Bendigo MTB Club history continues on a marathon event

Off and racing: the Bendigo MTB Club caters for all ages and levels.

Off and racing: the Bendigo MTB Club caters for all ages and levels. Photo: Steve Blake http://www.akunadigital.com.au

The Bendigo Mountain Bike Club had its beginnings in 1986 when a group of nine riders used to meet regularly on a Sunday morning at the Spring Gully General Store and head off for three hours of tough riding in the bush. This small group saw the potential for MTB riding in the state forests surrounding Bendigo.

They rode the tracks on One Tree Hill and in the Spring Gully Reserve, following trails already there and creating new ones. There was no club affiliation at this stage; it was simply a group of blokes looking to ride for fun and for fitness training for road competition.

Some from the group went back to their roots in road riding so group members and numbers fluctuated as members vacillated between the pleasures of bush riding and the competition of road riding. In 1989 the group formalized, becoming the Bendigo MTB Club associated with the Bendigo and District Cycling Club (BDCC)

The group grew in numbers and night rides were introduced in 1995. The Spring Gully General Store remains the hit out point for Sunday rides in 2009 and mountain bikers from that early group continue to ride. The club still has an affiliation with the BDCC and encourages riders to participate in both disciplines, which some do, but the mountain bike club has a large group of riders – men and women, girls and boys – who love the sport and only ride a mountain bike.

During the past 25 years the club has produced a number of international, national and state champions, with riders such as Matt Wallace (club coach) and Jarrod Moroni who represented Australia in World Cup races and World Championships. Current riders  Jo Wall, Shelly and Mark Flood all competed in national events this year.  Both Shelly and Jo represented Australia overseas at World Cup events this year and at The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships in Canberra earlier this month.

The club promotes young up and coming riders such as Tasman and Russell Nankervis, Tyler Hamilton (2nd in under 17 National Championships) and Chris Hamilton, to achieve and progress in the sport. However mountain biking isn’t just about high level competition.

Bendigo Mountain Bike Club recognises the health, recreational and social benefits of mountain biking.  The club welcomes anyone wanting to experience the thrills and challenges of mountain biking at either a recreational or competitive level.  The club believes in the importance of encouraging young and not so young riders to be involved in the sport . It has a primary aged event as part of their regular events, and a handicapping system which allows a wide range of riders to participate in the same race.

Current membership includes riders from age nine through to sixty two. There are people participating on full rigid frames, on 7 speed bikes with flat pedals, to the “car priced” Cannondale, Scott and Merida bikes. This is a great strength of mountain biking, if you have a MTB bike you can have a go. Members are always willing to share information and expertise.  Riding with other mountain bikers is the best way to sharpen those skills while exploring the exciting terrain of the Bendigo bush.

Check out the club’s website for details of club race events and social rides.

This weekend the club is hosting the MTBA Australian Marathon Championships 2009, attracting mountain bike riders from across Australia.

The race starts and finishes at the race village on Cavagna’s Rd in Sedgwick. It will be raced over a 105km course which takes in a large variety of terrain, from open farm land to technical single track purpose built for MTB racing. Areas normally with limited access are included and the course takes in the significant geographical feature of Mt Herbert at the 58km mark. From this high point in the race there are great views to Mt Alexander in the south and Bendigo city to the north – though riders may not have time to admire the view as it is lung buster climb and a rough, challenging downhill!

There are excellent spectator spots out on the track allowing viewing of both the 50km and 105km race. A 25km race is included to accommodate novice and younger riders. The Bendigo Mountain Bike club invites you to the Race Village on Sunday, to experience the excitement of this high calibre event which will see the Australian Men’s and Women’s Marathon Champions awarded their gold medals and Australian Jerseys.

See you on the trail soon, God willing.

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