Northern Territory Major Events Stage 4
A new course was set for the longest stage of the week. It included some sections on the local streets as we headed out of town towards the rough 4wd tracks that litter the western side of Alice Springs. There was of course plenty of natural obstacles and great views of the local area. Local cinema owner and mountain biker Paul Darvodelsky had identified a loose rocky and steep pinch climb to lay down a $200 challenge. I was lucky enough to witness the a climb and superb effort by the rider who cleanly rode to the top. Gave it a go myself but ran out of traction well before the steepest section.
The trail lead us to one of the unusual features around Alice, the sealed bike path from Flynn's Grave to Simpsons Gap. In a group of three riders we swapped turns hauling the others along the winding path at close to max speed, all 17km. It was from here we turned onto a sealed road and had to contend with headwind and boredom of the flat, straight roads. The scenery was spectacular though as we passed through Honeymoon Gap in the Southern Range, the rich red rocks, cream sand and for the moment due to the recent rains greenery.
It was along this road section I saw some powerful riding by Jess Douglas who had ridden the last 20km solo and managed to make it back to the group of three I had been riding with. Not only did she catch up to us back but went straight to the front and did a fair stint all the way to the 50km water point. The four of us rode into the next section of trail which included dirt access roads through the firing range. We then turned and went along the side of an escarpment which was tough going due to the multitudes of loose rocky sections. The group was now starting to breakup as we then turned again and headed up onto the ridgeline, there were great views of the Southern Ranges but you could look for to long as the tough 4wd track that undulated along the top demanded maximum attention. Descending off the escarpment was wild with loose rocks and big ruts, even the days tops riders commented on the decent and the lack of good line choice. From there we headed back towards Alice, from the south, beside the rail line before we ultimately completed a lap of the local BMX track. As easy as it had seemed on paper it was a tough day made more difficult by the change to warmer weather, 3:24 for 77km.