Riders brace for Epic challenge on spectacular tracks
ONE of Australia’s toughest marathon mountain bike events has been cleared to go ahead, with more than 700 participants set to converge on Hidden Vale Adventure Park this weekend.
The two-day 99 Bikes Cycle Epic, now in its 18th year, promises an action-packed program for all ages and abilities – with events ranging from 22 kilometres to the gruelling 100 kilometre Epic.
The Epic is staged on the spectacular winding tracks through Hidden Vale at Grandchester.
A new era in the sport was launched when a group of mates challenged themselves on an epic trail ride almost two decades ago.
Race organiser Hayden Brooks said the E-bike friendly race card would have “something for everyone” from top competitors to families simply wanting to enjoy a day exploring world-class bike trails.
“E-bikes are allowed, making the weekend accessible for all fitness levels,” Brooks said.
“We’re thrilled to have this year’s event proceed despite earlier uncertainty due to COVID-19 restrictions, and to maintain our unbroken record as one of Australia’s premier cycle events.
“While the event normally attracts 1500 riders and 2000 spectators across the weekend - and we’ve had to cap the numbers this year – the action will be every bit as heart thumping.
“Some participants have been with us right from the start, with their personal goal to notch up 20 events.
“With some of them now in the mid to late sixties, they understandably would like to make sure they don’t miss any chances now.’’
With support from Merida and Norco, the weekend begins with the 99 Bikes 55 kilometre pursuit on Saturday at 8am, followed by the Allclear 22 kilometre Chaser at 2pm.
On Sunday, the 99 Bikes Cycle Epic and the Merida 55 kilometre Pursuit 55 both set off at 8am.
Among the top line competitors taking part is multi-disciplined world cycling champion Jared Graves, who will fulfil a long-held ambition when he lines up for the main event on Sunday.
Fresh from victory in this month’s 97 kilometre Gatton to Warwick Cunningham Classic road cycling race, the highly versatile Graves, 37, is now aiming for a major marathon mountain biking title this year.
“I’m in good form right now and to get straight to the point, I’m in it to win it,” Graves said.
With his participation in the European Enduro mountain bike season foiled this year due to the pandemic, the Toowoomba-based rider said: “I’ve always wanted to race in the Epic, but with racing in Europe for the past 18 years I haven’t had the chance to do that until now.
“Marathon mountain biking is very different from what I do internationally, but I’m really looking forward to it. It will be a great test – especially as it enters the last couple of hours.”
Brooks said the winner of the 100 kilometre epic was expected to take about four and a half hours to complete the course, which incorporates around 2000 metres of elevation to test the resolve of competitors.
“There is no question the main race is a tough event,’’ he said. “The tracks are in top condition however and we are anticipating some strong competition across the field.”
Hidden Vale Adventure Park is a 4,800-hectare property featuring more than 110 kilometres of trails popular with cyclists, runners and hikers from around Australia.
In addition to recreational use, adventures and guided tours, the trails host a range of regular competitions.
New-age E-bikes are available for hire, while shuttle services can take park users to the higher points of the property to enjoy a wide variety of tracks and terrain.
To find out more or to register for the event, go to http://www.cycleepic.com/) email email@example.com or call 0414 343 579.