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Terra Australis•Monaro Cloudride•The World

2023 TERRA AUSTRALIS BIKE EPIC


With only weeks until the start of Terra Australis on September 1 it’s a last call for starters. There are plenty of aspiring riders out there who have had the .gpx files and ride prep notes to procrastinate over but haven’t pulled the pin on making the commitment to start. If you’re not in this category and you’ve got the bike and got the legs there’s still time to make an expression of intent [EOI]. Call or text +61 41771 0999 me for the updated Notes and .gpx files.


The 2023 race route is largely untouched from that which riders set off with in 2022. It’s pretty clear now, even with the limited rider completion rate from previous years that the course is perfectly doable. Any notion that the race route through Queensland is a barren dry wasteland has been dispelled. Truth is there’s a greater likelihood of drowning out there than dying of thirst. As I’m on the start list for this year, after an aborted 2018 attempt, I’ve recently been refreshing my ride notes with some intel from past years riders and adding a few resupply options. One recent find was a roadside tank/stock water point at 781k [Mareeba-Longreach leg]. Maybe some more recent satellite image clarity but clearly showing a large number of cattle milling around and converging on the water point. Simple race prep for water cues is to trawl along the race route picking up these locations…. a quick water filter and you’re on your way again.




For the moment I’ll be joined by Meredith Quinlan, more determined than ever to get it done after mechanical misfortune in her 2022 attempt when she led for much of the race. Likewise, returning with equal determination Taylor Herron hopes to be on the start line again though he still has some current health issues to overcome restricting his training. September 1 might come too soon for Taylor. Mike Israel rounds out the current start list. Mike is well known amongst the bikepacking/gravel racing community through his Gaveleur promotions of Thunderbolts Adventure and Clark’s Gambit. Mike’s a seasoned racer/bikepacker with a Trans Continental [2017] and a top ten rider in the 500k Cloudride Prologue’s.

The race tracking link is up on Maprogress.


I'll do some bike/rider profiles on the Bikepacking Ultra Racing Australia Facebook page in the coming weeks. Hopefully between the three of us we can post up some in race highlights along the way..

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1088211551529916


2023 MONARO CLOUDRIDE 1000


The major change for this year's 2023 Monaro Cloudride was some rationalisation of the race route. If the event is to have some long term sustainability the annual conflicts with private property access, a flooded Snowy River and course difficulty need long term solutions. A number of land title sales over the past two years have contributed to this rethink process. There is some truly spectacular diverse country down through the Monaro, Tantangawlo, Tingaringy and across KNP however with only five starters in 2022 it made sense to address the wider issues and find some middle ground to open the appeal of the event.


So did the changes make a difference?

Well 18 starters was a decent improvement! However with just six finishers it’s hard to reconcile the attrition rate with the high expectations that the route changes would lead to a greater completion rate. That said, as has been observed before in other bikepacking events, no surprise with 3 women starters and 3 finishers for a 100% result! When we go to war next time I want to be on the women’s team! The route will be counter-clockwise for 2024 so let’s see the post race stats for 2024 are before coming to any conclusions.


This year in particular had some wild weather fluctuations for riders with some experiencing blue skies across KNP while others a day or so later experiencing gale force winds, rain and mud. That said no one was missed on the opening day. The 200k down to Cooma had rain squalls throughout the day and a freezing rain storm that spared no one as riders made their way across to Cooma from Numeralla under lights.


There were questions asked the next morning regarding the two lead riders, New Zelander Kurt Standen and Paul Millynn detouring 10k around a public road closure. Riders make their own on course decisions, ride solo, unsupported and police their own ride. Neither rider was aware of the road closure prior to their arrival in darkness at 4:00am. The third rider to the closure, Emma Flukes had been made aware that the ‘closure works’ were bike negotiable [and it was Easter Saturday] and within an hour later rode through, subsequently reporting it as ‘trivial’. The remainder of the field also rode through the closure and negotiated the works. As Race Director I do not issue public directions to riders to ignore or disobey road closure signage or closed forestry logging works and I’m certainly not going to disqualify or sanction a rider for observing public directional signage. There was no intended deceit in their decision and no beneficial gain.



Kurt Standen was a clear winner completing the course in 4d:4h:51m building on his fine form in the NZ Great Southern Brevet earlier in the year.


I’ve not been in the habit of collating and posting results for my events in recent years. The race tracking Maprogress platform records finish times. The only variation to those results will be a red card to Paul Millynn for outside assistance on the Cooma - Nimmitabel leg. His tracking points on Maprogress are clearly in excess of bike speed and he's been advised accordingly. Paul scratched late on day 2 and his result will be recorded as outside of classification *outside assistance. Past year results since the inaugural Cloudride in 2014 are up on the UK Dot.Watcher website. I’ll try for a refresh on this to get them up to date.

2024 Cloudride is set for an Easter Good Friday 29 March start after some recent year colder April starts.


INTERNATIONAL BIKEPACKING

There has been an exponential growth in bikepacking races across the world in recent years and an accompanying coterie of bike, gear supplement ’sponsors’ happy to lend their logo and cash to support these events along with airfares and on ground pre-race expenses for leading riders. There’s no shortage of eager average punters @ Au$500-$700 entry fees snapping up ‘Cap’ numbers for the challenge and adventure …many events are 'sold out' months before the start date. In our isolated corner of the planet it’s hard graft garnering rider support for events.


It’s encouraging to observe that the Tour Divide remains the premier challenge for solo unsupported bikepacking. No sponsorship, no entry fees, no paid air fares, no media circus.


If I’m correct, our Australian riders this year all completed the course. In particular our two women riders were very competitive. Sacha Dowell, April Drage mixing it all the way with a very talented group of international women riders. Congratulations to both for an 18 day finish. Our men, two time Cloudrider Wes Whittle 25 days, Jack Keogh ACT, WA’s Damian Van Loon and Queenslander Frank Soll all made it to Antelope Wells. Great work guys 'n gals, my congratulations!


The Silk Road Mountain Race gets underway [Saturday 12 August] in Kyrgyzstan with past Cloudrider Tom Moschitz returning for more punishment after an illness forced DNF last year. Tom’s a very seasoned rider and determined to get this one done. The well traveled biker/ironman Brendan Mason and Geoff Bennett [form unknown to me] round out the Australian contingent. Best of luck and ride safe guys.


The Silk Road race tracker is up on Maprogress..

https://srmr2023.maprogress.com/

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