The unprecedented quantity of cycling events offered in Australia last weekend represented what 2013 Tour Divide runner-up (and potato cake connoisseur) Jesse Carlsson dubbed “peak clash weekend.”
For race organisers, it represented the culmination of more than 12 months worth of careful planning and stakeholder engagement, resulting in a weekend where cycling, in many different forms, was celebrated on a grand, albeit very diluted, scale.
The deliberations, planning and logistics required to schedule no less than 11 events on a single weekend is no small feat and must surely be recognised as an historic achievement for Australian cycling.
Here’s what was on offer:
1. XCTRMLE (Cross Country Time Restricted Multi Lap Endurance) Racing: The acronymically-impressive format of XCTRMLE racing returned to Anglesea, VIC for the Surf Coast 6 Hour proving that mountain bikers and surfers have more in common than tight-fitting onesies and a fondness for urinating on themselves to keep warm.
2. Solo, Team and Esprit de Corps 24-hour Racing: At the Thule B24 in Bright, VIC you can race solo, in a relay team, or with your whole team at once—an event for all personality types.
3. Microbrewery-Sponsored Cross Country Stage Racing: The Cape To Cape MTB is Western Australia’s answer to Wildside—which in turn, is Tasmania’s answer to: “besides MONA, what else is worth doing in Tasmania?”
4. Dirt Road Racing (Fat Tyre Drifting): The Mitta to Mount Beauty is a 55km race with a 33-year history, starting at the Mitta Mitta Caravan Park—Yes, that’s a lot of repetition.
5. Gnarly But Not Quite DH: The Victorian Gravity Enduro Series hosted Round 2 at Barjarg—not to be confused with Bargearse, who was more a fan of the Belgian-style kermesse.
6. Traditional (Team-only) 24-hour Racing: The Mont 24Hr Race in Canberra was rained-out in April and organisers wisely chose to move it to a weekend on the MTB calendar already more full than Messina Gelato on a Sunday afternoon.
7. Multi-Sport: Just because the King Valley Challenge includes three disciplines, don’t go calling it a triathlon—offroad running, kayaking and road cycling come together for the benefit of people with expensive roof-racks.
8. Non-Competitive Road Cycling: The Audax Northern Hills 300 included 300km and 200km options—but remember to get your Brevet card stamped otherwise it pretty much never happened.
9. Non-Competitive Mixed Terrain Cycling: The Audax Searching for the Bunyip ride around Bunyip State Forest, VIC featured mixed terrain and mixed feelings about aimlessly hunting for a mythical creature.
10. Non-Competetive Gravel Riding: The Melbourne Gravel Grinders Bakers Dozen is a self-supported gravel ride around Mount Dandenong. I guess that means bring your own mortar & pestle, as that gravel ain’t going to grind itself.
11. National Road Series: The McDonalds Grafton to Inverell (at 228km) is the second longest one-day classic in the National Road Series after the 273km Melbourne to Warrnambool KFC.
It's hard racing and fast food for the longest one day classics on the NRS calendar.
The number of events scheduled last weekend shows that race organisers are rising to the challenge of one day hosting more events than there are actual participants. It's a pleasing trend and one that highlights the type of progressive thinking needed to ensure a bright future for cycling in Australia.