination’, Smithfield has undergone a few major facelifts over the years. The most recent was only last year and again new trails are being constructed ahead of the 2014 World Cup. With up to an astonishing 7 metres of rainfall in a year, and a lot of that coming down hard and fast during the wet season, the trail builders and maintenance team have worked so hard to produce sustainable and bloody good fun trails.

Signed, mapped and well marked. Lucy, as the jungle is thick and riddled with trails.
Signed, mapped and well marked. Lucky, as the jungle is thick and riddled with trails.

Playing in the bright red dirt, tree roots and rocky surfaces in the foothills of what the locals call Minjin Mountain, we ripped about on twisty singletrack, ducking big vines, and popping our wheels off the ground over small rises in the trail surface. The trails hurtle you through the forest so thick that the canopy blocks out sunlight in sections and your eyes adjust in only just enough time to glimpse what may – or may not – have been a legendary forest creature quickly retreating into the trees.

Mike Blewitt boosts out of the canopy, across a dry creek crossing and back into the greenery.
Mike Blewitt boosts out of the canopy, across a dry creek crossing and back into the greenery.

There is a great mix of everything at Smithfield, and it shows. We saw an extraordinarily wide spectrum of users from all walks of life, experience, age and bike style loving a couple laps of the trails on a warm weekday afternoon. The downhill trails via uplift are obviously challenging, as anything that points down in Cairns is, but the best way to enjoy the trails is to ride in, rip around and ride out.

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle, Tim Sheedy climbs with panache.
Well signed with cool names, built to last, with nice views of the tropical coast and vegetation you only find this far north. Mmm, Cairns.
Well-signed with cool names, built to last, with nice views of the tropical coast and vegetation you only find this far north. Mmm, Cairns.
Cairns is great, with a funny mixture of whacky tourist traps, and a great outdoor lifestyle. It's so QLD.
Cairns is great, with a funny mixture of whacky tourist traps, and a vibrant outdoor lifestyle. It’s so QLD.

There is 60km of the good stuff! The local club is super active, and their site provides loads of great information on the trails, conditions and events: www.cairnsmtb.com

Smithfield is one of many good riding destinations in Cairns, but most definitely the most popular. Only a short 15 minute drive from the city centre, and you have a whole lot of trails to explore, and even a sweet little pump track at the trail head car park to get the juices flowing.

In our minds what makes Cairns such a wonderful mountain biking destination is much more than just the sweet trails. Unlike some of our greatest trail spots we often road trip to there is just so much to do off the bike. Cairns is in the tropics and a bloody wild party town! The outdoor lifestyle is colourful, and exciting and due to the large amount of travellers, and especially backpackers, the night life is great value and fun for anybody.

In the cooler months of winter, Tropical North Queensland goes through their dry season, clear skies and consistent mid-20s temperatures making for absolute perfect riding conditions.

I could keep going on, and on, and on about it all but rather, here’s some more photos to show you how great it is.

Look appealing? It's nice, really nice to be riding in a tropical rainforest. Coming from Sydney, it was a real treat.
Look appealing? It’s nice, really nice to be riding through a tropical rainforest, coming from Sydney especially, it was a real treat.
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Ryan De La Rue from World Trail, one of the builders of these trails knows his way around Smithfield, its obvious, as he plays with the terrain at remarkable speed in freakish comfort.

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More trays are being built, and existing ones revamped for three world events coming to Cairns over the next four years.
More trails are being built, and existing ones revamped for three world events coming to Cairns over the next four years.

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The Wool Shed, Cairns backpacker party life personified.
The Wool Shed, Cairns backpacker party life personified.
A quick 40 minute boat ride away from the centre of Cairns is Fitzroy Island, with crystal clear waters, warm snorkelling and a super tropical outdoor bar, it's heaven.
A quick 40 minute boat ride away from the centre of Cairns is Fitzroy Island, with crystal clear waters, warm snorkelling and a super tropical outdoor bar, it’s heaven.

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For the purpose of the photos, to portray what you could be doing in Tropical QLD, we staged these photos…

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Bleached white coral beaches, and water with incredible visibility.
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Cheers!

For more information on the region, drop by this site: www.ridecairns.com

And we’ll see you again, Cairns, at the latest this April for the World Cup!

In the next part of our Tropical North QLD adventures, we head to Atherton where the single track is brand new and fabulous. Stay tuned.

 

 

Interview: Mark Frendo, Crocodile Trophy Winner

On Sunday, 27th October 2013, the 19th Crocodile Trophy finished on Cooktown’s Grassy Hill and for the first time in eight years an Australian claimed the win. Mark Frendo from Brisbane conquered the oldest and hardest mountain bike stage race in the world and after nine days, 900km and more than 15,000m of elevation he finished in 30:40:17, ahead of the Canadian Cory Wallace and Jiri Krivanek from the Czech Republic. 

