2021 Prologue 500 Wrap
First up, big thanks to everyone for putting their foot to the pedal for this years Prologue. Very gratifying to get a field of sixty riders… Alan Ezzy from Armidale [8hrs] and Simon Vanderstardt from Melbs doing the longest hauls to the start.
Pic: Ty Domin
Big bunch of rookies in their 20’s .....Ollie Pulsford, Tom Chester, Ed Barrow, Nick Stevens Indira Shin-Rees, Gus Headon and Lucie van der Schalk … thanks guys n’gals.
Plenty more fun years ahead of you on the bike …take a note of the master at the other end of the age spectrum septuagenarian Phil Mathewson showing us all once again that age is no barrier to getting out there for a 500k cruise. Nice one Phil!
Phil Mathewson [R] with ride buddy Andrew Bead
And the winner was!
Congratulations to Jason English on winning the 2021 Cloudride Prologue 500k. Jason of course has dominated the World XC 24 hour scene for most of the past decade winning seven world titles across Australia, Italy, UK, USA and NZ. In more recent years
Jason has ventured across into bikepacking racing, competing in the 2019 Monaro Cloudride, Hunt 1000, last years inaugural Barrington Coast 500 and has a US Tour Divide in his sights when travel permits. Honoured to have you lining up Jason and demonstrating your world class. 24h:11m is blistering over that course.
English sat off the pace in the Prologue for the opening 150k riding in tandem with 24H mate and car pool provider Jonny Harrison. After rounding up early leader Frank Zeller, English led into Taralga, catching the General Store just as the 3:00pm doors were about to close to purchase some new tracker batteries… same again in Marulan [if you’re ever wondering how long alkaline batteries last in a SPOT tracker].
At Taralga the chasing Dave Langley, yet another old school 24H racer didn’t stop and immediately took the lead for the final 30k to the 250k northern most and halfway point of the race route. A mix of riders were chasing the leaders across from Crookwell in superb riding conditions … Tom Chester, Nick Stevens, Frank Zeller, Adam Carter, Rowan Mcmurray and last years joint winner Anthony Newman and Alan Ezzy amongst them. Meredith Quinlan in her usual stealth mode was steadily working her way through the field leading the womens category. By late afternoon a huge gaggle of riders had arrived or were exiting Crookwell with various overloads of food and drink. Jono Milburn taking the Choc Milk prize [2L] and regurgitating it 10 minutes down the road.
As darkness fell the leaders closed in on the brutal Guineacor FT briefly having a communal moment crossing the creek before English regained the lead that he held unchallenged through to the finish at Bent Spoke in Braddon arriving at 6:11am. Dave Langley ordered a slow burger and chips at Marulan waiting as Jonny Harrison had a quick coffee and bolted out the door in pursuit of English…. Langley slightly alarmed at his predicament, threw the burger in the bin, stashed the chips in any available space and took of after the two leaders. Meanwhile the remaining all-nighters were well on their way towards Marulan. Tom Chester withdrew with knee issues, Nick Stevens recovered from a huge navigation error on the approach to Swallow Tail Pass loosing several places to Ezzy and Newman and Carter in close pursuit. Early pacemaker Frank Zeller crashed on the Guineacor FT adding a few busted ribs and a punctured lung to his adventure…… Several other riders crashed along this section adding some DNA to mark their moment.
Well into the nights darkness a surprisingly big bunch of riders tackled the difficult HAB sections from the 250k mark up to the Range Rd FT perhaps not wishing to see the punishment ahead but also missing the magnificent vistas afforded by the Blue Mountains NP down to Wombeyan Caves Rd.
St Mathews Church at 301k on Barnaby Rd proved the attraction for a host of riders with a large bunch overnighting for a few hours and getting a water refill. Joining them at 3:09am were Chelsea Rieger in tandem with Lucie van der Schalk. Now Chelsea is an experienced bikepacker, though first time racer, was well past her longest day in the saddle. I first spotted Lucie at Jerrawa 90k when fixing some errant trackers, I’d not met or noticed her at the start…. tiny, looked about 16…. did she have a permission note from her parents? Obviously at 301k she was doing just fine!
A Journal post frome Chelsea Rieger here...
Just a breakfast between the podium finishers ... Jason English [R] finished, Jonny Harrison [L] in progress, Dave Langley [C] waiting.
It was a busy day at BentSpoke right through till closing time with riders tumbling in throughout the morning. Alan Ezzy and Anthony Newman [=4th] through to Adam Carter 29h:36m in 7th place all under 30 hours.
1. Jason English 24h:11m
2. Jonny Harrison 25h:03m
3. Dave Langley 25h:36m
4. = Alan Ezzy and Anthony Newman 27h:09m
6. Nick Stevens 28h:11m
7. Adam Carter 29h:36m
8. Meredith Quinlan 31h:40m
9. Mike Israel 32h:32m
10. Luke Waters 33h:13m
Meredith Quinlan in 8th place and first woman rider home adding to her ever smiling race finish pics and titles.
Reactions from riders to a difficult course in the heat of the moment can be quite violent…. I’ve mellowed since Ollie Whalley arrived back as winner of the first Cloudride in 2014 …. “if I could have found a cliff to throw my bike off I would have thrown it over and never ridden a bike again”. Most have been generous with their appreciation of this years course … it is intended to be mostly sweet with some challenges.
Our Columbian friends Ruben Bossa and Anderson Camargo Rey were both ‘challenged’ but I suspect will be back. Ruben on arrival at Bent Spoke …
“Steve, I have been to HELL and back!’ …. Ruben’s wife and small daughter were there to meet him … small daughter “Daddy, are you going to die?”
Many notable achievements and with sixty riders there are some I’ve no background on so apologies and congratulations if you’ve exceeded your wildest expectations or simply made your goal of finishing!
Some I do know and will mention. Josh Houghton from Dubbo went around the 2019 course in 3d:8h = 80 hours! Back this year, 10kg less gear 10kg less body weight 1d:16h: 37m … 40 hours … that’s a mighty fine achievement Josh! Jason Bachmann down from 79 hours in 2019 to 59 hours this year …. under 48 for you next year Jason!
And a special mention for Jono Milburn a pretty raw 21yo in 2019 for 2d15h 52m …. down to 1d:20h:30m …. and now pro race route scouter. Jono rode most of the course some weeks before ... up a bunch of dead end rabbit holes in the planning stages scouting this years route for me. Jono your enthusiasm and willingness to get out there is inspirational! Jono’s stepping up to the full 1000k course this Easter … let the challenge begin!