Scott Australian 24 Hour MTB Championships
The Scott Australian 24 Hour MTB Championships were held at Stromlo Forest Park in Canberra on 13-14th October.
Some 2,000 riders took part in this year’s Scott 24, with entries in 22 categories comprising male, female and mixed, solo, pairs, threes, fours, and six person teams.
Yet again Jason English dominated the solo male category, claiming his fifth consecutive title at this year’s event. He was pushed all the way this year by Euro champ Matt Page, just 22 minutes behind, and Andy Hall in third. Liz Smith rode an impressive race taking out the women’s solo title, followed by Philippa Rostan and Kate Penglase in third.
Its one thing to casually ride a bike up a mountain on a smooth bitumen surface, but quite another to race, in the rain, off road, in temps approaching zero, in the dead of night.
The CORC event management team headed up by Russ Baker and Sarah OCallaghan, have handling these events down to a fine art, consistently putting on spectacularly well run events making full use of the sensational facilities at Stromlo Forest Park. They will once again host the 24 Hour MTB World Championships in 2013 and have riders from across the globe take on our local heroes.
Course design this year incorporated the familiar hourglass loops diverging from the Toyota Transition zone. The Red and the Blue loops combined to provide a total 26km of trails, but a single 26km loop is a big call so two shorter laps made the course suitable for the mass of riders. It also meant riders would see more of the many trails Stromlo has to offer, and an increased distance between riders on the course which helps to maintain a steady flow of happy riders throughout.
The Le Mans style start for Blue Lap riders saw Rockstar rider, Dylan Cooper, reach his bike first and launch into a blistering first lap. Towards the end of it he was still in the lead — and hot on the heels of the motocross sweep, yelling at the rider to get out of the way!
With plenty of rock garden, the Blue Lap made tyre damage and pinch flats a real possibility. Climbing wasn’t too tough for most of the lap except for the fire trail climb about 10ks in, which tested the fitness of every rider. Further adding to the difficulty, the course was wet in some places from showers in the previous week, but then a heavy downpour about 7pm on Saturday night made the trail around Holden’s Creek a swampy, energy sapping mess—if you were able to ride it at all.
Consensus from riders across the weekend clearly had the Red lap as favourite. Despite plenty of climbing at the start, the many switchbacks and then the free flowing swoopy City View, Skyline and the berms down through the Luge make this trail a winner.
The park was not always as you see it now. In 2001 the place was burnt out by devastating bushfires, destroying the area and surrounding suburbs. When the site was reopened there was no vegetation to be seen; just rocks, gravel and dirt. The miles of dusty windblown trails snaking around the exposed mountainside event centre shimmered beneath the blazing Canberra sun. It was hot, dry and uninviting. So much so, that many questioned whether the site could ever possibly succeed. The ensuing decade now sees the mountainside again covered with grass, wattle, shady eucalypts and pines, and answering with a resounding yes.
Views from the top of the mountain are spectacular; north to Black Mountain and its tower, then east to the city, south and west across the farms and hills of the ACT. It’s a perfect setting for riding; a great destination for a mountain biking road trip!
If you are keen for more 24 hour MTB fun, look out for the Sydney 24 Hour at Mount Annan near Campbelltown on December 1&2.