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Congratulations on taking out the 2013 Croc Trophy in such a calm and collected manner. Firstly, who is Mark Frendo, and where the heck did you come from?

I’ve been around a while, I used to race cross country as a junior, that was pretty full on, and I raced the world championships overseas twice. After that I raced under 23’s, and decided to go to university. I stayed in cycling, mainly racing locally, a bit of road and track racing too.

This year I signed up for the Mongolia Bike Challenge. One of my mates lives over there, and he was keen for me to come over and race. I guess my old competitive instinct just kicked in, and I trained really hard.

My only focus was training, other that sleeping and working I was training. After a few months, I had the best form of my life.

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Mongolia was going really well, but I got sick and couldn’t do what I had hoped and trained for. The next event on the calendar was the Croc Trophy, I had been talking to Cory Wallace from Canada, in Mongolia and he talked me into it. One month out from The Croc I decided I would give it a go.

I tend to get really full on into things, and then take long breaks. I’m not the best at racing all year long, for a whole season. It’s full on or nothing.

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I’m not too sure if these events are particularly my strength or not, I guess I don’t even know what type of rider I am. I just really enjoy these longer races. I’m definitely not into 24 hour races though, they are much tougher than this I think! Haha.

What can you do in only one month to prepare for this?

It’s only become warm in Brisbane recently, so I only got a few rides in the heat to prepare for this, but mainly I did long, back-to-back six to eight hour training rides, predominantly on the road and two to three rides on the mountain bike. Sometimes, two or three of these long rides would back to back, to help with my endurance.

You led the race from the start to the finish, was that the plan?

I secured a few good minutes in the first couple stages, and that suited me fine. I never really had a bad day, and that is the key with events like this. You can’t afford a mechanical, a flat tyre or a day where you physically blow up.

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On one of the longer stages Cory Wallace was attacking me so hard and so often, that with 5km to go we were so smashed, that we rolled in together. I couldn’t let him gain any time on me, so I had to stick with him at all times.

Your thoughts on the event?

I always thought I’d do the Croc Trophy, but it’s had a fairly bad reputation for being a long road race on mountain bikes, on badly corrugated roads. But, over the years it has changed, and it’s certainly a mountain bike race now. The first few days in particular, we took in all the best trails of Cairns and Atherton. My favourite part of the race was in Atherton, those trails are great, with nice forests and singletrack.

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I can’t believe that more Aussie mountain bikers don’t do it. Hopefully with my win, more locals will see it as an option.

Will you do it again?

There are so many races out there, I’m keen to try some multi-day races in Europe and North America, so The Croc may go down the list a bit, but I sure have enjoyed myself and would love to race it again.

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Any tips for those thinking of racing The Croc?

Look after your bike and body, it’s tough.

 

The hard road to Cooktown, Part 5

We rejoin our troupe of very sore, very dusty Croc’ers after stages 5  and 6 – some of the longest and hottest legs of the Croc. Stage 5 presented riders with a massive 163km, while stage 6 ran from Granite Creek Dam to Laura via the historic Old Coach Trail, an old mining travel route and contained some brutal climbs. Laura lies on the entrance to the Cape York Peninsula about 120km inland from the coast in Far North Queensland and is a small township of 80 residents, which was more than tripled by the Crocodile Trophy visitors.

At the pointy end, Australian Mark Frendo has maintained a very healthy 11-minute lead over Canada’s Cory Wallace. “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s stage, because I don’t think that Cory is going to back off”, said Frendo as he and Wallace both enjoyed a Paddle Pop in the 40+ degree heat at Laura today.

It was a rough trot for some of the Il Pastaio team. Big Martin did not enjoy the climbs of stage 6, saying, “Those were not hills, they were freakin’ ramps. Some climbing spurs would have come in handy today.” Young Phil had a barbwire fence incident as well on stage 5, while Old Pete maintained his perpetually happy mood which seems to make him ideally suited to multiday racing.

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Phil does his best Johnny Hoogerland impression.
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Martin questions the wisdom of riding 163km in the outback.
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It’s a lonely old road.

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Big Martin is built for the downhill which, thankfully, tend to follow the ups.
Big Martin is built for the downhills which, thankfully, tend to follow the ups.

Video: THULE Gravitate 2013 | Australia's Biggest MTB Festival

In 2013 Gravitate MTB Festival entered it’s 4th year with the support of THULE. The 4 day event in Cairns showcased FNQ’s jungle trails sporting a mix of events across different disciplines of the sport.

This year saw a revival of our Dual Slalom course after a decade of neglect, a brand new Pump Track and of course, the infamous Sunrise to Sunset DH. The weather blessed the Far North and the event was as successful as ever.

