Reef to Reef 2019
Reef to Reef was a very last-minute decision and one I’m glad of doing. When I say last-minute, I mean flights and entry booked the Monday of race week, with a late change in Uni placement timetables enabling me the opportunity to attend. This left me with no time to rope in a partner and was content to race solo treating the event as a form finding/future race preparation holiday. It was also a good excuse to get out of some miserable Bendigo weather. Speaking of Bendigo, we had a large contingent of club members racing the event and they were nice enough to let me bunker down with them and enjoy the good times.
Stage 1 – Smithfield 18km
One word to start with and that is, ‘HOT’. What a shock to the system and was glad the first day was the shortest of them all. The stage took in trails of the Smithfield area, which held great memories for me as two years ago it played host to the MTB World Championships. Most of the trails on the stage I knew and was glad they skipped some of the particularly difficult sections from the world course aka, ‘Jacobs ladder’. Results wise I managed to get the win in Open men and pop on the Reef to Reef yellow jersey.
Stage 2 - Davies Creek 51km
A stage which had me felling like I was in the set of Crocodile Dun Dee, with dry dusty trails and water crossings, was both awesome and deceptively hard. The climbs were quite steep and due to the remoteness, the planned elevation of 600m turning out to be more like 1000m, which left a few broken bodies at the finish line. The creek crossings were contradicting, good for the body in cooling down but I soon leant to carry the bike out of the water, with chain lube feeling non-existent after a creek dowsing. After starting 5mins behind the elite pairs, I broke away early from my solo compatriots and was surprised passing all teams bar one finishing second on the line, retaining and putting time into the solo overall.
Stage 3 – Mt Malloy 70km
The queen stage of the event and the fastest, it included predominantly fire road weaving our way through vast open cane field into thick luscious rainforest today was a scenic, ‘box of chocolates’. My now the 5min gap between myself and the elite pairs starting was starting to gather some banter and my eagerness to catch my pals up front was high, committing to a one-man TT. After passing through sticky mud bogs, pristine creeks, thick jungle and prickly vines I managed to catch all bar two teams and finish with a good lead in the solos.
Stage 4 – Mt Malloy to Port Douglass 50km
Final stage and a dash from the mountain ranges of Mt Malloy to the beach of Port Douglass. I’d made my own category or goal for this stage and that was to win the race overall as I was only 13sec down on the Elite pairs of John Odams and Brendan Johnston. This stage was the highlight for me with a par core of a 10min decent off the Mt Malloy range to the coast and then finishing along 4mile beach in Port Douglass was pretty special and unique to North Queensland. Again, I started 5min behind and time trailed my hardest catching all bar the top team and eventually after checking results I’d taken time on them and took the overall line honours by some 20secs. It wasn’t a competition but going for the overall was good for a bit of banter, especially with how tightknit the Elite MTB community is.
Stage 5 – Hemmingway Brewery – Pizza and Beers
Photos – Flow MTB, TBS Photography