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Nite Rider Dusk Till Dawn - NE
Kooralbyn, Queensland, Australia, January 23, 2006
Big night out at Nite Rider Dusk Till Dawn
By John Flynn in Kooralbyn
Nestled in the Border Ranges of South-East Queensland, Australia, the Kooralbyn Valley has developed a reputation as a must-ride destination for the sport of endurance cross-country mountain biking. Home to the Merida 24 Hour, Queensland's only one-day endurance mountain bike event and one of three major 24 hour races on the Australian calendar, Kooralbyn hosted its inaugural Nite Rider Dusk to Dawn 12 Hour at the weekend.
As all nighters go it was one to remember!
When dawn broke over the picturesque Kooralbyn Valley with two hours remaining in the Nite Rider Dusk Till Dawn 12 Hour, a light fog drifted across the mountain tops.
It was hard to believe only 12 hours earlier, I was at the Kenrick Tucker Velodrome in Rockhampton 1000 kilometres away in the tropics, covering the prestigious Cup on Wheels. And tired though I was, after a day and night on-the-run, scenes like this are worth the sleep deprivation.
In the distance, beyond the sweet single trails of Kooralbyn, Queensland's magnificent border ranges and the iconic Mount Barney disappeared behind a stream of cloud and filtered early morning light.
For the benefit of U.S. readers of Cyclingnews, the backdrop is not unlike The Cascades of Washington State during the summer. Spectacular country, of steep mountains and flowing streams and of course, sweet singles. The beauty of cross-country mountain biking is that it never ceases to take you to magic destinations and the hilltops around Kooralbyn are right up there!
About the race
OK, enough of the scene setting. After two days of solid rainfall in South-East Queensland, the weather god finally decided to co-operate and the single trails of Kooralbyn dried out just enough to make the racing enjoyable for the field of 150 competitors.
Built by local race promoter Bill Van Haren, the race venue is surrounded by a network of more than 20 kilometres of single trail, which snakes its way around the Kooralbyn Valley resort in a system of climbs and descents and easily rideable switchbacks.
The task for riders in the Nite Rider Dusk Till Dawn was a simple one. Kicking off at 7pm on Saturday night, teams of one, two, three, four or six, riders would hit the trails of Kooralbyn, and whoever completed the most laps within the space of 12 hours was the winner.
On the track there were plenty of familiar faces, many of whom I had stunned during the night with a sudden flash burst in the middle of the forest, just enough to blind them with a drop off up ahead!
Funny things happen during the early hours of the morning in a mountain bike enduro and those who have been there will understand. Forget the usual problems associated with endurance mountain biking, like fatigue or hunger flatting, 'sleep deprivation' has its own set of symptoms and a lot can be revealed by how riders cope with a camera flash when their brain is telling them they should be at home in bed!
Come dawn, it's a different set of circumstances, morale rises rapidly, proportionate with the drop in lap times and the smell of burgers on the barbeque is like a light on the dock.
With the arrival of daylight I was able to make out many of the faces who'd hurled (mostly light hearted) abuse at my camera antics during the night and it was no surprise to find some familiar names among them.
Blitzing the race in the solo men's field, Crocodile Trophy protagonist David Wood had established a two lap gap on his nearest rivals Andrew Fellows and Ross Uhlmann.
Racing alone, the mainstay of the Trophy's Felt-Shimano Dream Team had earlier taken out the opening hot-lap of the event and with the ever present smile and laid back attitude, 'The Woods' appeared to be cruising. "The trails were sweet," Wood later told Cyclingnews. "Good race, fun race."
Wood wasn't the only rider to make a successful journey south from the mountain bike Mecca of Cairns.
Racing for the first time in the colours of the Flight Centre Scott team, fellow Crocodile Trophy battler Struan Lamont teamed up with his real-life partner Kim Kelleher, one of the top women on the Australian endurance mountain bike scene. The trip to Kooralbyn turned out to be worth the effort for the pair, with the Flight Centre Scott team winning the mixed teams event. "I'm glad it's over but the course was great, not too muddy," Lamont said at race end. "I was in trouble running out of lights, then I borrowed a set of Nite Rider Lights from the Nite Rider bloke, reckon I was lapping three minutes faster."
Overall victory on the day went to the Gold Coast based 'Last Minute Team' which completed twenty three laps of the Kooralbyn single track in the allotted 12 hours.
But the Gold Coasters were upstaged in the 'best team name' stakes by the second place getters in their category, the rather uniquely named 'MTB Dirt Diggler CROCS', who enjoyed a 'Boogie Night', so to speak, at the inaugural Nite Rider Dusk Till Dawn.
Merida 24 Hour scheduled for April at Kooralbyn
The 12 hour event provided an ideal test run for competitors wishing to raise the stakes at the upcoming Merida 24 hour, which will be staged at Kooralbyn in April. The event is expected to attract a field of close to five hundred riders and they can expect more of the same single track action.