Video: THULE Gravitate 2013 | Australia’s Biggest MTB Festival

In 2013 Gravitate MTB Festival entered it’s 4th year with the support of THULE. The 4 day event in Cairns showcased FNQ’s jungle trails sporting a mix of events across different disciplines of the sport.

This year saw a revival of our Dual Slalom course after a decade of neglect, a brand new Pump Track and of course, the infamous Sunrise to Sunset DH. The weather blessed the Far North and the event was as successful as ever.

The Hard Road to Cooktown, Part 1.

The infamous Croc Trophy kicks off in just two days, departing Cairns and trucking north through some of the hottest, toughest country in Australia to Cooktown.

With 900km of racing over nine stages in brutal conditions, the Croc is widely regarded as one of the most gruelling mountain bike events on the planet. Despite the inevitable suffering, the Croc attracts an all-star cast, always with a healthy contingent of masochistic European hammerheads.

This year, Flow’s going to be taking a more personal look at the Croc, viewing it through the dust-filled eyes of the Il Pastaio Rocky Trail Racing Team. Over the next week and a bit, we’ll be relaying their experiences to you right here. Every cramp, saddle sore and callous in its agonising-yet-strangely-rewarding glory.


Introducing team Il Pastaio Rocky Trail Racing

Croc Trophy team
Phil and Peter, wondering what they’ve let Martin talk them into.

Martin Wisata: Big Martin is at the Crocodile Trophy for the fourth time this year and will race in the Master 1 category. He says that it is a personal challenge to complete this grueling race every year, something that motivates him to train all year.

Croc Trophy Phil Welsch

Phil Welch: Young Phil will race in the Master 2 category and will report for us from inside the Croc peloton. The experience endurance racer was very surprised at the fast pace of even the training rides in Cairns that the European racers have been setting.

Peter Selkrig Croc Trophy

Peter Selkrig: Old Pete is an Australian ex-pro road racer and one of the strongest contenders in the Master 3 category. Very strong-minded he will be ready to withstand the attacks of his international counterparts.

Stage Plan 2013:
Stage 1    Smithfield (5 laps) / 35 km/900 m
Stage 2    Cairns – Lake Tinaroo / 89 km/2500 m
Stage 3    Atherton – Irvinebank / 80 km/2500 m
Stage 4    Irvinebank – Mt. Mulligan / 118 km/1600 m
Stage 5    Mt. Mulligan – Granite Creek Dam / 163 km/3000 m
Stage 6    Granite Creek Dam – Laura / 116 km/1800 m
Stage 7    Laura – Laura / 50 km/150 m – Time Trial
Stage 8    Laura – Hope Vale / 113 km/1100 m
Stage 9    Hope Vale – Cooktown / 50 km/500 m

Racing: Croc Trophy Sees 15 Nations Gather in Far North Queensland

The 19th Crocodile Trophy starts this Saturday with a lap race at Smithfield in Cairns. As the world’s oldest mountain bike stage race the Crocodile Trophy has become known as the hardest and most adventurous event. This year more than 80 riders will race for 900 km through the Outback and the rain forests in Queensland’s Tropical North including Canadian’s National Marathon Champion, Cory Wallace, last year’s third finisher Wolfgang Krenn from Austria and Lotto Belisol pro-team rider, Sander Cordeel from Belgium.

Cory Wallace from Canada is just one of the big names in attendance this year.
Cory Wallace from Canada is just one of the big names in attendance this year.

Organisers of the Crocodile Trophy confirmed today that Sander Cordeel, pro-road cyclist from the Belgian Lotto Belisol team will be at the start line in Cairns this week. En-route from the Tour of Beijing Cordeel will arrive in Cairns just in time to race the first stage’s lap race at Smithfield MTB Park on Saturday, 19 October. “I was chatting with my team mate Adam Hansen about the Crocodile Trophy the other day and he talked me into signing up,” Sander Cordeel said of his last-minute decision to travel to Australia for the nine-day stage race through the Outback of Far North Queensland. “It has always been my dream to do this race”, the 25-year old road cyclist added.

Hot weather conditions, rough terrain and the images of racers pedalling towards the horizon on endless Outback Highways have characterised the race coverage since the event’s inception two decades ago. This year the event promises again to be a challenging stage race, “Part of the Crocodile Trophy fascination is the sheer adventure that our riders will experience. We will be showcasing some of the best mountain bike trails in the Cairns region and cross the Atherton-Mareeba Tablelands to take them deep into the Australian Outback.”

The remote Outback town Irvinebank and the Mt Mulligan cattle station will be two of the stage destinations next week before the riders and more than 80 supporters and crew arrive at the historic gold-mining town of Laura, where an individual time trial will add to the challenge on day seven.

This is where everyone's aiming for! The finish atop Grassy Hill in Cooktown, 900km after first departing Cairns.
This is where everyone’s aiming for! The finish atop Grassy Hill in Cooktown, 900km after first departing Cairns.

