Following the announcement from Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) comes the exciting news that the Bendigo Golden Triangle Epic will officially form Round 3 of the 2016 National XCM Series.As the stage for Australia’s highest profile cross country marathon competition, the National XCM Series will see the country’s finest elite riders descend on the town of Bendigo to take on the Golden Triangle Epic.
CEO for Mountain Bike Australia, Shane Coppin, cites the ongoing success of the event and the strength of the Bendigo Mountain Bike Club as being key factors in the decision to award the Golden Triangle Epic as an official round of the National XCM Series.“MTBA have repeatedly heard very positive comments about mountain biking in the Bendigo area,” says Coppin.
“The local Club is extremely proactive, they’re facilitating many opportunities for potential riders, and the region also receives significant local council support.”
Coppin also cites Bendigo’s extensive trail network and its close proximity to Melbourne as being additional factors in MTBA’s decision-making process.
Scheduled for Saturday the 16th of April, the Bendigo Golden Triangle Epic will enter into its 11th year in 2016. As the premier event for the Bendigo Mountain Bike Club, the Golden Triangle Epic is one of the largest club-run events in the country, with all profits raised from race entries going straight back into trail development and maintenance within the Bendigo region.
For this year’s event, the race format retains the same successful recipe, with the popular 50km racecourse sending riders out along the sublime trails in the southern forests of Bendigo. Depending on their fitness, competitors can sign up to 50km, 100km or 150km race options.
Following on from competitor feedback, a new 30km Miner option has been added, which will be perfectly suited to beginner riders. For the kids and their parents, there will also be a shorter 15km Pioneer option.
With the recent news from MTBA, entries for the 2016 Golden Triangle Epic are expected to swell significantly over previous year’s events. Bendigo has always been home to a strong contingent of Elite riders, both on the road and off it, though the interstate competition is expected to step up considerably in the wake of the MTBA announcement.
World XCE Champion, Paul Van Der Ploeg, took the win in the 100km Elite Male category last year after a thrilling battle out on course.
“The race format is awesome!” exclaimed Van Der Ploeg. “50km laps make it less intimidating and it meant that I knew what to expect for the second half of the race.”
When asked what he thought about the riding in Bendigo, Van Der Ploeg responded; “the terrain in Bendigo is awesome, with short rolling hills and a great mixture of surfaces to keep you on your toes. The history of the gold rush is still prevalent in the forest, and it gives the area real character. Also racing close to town makes it easy logistically.”
World Cup mountain biker and Bendigo local, Peta Mullens, has enjoyed plenty of success at the Golden Triangle Epic, having taken out the 50km Elite Women’s category last year and the 100km Elite Women’s race in 2012. Despite having ridden all over the globe, Mullens still relishes the opportunity to race in her own backyard.
“The majority of Bendigo is quite rocky, but the well established trails are well manicured and make for some smooth and very fast racing,” says Mullens. “And I love the start time! Not many races have adopted it yet but I think it really helps to cater for the masses who drive from Melbourne, Geelong and even interstate.”
Mullens is one of many riding talents to have come out of Bendigo, with both National Road and XCE Mountain Bike titles to her name.
“People always ask what’s in the water in Bendigo?” explains Mullens, who points to the thriving mountain bike scene as being responsible for the high calibre of talent coming out of Bendigo. “Further to that, we have a great road scene to aid progression and a very successful track program. The club offers assistance to juniors more than ever now and I know that we’ll see many more champions come out of Bendigo in the future.”
Another local rider who’s looking to defend Bendigo’s cycling reputation is young gun Chris Hamilton, who will be saddling up for his 4th Golden Triangle Epic in 2016. Last year, Hamilton finished in 3rd position behind Paul Van Der Ploeg and Kyle Ward. Aside from achieving national-level success on the mountain bike, Chris “The Hurricane” Hamilton has recently been making waves on the road too, after winning the U23 National Road title earlier this year.
“From all of the places I have ridden in, I would say Bendigo is very unique,” says Hamilton. “The trails are fast, and it’s the quickest 100km I have ever done on a mountain bike. There are rocks though, probably a lot more than out of town riders are used to, but things have changed and a lot of work has been put into the trails to smoothen them out and improve the flow.”
Ash Hayats’ race report from the 2015 running of the Golden Triangle Epic
Event coordinator, Joel Rockes, is looking forward to welcoming new riders to town to enjoy one of the largest club-run events in Australia.
“The Golden Triangle Epic is a true club-run event”, explains Rockes. “Competitors can expect a great course with awesome singletrack, but while we focus on running a well-organised event, there’s also a relaxed atmosphere that you don’t seem to get with the big commercialised races”.
Outside of the racing, there’s a lot more on offer that brings riders and their families to the town of Bendigo. This year’s event sees the race move to a Saturday, with the goal of attracting visitors to spend the weekend in the Central Victorian town. Bendigo is well known for its superb riding and rich cycling heritage, but it is also establishing a reputation for its foodie culture and family-friendly atmosphere. Visitors can choose to enjoy a wide range of activities, including exhibitions at the high-profile Arts Centre, interactive displays at the Science Discovery Centre, and a historical tour of the Chinese Museum.
To find out more about what’s on offer in this vibrant regional centre, head to the Bendigo Tourism website. And for more information on the Golden Triangle Epic, make sure you sign up to the Bendigo Mountain Bike Club Facebook page for regular news updates, with some big announcements still to come.
- Date: Saturday 16th of April 2015
- Location: Spring Gully, Bendigo, Victoria
- Distances: 15km Pioneer, 30km Miner *NEW*, 50km Shorty, 100km Epic, 150km Ultimate Enduro
- Entries: mtbbendigo.com