Exploring new places to ride a bike can be an exciting adventure but where do you start? Maybe word of mouth, some innocent stalking on the internet through Strava, or just picking a random town on a map and hoping there are trails there.
Luckily there is a way to get a guided tour of some of the best trail networks in regional NSW and share that adventure with a few hundred like-minded individuals. The Evocities MTB series is designed to get the word out about some of the awesome riding locations that you probably never thought of venturing to. From Bathurst and Orange to Wagga and Albury the series takes racers from North to South and delivers exciting racing on that squiggly stuff we all love.
The Evocities race in Albury
The Albury round looked enticing as my first mountain race back since March and having never ridden in Albury before, I was eager to see what all the rave reviews were about. Teaming up with Wagga local Dan Beresford meant I had a teammate who had ridden the trails and was pretty strong after a second place in a two-man team in last year’s event! Without a sighting lap and having not ridden much singletrack since April, I was a little nervous about what lay ahead, and with a strong TORQ team of Ben Metcalfe and Josh Battye in the field I knew it was going to be a tough race.
With a full-gas, 5 min dirt road climb to get to the first bit of singletrack, I knew I had to hit it hard to be first into the technical singletrack descent so I could go at my own pace. I led over the top and was out of sight to Josh in second but by the bottom of the short technical section, Josh and most of the front runners had closed the gap as I struggled with the rocky Albury trails. Coming around to transition, I handed off to Dan and the fight began between him and Ben Metcalfe. This is how it was for almost the entire six hours. Small gaps would open and would then close between our two teams as we pushed each other lap on and lap off.
As time progressed, I got a feel for the tough Albury trails and really grew to enjoy all the different sections. The fast traverses and rocky climbs as well as the technical descents and fast switchbacks. I was even enjoying smashing it up the dirt road climb! Pairs racing with one 20 min lap on and one lap off is certainly the fastest way to spend six hours! Once you’ve done your lap, it’s all about staying warm and eating before you have to go out again, which comes very quickly! It’s also a very tough way to spend six hours as the 20min off gives you just enough time to recover and means you can go full gas for your next lap, which all adds up to three hours going off full gas.
A view from inside the race –
“Climbing side by side with Josh up the road climb, we both give it everything and then nothing, we almost come to a track stand waiting for the other to make a move and lead onto the flat traverse that leads to the technical single trail. I need to get there first to go my speed down and Josh needs to get there first to put me under pressure and form a gap. Eventually Josh leads out and I sit in. On the final roller before the single trail starts, I slingshot past but Josh isn’t done and tries to come around on the outside in the final corner but I have enough room to make the move stick…”
That was just one occurrence Josh and me had and by the sounds of it Dan and Ben had equal encounters as the six hours wore on. Unfortunately, a grandstand finish was not to be with me snapping a chain ring tooth on the penultimate lap and barely able to pedal without my chain coming off. The two TORQ guys rode solid all day though, and were well deserving of the win.
All up, I explored some awesome new trails and did it with a bunch of like-minded individuals and had a world of fun. Sounds like the Evocities Series did its job! It wasn’t all about the teams though as the solos did an awesome job as well with Shaun Lewis and Tobias Lestrell fighting it out and finishing 1st and 2nd, respectively, and finishing on the lead lap! Ed McDonald rounded out the podium in third and the women’s race was taken out by Kathryn Mcinerney. So if you’re looking at exploring some of regional NSW awesome riding or just want to race, check out the Evocities site for the dates and locations of the remaining five rounds!