The strongest international contenders for the win this year are Canadian’s National Marathon Champion, Cory Wallace, who already has two 5th places at the Crocodile Trophy to his name and last year’s third place getter Wolfgang Krenn from Austria, who also sees the Czech rider Jan Fojtik as a major competitor. “Cory Wallace and Jan Fojtik are my main opponents, I think this year. The Crocodile Trophy is a tough event, you have to be ready for anything”, Krenn said of his competition. Also Cory Wallace is ready to claim this year’s win, “I expect a lot of high end competition from both Australia and Europe at the Croc this year and will be ready to battle whoever shows up!”

After a stop-over at the Aboriginal community of Hopevale on day eight, the Crocodile Trophy will finish in Cooktown on Sunday, 27 October with rewarding ocean views and the Great Barrier Reef from the top of Grassy Hill. For more event information, visit www.crocodile-trophy.com

 

Racing: World’s Oldest MTB Stage Race Summons Adventurers for 19th Crocodile Trophy

More than 80 participants from all over the world are expected to compete in the 19th edition of the International Crocodile Trophy Stage Race with start in Cairns on 19th October.

They will race for 900km from Cairns to Cooktown and cover 15,000m of elevation through the incredible landscape of Queensland’s Tropical North, travelling through some of the most remote and fascinating locations in the Australian Outback.

Wolfgang-Krenn_DSC_0929-001
Major contender for Crocodile Trophy 2013 title, Wolfgang Krenn from Austria says, “I know that a lot can happen during nine days and especially at the Croc. I’ll race hard and we’ll see if it all works out after 1000 km in the saddle.”

Over the last two decades the Crocodile Trophy has become known as the oldest, hardest and most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world. For some riders it is the challenge of a lifetime and for everyone an unforgettable adventure.

Canadian pro-mountain bike racer Cory Wallace will be at the start line in Cairns for the third time this year. “I want to use my experiences from the last couple of years at the Croc to have a smart race and stay out of trouble”, said Wallace as he arrived in Australia this week. With two fifth places in 2010 and 2012 and an incredible racing season 2013, the Canadian National Marathon Champion and TransRockies stage winner and overall runner-up is one of the clear favourites for this year’s 19th Crocodile Trophy. In an intense racing programme over the past few months the 29-year old won the Mongolia Challenge stage race as well as the Otaki 120, Japan’s Premier MTB Marathon and will compete in the 24 Hour Solo World Championships in Canberra this weekend. Wallace added that he had confidence in his form, “When the opportunities arise I will try to make the most of them.”

CoryWallace_Cooktown2012_DSC_4448
Canadian National Marathon Champion Cory Wallace is ready to tackle the “Croc” for the third time and to take advantage from his racing experience in the Australian Outback from previous years.

Another major contender will be last year’s overall third at the Crocodile Trophy and experienced marathon and mountain bike stage racer, Wolfgang Krenn from Austria. Among the Australian contingent of riders will be last year’s fastest Australian, Steve Rankine from Mossman near Cairns as well as five riders racing under the Amy Gillett Foundation banner.

The Crocodile Trophy will kick off with a lap race at the World Cup trails in Smithfield with the Cairns Mountain Bike Club on 19 October, before heading towards the Atherton Tablelands and into the Outback. The finish will again be on top of Grassy Hill in Cooktown on 27 October. Fore more event information, visit www.crocodile-trophy.com

Racing: Blair Pips English As Willett Claims Fifth Epic Women’s Title

Jodie Willett continued her dominance in the women’s section of the Flight Centre Active Travel Cycle Epic mountain bike marathon while national champion Andy Blair and two-time winner Jason English fought out a titanic struggle in the elite men’s race at Spicers Hidden Vale, west of Brisbane on the weekend.

Jodie Willett tops the Epic podium for the fifth time.
Jodie Willett tops the Epic podium for the fifth time.

Brisbane-based Willett claimed a record fifth victory in the 87km event, finishing the race in four hours, 40 minutes and 48 seconds, more than nine minutes ahead of Victorian runner up Tory Thomas. Queenslander Anna Beck was a further 8min.30secs back in third place.

Willett has been the most prolific performer in  the 11 year history of the Epic, claiming the main title in five out of the last six years.

The men’s race was a much more closely fought contest with Canberra’s Blair neck and neck from the start with world 24 hour solo champion English before pipping him at the finish line for his maiden victory in the event.

“We figured it was likely to be Swell-Specialized versus the Merida pairing of AJ and English (with a couple of dark horses like local youngster Ben Forbes thrown in the mix) and the race panned out pretty well for Shaun Lewis and I. AJ and Jase both did a lot of work through the first 2/3 of the race to make it hard enough to get rid of Shaun and stop him getting back into the race, but that left me in a perfect position to counterattack in the final 25km” says Andy Blair

Andy Blair with the big cheque after a hard fought battle with Jason English.
Andy Blair with the big cheque after a hard fought battle with Jason English.

