Mountain bikers prepare for 24-hour race
A CONTINGENT of 20 riders representing the Northern Rivers Dirty Wheels (NRDW) Mountain Bike Club will descend on Grandchester in south east Queensland next weekend for the Merida 24 Hour Cross Country Mountain Bike Event.
The race, held from noon on Saturday, April 9, until noon the following day, attracts more than 1200 people for a weekend of camping, racing and music.
NRDW club president, Dave Hegerty, competed in the solo event last year, covering 300km and climbing 6000m to finish in eighth position out of 60 riders.
This year he is part of a team of six for "a bit of a change".
"The race is as hard as you want to make it," Hegerty said.
"The laps are around an hour in length, so you can stop for a break every hour if you need to ... even have a nap throughout the night if need be.
"But for me personally, getting out of the sleeping bag at 3am for another lap can be harder than just staying awake all night.
"Riders in the 30-50 year old bracket tend to be the most stubborn and perform exceptionally well - they have plenty of experience in managing conditions and fatigue, as well as having the sheer determination to achieve their goal of completing the event."
NRDW has several juniors who have been training hard for their respective events, including 11-year-old Hayley Oakes from Alstonville, who has shown great form for a relative newcomer to the sport and will compete in her first four-hour event.
Hegerty's 9-year-old son, Reuben, will compete in his third race.
"The club itself is going from strength to strength, with membership having grown from around 70 to 107 in recent months," Hegerty said.
NRDW was formed in 2012 to advocate for the creation of legal riding facilities within the area and to provide a social network of like-minded people to participate in group social rides.
"Our dilemma is that at the moment, there aren't any legal public single-track riding facilities within the Ballina or adjoining shires," Hegerty said.
"The closest ones are around an hour and a half's drive away at Nerang, Brisbane or Grafton, making training on purpose built facilities difficult, particularly for junior members.
"Other areas in Australia are reaping the benefits of the tourism dollar, with towns such as Derby in Tasmania reportedly throwing $3 million into a new trail network - it has the sport abuzz with excitement and tourism about to boom in the area.
"Mountain biking on properly designed trails is very sustainable and well suited to forested areas. It is also a sport that all of the family can be involved in."
Anyone interested in assisting the club, becoming a member or participating in the sport should visit the club website at www.dirtywheels.org.