In a tumultuous year for mountain bike racing and alas everything else in life, organising and executing events has been more difficult than ever. Constantly evolving regulations and travel restrictions have placed unseen challenges on event promoters. With over 10 years of mountain bike event hosting, Rocky Trail Entertainment tested the waters in Queensland in 2019, and expanded their staff to offer more mountain bike events in the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland in 2020. Of course, you know how most of 2020 has panned out.
But with thorough planning and Covid safe practices, many of Rocky Trail’s events have still run since June. Their Super Flow concept is Rocky Trail’s take on Enduro racing, taking down any of the complexities of the enduro format, with a timing system that lets you do a stage whenever you want, and as many times as you like. This means you don’t need to do a run full-gas after one sighting lap, and you don’t need to climb back up right on the limit! Having raced the Super Flow event at Nerang earlier this year, it was easy to see it was a winner, with the wide range of riders in attendance – all spread over the mountain bike park and not congesting in one area.
This past weekend was round of of the Shimano sponsored Grand Prix, this round taking to the Sunshine Coast just north of Brisbane. The Sugar Bag Road MTB park has recently been established with a growing network of single track. With close to 200 riders turning up to give these trails a run many for the first time meant the racing was likely to be intense.
The race began on a covid safe start line and then straight up an approximately 1km climb to the transition area which proved to seperate the riders into a definitive lead group followed then by many chasing riders. Accomplished road racer Ryan Cavanagh rode to a solid lead in the 4hr solo competition which would prove to be solid enough to take the victory. The trails were extremely well made and groomed which made for fun racing. A LOT of corners meant an approximately 35minute lap was able to be made in the smaller amount of land space available here. This placed different challenges upon the riders more than just fitness. Those with the skills and finesse in the tight corners would put big gaps into chasing riders like myself. A few man made obstacles kept things interesting with always a B line which ensured a safe event for all levels.
Multi lap endurance events place unique motivational factors on competitors. Unlike a marathon when the only option to finishing is to keep chipping away, in a multi lap race the rider is tempted with a release from the struggle every 30-40 minutes. Subsequently, the riders who excel in this format are often extremely driven riders with a high degree of ‘grit’.
On this occasion it was Geraldine Haidle and Ryan Cavanagh who proved to be the most driven in the 4hr solo category. In the 7hr category which required an extremely high level of grit due to the hot, humid conditions of the day Michelle Woods and Brodie Gardner proved to be the most hardy. Full results including some super fast laps from local young riders are available here.
Kudos to Rocky Trail Entertainment for taking 2020 in their stride, and not running a scaled down racing series, but growing up and down the east coast. Let’s see what they deliver in 2021.