Anyone who rides knows that racing isn’t just about competition: It’s about packing your bike up, getting on a plane or hitting the road. It’s an excuse to have a bit of an adventure and travel somewhere new.
Of all the places to race in Australia, Alice Springs is the most distinctive. With cobalt skies, red earth, and endless desert singletrack, there’s a lot to be said for visiting at least once.
There are two stage races based out of Alice Springs. You’ve missed Easter in the Alice (it’s at Easter), so The Redback is your last excuse this year to visit and ride the superb singletrack labyrinth that snakes around the town. Need more convincing?
Because Alice has so much singletrack, there’s no need to change locations for a great stage race here – you’ll stay in one hotel surrounded by other bike racers, most of whom will spend afternoons relaxing pool-side or playing with their gear – no packing up, no moving around, and a great atmosphere with lots of opportunities to socialise.
Over four days you’ll race six stages and use lots of Alice’s estimated 300km of MTB trail. This is a treat in itself. While Alice’s Telegraph Station (at the heart of the town’s trails) is doing a great job campaigning to get the town’s singletrack rubber-stamped and signposted, it takes time. About 40km of trail are fully mapped and signed, but the rest is, well, easier with local knowledge. Participate in The Redback and you’ll have the opportunity to ride the far-flung desert trails with the benefit of bunting, volunteers, and lots and lots of pink tape. No chance of getting lost and plenty of opportunities to refill your water bottle at one of the handy race feed stations – not so easily achieved when you’re out there on your own.
The Redback is compact enough to sneak away to for a few days, maybe even unnoticed! The Redback is a new incarnation of last year’s ICME race, which used to run for nearly a week. Now, after feedback from racers, organisers have decided to run the race over the weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, so your work or family leave pass should be easier to secure.
If you’re tired of grey winter days on the coast, Alice in August guarantees you glassy blue skies every day. Morning will be chilly, but once the sun is up the temperature generally warms up to nearly 20 degrees, the air is pristine, the views spectacular. You’ll get a winter tan. Pro.
And did we mention the trails? They are rocky, yes. They are plentiful, true. What we haven’t mentioned yet is that Alice’s signature singletrack is some of the sweetest hand-built trail engineering there is in the country. Think sweeping corners, playful features, refreshingly short climbs, amazing views, and frisky technical descents.
Race entries are filling fast, as are the regular Qantas flights that leave from all major cities. The Redback runs from Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 August. Time to get your leave pass sorted!