The Crocodile Trophy is looming! One of the longest running marathon mountain bike stage races in the world, the Crocodile Trophy gives you a race experience like no other. Where else can you rub shoulders with some of the best mountain bikers in the world, and even ex-Tour de France professionals? The Crocodile Trophy is a true leveller, as every rider has to race the same course, and access to luxury accommodation and premium services aren’t quite the norm.
The evolution of a crocodile
While crocodiles have changed very little over thousands of years, The Crocodile Trophy has evolved over it’s near 25 year history, but it’s not walk in the park. Whether you’re heading to Queensland for the 2017 edition or you’ve got it on your radar, here are our tips for helping to get through the Crocodile Trophy, happy and healthy.
Know the route
Study the course details! Not just while you’re at home, but use the stage plan book on the evenings before the race, and ask any other riders who have done the race before if they know the route the stage takes. Knowledge is really useful in events like this. You might pick up some tips on positioning, bike setup or even how to pace yourself for the day.
This is even more important for before you leave home – make sure your gearing and bike setup suits the course. Atherton is out this year, but don’t think that means it won’t be rough, and it won’t be technical. Smithfield is no walk in the park, neither is the Bump Track.
Stage races are about managing your efforts – and recovering from them. Remote stage races like the Crocodile Trophy and Mongolia Bike Challenge, and The Pioneer will involve nights under canvas for most. Camping and sleeping well don’t marry for everyone. But you can do a few things to make it easier.
Don’t full around with a three-quarter self-inflating mat, and don’t bother with a foam camping mat. If you’re on the tent service you’ll have a stretcher, and one of the aforementioned matts are a great addition. Otherwise, get a full-thickness self-inflating mat, and some sort of compact pillow. Don’t skimp on the sleeping bag, you sleep better when you’re not on the edge of comfort. But something that zips open completely will help if it’s warmer than expected.
Lastly, don’t forget ear plugs, an eye mask, and a small head torch.
If you need good coffee to kickstart the day, take something appropriate. An Aeropress is ideal, and there is always boiling water available at breakfast, so you can leave the stove at home. A metal filter and a container to keep the coffee in, plus a sturdy cup to plunge into, should have you sorted.
Never go full euro
Europeans at the Crocodile Trophy will always outnumber Australians. If you’re one of the many visiting Australia, welcome! The Crocodile Trophy really is a great outback experience, and it traverses terrain that many Australians will never visit. From the rainforest, to the agricultural Atherton Tablelands, and the dry tropics, and down to the reef at Port Douglas.
However, many Europeans are in full holiday mode, shirts off, tiny shorts on, and getting the rays. That’s great. But we don’t have much ozone layer. So remember to stay sun safe. Enjoy the sun, but don’t cook yourself for the rest of the race. A good sunscreen will be your friend, as will a lipbalm with protection. Take something to scrub yourself in the shower with the get the mix of trail grime, sweat and sunscreen off post-stage.
Get ready for the Euro party.
Find your routine
We have a saying in the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team – the race isn’t over until you’re out of the shower. This is never more true than at a stage race. You’ll be pretty buckled once across the line each day, but have a plan. Get some food and drink, get it in, get your bike cleaned up and get out of your kit. You might choose to wash your bike later – you will be the best judge of that. But don’t neglect to clean your bike every day. Clean it, inspect it, and check for any problems. You don’t want to find a problem looking over your bike after dinner – and the mechanics would like more notice than that too.
Once you’re done, the afternoon is yours. Relax, unwind, get a nap in or have a swim if it’s possible. You are on holiday afterall!
Pack your luxury items
What picks you up when you’re low? You’ll know what works for you. Pack some of it. In 2012 we carried prepackaged banana bread and nutella in our Subaru Outback support car for another raceer. As no matter how bad his day was, nutella smeared on banana bread made things ok again. Whether it’s a luxury item, music and headphones, a great book or even 4-ply toilet paper – pack it. Use it when you need it to keep you going.
Keep an open mind
This is the big one for race enjoyment. The Crocodile Trophy takes place in one the the areas of Australia’s east coast with the lowest amount of inhabitants. The route has had a few last-minute changes, there are no supermarkets around the corner, and there’s not always phone service. Some days will feel quite remote. So you need to keep an open mind for what’s possible, and what isn’t.
Additionally, the Crocodile Trophy attracts riders from around the world. We’re all the same on the inside but our customs and mannerisms do change a little. Mountain bike stage races are essentially summer camps for mountain bikers. You should make friends and have fun, don’t just stick to who and what you know. There are about 100 people who love doing exactly what you love too. Make sure you meet them.