Ever arrived in a new town and wondered what the best way to get to know the local mountain biking scene? On Sunday I tried my fourth method and it worked out brilliantly. The method, signing up for an enduro race as part of a team, and letting someone else put you in the team!
So after a late start I rocked up at the Mt Gillen 6hr Enduro race in my new town of Alice Springs about 90minutes after the race had started to be met by some very friendly event volunteers from local club appropriately named the Central Australian Rough Riders. They told me I was in a team of four people, and that the second team member was out on the course so I had some time to get ready. Their advice on finding my team? Head in that direction and shout Stephen or Jacob…
Amazingly that worked and 5 minutes later I was getting myself sorted my first lap while chatting to Jacob (a super keen young rider who despite crashing on the 2nd lap stood at the finish line until the last minute praying to get a third lap in), while George (an awesome kid but more about that later) waited for Stephen to get back from his lap.
In the true spirit of enduro races twenty minutes later, when Stephen (a cheery American from Alabama) was back from his lap, the team set about helping Jacob change his bald rear tyre for the new one he has just won. It seemed like a risky tactic to change from a 2.2″ to a 2″ tyre between laps, but when compared to having to walk up most hills due to lack of traction it seemed like a good idea. Of course the tyre being replaced was tubeless, and the new one wasn’t – but who ever let that phase them.
Eventually it was time for my lap of the course. I set out full of vim and vigour ready to smash out a lap on new ground. Unfortunately I should have taken more heed of the week sitting in a car for 3600km, or the cold I am still fighting, because as soon as I reached the first hill I was panting like a dog and praying the lap would finish soon!
The course was brilliantly set up, and the trails out here are amazing. For anyone interested I would describe it as being flowy like Majura Pines, with the persistent sand and rocks of Appin (though not the technical ones). Despite sore lungs it was impossible not to enjoy the riding, and the friendliness of everyone out there was something every race should aspire too.
A special mention is needed about the number of juniors in the race, with a competitive schools comp and heaps of juniors out riding anyway. These kids have serious skills!
At the end of the day there were presentations. The event organiser JP had put a lot of effort into making cool trophies and to finish the day with the same sense of fun the whole event displayed, awarded a series of prizes to people for non-race related prowess.