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2020 wrap and ..... 2021 the light!


Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes for 2021 to all the bikepacking family out there!

For most of us 2020 was the most disruptive and destructive year in our lifetime. Firstly horrific fires through much of the trails and back roads familiar to many of us in the South-East and Monaro region. Then Covid lockdowns, employment constraints, travel restrictions and family gatherings impacting our daily existence. For ultra distance racing enthusiast the annual calendar was decimated. Tour Divide, TransAm, TransCon, Silk Road, North Cape … Italy, French Divides …. and anything else with ‘Divide’ in the name.

The exception along the way was the Atlas Mountain Race through Morocco won by Parisian bike courier Sofiane Sehili. Sofiane has been at the forefront of ultra distance racing in recent years and the Atlas Mountain Race was a breakthrough solo win ahead of Brit James Hayden who Sofiane shared the podium with in the 2019 Italy Divide. Notable in the field was Canadian Christian Meier former Grand Tour and Green Edge racer who led the field into day 2 before succumbing to saddle sores. Meier, to his credit subsequently rested up, recovered and finished the race but perhaps underlining the complex combination of ability/adaptability/experience required at the top level of the ultra endurance game.

At home our growing Calendar of bikepacking race/tours all suffered state border restrictions that necessitated cancellation or were restricted to resident state riders. Munda Biddi Ultra, Race to the Rock, Vic Divide and Taste Gift amongst those that managed some restricted racing. Breathtaking Events hosted races were amongst these effected.


The Prologue in March sneaked in before Covid19 restraints impacted. Some super strong riding and self inflicted navigation errors impacted the final results. Trevor Spencer coming from a strong road racing background [NRS team rider for Oliver’s Real Food] and off road winner of the WA Cape to Cape in 2019 [2016 Cloudride joint winner Kathryn McInerney won Open Womens] was in control for much of the event before realising he had an earlier provisional .gpx file loaded, [subsequently bushfire effected] and had been rerouted. Trevor regrouped chased down the now leading pair Seb Wende and Anthony Newman

to navigate the hours of darkness with their assistance before again riding away from them in the closing hours. Seb Wende split with Anthony Newman at Bungendore [in need of food] and was credited with the 2020 Prologue win at Bent Spoke from Anthony Newman. Paul Brodie, Jonas Anderberg and Rowan McMurray all rode through sleepless. Plenty of strong riding amongst the sleepers with all riders finishing inside three days.


The annual Easter Cloudride 1000 was a late casualty when it became clear that the lockdown would preclude any outdoor backcountry travel as State Forests and National Parks travel bans were put in place.


After the March cancellation of Cloudride the Terra Australis September start date seemed a long way off with the optimistic hope that interstate border closures would be a distant memory. Sadly, as we’ve all witnessed the ebb and flow of Covid clusters have come and gone with regular spikes that have seen a marathon of restrictions, regulations and impediments making any ultra distance race planning a nightmare. Eventually state border closures put an end to any top to bottom race. Most riders who had registered for the full course settled for a state run. Two Queenslanders Brendan Corbin and Simon Faber had a crack at the Mareeba-Longreach leg eventually coming unstuck at Georgetown after 400k in the challenging heat and sand of Central Queensland. A week later seven riders headed out on the Byron Bay-Canberra leg over 1470k.

The most experienced racer Dane Roberts from Canberra quickly showed his intent opening out a comfortable lead in the run down the coast and running out a comfortable winner in a very tidy 6d 9h 43m. Rookie racers Adam Carter and Shane Duffy filled out the podium and put their names on notice for future bikepacking races with impressive long hours in the saddle. Both having to deal with race slowing mechanical interruptions along the way.


I’m reluctant to make any sweeping statements about the coming year but maybe, just maybe we are seeing some signs of light in the darkness. A Covid vaccine is an emerging possibility, more flexible and specific tracing and lockdowns to manage Covid clusters and even perhaps shorter quarantine requirements coupled with testing to avoid the restrictive 14 day isolation periods for returning overseas and interstate travellers will all contribute to some greater likelihood of certainty for our respective racing aspirations.


What is certain are the start dates for the respective events under the Breathtaking Events umbrella. These events are locked by holiday weekends [Prologue and Cloudride] and Terra Australis by the weather window [heat, snow, cyclones]. If we don’t hit these start dates they will most certainly be cancelled. As in the past, full registration refunds are available less a nominal fee charged by the third party registration portal if an event is cancelled.


For all events January 1 2021.

Got to the website and click on the ‘Enter Here’ button.

CLOUDRIDE PROLOGUE 500k - Saturday 6 March [Mon 8 is a Public Holiday for ACT, Vic, SA]

START: 6:00am Bent Spoke Brewery, BRADDON.

COURSE: 500k+ TBA. I’m currently looking at a loop heading east through Tallaganda State Forest, generally towards Tarago, Marulan, Taralga, Crookwell, Gunning, Canberra. Still plenty of work to be done here …

MONARO CLOUDRIDE 1000k Friday 2 April [Easter long weekend]

START: 8:00am Bent Spoke Brewery, BRADDON.

COURSE: Clockwise a provisional .gpx route only at the moment. Cabramurra remains closed and so it is unlikely there will be any resupply between Jindabyne and Batlow. All previous towns along the route [other than Cabramurra] will be included as in the past. Camp grounds and huts in NSW National Parks now require pre-booking [a Covid requirement]. Day trips hiking, riding do not require a booking….. Cloudriders will need to do ‘day trips’. There are still a few post fire state forest and NP trail closures in effect and these will be taken into account when plotting the race route. Plenty of work to be done over the next months and hopefully sorted by end of February.

TERRA AUSTRALIS BIKE EPIC 6,250k Wednesday 1 September 2021

START: 6:00am Pajinka Rd Cape York tip.

COURSE: Some minor cosmetic changes following feedback from riders doing the ByronB-Canberra leg this year. I’ll discontinue offering the shorter leg options of this route, it hasn’t had any significant response. Anyone wanting the experience of riding any part of the course at any time is welcome to get a download of the .gpx file by contacting me.


There is a Facebook and Instagram page for Breathtaking Events that riders are welcome to post on and my occasional Blog post. That’s about the extent of the social media and commercial media coverage for these events. Sorry, no tempting offers of a sponsors bag, cap, gala dinner, finishers certificate or claims of ’toughest bike race in the world’, ‘most exciting’ or the cracker I came across recently “most challenging event on two wheels ever seen!”


Steve Watson

Race Director



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