Epic number 11 & it was hot & dry. Reaching upward of 35 c around the middle of the day, in some ways, breaking down with a sheared top suspension bolt, just before the 50 k mark was a godsend. Gotta admit it was nice to watch all the poor soles coming in after the 37 k of single track & thinking I am feeling their pain. Beer was cold on the deck overlooking the finish line.
Wildside MTB 2014, Day 1 Stages 1&2. After registering at Cradle Mountain Lodge on Sat Jan 25th Jan it was a cruise to the start a about 5 k from the lodge. The first stage was a shock to the system with the temp at around 5 degrees and quite windy. The heart rate was max for the first couple of k's. Not sure if it was the cold air or the fact that we were up on the mountain plateau but it was hard! Stage 1 took us through typical alpine country on both single track through open paddocks & 4wd tracks to the finish. No mucking around at the end as it was so cold so off on the cruise leg to the start point for stage 2 around 16k down the way. Great lunch provided by the organisers. Stage 2 was as fast and furious as stage 1 with plenty of single track, some deep creek crossings and some fast flat 4wd tracks around the mining ponds. Final sections of stage 2 run under the power lines and undulate for a few k's. Good to finish and then cruise into Tullah where we enjoyed a well earned Boags Draught at the the Tullah Hotel. Cheers!!
A cracker of a morning greeted us on arrival in Tullah for the start of Day 2 and the 3rd stage of racing. A short 5 k cruise out of town to the start was a great way to get the legs moving after the flogging they copped on Day 1. Any comfort was short lived though. From the start, after a fast gravel track for the first kilometre, the trail narrows to single track, and steadily climbs through dense rainforest to the saddle between Mt Black and the towering face of Mt Murchison. A 4WD track then leads to a gnarly single track descent, then gravel tracks & single tracks to the finish in Rosebery. After a couple of hours of lunch & recovery it was off to the start of stage 4, the infamous Montezuma Falls trail. Montezuma Falls is a stage to remember - and for all the right reasons! After a steep climb riders begin 27 km of superb riding along an old disused tramway. The tramway gently inclines and becomes enclosed by overhanging vegetation and narrow cuttings. Soon after crossing the suspension bridge below the spectacular 100m high Montezuma Falls, or arriving back on the main track after the alternative route, you'll reach the high point and then select top gear for a fast downhill to Melba Flats. There was plenty of water and mud on this track so the gear took a hammering.
Stage 5 is the short & sharp 'Spray Tunnel' course. It's a dual time trial – head to head: with jumps, berms, bridges - and partly underground! The 6km course starts in Zeehan and finishes on the Trial Harbour Road. Riders set off in pairs – reverse order on general classification. Fast and furious to say the least with the heart rate at max, minutes after leaving the start gate. A very weird experience riding through the old rail tunnel, giving new meaning to 'a light at the end of'. A steady climb and then it's a flat, fast 4wd track to the finish of stage 5. A really picturesque cruise stage of around 20 k's takes you to the small fishing port of Trial Harbour. After lunch and a rest up it was on to Stage 6, Trial Harbour to Granville Harbour. It was probably my favourite stage when we competed in the event in 2005 and it didn't disappoint in 14'. The Granville Harbour stage is mountain biking at its best. After a steady climb out of Trial Harbour, riders turn on to the 4X4 track to Granville Harbour. This track has it all as you traverse the coastal heath with the Southern Ocean below and Mt Heemskirk looming above. Numerous creek crossings, rocky descents, bedrock and washouts make for a memorable ride. The track improves after crossing the Tasman River bridge for the last fast kilometre to the stage finish.