"I think if anything the rain helped to bed in and compact the single track," Course Designer and Event Promoter Bill Van Haren told Cyclingnews. "The feedback from the riders was very positive and you can be sure the track will be even better for the Merida 24 hour in April."
Entries for the event are available at www.twowheelpromotions.com.au
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by John Flynn/Cyclingnews.com
Solo Men 1 David Wood 21 laps 2 Andrew Fellows 19 3 Ross Uhlmann 18 4 Hamish Gray 17 5 Hayden Lester 16 6 Richard Lucas 15 7 Bob Crawford 13 8 John McBrearty 10 9 Luke Goodfellow 9 10 Dean Belinger 7 11 Shannon Duggan 7 12 Michael Walsh 6 13 Rod Field 6 14 Robert Hockings 6 15 Dan Lewis 6 16 Ian Harwood 6 17 Paul Wesener 4 18 Hunter Bernie 4 19 Bruce McJannett 4 20 Brendan Walker 4 21 Morgan Piley 3 22 John Creed 3 23 Dillon Price 3 2 Person Men 1 Ashgrove Cycles Avengers 23 laps Andrew Mallet Jeremy Davis 2 MTB Dirt Cheap 22 Steve Gibbs Shaun O'Brien 3 Night Nuts 18 Ben Torens Paul Cordina 4 RAD Multisports Club 17 Mark Meyers Paul Phillip 5 2 ALS 16 Alan Cambridge Alan Ferris 6 Lights Out 13 Patrick Crosby Damon Venter 7 Insanity Squared 12 Allan Uhlmann Craig Flintoff 2 Person Mixed 1 Flight Centre Scott 20 laps Kim Kelleher Struan Lamont 2 MTB Dirt Sleeping Upright 16 Leanne Ardern Steve Ardern 3 MTB Dirt Witch Pig 13 Paul Kelly Wendy Jones 4 MTB Dirt Night Watch 8 Emma Woodhall James Spargo 3 Person Men 1 Anaconda 21 laps Anaconda Anaconda Anaconda 2 Cycle City Slickers 20 Kendrick Benson Henry Englebrecht Lee Stariha 3 Cyclescene 15 Tim Binns Alan Jamieson Tyrone Gilbert 4 MTB Dirt-E Old Men 14 Nick Tate Daniel Kermode David Munson 5 Nite Rider 2 Dallas Locke Trent Fitzghibbins Craig Eather 4 Person Men 1 Team Last Minute 23 laps Todd Webster Karl Butler Matthew Faehrmann Mark Sanzaro 2 MTB Dirt Diggler CROC's 21 Aaron Blackwell Sean Harrison Matthew Cherviakov James Clark 3 Karana Giants 20 Jake Whitehead Rick Whitehead Adam Smith Stuart Drake 4 Mtb Dirt Team Ozzuma 20 Talon Bishop Shaun Fry Sean Dench Mick Patman 5 MTB Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 20 Adam Lynch Adrain Bartlett Hank Wheeler Tony Brodie 6 Little Red Engine 19 Travis Hall Brett Ryan Scott Woodward Peter Flanders 7 MTB Dirt De Castella's 19 Stephen Bryant Nick Westwood Stephen Mitchell Derek Hallam 8 Rusty Hubs 18 Stephen Cody Keiran S Francois Siebrits Matthew Moore 9 MTB Dirt Jillys Cafe Bootcamp 18 Jarrod Sanders Pierre Lee Paul Pyyvaara Aaron Haycock 10 Daggs Inc. 17 Gus MacAnally Roy Whitney Sinclair Currie Boyd Backhouse 11 At Least We Are Here 15 Justin Dowey Ken Mullaly Toby Sorensen Tim Mullaly 12 Mayhem 14 Ron Rogers Drew Edbrooke Ben Rogers Reg Byrne 13 Fresh Sports 11 Shane De Vries Andrew Pridannikoff Ryan Campbell 14 Rawhides 11 Darren Reichel David Loveridge Darrell Fogg 4 Person Mixed 1 Nerang Mountain Bike Centre 22 laps Darrell Edwick Steve Linnell Kylie Van Haren Mark Skroblin 2 Team Terror-Firma 22 Rowan Sedgman Dave Gilbert Melinda Symon Jeff Brookes 3 Wilson's Five 21 Dean Dyer Keith Bremner Kerry Whitney Paul Hill 4 3 Men And A Ho 21 Nicci Ainsley Mark Prickett Bevan Hall Tristan Ansley 5 Cyco-Paths 15 Scott May Ben Hard Debbie Hard Ben Lojkin 6 Person 1 Team "B" (B Is For Beer) 20 laps Richard Burrell Jim Robinson Tracey Boadle Peter Freeman Waco Hamlin 2 Mountain Roosters 20 Grattan Chambers Rob Lowe Tony Hebrard Gavin Irving Tim Marsh Carl Rayner 3 Super Cycles Massif 20 Jesse Sutton Adam Forbes Ian Forbes Jeremy Worrington Matthew Mickenbecker Aden Walker