with thanks to #rockytrailracer, Grantley Butterfield
We’ve had the pleasure of hosting Rocky Trail events at Stromlo Forest Park for more than a decade and we always like to check in with the locals when it comes to choosing the race tracks. The trail builders at Stromlo never stop to maintain, improve and extend and this year we have the pleasure to head there with three events, supported by Events ACT.
First off is our the season opener of our Shimano MTB GP Series on 13 April and we’d like to give a huge shout-out to Grantley Butterfield who has inspired the 10-year Rocky Trail-Stromlo Anniversary race track!
In the following Grantley talks you through his version of the track – and “why he loves this course”!
Race track preview
By Grantley Butterfield
As many of you know, I love Stromlo. Lived near it most of my life and have seen so many changes to lead us to the amazing tracks we have now on offer for all levels of riders.
This years Shimano MTB Grand Prix series kicks off on a classic course which combines short, technical climbs, super fast and fun skatey decents and plenty of flow for legs to either recover or burn on…..depending on your mandate.
The course kicks off with a nice gentle wander up Wattle Happen which is just enough to get the legs warmed up. Keep your eye out here as I’ve seen many a gorgeous echidna waddling around this part of the park. We keep heading up gently to the Blackberry Climb which just starts to put a bit of burn on if too many candles are lit too soon. Up the short fire road (plenty of drinking and overtaking options here) and launch through the rock gap into Slant Six. A couple of tight switchbacks bring you into the super fast gentle off-camber left hander which has the capability of catching anyone out running a bit too hot to the right!! Into Wombat Junction you go and take a last few breaths before the ‘hard’ bit starts.
Up Blue Tongue we go. This is one of my absolute favourite tracks anywhere – not sure why – but maybe because it’s the start of my favourite climb anywhere, but we don’t get to do it all today……sorry. I guess the real reason I love it is because clearing this track with relative speed is a challenge and probably every time I ride it I find slightly different line to try (and hope they’re faster and smoother). This is the main challenge for this race track, so clear it and you’ll love the rest – I promise!!
Once we reach the top we bomb down the tight and skatey Little Seymour which has had a few small modifications in recent months so watch out for a couple of small rock drops that you’re probably not used to unless you’re a local rider. Into Willo Link (after the loose and tight left-hander). This track is a favourite to me as I reflect on the bloke it’s named after and why he rode and how he rode. He remains one of the nicest and most generous people I’ve ever met. While I know I’ll never ride like him, I at least remember him and think of what he did in the sport in such a short and amazing life.
Now the fun bit – Double Dissolution – who doesn’t love downhills – and jumps – and berms – and jumps – and more downhill. Go as fast as you like but please keep thinking about the bloke previously described and how he would have ‘attacked’ DD.
The journey home is one where the 4 hour weapons will fly and the 7 hour riders (and old blokes like me) will recover, spin the legs and love the flow. I can only think of the wee hours of the SCOTT 24 or WEMBO races of the years gone by while riding along here.
Kick it off with Crim Track, Dingo and White Gums, and just before the madness begins again, roll once again up to Wombat Junction via Ringtail.
For the enduro type (and most riders generally) here goes the best bit of the track……Breakout. With newly improved and bigger berms this is your chance to let rip. Good chance one of the Outer Image Collective guys will be out there hunting the perfect shot during the race at some stage – will it be you??
Nearly there and once through the slightly changed version of Muck Raker we’re into the run home with Old Duffy Decent. If you haven’t been to Stromlo for a bit there’s a few nice table jumps to launch if you so wish or just let gravity assist you back to race village.
Now you’re home – go do it again!!
While not what I’d call a hilly course there is 220 vertical metres over the 11.6 kilometre loop. I reckon the uber fast guys (no names mentioned) will rattle around in 27 or 28 minutes, but hey, could be proven wrong. I also think you’ll know you’ve been riding if you solo the whole 7 hours.
Please remember while it’s a race, it’s no world cup so enjoy this amazing precinct.