The infamous RRR (Rural, Rainforest & Reef) mountain bike challenge came of age, celebrating 21 years of continuous racing in Cairns, northern Queensland. Well regarded as one of Australia’s most exciting and challenging ‘point-to-point ‘ endurance races, the iconic 40km and 70km courses lived up to the ‘RRR’ name. If Rural, Rainforest and Reef is what it is all about – that’s what the course delivered.
The incredible diversity of the Cairns and Tropical North Queensland region was on show and there could not have been better conditions for the race as just over 400 riders headed out from the rural settings of Mt Molloy to chase their dreams through cattle country, crossing grids and passing through gates. After kilometres of dirt and dust, the intense hill climbs kicked in at Bells Hill, testing endurance and stamina. Crossing into deep tropical rainforest in Julatten, the riders are submerged in dense terrain before turning into the famous ‘Bump Track’, known for the fast, downhill section. The riders then headed out across cane paddocks racing their way to Port Douglas and the stunning Four Mile Beach to finish in front of the Port Douglas Surf Club.
First to cross the line in the 40km challenge was Jonathan Standage from Redlynch, QLD.
“It’s a great race to be part of, I’ve done it for a few years now and I plan on coming back,” said Standage. “Most of the guys I usually race against were in the 70km race so I think that gave me the chance to get a win on the 40km course,” added Sandgate.
In the 70km race, Andrew Fellows (Tewantin, QLD) held a comfortable lead to finish almost nine minutes ahead of his nearest competitor. “That was a very fast course. I didn’t really know what to expect – I rode this course about 8 years ago, but it has changed a bit. The course today really suited me – I was able to get away from the pack and stay in front. “About 10 to 15 minutes into the race there are a few little hills, I was able to get over a few of them, there were two of us who were working together, then when we went into the loop on the course I managed to ride off slowly I didn’t see anyone after that, I just kept going,” Fellows said. “It’s such a great race, starting up on Mt Molloy, then going through the rainforest and finishing up on the beach – it’s got everything really and it’s really good fun – I’ll definitely be back,” he added.
In the women’s 70km race events it was local girl Abby McLennan of Trinity Beach that smashed the rest of the field in a dominant performance, her winning margin 15 minutes from fellow locals Lauretta Howarth and Sarah Hoyal. Innisfail rider Josephine Zammit outclassed the field in the 40km event taking line honours.
Well regarded as one of Australia’s most famous mountain bike events, the course challenges everyone from the first time rider right up to the elites. With winding 4-wheel drive trails, gnarly single track and cursive climbs, from the highest peaks, riders pass thundering waterfalls, massive rainforest trees and the odd cassowary – there is no doubt that three very diverse terrains are dominated.
RRR Mountain Bike Challenge Results
70km – MALE
1. Andrew Fellows Tewantin, QLD 02:09:46
2. Ty Cerlenizza Tewantin, QLD 02:18:12
3. Dominic Hoyal Cairns, QLD 02:18:12
70km – FEMALE
1. Abby McLennan Trinity Beach, QLD 02:47:45
2. Lauretta Howarth Redlynch, QLD 03:02:49
3. Sarah Hoyal Manoora, QLD 03:19:32
40km – MALE
1. Jonathan Standage Redlynch, QLD 01:24:27
40km – FEMALE
1. Josephine Zammit Innisfail, QLD 01:49:01