Earlier this month, one of Australia’s biggest MTB events, the 2019 Flight Centre Cycle and Trail Run Epic took place at Hidden Vale Adventure Park. Fourteen hundred people made their way to Granchester to take part in a variety of events throughout the weekend. From kid’s fun runs, to half-marathons, all the way to the signature 100km Epic MTB race. One of those participants, was Andrew ‘Hubcap’ Handyside. Andy is a well-known figure around the South East Queensland MTB scene, and a regular at Hidden Vale Adventure Park events. Hear his take on the 2019 Flight Centre Cycle and Trail Run Epic!
When ambition exceeds talent
For the uninitiated, the Cycle Epic traces its history back to 2003. The race used to wend its way from Preston Peak, near Toowoomba, down to Spicers Hidden Vale.
The course mostly consisted of the Bicentennial National trail following the back roads and farm tracks of the Lockyer Valley. Two hundred and forty-two fool-hardy riders took on the challenge that first year. We pushed and cursed our way through the mud down to Ma Ma creek and dragged our already-beaten bodies up through Spicers Gap and Edwards Gap before finally reaching Hidden Vale, the finish line and a cold beer.
From those early days the event has grown and evolved and until 2010 traced a fairly consistent route. The 2011 floods forced a rethink as the trails were all but completely destroyed in the floods that wreaked havoc throughout south east Queensland.
The event that year was based out of the Hidden Vale. First a big lap out to Mulgowie and back on sealed and gravel roads before a second loop consisting of the kind of rough, rocky single that we all love.
The race continued with this format until 2015 when the laps gave way a new format, with the full race taking place on the network of trails carved out on the property and then returning to the full distance of 100km in 2018.
Now, to my race
I’ll preface this by saying I had definitely NOT put the training in required to race 100km of single track. But nor had I last year, and I survived the 55km without incident.
So I thought I’d toughen up and do the full distance and just keep in mind that I was in terrible shape.
The start generally provides ample opportunity to both crash, and for people to extend themselves well beyond what they are capable of.
Thankfully, there’s a steep hill about 5km in that serves to separate the field to some degree. At the top it’s a right-hand turn into Treedom where the fun can really begin.
The normally firm trails had suffered through the dry spell and instead of the normal rocky hard pack, the terrain was more rocky loose pack. You’d need your wits about you today.
Reaching the valley floor without incident I was joined by teammate, Simon Nendick. He’d foolishly gone in a later wave and I thought if I could keep up, he’d provide good company.
We spent the next 3 hours acting the fools, telling stories and reminding each other to drink. And so, the remainder of the first lap is a blur.
Summiting Escalator, it was time for a quick refuel at the turn around. Two new bottles of Infinit on the bike, 3psi of extra pressure in the rear tyre, a bottle of iced water down the back and about 150ml of coke down the gullet.
Out into the second half and the team Infinit train was in full swing. Simon and I took turns leading and started to pick off a few places. I picked some bad lines early on Yowie and Simon opened a gap on me which I was in a way happy for. Realistically, there was no way I would keep up with him for 100km.
Climbing out of the creek around the 65km point, I could feel my body temperature spiking. I knew I needed to get to a checkpoint to douse myself in water to cool off, as I was cooking myself and making silly mistakes as a result.
Mercifully, I made it to dinner camp and after a few minutes in the shade pouring water over myself I felt better and set off in pursuit of everyone who’d passed me while I’d struggled.
The climb up to Ripple Effect was a joy, once you’re at the top, it’s all downhill… to that damned fire road pinch and Juiced.
Per earlier, I was feeling better by this point and pulled back a couple of places up the climb before putting it in neutral for the final blast down Plane Sailing.
61st overall and 13th in category I think is better than I expected. I’ll kick myself for not better managing my temperature through the middle third of the race, but anyone who tells you they didn’t learn from their race is either an idiot, a liar, or both.
Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ll be back next year and maybe this time I’ll do some training.
Keep it rubber side down.
100km Flight Centre Cycle Epic
1. Anna Beck 5:26.28
2. Karen Hill 5:43.04
3. Philippa Ludwig 6:25.49
1. Brendan Johnston 4:29.16
2. Michael England 4:37.30
3. Reece Tucknott 4:38.47
Thanks for that EPIC writeup Andy!
If your competing in an upcoming event and want to share your experience like Andy or Nathan, then get in touch!
Event photos are up on our gallery, so head over and take a peek.
Check out all the other events run at Hidden Vale Adventure Park: