Element was priviliged to be invited to the recent Mackay Cup at Rowallan Park to shoot for the Mackay and District Mountain Bike Club. Elite female winner on both days, Katherine Hosking, has been kind enough to share her experience of the event…
The new trails, valuable UCI and National Cup points brought riders from across Australia and New Zealand to North QLD in Mackay for the M.A.D MTB Field Engineers Mackay Cup, and MAD it was!
A few rain showers on Thursday, or ‘fog’ as the locals called it, had riders a bit concerned how the weekend would unfold. The tropical rainforest where the track weaved through, supplied a handful of rocky features, steep pinchy climbs and little opportunity for recovery and rest to keep competitors on their toes. Those who had ridden the track earlier in the dry found once the course had received a covering of ‘fog’, was rather… sketchy. With sunny weather forecasted for the rest of the weekend, it looked like the course would dry up and supply us with some hero dirt.
Over Friday, some warm winds soaked up the rain and left the track riding very nicely, packing down the dust and leaving it ground grippy in places. After a few laps of practise dialling in lines through “Pip’s Playground” and “Dragons Back”, no more could be done until race day.
Saturday was the big race of the weekend, being a UCI Junior World Series and Cat 2 event and UCI points were up for grab for the U19 and Elites. There had been no sign of rain since the Friday morning and the track probably in the best condition for a race.
Saturday’s course had a pinchy climb 400m from the start to get the legs burning before a small section of downhill single track followed by another brutal climb.
Once at the top, riders were graciously rewarded with a fast, flowing technical piece of trail before heading into feed and tech and out onto another loop which had a tad more climbing and another technical descent, before heading into a new section of flow trail back to the event centre and the start of the next lap.
I raced at 1pm and the weather was beautiful, not like the Armidale weather at the moment, and I recorded the warmest temperature on my Garmin in the past 6 weeks! I was excited to not have to wear extra layers and even had to pull the sunscreen from the depths of my bag!
And then we were racing! The pinch climbs proved to be as brutal as I had imagined and by the fifth lap, I was glad to crest the top of the last climb. When you were not out of the saddle driving up those climbs, most of the remaining climbing was switchbacks, and I found it took me a few laps to realise you were never going to find a perfect rhythm and dropping my chain four times due to a broken tooth on my front chainring didn’t assist! I had not appreciated how physically demanding the track was in practise and after the race the not only were my legs aching but also my upper body from the tough descents. A big thanks to Sammie Maxwell for lending me her spare for Sunday’s race – mental note add spare chainring to spares kit!
Sunday saw another day of racing saw a modified course with more climbing and the descents were not as technical but still highly rewarding. The course also contained the famous wooden ramp that was getting serious social media airplay and even prompting a response from the MTB royalty Brad Copeland and Kate Courtney! A few of the features that were in Saturday’s course were getting super dialled and definitely felt much more comfortable racing them for the second day.
The hecklers on course on Sunday made it impossible to feel lonely out there, each lap there were people cheering and yahooing as I sent-it off the infamous ramp and through the rock gardens. Fair to say the legs were feeling Saturday’s race and by the time lap five came around I was seriously deep in the hurt locker trying to maintain my lap times.
Saturday (UCI) Junior Women
- Zoe Cuthbert
- Samara Maxwell
- Holly Lubcke
- Ruby Ryan
Saturday (UCI) Junior Men
- Corey Smith
- Piper Albrecht
- Liam Johnston
- Domenic Paolilli
- Nick Chisholm
Saturday (UCI) Elite Women
- Katherine Hosking
- Megan Williams
- Nikki Giles
Saturday (UCI) Elite Men
- Cameron Ivory
- Matthew Dinham
- Callum Carson
- Peter Lister
What an awesome event! The MAD MTB crew for together an outstanding event and I will definitely be back again in the future. The course was superb, for me the perfect practise for more technical races. The event village setup supplied everything, even proper toilets, a luxury in the MTB scene, and feed tech was in a perfect location for those supporting the riders. So a big thanks goes to the MAD MTB crew for putting on a top notch event.
Thanks so much for sharing, Katherine! Fantastic effort.
You can check out all the photos over on our website here.