The 2015 season is shaping up to be yet another awesome year to be a mountain biker. With a jam-packed national series kicking things off early and then new races being added to the mix like the Evocities series and Rock & Road race. Another exciting development has also come, with the news that the classic Convict 100 will utilise a new route for 2015.
Being one of Australia’s longest running XCM events, the Convict 100 course is well known to a lot of riders. But in its 11th year, the race organisers thought it was time to introduce new challenges to the trusted favourite. So, on 2 May 2015 the Convict will be run in reverse! This should present an entirely new experience for the competitors. Just like riding your favourite trails at home in reverse.
New challenges will arise like tackling the river crossing and then Jack’s Track first up. Which, from my memory, was pretty steep going down! Those of you that have previously competed in the Convict 100 will know of one other key challenge that will arise from a reverse course. Remember riding down the rock gardens and rock drop-offs on the Old Great North Road? Well now it’s time to ride up them! For those of you who have not competed in the Convict yet, well this will all be part of the adventure. And an adventure it will be.
Is 100km sounding a bit too much? Well for 2015 you get two other options. With the introduction of a 68km and a 44km option. The 68km option will still take in the technical trail sections around the Shepherd’s Gully and Old Great North Road, but miss the outermost sections. This, the race organisers say, will be a marked improvement over the previous 50km option and provide a more diverse and challenging course. The 44km option is set up to be a great introduction to mountain bike racing for beginners; missing the main technical sections of the course while still supplying ample adventure time.
The Convict 100 is one of Australia’s most popular marathon races, and race director Henry van Heerden explains that it has a lot to do with the location, in the isolated, but not too distant, St Albans.
“The event is staged from the St Albans village, a beautiful little township with old world charm which centres around the Settlers Arms Inn, the third oldest pub in Australia. In addition to the historical architecture, the St Albans community is largely made up of retirees or people who have lived in the valley most of their lives. When you get to know them (at the pub on Friday night before the event) and see them out on course marshalling the event, you realise these are salt of the earth people who open up their homes and community to some 1500 mountain bikers for a very special weekend of bike racing.”
The course is staged around the Old Great North Road built by the convicts in the 1830’s. The majority of these trails are still untouched by modern machinery and in certain sections the cobbles as laid by the convicts are still in place. Unbeknownst to the convicts but lucky for mountain bikers, the formula of laying road for horse and cart has shaped trails that are perfect for cross country mountain biking. Also, the rocky and sandstone nature of the area has helped to naturally create many kilometres of rock gardens, rock steps and technical terrain that form the heart of the Convict 100.
“XCM events around Australia follow a similar formula, they include trails that are designed and groomed by a local group of volunteers or mountain bike club in the area. Some are hosted around established mountain bike parks and if you throw in some fire trail to make up the distance, you have yourself an XCM event. The Convict is different in that no trails are built or maintained … there is no groomed single track, you will not be railing any berms at this event”
Even with the new course the race organisers are still keeping true to their formula that has created this iconic event. With mountain biking in its purest form, “rugged, raw, one epic adventure on a bike!” Entry for all three courses are open now and if you enter in December you get $10 off! Enter Here.
All photos thanks to Aurora Images