It’s nearly here, nearly time to make the annual trip to St Albans for one of the highlights of the Australian mountain biking calendar, the Convict 100!
The sleepy town of St Albans will transform into a buzzing community of mountain bikers, comparing equipment and sharing a drink at the historic Settlers Arms Inn. A much anticipated return to life for the community after a year of being battered by extreme weather, they are looking forward to welcoming you all to their serene valley. Serene that is until over 1,000 mountain bikers turn up!
There’s nothing quite like race morning! Despite the October date there is sure to be a chill in the air as newcomers and returning riders alike mingle and share a nervous laugh before the race gun goes.
Then onto the course… the sprint out of town, the scramble for position before settling into a rhythm. The 97km and 41km riders will head across the first creek crossing, turn south (an extra loop for the 41km riders), and then, new for this year, and for the first time ever, riders will experience the thrill of riding through St Josephs Guesthouse, a restored church originally built in 1839. And we mean through! Then down across the paddocks to the first Aid Station where first timers will be nervously eyeing up the kayak bridge while the veterans will be flying across without a care in the world.
The flat farm roads back to St Albans will see a sprint for podium places as the 41km riders reach the finish line, while the 97km riders will join the 67km riders as they head north out of town. The course heads further from town, further from mobile coverage, and out onto the historic St Albans Common – one of the last working shared use commons still in existence.
The riding has been flat up to this point but that is soon to change. The climb up Sullivans Arm awaits: steep and unrelenting this will test the legs of even the best riders. As you punch out of the morning mist and onto the ridge tops, you will know the toughest climb is done and the best riding is to come!
The course continues, into territory not covered on a normal weekend ride – this section of track is wild and untamed. You eventually emerge at the remnants of Claires Bridge, built by convict hands many years ago and to Ten Mile Hollow and the final Aid Station. After a short break and climb up a fire road you will then turn for home, down the ‘8 Mile’ back to the valley floor and the last few km’s to the finish line.
Eventually all riders roll back into St Albans, having completed an epic loop through the Australian bush and to claim the first Convict finishers medal! Then it’s time to swap stories of triumph and tragedy over a beer and applaud the winners before heading home knowing everyone has had a real adventure weekend.
Online entries close Wednesday 12th October so make sure your bike is in tip top shape, grab a couple of mates, and plan a great day out on the trails.