The first Shimano Mountain Bike Grand Prix event for 2019 took place at Stromlo Forest Park on 13 April, supported by Events ACT and as one of three Rocky Trail races at the popular venue in the Capital this year. In a surprise victory, Tyla Windham from Albury claimed the solo victory ahead of Central Coast’s Mitch Lozinski and local ace Andrew Blair. On her home track Em Viotto takes the women’s win and fellow local Garry James and Catherine Wood from the Blue Mountains open the solo accounts in the seven hour race for the remaining four series events across NSW.
It was a brilliantly sunny autumn morning in the Capital as 250 racers from NSW, VIC and the ACT lined up for the first Shimano MTB GP race of 2019 at Stromlo Forest Park. The local MP Chris Steel welcomed the event participants and congratulated events organiser Rocky Trail Entertainment for entering the second decade of hosting races at Stromlo Forest Park and attracting more than 7,000 cyclists to Canberra since 2009.
Tyla Windham takes 4-hour series lead to Victoria
Under the patronage of SHIMANO Cycling Australia the series has grown to one of the major cross-country endurance racing series in Australia. With more than 11,500 competitors since it’s inception in 2009, the series added a new name to its leader board in Canberra on the weekend: with 8 laps in 4:31:02 Tyla Windham, “the pale-blue and yellow breeze” from Albury, claimed the general classification by 2 minutes in the 4-hour solo race ahead of 2018 series winner Mitch Lozinski from the Central Coast and the local cross-country gun Andy Blair (+4:22 min).
“I’ve been wanting do do a race in this series for quite some time as I’ve heard about the great atmosphere and that there’s fierce but friendly competition to be found at these events”, Tyla said at the finish. “I’m really happy to come away with the win in the solo GC after a tough day against some fast competition”, the 26-year old carpenter added.
The women’s win in the 4-hour solo race was claimed with 6 laps in 4:05:04 by seasoned National road and mountain bike racer Em Viotto ahead of Sydney’s Natalie Anderson (+21:18 min) and Liz Gray (+ 2 laps). With 8 laps in 4:26:53 the outright line-honours go to the Mobius Attaquer team of Tyron Bicknell and Luke Brame.
Old-hands Garry James and Catherine Woods take the lead in the 7-hour solo races
“We call this a ‘seriously fun’ racing experience, because we the series delivers a set of events that is less of an elite- and winners-only-focused competition, but a positive and inclusive experience for riders of all backgrounds”, says one of the Rocky Trail founders Juliane Wisata.
In the seven-hour competition last year’s series winner Garry James from Canberra who took the first win this year. With 11 laps in 7:08:50 the 58-year old won by 4 minutes ahead of Mark Astley from Berry and fellow local racer Matt Georgeson from (+8:40 min).
In the women’s 7-hour race, it was the Rocky Trail “female endurance triple” who took the top three positions: Catherine Woods won with 10 laps in 7:33:08 ahead of the 2018 series winner Gwynn McLeod from Canberra (+1 lap) and Dalene Pretorius from Dubbo (+5 laps).
‘Rocky Trail’ entertainment for all event visitors
Stromlo Forest Park had been a staple on the Rocky Trail calendar for so long as it had so much to offer in terms of trail variety, explained Juliane Wisata and that the series motto “Race on Saturday, Explore on Sunday” encouraged groups of riding mates and taking the family along to the events.
For the first time Rocky Trail put on an additional “Kids MTB Fair” for the little ones, getting the local coaches from Dynamic Motivation on board to provide fun skills activity stations and more than 50 kids took part in the action. “It was really good to see so many young mountain bikers using the great set up at Stromlo Forst Park – we always put on little time-trials for kids at our cross-country events, but the facilities in Canberra just inspired us to offer more – the Dynamic Motivation crew kept them busy at the kids skills playground and everyone had an absolute blast”, said Juliane. “We kept it simple handing out reward stickers and Certificates of Achievements to encourage the young riders – most of them had come along with a parent who raced in the main event, but it was great to see quite a few local families come out to give it a go”, she added and that the small drink bottles made especially for the kids event were very popular.
2019 event line-up
For the second series event Rocky Trail will return to Wingello State Forest in the Southern Highlands with its popular mountain bike trails. The race circuit will feature some of the local riders’ favorite trail sections, all surrounding a picturesque forest event centre with beautiful camping spots, says Wisata! As a stand-alone event it will also offer points for the series ranking. Online registration is open now via rockytrailentertainment.com
Photos: Outer Image Collective and Rocky Trail