World’s Best Dominate Baw Baw Bike Race

The threat of atrocious unseasonal weather conditions proved a blessing in disguise creating perfect course conditions, photo and spectating opportunities at the annual Mt Baw Baw Mountain Bike Festival. The event saw riders compete in a four-hour cross-country endurance race, a twilight short course elimination event and Round two of the Chain Reaction Cycles and Nukeproof Victorian Downhill Mountain Bike Series over the weekend.

 

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort, Gippsland MTB Inc. and Mornington’s Red Hill Riders hosted the event, which is one of the most competitive of its type in Australia, offering a large prize pool of cash and prizes to its competitors. 

During the four-hour enduro, competitors had to complete as many laps of the designated six kilometre course that was prepared by Mt Baw Baw’s Recreation team members, Nick King and Dru Berryman. With an even mix of climbing and descending, Solo Junior Liam Collier, Solo Women’s Jess Wigan and Solo Men’s Jacob Riley all completed six laps. Junior Pair, Team Logan consisting of Cass and Rey Logan, completed five laps between them, which was an outstanding effort. Father and Daughter Team Fox, Lauren and Ken enjoyed the altitude of the alpine adventure and secured seven laps to complete the most for the event.

For evening entertainment at Village Central a short course cross-country elimination event was held, whereby short, fast 500 metre heats were completed by 10 riders around the Alpine Hotel, between the iconic ‘A’ frame lodges ANARE and Currawong, down into Frosti Frog Hollow and up Frosti Lane to the finish line with the last competitor eliminated from the event. The crowd was in awe of the riders gunning for the lead into the first granite boulder corner gaining the holeshot and the slippery slope of the grassy hollow, which caught many riders off guard. The main battle saw former Australian Junior World Championship racer Alex Swann of Lilydale win the event over S & J Cycles Racing’s Lachlan Gibson. Many guests chose to revel into the night at the Alpine Hotel with DJ Trazer spinning drum and bass tunes late into the night.

210 racers took on the three and a half minute DH1 challenge down the legendary black diamond rated ‘Jeep Track’ and the resorts General Manager Alex Flint and Alpine Recreation Supervisor Nick King were thrilled with the turnout. There was a massive influx of individual stays for the weekend and the resort occupancy was near capacity, which provided a huge financial boost to the alpine resort and its suite of adventure activities throughout the green season.

With fast, fierce and at times slippery racing conditions, spectators were enjoying the thrills and spills of the race on Sunday. Traralgon’s Aaron Churton, did not start his race run on the Sunday due to a dislocated finger which was the only major injury for the event which was attended by the Mt Baw Baw Ski Patrol for a second year. Ben Bloomfield of Moe used his local knowledge of the course to snag fifth place also earning himself the Eamonn Flahavin Memorial Scholarship of $1,500, presented by Liz and Dana Flahavin to help with expenses as the recipient travels to future events. Dana of Yinnar, piloted her late brother’s bike to her first podium finish in the elite women’s category.

Local rider Josh Webster of Morwell entered the hardtail category where the bike has no rear suspension. As most competitors found the course quite difficult even with full suspension on their bike, Josh piloted his rigid steed to a 3:31.9 first place.

Riding for S & J Cycles Racing in the Under 19’s, Lachlan Gibson of Newborough completed his run in 3:06.4 and rallied for third place while Churchill’s Ellis Hayes-Hills muscled his bike to second for a 3:01.1, while Maffra’s speedster Hayden Stead took home first place in a 3:00.6 flat. Also of S & J Cycles Racing, proven Australian Junior World Cup athlete Dru Berryman of Traralgon earned himself thirteenth place in the tightly contested Elite Men’s category with a 3:03.1, 8.8 seconds off a podium place. 

The showstopper on the mountainside was the ‘Elite’ final on the notorious ‘Jeep Track’ from the best riders in Australia and the world. Hailing from Thredbo, current Junior World Champion Tegan Molloy of the Kona Factory Team won Elite Women in 3:29.8 and All-Australian World Cup racer and a former Junior World Cup Winner Dean Lucas of Beechworth dominated the entire Elite Men’s field in a course time of 2:54.2 to seal the deal and take the cash and oversize cheques. General Manager Alex Flint was proud to offer Both Elite Men and Women an equal prize purse for this iconic event.

 

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