In Australia, there is more than just a chill in the air in some parts of the country. With early snow falls in the Alps, and even snow on the ground on the Tablelands last week, it’s clear winter is making its mark for 2018. And while some of the racing is winding up for a couple of months, there are stand out events to jet off to for a winter warmer – and The Redback in Alice Springs has been one such event since it moved to its August date a few years back.
With a compact 4-day schedule packed with 6 stages of racing, The Redback creates a solid schedule of riding and socialising around the central hub of Alice Springs. Part of the beauty of riding and racing in Alice is how centralised everything is. From stage starts, to stage finishes, cafes, restaurants and super markets. There’s no need for a car – just get to your accommodation, unpack and unwind.
Stages at The Redback
The Redback has 6 stages to ride, starting on the 23rd August 2018.
Stage 1 – Desert Technologies 39km Cross Country Race – Thursday (AM)
Stage 2 – Rapid Ascent 300m ANZAC Hill Climb – Thursday (PM)
Stage 3 – Schwalbe 22km Individual Time Trial – Friday (AM)
Stage 4 – Tourism NT 22km Night Race – Friday (PM)
Stage 5 – Lasseters Hotel 50km Cross Country Race – Saturday (AM)
Stage 6 – Mercure Alice Springs Resort 45km Cross Country Race – Sunday (AM)
So you can see you do hit the ground running with double stages on the first two days. Stage 1 is an excellent way to put tyres to dirt in Alice Springs, and experience the flow and fun of Alice’s hand-crafted singletrack.
The Hill Climb is a hugely social affair. For those chasing a top result there is about a minute of pain, but the rest of the time is spent taking in the view and cheering on others.
The time trial is a unique discipline, and one that we’d love to see used in more stage races. Don’t miss our MTB time trial tips! The same course is used in the evening for the night race – this time you’re elbow to elbow with your rivals. Don’t forget some good lights.
The final two stages take in the best trails, and are long enough to test the legs, but short enough to make sure you’re back in time for lunch – or a swim in the hotel pool.
Is Alice Springs worth the trip?
That’s the big question isn’t it? With flights available from Qantas and Virgin Australia, it’s not overly cheap to get into the middle of our vast country. So what is it that makes it worth it? August tends to have an average temperature of 23 degrees in the daytime, and of course it’s not likely to rain – but surely you want more than just nice weather?
“Apart from some of the best singletrack riding in the country, Alice Springs really brings you back down to earth,” says Justin Morris. “I love how remote and isolated it is, a hike up Mt Gillen or trip out to Hermansburg really forces you to appreciate how small you are in the scheme of Mother Nature.”
“Add to this the super friendly locals who are more than willing to show newcomers the trails which they are so proud of.”
Imogen Smith thinks that the trip to Alice Springs for The Redback is worth it if you like what it delivers.
“Is Alice worth the trip? I think it depends. It depends whether you want to get some serious sunshine into your life in the middle of winter. It depends on whether you want to meet a bunch of friendly, like-minded people, and of course then it depends on whether or not you enjoy riding awesome singletrack. If you like those three things, then sign up. If not, give it a miss.”
Of course, there is the social element too. With stages at 50km or less, you’ve got more than half the day to relax, which is why you’re on a holiday anyway. Racing The Redback is a ticket to warm weather and relaxing by a pool for James Downing.
“For me, getting to Alice Springs in August is about escaping the last clutches of the Antarctic Vortex that envelopes Canberra. I can ride dry, dusty trails in Alice Springs each day and spend my afternoons relaxing by the pool working on my tan.”
“These trails are in my top 3 in the whole of Australia and they are what draw me back to this location every year.”
That’s a pretty strong recommendation!
So – are you free in August? Do you like natural singletrack, dry conditions, warm sun in winter and easy event logistics? If so, Alice Springs is calling, and The Redback is the perfect answer to the call. Find the full event details online.