One bike race is not like another. For a racer, this is well known. A race will always play out differently. The course, the weather, the players, and everyones goals differ from one race to the next, so there is no set method to winning. Beyond being the first to cross the finish line.
And like one bike race being unlike another, a bike race experience is also unlike any other. Now you bring in the race itself, location, atmosphere, amenities, support, transport, accommodation… it could be an endless list. A good bike race could be run out of (or even in) a dirt carpark with the right ingredients. But it would take a very special promoter to make such a race a good race experience.
The great distances that can be required to travel to just get anywhere in Australia, let alone a bike race, can mean that you need to justify travel. A long drive for a short cross country race has rapidly fallen out of favour. Driving 2-3 hours to do a marathon race is a different proposition. There’s hours of riding, a bit of an event expo, and maybe some freebies in the race bag. This is all together a more favourable situation.
We are slowly adopting stage races at home too. Long have Australians travelled far and wide to ride in stage races around the globe. Australians outnumber any other nationality at the Mongolia Bike Challenge. Doing BC Bike Race seems like a rite of passage for someone who fancies their bike handling, and Transalp for those who fancy their climbing. Fields at the Ingkerreke Commerical MTB Enduro are expanding again, there is greater Australian interest in the Crocodile Trophy and the Cape to Cape MTB race sold out last year, with about 1300 racers. Stage Races are on the up in Australia.
And so are race festivals, like the Bike Buller MTB Festival, taking place on 8-10 March, at the Mt Buller Alpine Resort. With a mixture of races making up the long weekend, there’s a chance to ride to your strengths and enjoy the mountain biking, or dig deep and stay in contention through a short marathon, Super-D and Enduro over the long weekend. More than just the great trails, there’s also a food, wine and music festival. That’s a whole lot more than just a food van selling Chiko rolls and bad coffee.
Entries are open, and this could well be one of the best things to do for riders and their families this coming March long weekend. The Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team will be represented by Roeland Suys and Naomi Hansen, who will be reporting daily, so if you can’t make it, live vicariously through them and pencil it in for next year.