The 2018 Shimano MTB Grand Prix Series was wrapped up at Wingello State Forest at the end of October and the Rocky Trail racers concluded the most successful endurance racing series in Australia with a bang! More than 300 racers swarmed onto the popular Southern Highlands Trail network with many regular riders as well as new faces at the start line! Two riders really made us sit at the edge of our seats – Luke Brame winning his first 4-hour race and the men’s solo GC and Samara Sheppard smashing it in the women’s 4-hour, placing 14th outright and 10th in the 4-hour solo racing field!
The history of the Shimano MTB GP
Rocky Trail Entertainment established the series in 2009 and since then almost 11,500 racers have crossed the 4 and 7 hour race finish lines! With a 35% growth spurt from last year, in 2018 we had more than 1,400 racers join us for five rounds at some of the most popular Rocky Trail venues – Glenrock (NPWS), Ourimbah State Forest and Stromlo Forest Park – as well as two brand-new ones with Nowra and Wingello State Forests.
Each race is a stand-alone event and our riders can collect points to go into a series classification. We like to keep the race atmosphere light and positive, yet professional with race times streaming live via our timing portal and a well-established operations crew and team of suppliers. One our biggest challenges over the last decade has been scouting and securing new venues and we will continue to be active in the trail advocacy sphere. We have been working together with the NSW Forestry Corporation and our hosting clubs really well and are proud that for most of them we provide a major income source for club trail maintenance initiatives. Stromlo Forest Park will again be part of the series venues in 2019 too.
We are proud of the events’ reputation that they are challenging yet doable, serious yet fun, professional yet friendly – all driven by Juliane and Martin Wisata’s commitment to run a business that promotes fair races that are exceptionally well run. We want to deliver a series that is less of an elite- and winners-only-focused competition, but a positive and inclusive experience for all participants.
The riders at the Shimano MTB GP
The events attract a wide range of mountain bikers – starting from as young as eight or ten years old, our competitors’ age climb into the mid 60’s in both male and female divisions.
For me the most intense yet most enjoyable time at a race is the rider registration – I want everything to run like clock-work, handing out and printing new plates, checking data, however, I so enjoy seeing so many different people in line. It is such a positive atmosphere, everyone is chatty and loves being there! – Juliane Wisata
A good two-thirds of the rider field competes in the 4-hour event with more than 300 solo men and women racing in those divisions throughout the year. We’ve seen some incredible performances and Mitch Lozinski from the NSW Central Coast took out the Male Solo 4-hour General Classification this year. A real talent, we saw him slip into a sponsored jersey and joining the Mobius Attaquer team half-way through the year – what a fantastic effort! His new team mates Ben Fillingham and Matt La-Borg join him on the GC podium in 2nd and 3rd.
In the female division it is Catherine Ballantyne from Sydney who took out the title ahead of Jetblack Racing team rider Natalie Anderson and Amelia Cafe from Wollongong.
The 4-hour competition also offers team of two categories and we had 40 juniors compete with us – “The Odd Spoke Juniors” took out the series GC win with Cooper Hartmann and Candance Brown riding for the Jetblack Racing team.
In the men’s in was the “Palermo Plodders Team” with Chris Taylor and Matthew Tonkin who raced the entire series and collected 1590 points to score series coffee mugs and beans. Veronica Russell and Louise Brierty won in the women’s for “Pro Cycling Coach” ahead of the “Robish Girls” with Western Sydney’s Patricia Hussain and Robyn Walker – both teams traveled with us throughout the entire series too!
Matt Howell and Karen Reily took out the Mixed Teams classification – 39 couples competed in the series with Nowra and Wingello being most notably popular for these categories. Some food for thought for us organisers! #couplesgetaway 🙂
What can we say about the 7-hour… once the hustle and bustle of the 4-hour presentations concludes usually a sense of calm descends on the Rocky Trail event centre. The crew flocks to Mona and Anthony’s “Daily Espresso” van for another coffee and a sweet treat and we watch as our ultra-endurance riders keep punching out their laps until 4pm.
One of the strongest men took out the series this year – the great Garry James from Canberra competed for ScottOnyaRacing and won ahead of Simon De Pomeroy and Marty Tink. Almost 60 solo men competed throughout the season, many of which use this format as cross-country base training during the year including the likes of Jason English who attends when his busy schedule allows it and Andrew Radcliffe who competed in the lead-up to his fifth Crocodile Trophy stage race or Andrew Fell in the lead-up to The Pioneer in NZ.
The 7-hour solo women are incredible – 24-hour solo World Champion Gwynn Le Maitre from Canberra taking the series win with four straight wins ahead of the inspiring Catherine Wood and Claudia Fiess. Dalene Pretorius rode the entire season for Jetblack Racing and it was noticeable who much these women enjoyed racing each other out on track!
An honorable mention also goes out to our single E-Bike rider throughout the series, Steve Troughton – he says, he just wants to be part of the fun and racing action and that the e-powered bike gives him the opportunity to do so. “I’m not too fussed about lap times or winning or things like that, I just want to be part of the event and the mountain bike community, with my e-Bike I have finally been able to join in the fun again!”
Brent Jenkins and Keegan Wolfenden took out the Men’s Team of 2 title for Cyclery Northside and Nick Smee and Kathryn Hopkins the Mixed classification. In the Teams of 3 Steven Luke, Tom Stringer and Troy Laughlin were the outright winners for Seight Threes with Jetblack Racing.
As Australia’s biggest amateur racing team, the Jetblack racers attended the series with 40-50 racers at each event. They truly reflect the age range of the series, representing in almost every category.
The future of the Shimano MTB GP
We are so proud that we have been able to secure our 10-year headline sponsor Shimano Cycling Australia again to ring in the second decade of the Shimano MTB Grand Prix in 2019 and the event planning has already started – we’d like to announce that we will be hosting a Shimano MTB Grand Prix Championship event in October 2019!
We want to continue to reward as many riders as possible with prizes across the series. At the centre of the race results will be that General Classification (GC) determining the major winners of a race. A further measure will be a wider variety of age groups, which will determine the Category podiums. You will receive a placing in both GC as well as one category.
The series will take our Rocky Trail racers to Stromlo Forest Park for the 10-year Rocky Trail-Stromlo Forest Park Anniversary and series launch in April and to Wingello State Forest in May. Glenrock National Park in Newcastle will host a race in June and we will head south to Coondoo in Nowra in July. In August we will ‘play’ on our home track in Ourimbah State Forest for the series finale .
We love travelling with our Rocky Trail racers and to see them having so much fun is our biggest reward and motivates us so much! We want this series to constantly evolve and grow and be a playground for all kinds mountain bikers! We want to use our experience and grow the Rocky Trail network to keep creating safe, professional, inspiring and fun events for everyone. – Martin Wisata
Here are the dates for 2019 and highlights from this year!
Shimano MTB GP Round 1 on 13. April 2019 Stromlo / ACT
Shimano MTB GP Round 2 on 18. May 2019 Wingello / NSW
Shimano MTB GP Round 3 on 15. June 2019 Glenrock NP Newcastle / NSW
Shimano MTB GP Round 4 on 27. July 2019 Coondoo, Nowra / NSW
Shimano MTB GP Round 5 on 24. August 2019 Ourimbah MTB Park / NSW
***new*** Shimano MTB GP Championships on 26. October 2019 – venue to be confirmed
See y’all in 2019!
Photos: Outer Image.com.au