“Although travelling to Queensland from Canberra might sound like a nice break from the cold weather, I was very nervous about the thought of racing 87km with temperatures in the mid-30s. I didn’t know what to expect from the course but I really enjoyed it; it was pretty rough, dry and loose but heaps of fun. A little bit old-school in sections with some wild rocky steep fire road descents, with enough climbing to ensure that it was difficult for everyone…especially in that heat!”

Andy Blair and Jason English fought long and hard right into the finishing straight. “I had a couple of digs off the front and it was only English that rode back across. He caught me the second time at the bottom of the last climb, so from that point it was a game of cat and mouse to the finish with some traffic from the 50km event throwing in and extra challenge. I tried a few times to break free but he wasn’t going to let me go again so close to the finish. I managed be first into the last single track, which was good because I knew I want to lead out the sprint. From there I tried to time my kick into the short finish straight. English had a go, but I think it would have been super hard to come from 2nd in that sprint so I was fortunate enough to hold onto my lead and take the win.”

Retired Australian road cycling legend Robbie McEwen finished his first attempt at the Epic in 5hr1m47s.

130916 Robbie McEwen in 2013 Epic
Enjoying his road racing retirement with a day out in the dirt, Mr Robbie McEwen.

“Robbie did incredibly well,” said race organiser Fleur Brooks, who was delighted at the record of more than 2,000 riders participating in the various Epic events over the weekend at Spicers Hidden Vale.

Racing: Blair Pips English As Willett Claims Fifth Epic Women's Title

Jodie Willett continued her dominance in the women’s section of the Flight Centre Active Travel Cycle Epic mountain bike marathon while national champion Andy Blair and two-time winner Jason English fought out a titanic struggle in the elite men’s race at Spicers Hidden Vale, west of Brisbane on the weekend.

Jodie Willett tops the Epic podium for the fifth time.
Jodie Willett tops the Epic podium for the fifth time.

Brisbane-based Willett claimed a record fifth victory in the 87km event, finishing the race in four hours, 40 minutes and 48 seconds, more than nine minutes ahead of Victorian runner up Tory Thomas. Queenslander Anna Beck was a further 8min.30secs back in third place.

Willett has been the most prolific performer in  the 11 year history of the Epic, claiming the main title in five out of the last six years.

The men’s race was a much more closely fought contest with Canberra’s Blair neck and neck from the start with world 24 hour solo champion English before pipping him at the finish line for his maiden victory in the event.

“We figured it was likely to be Swell-Specialized versus the Merida pairing of AJ and English (with a couple of dark horses like local youngster Ben Forbes thrown in the mix) and the race panned out pretty well for Shaun Lewis and I. AJ and Jase both did a lot of work through the first 2/3 of the race to make it hard enough to get rid of Shaun and stop him getting back into the race, but that left me in a perfect position to counterattack in the final 25km” says Andy Blair

Andy Blair with the big cheque after a hard fought battle with Jason English.
Andy Blair with the big cheque after a hard fought battle with Jason English.

“Although travelling to Queensland from Canberra might sound like a nice break from the cold weather, I was very nervous about the thought of racing 87km with temperatures in the mid-30s. I didn’t know what to expect from the course but I really enjoyed it; it was pretty rough, dry and loose but heaps of fun. A little bit old-school in sections with some wild rocky steep fire road descents, with enough climbing to ensure that it was difficult for everyone…especially in that heat!”

Andy Blair and Jason English fought long and hard right into the finishing straight. “I had a couple of digs off the front and it was only English that rode back across. He caught me the second time at the bottom of the last climb, so from that point it was a game of cat and mouse to the finish with some traffic from the 50km event throwing in and extra challenge. I tried a few times to break free but he wasn’t going to let me go again so close to the finish. I managed be first into the last single track, which was good because I knew I want to lead out the sprint. From there I tried to time my kick into the short finish straight. English had a go, but I think it would have been super hard to come from 2nd in that sprint so I was fortunate enough to hold onto my lead and take the win.”

Retired Australian road cycling legend Robbie McEwen finished his first attempt at the Epic in 5hr1m47s.

130916 Robbie McEwen in 2013 Epic
Enjoying his road racing retirement with a day out in the dirt, Mr Robbie McEwen.

“Robbie did incredibly well,” said race organiser Fleur Brooks, who was delighted at the record of more than 2,000 riders participating in the various Epic events over the weekend at Spicers Hidden Vale.

Racing: South East Qld Gravity Enduro Hits the Road

Event Management Solutions Australia, promoters of the hugely popular Gravity Enduro format of mountain bike racing in South East Qld are taking their racing on the road in 2014.

