There was a whole lot of noise late in 2014 about the Evocities MTB series. Said to be the richest marathon series in Australia, it left a few die hard racers disillusioned. Since when were lap based races run on time called a marathon? But lap based races have been the bread and butter for many keen Australian mountain bikers though. From the first Mont 24hr, the Scott 24hr, the Working Week Series, The Singletrack Mind Series, The Shimano MTB GP, countless club 3, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 24hr events and more – all around the country. Australians love riding laps. We’re mad for it. Give us an event centre, somewhere to camp, a food vendor and coffee van, some timing matts, an MC and a whole lot of bunting and witches hats and we’re pretty excited. Throw in a Le Mans start and it’s hard to keep us in check!
The Evocity concept was a project designed to attract people to regional cities for work and live: Albury, Wagga, Armidale, Dubbo, Bathurst, Orange and Tamworth made up the group. The Evocities MTB Series was designed to link events in each of these Evocities into a series with a point score, excellent publicity to promote the town and great prize money. And each of these races is a lap based endurance event. Which means you can take it as seriously or casually as you like. You’re never going to get stuck out a long way from the finish.
Things went a little quiet with event details, but out of the 7 races, riders must complete 5 to compete for the series. There are nine categories in the series: Open Male, Open Female, Masters Male, Masters Female, Super Masters Male, Super Masters Female, Male Pairs, Female Pairs and Mixed Pairs. It’s a very equitable series in terms of gender.
The races that make up the series are:
Orange Ginja Ninja 250 min – Sunday 15 February
Wylde Western Sydney 7 hour – Sunday 12 April (Maybe Armidale weren’t keen?)
Bathurst 4 hour / 6 hour – Sunday 31 May
Albury 6 hour – Sunday 21 June
Dubbo 300 min – Sunday 12 July or 19 July
Tamworth Stan’s No Tubes 5 hour – Saturday 8 August
Wagga 6 hour – Sunday 6 September
Further details on the series can be found on the series website.
We’re days away from the Ginja Ninja, a long standing event run by Rodney Farrell, who is keen to push the brilliance of the mountain biking out at Kinross State Forest and around Orange. Rodney is a passionate mountain biker and mountain bike racer, and his event is well known for fun trails, a great vibe, and a good hit out.
While the race this weekend is attracting the likes of Jason English and the Ward Brothers, it’s a little low on attracting women – despite offering equal prize money in the Open Women’s category – down to 5th place. It’s a curious situation, as many riders bemoan the lack of prize money, especially when there is no equal prize money for men and women. But if you don’t turn up to the events that put it up – where is the support for those who back the cause? And does this now make the argument for equal prize money being the final missing part of the puzzle for increasing women in competitive mountain biking completely defunct?
Australia has lots of competitive endurance mountain bikers, and this is a good series to that is backed by the national body (MTBA), rewards fast people, rewards masters riders, rewards genders equally – and best of all doesn’t just cater to those living in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane or Melbourne.
While racing for money will get you nowhere in Australia – we’re just not a big enough sport – it would be great to see the nine different categories within the Evocities series well attended by men and women, racing for fun, achievement – and fiscal reward if that is of interest. More than that – the Evocities series is a great way to get away from some of the usual MTB haunts and see what rural NSW has to offer.