Coming up in 2017
Another jam packed yer of mtb in tropical north queensland
Straight off the back of a busy 2016, we are rolling into yet another packed year ahead for Mountain Biking in Tropical North Queensland. Cairns has grown as an event hub for the sport in the last 5 years, with the successful transition and growth of the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge as a local club event into a commercial powerhouse with nation-wide presence, for one. Of course, it goes without saying the icing on the cake for the region was being awarded – after nearly 20 years since the first event – the 2014 & 2016 UCI Mountain Bike World-Cup rounds. This sounded exciting enough, but was topped again with Cairns being selected as host destination for the keystone event for the UCI Mountain Bike calendar: the World Championships. Take a look at what we can expect this year, and get yourself ready to join in on the action!
2017 UCI Mountain Bike World-Championships
Last seen in Australia in 2009 – and before that in our very own Smithfield Mountain Bike Park in 1996 – the event is undoubtedly the single most important race for the world’s elite Mountain Bike athletes. For some countries, simply qualifying is competitive enough, with points being required separately from National-Level UCI sanctioned events. Come race day, the pressure falls on either a single 5-6 lap race, or a single timed run down the hill (XC and DH respectively). This racing atmosphere is well received with fans who adorn the courses by the thousands and cheer on their idols and favourite riders. With the success of the 2014 & 2016 UCI World Cups, Cairns is primed and ready to take on the even larger number of competitors and fans expected this September for the latest rumble in the jungle!
Great Barrier Reef Masters Games
A first for Cairns in 2017, the region will host a Mountain Bike segment for the Great Barrier Reef Masters Games in the Smithfield Mountain Bike Park from May 25th to 28th. While the bulk of the games calendar is made up of more ‘mainstream’ sports (soccer, swimming, tennis etc…), the Mountain Bike inclusion holds special interest as more often than not, there is not a title held specifically for masters-aged competitors at the top end of the sport. Competitors will be racing the famous Smithfield Mountain Bike Park, with the Cairns Mountain Bike Club hosting and running proceedings.
For more information about the Games, head to www.gbrmg.com.au
RRR Mountain Bike Challenge
A home-grown classic, the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge has come a long way in its 26 years of running. After starting out as a small, local event with no more than 20 riders competing, it has grown into one of Australia’s biggest and most exciting single point-to-point Mountain Bike events. Originally starting as a ‘Le Mans’ mass start at the historic Mt Molloy Pub, the race outgrew this location within years and moved down the road to fill the Mt Molloy sports field. Before long, the race became too big yet again and moved a few kilometres down a dirt road to its current start point – Whetherby Station. Now in its 27th year, the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge continues to grow and fill out the Whetherby Station start line with 600+ riders taking part in either the more popular 35km course or the challenging 70km variant. The course has changed very little over the history of the race, and riders can expect another year of travelling through the quiet rural farmlands of the Atherton Tablelands before entering the thick rainforest of the Great Dividing Range as they descend the Bump Track, finally finishing up alongside the Great Barrier Reef along 4 Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
Pic supplied by @witsup
For more information about the RRR Mountain Bike Challenge, head to ap.ironman.com
Cairns to Karumba Bike Ride
A different approach to events in Tropical North Queensland, this long-established charity ride has been going for close to 20 years, and has grown to become one of the most popular of its kind in the region. The annual ride leaves Cairns, and crosses the Peninsula through 780kms to the west, finishing in the small fishing township of Karumba. Raising money for bush kids and education through establishments such as the Cairns School of Distance Education, the ride aims to provide the many small, isolated bush communities with the opportunity their kids deserve to grow and gain a proper education. Riders can opt to take a more ‘competitive’ approach and aim to keep up in the leading pack, while the vast majority of riders take the slow lane and simply enjoy the atmosphere, scenery and social aspect of the ride. For the true Mountain Bikers at heart, there is even the ‘Dirty Boys’ group who forge their own path west taking the dirt roads and leaving the asphalt behind, offering an even more adventurous and scenic route.
For more information on the Cairns to Karumba Bike Ride, head to www.ridefnq.com
Gravitate Tropical Mountain Bike Festival
September – Dates TBC
An exciting year is ahead for the Gravitate Tropical Mountain Bike Festival. With the UCI World Championships happening in September, the event has moved forward from its familiar October time slot to align with the World Championships, and offer a prolonged buzz of excitement for local riders, visitors, spectators and athletes alike to take part in the local celebration of all things Mountain Biking. Gravitate has been around since 2010, and has grown from a small gathering of old-time riders and friends who paved the future for the sport in Cairns into a week-long event run by the Cairns Mountain Bike Club, celebrating the same love for the sport among all riders – old, new, DH, XC, recreation, fast, slow and everything inbetween! What’s more – with this year’s event being run off the back of the World Champs, you might just find yourself rubbing shoulders with your favourite World Cup riders!
For more information about Gravitate Tropical Mountain Bike Festival, head to gravitate.com.au
Arguably the toughest stage Mountain Bike XC race in the world, the Crocodile Trophy also moves forward to September for 2017 to coincide with the UCI World Championships. Eight stages of challenging racing take riders from the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon, to the Smithfield Mountain Bike Park, up to the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park and through the Atherton Tablelands northwards and back down to the coast finishing in Port Douglas. With Gravitate offering a special ‘Taste of the Croc’ category from 2016 onwards, riders not quite up to the full 8 days can take part in 2 or 4 stages and get a feel for the real thing! With races flying into Cairns from all corners of the world, this event draws huge international coverage and showcases the stunning terrain offered in Tropical North Queensland!
For more information about the Crocodile Trophy, head to www.crocodile-trophy.com
Atherton Bike Fest
Sepetember 30 – October 1
With a successful running in 2016, including an East Coast first with the Urban DH, the Atherton Bike Fest is back celebrating the region and its rise to becoming one of the hottest Mountain Bike destinations in Australia. Coupled with the amazing array of trails on offer in the Atherton Forest Mountain Bike Park, events like the Gran Foodo get riders seeing the wider Atherton Tablelands and sampling the boutique wine and produce establishments made famous in the region. There are events for all riders including the little ones, from competitive to social. Only just over an hour west of Cairns, Atherton offers a truly unique Mountain Biking experience with its dryer, high altitude scrub contrasting greatly against the thick, tight, rougher trails found in the rainforests of the Smithfield Mountain Bike Park.
Image by Tamara Katai
For more information about the Atherton Bike Fest, head to www.athertonbikefest.com
Of course, in between the events highlighted above are dozens more taking place all over Tropical North Queensland, and we simply would run out of room, and time, to include them all. Fore more information about events happening in any specific region, be sure to check in the local club / park / group etc. and get out and have fun on your bike!