The first day has come, been raced, and gone, for Lasseters Easter in the Alice. Saturday 19th April held some dread – split stages. With a 27km time trial in the morning, and then a 27km night race starting at 7pm, it makes for a long day.
Recent rains in Alice Springs have made the desert green – and riding your mountain bike here at the moment is stunning. Add to that the new trails being opened out of the Telegraph Station, with maps, trail markings, bike hire and cafe – and Alice Springs has become a MTB oasis in Central Australia.
Taking off in 1 minute intervals from 8am, riders headed up the side of the road, onto some firetrail, and then onto singletrack – for probably at least the next hour. Em’s Track is twisty, rocky, and surrounded by fresh Buffel Grass. A weed to parks people, a great asset to those who work on stations in the NT. The trail was marked with arrows and surveyors tape, but the extra foliage did cover some of the trail making navigation a little troublesome. Few finished without a smile, such was the quality of the trails.
I was really lucky to win the time trial, closely followed by Paul Darvodelsky. Imogen Smith won the women’s race, with Courtney Shinn just behind in 2nd.
Full results can be found on the Lasseters Easter in the Alice website.
A stop at the cafe, some grocery shopping, some work, a nap, some clothes washing, a little bike fettling – what else are you meant to do between stages?
Roll on the evening. It’s fair to say I was going to be out gunned in the lights department, with a powerful, yet very focused handlebar mounted commuting light. This is great when riding to and from work on back streets, as on a road bike, your bars tend to point where you are going. Not so much on skatey gravel and sand in Central Australia.
The mass start had a gentleman’s agreement to the road crossing – and then it was on. Soon enough a small group containing a revived Gary Harwood, Paul Darvodelsky, Ben Gooley and myself was off the front. I rode at the back, benefitting from the others light output. And then Ben attacked a little, causing gaps, and I was going blind. Maybe riding at the back wasn’t going to work. With light power not a strength I could ride to, I came past on the climb and lead into the tightest section. This way, I had some light from behind, with my shadow, but it helped. I would have been slowing the others down though, but we all got through safely until one off road venture let Ben by, and the next let Gary. Then I was alone as Paul had been dropped and it felt like I was in darkness without their lights around!
Night racing is fun, but it can catch you out… video from Ray Neill
Struggling on, I caught Ben on the road and came into Lasseters to a cool and calm Gary – he’d been in a while.
Courtney Shinn came in as the first woman, using her night racing experience to get a few minutes over Imogen Smith – also outgunned in lights, and quite vocally not a fan of night racing.
— Imogen Smith (@imogenjsmith) April 19, 2014
And today we have Stage 3 – with separate stages for Fat Bikes and ‘the rest of us’. We make our way to the Telegraph Station to experience the new and reworked trails.