Visiting iconic mountain bike venues such as Eagle Park in Adelaide and Stromlo Forrest Park in Canberra, the series will give riders a chance to pit their skills and endurance against some of the country’s best riders.

Gravity Enduro is a stage based format of racing, where riders compete on a series of timed competition stages, interspersed with untimed liaison stages. Competition stages, will be predominantly downhill in nature with some small climbs to really test the rider’s endurance. Liaison stages will be a combination of self-powered climbing or shuttle services dependant on the location.

Event dates are listed below.

Round 1 February 2 2014 Adelaide

Round 2 February 16 2014 Victoria (Location TBC)

Round 3 March 23 2014 Stromlo Forrest Park

Round 4 April 13 2014 Mt Joyce, Qld.

 

Full details will be listed on www.gravityenduro.com.au in coming weeks.

Trails: South East Queensland’s Newest Trail Opens with a Bang

On Sunday 4 August, over 60 riders and their families joined councillor Darren Power of Logan City Council to officially open South East Queensland’s newest trail – ‘Ginger Gully’ – located in Cornubia Forest.

The event commenced with Brisbane South MTB Club (BSMC) leading social rides around the forest, with many a tyre touching the dirt there for the first time. After a free BBQ lunch, a train of over 44 riders then took the first official ride down the trail – a trail that was built with over 50 tonnes of rock and fill by 662 hours of volunteer labour over 15 weekends.

Official opening of ‘Ginger Gully’ from SEQ Trails Alliance on Vimeo.

SEQTA also recently compiled a short video entitled ‘Trail Fairies’ – documenting the efforts of the Logan Community Trail Care Alliance (LCTA) in building ‘Ginger Gully’.

Trail Fairies: a short film by SEQ Trails Alliance from SEQ Trails Alliance on Vimeo.

Thanks to the efforts of LCTA and BSMC, Cornubia Forest (located about 25 minutes south of Brisbane) is fast becoming one of SEQ’s not to miss riding destinations. Offering steep climbs and descents, with a good mix of flow and technical riding, it stands in contrast to the highly popular, easier, trails of the nearby Daisy Hill Conservation Park. With the Daisy Hill trails only a 10-minute ride away from Cornubia Forest, a growing portion of the thosands of visitors to Daisy Hill each week are now opting to include a trip over to Cornubia as well to make a full day of varied riding.

The newest trail, ‘Ginger’ Gully, adds to the Cornubia network that now stands at around 8.5 kilometres of singletrack. Last year, volunteers also completed the ‘Wallum Froglet’ trail – the first official new trail for the forest. ‘Wallum Froglet’ added 1.7km of fresh singletrack to the network of existing trails that were recently legalised by council after they acquired the land a number of years ago and made the decision to work pro-actively and in partnership with the mountain bike community. Since this time, rider numbers have spiked and are continuing to grow by the month.

And the good news doesn’t stop there. BSMC was recently award a grant under the Queensland Government’s Gambling Community Benefit Fund to construct another new trail in the forest later this year that will link the ‘Wallum Froglet’ and ‘Ginger Gully’ trails, helping riders to piece together even better loops.

WEB_News_Trail_Ginger_SEQ

Trails: South East Queensland's Newest Trail Opens with a Bang

On Sunday 4 August, over 60 riders and their families joined councillor Darren Power of Logan City Council to officially open South East Queensland’s newest trail – ‘Ginger Gully’ – located in Cornubia Forest.

The event commenced with Brisbane South MTB Club (BSMC) leading social rides around the forest, with many a tyre touching the dirt there for the first time. After a free BBQ lunch, a train of over 44 riders then took the first official ride down the trail – a trail that was built with over 50 tonnes of rock and fill by 662 hours of volunteer labour over 15 weekends.

Official opening of ‘Ginger Gully’ from SEQ Trails Alliance on Vimeo.

SEQTA also recently compiled a short video entitled ‘Trail Fairies’ – documenting the efforts of the Logan Community Trail Care Alliance (LCTA) in building ‘Ginger Gully’.

Trail Fairies: a short film by SEQ Trails Alliance from SEQ Trails Alliance on Vimeo.

Thanks to the efforts of LCTA and BSMC, Cornubia Forest (located about 25 minutes south of Brisbane) is fast becoming one of SEQ’s not to miss riding destinations. Offering steep climbs and descents, with a good mix of flow and technical riding, it stands in contrast to the highly popular, easier, trails of the nearby Daisy Hill Conservation Park. With the Daisy Hill trails only a 10-minute ride away from Cornubia Forest, a growing portion of the thosands of visitors to Daisy Hill each week are now opting to include a trip over to Cornubia as well to make a full day of varied riding.

