Naomi Hansen celelbrated her podium early with some extra carbs on the final lap.

The Grindin Gearz Mount Perry Gold Rush has a reputation of being a fantastic weekend of racing and fun, tucked away somewhere in Queensland north of Maryborough and south of Rockhampton. Anna Beck packed up the tent, boiled up some race-eve pasta and found out just how dusty and delirious one rider can get after 6 hours in the saddle.

Hundreds of families camped at the Wolca Reserve race site, located a few kilometres out of the township of Mt Perry, and with a festival-like feel the fun and games began. Saturday evening saw the running of the Dirt Dash events—women, sport men, elite men and kids races into the evening lit up the short criterium-style dirt course around the campsite. With most categories competing in the twilight hours, in the dark of night the headlights of the elite men’s field blurred past us like a freight train. Aiden ‘Leffmaburger’ Lefmann won the dash for cash, followed by Andy ‘AyUp’ Fellows and Glenn ‘White-pants’ Stewart.

The next morning saw the start of the main event—six hours of racing on a gruelling yet rewarding 11-point-something kilometre course. The descents really made up for all that climbing, and because the descending was in the final stages of each lap, it tricked you into thinking that the climbing wasn’t really that hard. One you rode through transition again, and headed up that first hill, you began to remember all the pain of the previous laps! But by that time it was too late…you were already looking forward to those fast, loose, rutted descents that had you “Yeooow”-ing lap after lap.

With 6 hrs to test your skills, it's not worth getting too frantic on the start lap.

As with most endurance-format events, elite riders battled it out amongst novice riders, solo riders rode alongside teams and I didn’t hear a bad word spoken on course (except for my own swearing under my breath). This was possibly because by about three-hours in I was partially cross-eyed and oblivious to everything around me. But that’s endurance racing to a tee!

Fellows and Benson kept an eye on each other's form.

In the men’s field, whippersnapper Aaron Benson took the solo win in 12 laps, followed by Andy Fellows and the comeback king—Jeff Toohey— both on 11 laps.

In the women’s field, the front-runner from the outset, endurance-bunny Naomi Hansen, had a strong lead until the final stages in the race, when Jodie Willett proved too strong. The women’s results ended up with Jodie taking the win, followed by Naomi with Anna Beck in third, all on 10 laps.

For the overall, male pairs Aido Leffman and Glenn Stewart showed us all how it was done, lapping the field on 13 laps. Awesome effort!

Hayden Lester learned more about the difference tyres make the to the trails than he was hoping to.

The weekend was one of those trips out of town that have you smiling in your day job for weeks to come.  The guys at Grindin Gearz got the mix just right—the showers, canteen, coffee vans and  family atmosphere attracted well over 300 competitors, which was amazing considering how far from anywhere Mt Perry is!  If you have the chance to race this awesome event in the future, snap it up.  With a bit more training, next year I hope to save the cross-eyed riding for the finish line (plus or minus the beer lap)!

More info can be found at www.mtbgoldrush.com

Thank you to David Pattinson for the photos.