The newly constructed mountain bike trails at The Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan, provided a picturesque backdrop for the very first Banzai Lifecycle MTB Fitness Series event. The tracks are now the closest trails to Sydney at just 45 minutes from the city centre.
The current 6.8 km of trail were christened by event organisers and MTB trail advocates Rocky Trail Entertainment with their SHIMANO MTB Grand Prix and the BANZAI LifeCycle MTB Fitness ride. More than 500 riders converged to the Botanic Garden over the weekend and with events catering for riders of all experience levels from the seasoned professional to the absolute beginner.
The Lifecycle was a time-trial event where competitors were racing against the clock and not each other. This format attracted many beginner and junior riders as it allowed for a staggered start which meant less crowding on the track so that riders could take it at their own pace. It was also convenient for families with parents taking turns riding and entertaining the kids – junior races in the event centre were a welcome activity. But also seasoned racers hit the trails, some of which brought the whole family and their friends, to introduce them to the world of mountain biking.
A 3-hour starting window was provided by organisers and after individual count-downs, each rider was sent out on the track to complete their own personal challenge. With three race distances of approximately 6km, 18km or 31km, participants could choose their distance based on ability and fitness levels. With four events through 2011 Rocky Trail aim to see riders increasing the distance they complete with each successive event, culminating in the final race being held at the famous Mt Stromlo track.
The picture-perfect MTB family of the day were the Jefferys from Canberra. Dad Nigel had raced in the SHIMANO MTB Grand Prix 8 hour race on the Saturday to raise awareness for their kids charity “Pedal4Pierce” and brought the family along to ride Sunday’s BANZAI LifeCycle event. With their younger son Ashley finishing on the podium for the kids races in the under 12 category, Mum Rebecca completed her first ever MTB race with three laps and cruisin’ 12-year old Christopher (12) recorded the fastest junior lap of the day with a smashing 28 min 03.
Craig Gordon, 24H MTB Solo World Champion, had set the track’s record time to 20 min 38 on Saturday and the fastest lap time on Sunday was claimed by Pedro Donoso with a 23 min 02, which was the first lap of his “Sweatin’ Cycle” of five (31kms). The fastest female lap was clocked with 30 min 06 by Lauren Mackertich from Castle Hill with her first lap of three in her “Cruisin’ Cycle”.
This was the first Banzai named event across any of the Banzai sports, and the event organisers want to establish the BANZAI LifeCycle MTB Fitness Series as a fixed element on the MTB racing calendar. The next event will take place at Awaba MTB Park, near Wyong and a bit over an hour north of Sydney on Sunday 17 July 2011. The various cycling challenges will be around the 10km, 25km and 40km mark and racers can expect great single trails and another great racing and riding weekend out with Rocky Trail.