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SS5 & SS6 Event Report

Friday, 10 August 2012

The weekend of 28th/29th July saw a great turnout with over 60 participants coming to the Southern Highlands to race at Penrose and Belanglo State Forests.

Penrose State Forest

It had been a long time since Mountain Devils last held an MTBO event at Penrose. Since that time the forest has been heavily logged in places. That, along with some key road closures made course setting a challenge. However everyone still enjoyed the line courses offered, which incorporated some lovely areas of the forest. The weather was beautiful and the tracks were dry so it was a pleasure to ride in Penrose that day.  Probably the most challenging aspect of the course was spotting the cairns that marked the entrance to a section of singletrack containing 2 controls that were shared by all courses.  As a result, several riders (generally ones moving quite quickly) rode in via the trail exit and found themselves visiting the controls out of order. This cost a few riders a number of minutes as they travelled along the singletrack to find the first control and then back to the second. Overall, Saturday was a good warm-up for Sunday!

Most competitors retired to Belanglo Hut for the evening to rest and catch up with each other, before what would be a longer event on the Sunday. A large group of competitors put in a strong showing at the Sutton Forest Hotel and are definitely invited back to provide further spirited karaoke performances!

Belanglo State Forest

An excited bunch of riders gathered for the mass start at 10am at Daly’s clearing. The weather was still beautiful but it was a cold morning so everyone was keen to start riding. The format of the event was a modified score course with 510 points available across 27 checkpoints.  The five course options each required riders to obtain a certain number of points ranging from 150 to 450.  The first rider to the finish with the required number of points for their course was the winner. 

The maps were handed out and when the race started most people took a few minutes to study their maps and draft their route choice before committing to their strategy and pedalling away. A few people looked decidedly undecided when they pedalled off! A number of riders on course 1 and 2 opted for the ‘giant gully’ approach out west,  a route choice which was best ridden from the south and involved considerable elevation loss and gain that got the legs burning. 2 unsuspecting riders went for an “out & back” approach by crossing the gully twice in quick succession which was a real test of mettle! Nearly every competitor arrived at the finish line with a grin on their face exclaiming that they had really enjoyed their ride. Riders compared their routes with lots of interesting discussion about the variety of routes taken. Special cudos go to Huw Kingston who returned back (in quite a quick time) with 470 points – 20 more than required for course 1!

The longer courses were generally best ridden in a clockwise direction that involved undertaking some perimeter riding in the beautiful eucalypt forest, deciding when to dip in/out of the pine forest in the middle to obtain enough points.  The shorter courses encouraged the riders to spend some time in the north east section of the pine forest, dipping into the eucalypt forest to get a couple of controls.

Thanks to all the competitors that travelled to the Southern Highlands to participate in this fun weekend, and a special thanks to everyone who assisted in set-up and pack-up before and after the events.


Hilary Ellis - August 2012