The newest trail, ‘Ginger’ Gully, adds to the Cornubia network that now stands at around 8.5 kilometres of singletrack. Last year, volunteers also completed the ‘Wallum Froglet’ trail – the first official new trail for the forest. ‘Wallum Froglet’ added 1.7km of fresh singletrack to the network of existing trails that were recently legalised by council after they acquired the land a number of years ago and made the decision to work pro-actively and in partnership with the mountain bike community. Since this time, rider numbers have spiked and are continuing to grow by the month.

And the good news doesn’t stop there. BSMC was recently award a grant under the Queensland Government’s Gambling Community Benefit Fund to construct another new trail in the forest later this year that will link the ‘Wallum Froglet’ and ‘Ginger Gully’ trails, helping riders to piece together even better loops.

WEB_News_Trail_Ginger_SEQ

Epic Offer for Schools

Australia’s pioneer mountain bike marathon, the Flight Centre Active Travel Cycle Epic, is offering an opportunity for schools to fund raise as part of this year’s race.

The 11th staging of the Epic at Spicers Hidden Vale in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, is being held on the weekend of September 14-15, 2013.

Epic organiser and track builder Hayden Brooks said the 2013 event would be offering a unique fundraising opportunity which would promote family fitness, while raising much needed school funding.

130722 epic kids

Mr Brooks said from August 1 every child registration for the Cycle Epic weekend will receive $5 for their school while $10 will be donated for every adult entry connected with that school.

“This Epic fundraising initiative is a chance for schools to promote health, fitness and family fun, while also benefiting financially with fundraising contributions for each registration,” he said.

“There are a range of events on the Epic weekend tailored for children. The school that generates the most entries will be awarded a cheque to the full value of the entry funds received of all their schools registered entrants.

“This is a massive fund raising opportunity with uncapped potential, and one school will benefit from a substantial cheque at the end of the event.”

Mr Brooks said participating schools will be able to bring their own marquees and banners to the Hidden Vale Adventure Park camping area.

“The Epic is a great family-oriented event and we are now offering an opportunity to promote your school while also building strong relationships within the school community and families outside of the school area,” he said.

Mr Brooks said the winning school will be announced and presented with their cheque by the Cycle Epic team during the final presentations on Sunday, September 15.

Race organisers are hoping to attract more than 2,000 riders to compete in the various events after a record 1700 competitors entered last year’s event. Entries close on September 7.

The highlight of the Epic weekend is the 87km marathon on Sunday, September 15. The event, which has Flight Centre Active Travel as major sponsor, has been won over the years by some of the biggest names in Australian mountain biking.

The weekend has multiple events and activities beyond the 87km marathon, including the 50km Pursuit, the 20km Spicers Chaser, Mini and Minor Epics for children, plus a 4.2km free Family Fun Ride.

“There’s now something for the whole family, where children can challenge their parents and even their grandparents,” said Mr Brooks, who runs the event with his wife Fleur and Tod Horton.

The Flight Centre Cycle EPIC is on 14-15 September at Spicers Hidden Vale located at Grandchester, about 55 minutes’ drive from Brisbane.

For more information about the Epic or to register for the event go to: http://www.cycleepic.com.au/ or Facebook fb.com/hiddenvaleadventurepark

Epic Out to Break New Ground

Australia’s pioneer mountain bike marathon, the Flight Centre Cycle Epic, is chasing new ground this year after participation records were smashed in the 10th anniversary of the event in 2012.

The 11th staging of the Epic at Spicers Hidden Vale in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, is being held on the weekend of the federal election, September 14-15, 2013

Race organisers are hoping to attract more than 2,000 riders to compete in the various events after a record 1700 competitors entered last year’s event.

The highlight of the Epic weekend is the 87km marathon on Sunday, September 15. The event, which has Flight Centre Active Travel as major sponsor, has been won over the years by some of the biggest names in Australian mountain biking.

Epic organiser and track builder Hayden Brooks said participants who register for the 2013 event by July 1 will be eligible for early bird pricing and a complimentary Epic cycling jersey.

“We have received more than 400 entries already for the Epic so it’s shaping as another record breaking year,” Mr Brooks said.

“The early bird offer has helped entice plenty of entries already and again this year we are seeing quite a few families embracing the event.”

The weekend has multiple events and activities beyond the 87km marathon, including the 50km Pursuit, the 20km Spicers Chaser, Mini and Minor Epics for children, plus a 4.2km free Family Fun Ride.

“There’s now something for the whole family, where children can challenge their parents and even their grandparents,” said Mr Brooks, who runs the event with his wife Fleur and Tod Horton.

The Brooks have helped turn Spicers Hidden Vale into the premier mountain bike venue in South East Queensland with the 4800ha estate now hosting three events a year – the 3PLUS3 race just before Christmas and the KONA 24HR during the Easter weekend.

“The Epic over the years has attracted many elite riders with world 24 hour champion Jason English winning the men’s race last year and Brisbane’s Jodie Willett claiming her third women’s title,” Mr Brooks said.

