I’ll tell you up front that the B24 mountain bike race is the idea of a couple of my really good mates. They thought of the concept, established the race and now work their arses off to run it. Last weekend was the second iteration. It’s also in my beautiful Bright; so yes… there is a certain amount of bias in my thinking. But I’ve felt compelled to write something quite independently because I think it’s such an amazing concept for a race. It’s just not normal and I reckon more people need to know about it.
The marketing line the guys are using, quite appropriately, is this:
It’s very easy to gloss over that line but when you think about it, the concept is quite fantastic if you compare the B24 with any other 24 hour mountain bike race in Australia, past or present.
They all run out of paddocks; big ones, granted; and paddocks with a lots of good stuff in them and usually in very nice places – but paddocks nonetheless. None of them are right in the vicinity of a perfectly equipped town such as Bright; walking (or rolling) distance to everything you need and right next door to really good accommodation.
For the second year in a row I’ve stayed at Jo and Gordo’s in one of their Pioneer Garden Cottages. It’s really good value accommodation in a gorgeous location only a hundred metres from race transition. So, rather than crawling dirty back into your tent in a cold paddock between laps, you can go back to your unit, have a shower and lie down on a real bed whilst you wait to go out and punish yourself again (if that’s infact the format of racing you have chosen). And if you choose to race the Esprit de Corps format – and you choose to sleep through the night – you’re very close to the track when you choose to get out and smash out another couple of laps. Brilliant… it really is brilliant.
And speaking of Esprit de Corps, I had never really thought about it properly until I found myself unexpectedly competing in the category last weekend; for 3.6 kilometres anyway. You get to ride just as much as you would in a traditional 24 hour team but you do the riding when and with whom you want. It’s explained here on the website but I reckon there are a number of advantages I hadn’t really thought of:
- You don’t have to start on the gun – you can wait for a while, then start free and clear of other riders to either enjoy your lap as a team or ride free and fast, without your speed being determined by the pack.
- You can do a social team lap, then smash out a couple of fast ones to test your own pace, throw in a night lap, have a good sleep.
- Alternatively, you can start out on a nice casual team lap, ride 3.6 kilometres, offer your team-mates a few tips from your deep and wide experience, then ditch it off a log, break a rib or two and spend the day with Feisal.
- You can ALL do the dawn lap rather than fight about it (because it is such an amazing experience).
- You can allow the awesome environment of Bright and the amazing atmosphere of mountain bike racing to last for two whole days, soak it up when you’re off the bike and still have an absolute ball on what I reckon are amongst the best trails in Australia (without the stress of accurate timing of mates’ laps, quick transitions and quicker-than-you’d like breaks).
That last point is seriously good. So often I go to mountain bike races and, because I’m competing seriously, I miss out on enjoying the atmosphere and social advantages of mountain bike racing. The B24 lets you do that as well as race and compete seriously; and the set-up and sponsors are so good that there’s heaps to do, bikes to demo and beer to drink.
So if you’re serious about your mountain bike racing, the B24 is for you. If you’re semi-serious and want to have a good time as well as show everyone how bloody fast you can go without crashing, the B24 is for you. If you’re brand-new to mountain biking and like having a good time in one of the most beautiful towns on earth, the B24 is for you. To be part of this event is a privilege and despite my bias to my mates and my town, Bright, I write this impartially because I so absolutely think that more people need to know about it and be part of it. If you’re not, you’re really missing out on something good.
(Some photos follow but don’t leave without watching the really well produced video below… it really tells the story of a fun race and a fun weekend.)