TAREE RADNESS WITH CHOCOLATE FOOT

After receiving nothing less than glowing praise after last Sunday’s opening round of the SRAM Singletrack Mind series, the incredible flowing trails of Kiwarrak State Forest at Taree are likely to see mountain bikers descending en masse to experience them first hand. Race promoter Chocolate Foot has helped put Taree firmly on the MTB map making it part of the prestigious SRAM Singletrack Mind series.

Now in its fourth year the SRAM Singletrack Mind series is well established as the premier east coast endurance mountain bike series and attracts a host of highly-credentialed riders and teams such as OnTheGo and Target Trek. The star entrant for round one was none other than Port Macquarie’s 4-time World solo 24 hour and 2-time MTB Marathon National Champion, Jason English. Fresh off his second Marathon Championships win the previous weekend his main rival, Canberra’s Ed McDonald, would be hoping that the tough course at Atherton might have drained English’s legs.

After a tough uphill start, English showed no signs that he might be carrying any fatigue in his system, going straight to the front of the Solo Male category and coming through in 7th position overall at the end of the first lap. He never relinquished the lead but with Ed McDonald slowly closing the gap. English upped the pace, culminating in English recording his fastest lap, and the third fastest lap of the race, on his final lap of the day. An extraordinary performance after 7 hours racing, with2012 Series Champion Ed McDonald just 10 minutes behind and Andrew Lloyd in third.

Bike Culture ACT's Brent Miller flying though the rainforest in pursuit of the PCS Torq team. // Dave Bateman

The opening round also featured a number of new names to the series including Newcastle’s Stu Adams who took a hold on the Solo Male Masters category, engaging with series veteran Jason McAvoy in a battle to the end. McAvoy closed in fast through the dying stages, but missing the top step of the podium by just one minute after more than 7 hours in the saddle. After making her series debut at the final Singletrack Mind Series round in 2012, Eliza Kwan got bitten hard by the solo bug and has now established herself as a force to be reckoned with, taking the female solo win beating none other than solo 24 hour National Champion Liz Smith.

He doesn't just look fast, he is fast! Jason English dominated his category and almost won the race overall // Dave Bateman

The Male Pairs was an epic tussle with positions changing constantly throughout the day. Altitude Training Systems had the early lead after a flying opening lap from Oliver Dharma-Ratne. Manly Blue’s Miha Remec and Lucas Gamble settled into a consistent pace and eventually clawed back the lead, going clear of their rivals at half race time. The Cam Peterson and Rob Booker also showed that consistency pays, moving up to 3rd.

After their domination of the Mixed Pairs category last year, Bike Culture ACT’s Brent Miller and Brooke Rowlands would face an entirely new set of opponents for 2013. Team PCS Torq features Nick Both and Lindsay Gorrell, both talented riders in the Olympic format discipline but the question was, would that transfer to endurance racing? After a strong triple lap to set up the lead the PCS Torq pair set about defending their position from Bike Culture and the experienced pair of Gary Harwood and Martine Robin. Bike Culture broke through to first place momentarily but Both upped the pace to regain the lead.

2012 Masters Female Solo series champion Wendy Stevenson was back and in-form taking the opening round convincingly. The Masters Pairs saw a breakthrough win for long time series competitors Justin Millington and Steven Powis while Masters Threes saw a sprint finish for 2nd and 3rd, the “Elderly Illegitimates” taking 2nd by a lunge while “Hunters Rule 5″ were a lap ahead to take the win. The Alltrack Juniors are set for another successful year in the series with a win to open their account over the Sprocket Rockets and the local St Claire’s High School team.

While the “Rad Shreddas” had the lead of the Male Threes well under control, their next goal was to win the race overall, the only hitch … one man, Jason English, was on schedule to beat the entire field by himself! English’s awesome efficiency and consistency is now a thing of legend – in the end he came within two and a half minutes of beating the entire field on his own, an amazing feat to have witnessed and riders saying it was a pleasure and an honour to share the track with him.

Gary Millburn of the "Rad Shreddas" rode full gas all day to stay out of the clutches of an all-conquering Jason English

Winners and podium getters shared in over $13,000 in cash and prizes made only possible by the kind support of generous series sponsors SRAM, Rockshox, Avid, Truvative, Hammer Nutrition, OnTheGo, Finish Line, Serfas, Deuter, Mountain Biking Australian Magazine, Bellwether, James Estate, Cycology, Giant, Frameskin, Aussie Butt Cream and Flow Mountain Bike.

Having put so much time and effort into building the trails at Taree the Manning Great Lakes Tip Riders were elated to receive such glowing praise for their work and look forward to seeing more riders choosing Taree as the destination for their next MTB adventure.

The SRAM Singletrack Mind Series now sets course for the South Coast of NSW as the famous Coondoo Rd trails at Nowra play host for Round 2 on 26 May. For more information and full results see: www.chocolatefoot.com.au

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