CYCLING revs up across the region this weekend, showcased by tomorrow’s 52nd McDonald’s Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic (228km) while Sunday’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter Walcha Mountain Bike Challenge offers a slightly different course across a variety of terrains.
Tamworth cyclists Jessica Saunders and Mitch Carrington are not involved in either but still feature, with Saunders preparing for a trip to Perth to continue her heroics in the new National Junior Track Series and Carrington bypassing the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic for the Port Macquarie Iron Man.
“I’ve had too much time off from the bike,” Carrington said of bypassing the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic
“So I’m doing the Port Macquarie Iron Man, just the bike leg this weekend.
“That’s enough. 90km on the bike.”
He will ride the 90km bike leg with Nick Inglis running the 21km run leg and Dominique Inglis swimming the 1.9km swim leg.
“I rode the Grafton to Inverell last year,” Carrington said.
“It was a good test and I can say now that I’ve done it but I will hopefully do it again next year.”
For Saunders, the past few weeks have been hectic.
The Oxley High School student rode in New Zealand with her older sister Tori and had success in the six-stage Yunca Tour of the Southland.
Both had stage wins, Tori winning the tour and King of the Mountains jersey while Jess won the green Sprint Ace jersey.
They also won a variety of track events at a two-night carnival in NZ before returning to Australia where they raced in the National Junior Track Series at Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney.
Jess, competing in the Under 15s, won eight of her nine races in that first round of the national series and is now preparing for a trip to Perth next weekend for the second round.
Jess also raced in the NSW Country Championship at Coffs Harbour last weekend, winning the Under 15 girls’ title while her younger sister Ollie was second in the Under 11 Girls’ division.
“Jess has had a pretty hectic schedule,” her father, John Saunders, said this week.
“They have missed a bit of work at school (Oxley High) but the teachers are great and provided extra work for them to do while they were away.
“Both (Tori and Jess) are in the Racing Kangaroos team too and if they don’t keep their grades up will be kicked off that team.”
Westpac Rescue Helicopter’s Barry Walton was in Walcha earlier this week mapping out the course for Sunday’s Walcha Mountain Bike Challenge with Shane Paul.
He said the clash with the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic was disappointing but pointed out the changing dates with the Grafton to Inverell made it hard for events such as the Walcha Mountain Bike to be scheduled.
“There’s a lot on – the Port Macquarie Iron Man as well.
“We might have to look at changing our dates again.
“But we’ve got at least 150 riders this year.
“And we’re still getting enquiries so we might finish up with a few more.
“The race starts at the Walcha Showground on Sunday morning and rides past the old timber mill and then into some local paddocks and out to Rowley’s Creek. There’s a bit of forest as well.”
He said there are four races for those interested.
“We’ve got an extreme challenge of 100km, a general challenge at 70km, a community and junior challenge of 30km and a family ride at 11km.
“So there is something for everyone.
“Next year we hope to have a Masters (Over 50) as well.”
Now in its sixth year, the Mountain Bike Challenge works in perfectly with the Walcha Food and Wine Festival which runs both days.
“There is also a Saturday morning ride over 85km as well,” Walton added.