The ninth edition of the JetBlack 24 Hour race by Rocky Trail Entertainment will take place at Awaba MTB Park near Newcastle on the weekend of 18+19 February. For the first time this iconic endurance race will come to the local club trail network of the Hunter Mountain Bike Alliance. Jason English, undeniably the most successful 24-Hour mountain bike racer and multiple World Champion will race his first 24 Hour event on his new home track.

24-Hour World and multiple JetBlack 24 Hour Champion Jason English will race at Awaba MTB Park, his new home track. | Outerimage

The JetBlack 24 Hour race was first held at a camping resort on the Hawkesbury River, then moved to a botanic garden near Campbelltown and was held at a winery in the Upper Hunter Valley last year. With the move to Awaba, the organisers wanted to go back to an “old-school mountain bike racing track that is always in great shape and gets a lot of love from the local club”.  As one of the most popular riding destinations on the East Coast it promises a versatile race track with fun bush trails and rain forest sections that will offer cool breezes and pretty views.

The six-time JetBlack 24 Hour winner Jason English, who just recently moved from Port Macquarie to Newcastle to be closer to family, said that he is looking forward to racing on his new home track.  “I haven’t had the chance to really dial in the Awaba course. I have really slowed down the training over December with the knowledge that I will be ramping it up before the Worlds in June. What better way to get to know Awaba than to lap it for 24hrs. The race will be the start of my longer rides”, he added.

National Champion Ed McDonald puts names forward for elite race favourites

Ed McDonald has raced at Awaba multiple times with Rocky Trail; he predicts this year’s 24-Hour contenders. | Outerimage

Jason English is the race favourite in the men’s and in the women’s strong performances are expected by endurance specialist Jemma Burtonwood, Queensland triathlete Jen North as well as the local gun and 24-Hour World Champion from the Central Coast, Charlie McCabe, according to the reigning 24-hour National Champion, Ed McDonald from Canberra.

The Canberran Ed McDonald was going to be one of Jason English’s strongest contenders, however, said over the weekend that he will not be able to be at the 24-hour solo start at Awaba.

“I’ve had some on-going health dramas over the past few months so I’m unsure my body could really take a 24h at the moment”, McDonald explained. He was, however, toying with the idea of doing the 6+6 hour racing option , which gives riders the chance to have a rest overnight and to re-start their race at 6am on Sunday morning, finishing with everyone by 12pm.

McDonald said that there are quite a few notable racers to fight for top spots, “In the men’s field there are a mixture of new and established old timers in the race. Strong local riders Tim Stevenson and Simon de Pomeroy head up a local contingent who’ll know great lines and gave plenty of familiarity on the Awaba trails. Will local legends Andy Lloyd – second at WEMBO [24 Hour World Championships] in 2013 – or Stefan Merriman, multiple time motocross world champion.”

He added that there were also a couple of noteworthy crazy single-speeders, led by Dave Speering, concluding, “My sneaky stand-out riders would be Robin Mules and Sam Moffit.”

Race Director Martin Wisata excited to be taking the JetBlack 24 Hour to Awaba MTB Park. | Outerimage

Event offers team categories and kids activities, free photos for everyone

With a 24 Hour solo category as the flagship classification of the race, the organisers offer plenty of team and social categories. Riders can participate in relay teams of 2 to 6 racers and the popular 6+6 Hour racing options are available for solo and teams also.

The event has a long-standing tradition of entertaining its racers and spectators with pumping music and this year a DJ will be playing his sets to keep the riders going. “We do have some quiet time overnight, but we still make sure to have some music playing at the timing point, just so that the 24-hour solo and team riders stay motivated”, explains Race Director Martin Wisata. Free kids activities and races will also keep the youngest entertained throughout the weekend and spectator entry is free and a catering van will provide food and drinks all weekend. Wisata also announced that all rider images would be available for participants for free after the event thanks to a new sponsorship arrangement with Bacci Fresh.

“We’re proud that we have retained our naming rights sponsor JetBlack Products Australia since the beginning, they are huge supporters of Rocky Trail events. We have a great line-up of sponsors and supporters, some really active businesses in the Australian cycling industry. We love to align ourselves with fellow riders and brands that we can identify with, so this year we were able to pull Bacci Fresh on board, which is owned by one of our racers and produces really good and wholesome pasta, which will be available at the event as well”, he explained.

Central Coast’s Charlie McCabe, 24-Hour World Champion, will take on the women’s elite field. | Outerimage

Jason English to turn up the heat at Awaba

Ahead of the JetBlack 24 Hour this weekend, the newest Novocastrian Jason English reflected on his last race against Ed McDonald that saw him defeated and awarded the Canberran the the 24 Hour National Champion title, “It was great to look back and see the lap times and how consistent Ed was. It’s about time he had the perfect race. A perfect race is a rare thing in 24hr racing. There is usually always an issue associated with pitting, lighting, tyres, forks, bike setup, nutrition or a crash. I really wanted to be the person to hand Ed the green and gold jersey on the podium.” No doubt, English will be on guard to take back the honours at Awaba, concluding, “He rode so well for it! Next time I’ll aim to make him work for it again.” Unfortunately it won’t be at this JetBlack 24 Hour, but there will be more than 30 solo competitors that will keep him honest for sure.

Online registration is open until Thursday, 8pm before the race unless sold out prior. Race start is at 12pm on Saturday, 18 February and the event finishes at 12pm on Sunday with the price ceremony expected for 1:30pm.

Event information: