Riders for Wild Horizon’s 3 Ring Circus mountain bike race awoke to a clear, and relatively warm, Southern Highlands morning. By 8am the Wingello Big Top was a whirl of colour as Performers made their way to registration, ready for the Matinee Performance.
The Saturday Night Performance was still fresh in many legs as around 600 riders headed for the start line. At the front were some of Australia’s most recognised names in mountain biking, including Swell Specialized rider Shaun Lewis, and winner of the Night Performance Rockstar Racing’s Kyle Ward.
It was another fast start off the line, with lead riders blistering through the first Blue Ring in record time. The Red Ring continued the pace with the group only splitting a little at Half Way Hill, dropping Kyle Ward and leaving the pack to finish in a furious sprint to the line.
With only one second deciding the top three riders, Shaun Lewis took the win in 2:01:51.4 followed by Sebastian Jayne (2:01:51.7) in second and Jarrod Hughes (2:01:52.4) in third.
“Kyle really pushed the pace from the start, and until Half Way Hill we all stuck together. After he dropped off, it was still tight to the end and I just put the power down to cross the line first,” Shaun said. “It was fun, tactical and definitely hard at times. I’m stoked to take the win.” Shaun is a two time winner of The CamelBak Highland Fling but this was his first victory in the Circus.
In the women’s race, local rider Karen Evans took line honours with a time of 2:38:36 ahead of Susanna Fasold (2:41:08) in second and Larri Wallbridge (2:42:00) in third.
“The tracks were amazing, it was a great race and everyone was enjoying themselves,” Karen Evans said.
The first of the Unicycle Performers across the line was Mark Lavis, who said he passed many two wheel riders along the way and enjoyed the trails.
While the top riders had crossed the line, troupes of Circus relay riders searched transition for team mates, and spectators kept morale high cheering riders as they rode through. They were rewarded for their efforts with roving circus performances and shows throughout the day. Energy was kept high with equal amounts of fairy floss and GU gels.
Even those who didn’t make the podium went home with prizes. The generous 3 Ring Circus sponsors making sure almost every rider was rewarded for their Performance.
Equally generous were those riders who parted with their old, but always much-loved bikes, donating them to charity organisation Bikes for Humanity, who were stationed at this year’s Big Top. These bikes will be recycled and provided to communities in need, both in Australia and overseas. Find out more at www.bikesforhumanity.com.au.
Finally, as the sun started to set on the fifth 3 Ring Circus, Performers made their way out of the forest. The Circus music was quiet and the Big Top packed away for another year.