“But our focus has been attracting families and introducing people to the sport of mountain biking while having a great weekend at the Hidden Vale Adventure Park.”

Mr Brooks said they have partnered with Scody who are designing and supplying the jerseys this year while PCS Coaching – www.pcscoaching.com.au – have tailored training plans for the 87km and 50km events.

The Flight Centre Cycle EPIC is on 14-15 September at Spicers Hidden Vale located at Grandchester, about 55 minutes’ drive from Brisbane.

For more information about the Epic or to register for the event go to: http://www.cycleepic.com.auor Facebook fb.com/hiddenvaleadventurepark

 

Yakima Announced as MTB Series Major Sponsor

In a major coup for the sport, Queensland’s premier cross-country and downhill mountain bike racing series has secured a naming rights sponsor, with the competition to be known as the 2013 Yakima Sunshine MTB Series.

Yakima distributes versatile, easy-to-use and robust systems used to transport gear such as bikes, kayaks, skis, cargo, and camping equipment; safely and simply.

Having recently launched in Australasia, Yakima brand manager Chris Lyons said he hoped the partnership would help them integrate into the local market.

“Yakima products are created by purists for purists,” Chris said.

“We are basically a bunch of mountain bikers, kayakers, snowboarders and adventure purists making products for the same kind of people. How else would we have come up with a hitch- mount bike rack that incorporates a bottle opener?

“Supporting local sport is something we are very proud to be doing, and we hope this relationship continues into the future,” he said.

The 2013 Yakima Sunshine MTB Series features 11 events throughout South East Queensland from May to August, with each event attracting up to 300 riders.

Founder of Queensland Mountain Bike and series cross-country coordinator Aiden Lefmann welcomed the partnership with Yakima.

“With Yakima’s help we are taking grass roots mountain biking to the next level. They are providing important funding for infrastructure development and improving the money available in the prize pool,” Aiden said.

“Some 300 riders transport their bikes to the event – and bike transport is always a tricky prospect – but Yakima offer a whole bunch of products that solve the problem.

“Mountain biking is a sport for everyone. We have children in the under-11 division right through to the ‘super masters’ where riders well into their 60s take part,” he said.

Those wishing to register to compete in the 2013 Yakima Sunshine MTB Series can do so at www.qldmtb.com.au.

For more information on Yakima visit www.yakima.com.au

2013 YAKIMA SUNSHINE MTB SERIES

Cross-country dates

Round 1 – May 11, 2013 Toowoomba (Toowoomba MTB Club)
Round 2 – June 2, 2013 Mt Crosby (Kenmore Cycling Club)
Round 3 – June 16, 2013 Mt Cotton (Brisbane South MTB Club)
Round 4 – July 7, 2013 Adare, Gatton (The Riders Club)
Round 5 – July 21, 2013 Old Hidden Vale – Grandchester (Hidden Vale Adventure Park) Round 6 – September 8, 2013 Samford (D’aguilar Range Cycling Club )

Downhill dates

Round 1 – May 12, 2013 Toowoomba (Toowoomba MTB Club)
Round 2 – June 9, 2013 Cedar Creek (Downhill From Here)
Round 3 – June 30, 2013 Beerburrum (D’aguilar Range Cycling Club)
Round 4 – July 14, 2013 Canungra (Straight to Hell Downhill Club)
Round 5 – July 28, 2013 Cedar Creek (Downhill From Here)

Long, hard, hot. The Croc Trophy is back.

The most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world will return to its home in Tropical Far North Queensland on 20th October with the largest field of participants ever.

The Croc Trophy is more than a race. It’s an adventure through parts of Australia that most people wouldn’t even think to venture into.

This year the number of participants has almost doubled and more than 150 riders have already signed up. Also the biggest ever field of Australian Crocodile Trophy racers is expected to participate. Australian riders include Jason English, 24hr Solo World Champion and Justin Morris, best Elite Australian finisher at the Crocodile Trophy 2011.

It’s a sufferfest. An absolutely blocking.

Organisers are also excited about the largest ever female field at a Crocodile Trophy – seven female athletes will be at the start line in Cairns, including Australian triathlete and Ironman racer Kate Major.

In a first for the Croc, it will kick off on 20 October with two public race stages as part of the Crocodile Trophy MTB Festival hosted by the local Cairns MTB Club. The first stage will be a 32 km lap race at Smithfield and the second stage will be a 92 km marathon race from Cairns to Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands. Riders are invited to sign up via links on the Crocodile Trophy or the Cairns MTB Club websites.

After the Smithfield stage, the following eight days will challenge the technical skills of participants more than ever before. Generally, the stages will be shorter, but they will include considerably more mountain bike tracks this year. Overall, the participants will ride for almost 1000 km with the longest stage covering 136 km.