Thrills, spills and cycling skills were on display at the Old Man’s Valley cycling festival on Saturday.
Competitors in their hundreds and spectators to match attended the festival, the first event of this kind at the Hornsby Quarry.
At least a solid week of dreary weather leading up to the weekend left the event pending, a wet track impeding track conditions in various ways. However, the Sydney North Off Road Cyclists organisation who ran the event were able to get onto the track throughout Friday evening and fix any water damage that had occurred.
Riders were grouped in the marshalling area at the top of the track, waiting to start the various events tensely.
SNORC held a barbecue to raise funds for their mountain biking group and the maintenance of tracks around Northern Sydney. The marshalling area was busy and excited for what would prove to be a successful day.
The Hornsby Quarry is a network of trails that transfers between cross-country style green runs, more complex blue downhill sections and then higher grade downhill sections that are graded black. Natural flowing trails, man-made and machine cut trails and a long fire trail makes up this great system of track.
Events were staggered throughout the day and were run to provide for every kind of rider and every level of skill set.
Cyclo-Cross kicked the day off, one of the more laborious events getting the riders into the groove for the day ahead. Cylco-Cross entails a rider’s ability to ride cross-country style trails, followed by areas of dismounting their bikes and carrying the bike up or down steps and hills.
Five laps of a purpose-built track just for the day of the event must have been absolutely gruelling on the open men, open women completing an equally as tiring four laps.
The most popular event of the day was the standard cross-country event, which was staggered by grades A, B and C. Each grade did four, three and two laps respectively, a great show of physical drive and intent highly present.
Tom Patton (pictured) completed his 4 laps of the track in 51 minutes and three seconds. To put that time in perspective, the fastest time from the C grade men who completed two laps was 30 minutes and 30 seconds and was achieved by Simon Ballard.
Patton was flying on the downhill legs but must have been making most of his time up on the up hill sections as he slowly grew further and further ahead of the pack and ended up lapping a few of the open women’s competitors who were racing at the same time.
From the open grade women’s cross-country, Sara Mills completed her two laps in 32 minutes and 51 seconds and held first place for her amazing effort.
The Bomber Whippet event was the finale to a great day and is the most exciting event of all. This consists of a team of two, one at the top of the hill and one at the bottom. One member bombs the hill as quickly as possible, working throughout some of the more complex downhill sections to meet his/her other team mate who then ascends the hill to complete the race.
Good positioning along the trail for this event allows for some great entertainment, watching some of the better riders in Sydney fly down the trail.
Benny Patton completed the quickest time of the day for this event, ascending the entire hill in nine minutes and 30 seconds. Ridiculously quick.
A wholly successful and exciting day characterised this event held by SNORC. We hope the same event will be held for the next few years at least and can aid in building the off-road cycling scene in Sydney.