The Crocodile Trophy is no small undertaking. While it isn’t a three week race anymore, the 20th anniversary edition is still 9 days of racing. Not everyone can manage that, without enough time to plan or train. The Croc is actually a lot more achievable than many people think – but the Cairns MTB club has created the ‘Taste of the Croc’ – or Soft Trophy as we prefer to call it. You can choose to just race the first two stages of the Croc, which does in fact give you a brilliant taste of the race, all within a weekend.
You can enter just stage one or just stage two, but the idea is to enter both. This way, you can tackle the singletrack in the jungle at Smithfield MTB Park in the XCO race on Saturday, but still stay in the comforts of your hotel in Cairns. Smithfield MTB Park hosted the 2nd round of the UCI World Cup in late April 2014, and is located just behind James Cook University (possibly winning the ‘Best Campus Sports Facilities’ Award). Stage one is fast and sharp, and actually creates some pretty good gaps in the field. In 2013, Mark Frendo never relinquished the lead after gaining the jersey at Smithfield.
Stage Two is more of a true Croc experience. More than that, it’s an awesome point to point route. Leaving Cairns in a procession, the race restarts on the road toLake Morris. It’s a fairly unrelenting road climb, with some fast downhill in it towards the end. Crossing the dam at the top, you proceed to climb up over the range, then descending through the rutted trails in the rainforest (dark lenses aren’t fun) before racing through farmlands and towards the long climb over Mt Edith. The landscape continues to change, as you climb to about 1200m altitude and descend through the lush forests to the edge of Lake Tinaroo in the Atherton Tablelands.
A fast finish around the lake takes you to the campground for lunch and dinner. There’s a holiday park you can stay in, or even a self titles resort down the road. Both are very comfortable within their own right. If you don’t have someone there with transport, a lift back can be organised for a small charge.
This is a great way to get a feel of the Crocodile Trophy, and stage racing, without such a huge commitment. Best of all, you experience some amazing Australian terrain – make a note of it for the 18th and 19th of October.
More details are available on the Croc Trophy website – be sure to look it up!