The snow still lingering on the ground from the wintery blast earlier in the week didn’t deter a group of 50 determined downhillers from lining up for the Cardrona Mega Avalanche mountain bike race on Sunday (April 19). The course was relocated from Captain’s Basin to Skyline Ridge, to take riders down a less snowy, but no less challenging path.
The line-up saw a good mix of both sponsored riders and those newer to the sport. The ‘hare’ category (fastest rider wins) included local downhill legends, Reon Boe and Connor McFarlane as well as Swiss professional snowboarder and mountain biker, Alba Wunderlin. The ‘turtle’ category was for those wanting to ride at a more relaxed pace and included a variety of ages and abilities, the youngest being nine year old Gustav Legnavsky.
As per Mega Avalanche tradition, the race started with an open section where riders tussled for position before descending into the single track. Reon Boe and Mike Davis led the charge down the first single track section ‘Morning Glory’. Although the positioning in the first open section usually dictates the final outcome, there were opportunities to overtake along the way, especially if you were prepared to fight for it…as proved by Connor McFarlane.
Connor was the first through the finish line with a time of 16 minutes, 19 seconds and explained his strategy to ONE News: “Be the fastest people into the single track or else it’s game over. Get your elbows out, try to make your mates crash!”
The snow melt added a muddy element to the already demanding course but the riders were up to the challenge, enjoying a mixture of gravel, mud, snow, single track, goat tracks, berms, rhythm sections and river crossings.
Connor said about the course: “It was actually sick… heaps of single track that we hardly ever get in a Mega so it was awesome. So then we went into some flat out bombing of the hills with rocks and tussocks and ruts and then flat out into the paddocks in the bottom. It was a real good mix of everything and pedaling to hurt the lungs.”
Alba Wunderlin, who had slept in her car the night before the race so she could get an early start, was the first female rider through the finish gates with a time of 19 minutes and 17 seconds.
The euphoria of finishing the race was heightened as the competitors rode into a packed stadium at the Repco Race to the Sky Arena and into the motorsport start line. $5000 in cash and spot prizes was awarded in the arena. See full results here.
The turtle division turned out to be profitable for the riders who found ‘gold nuggets’ along the way down the trail. Spot prizes of merino clothing, backpacks, protective clothing and headwear were awarded to those with the special rocks.
Thanks to our presentation sponsor Outside Sports and additional sponsors Altitude Brewing, Smith Optics, Foxhead, Race Face, Mons Royale and Highlands Motorsport Park for helping make the first Cardrona Mega Avalanche such a memorable event. See you next year!