While the biggest cycling phenomenon is happening in South Australia, Canberra also plays host to an important cycling event. The 2009 Australian Mountain Bike Championships at Stromlo Forest Park over the Australia Day (Sunday, 26th of January) weekend has attracted over 500 competitors from around the world including riders from Australia, New Zealand, France, Czech Republic and Germany. This weekend gives riders a sneak preview of the course that will be used in year's 2009 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships between 1 – 6 September.
There are five disciplines over three days and without doubt all eyes will be on the four events that will return for the World Championship;, four cross, cross country olympic, bicycle trials and downhill,
Elite competition begins on Saturday afternoon with the heats and finals of Four Cross. The BMX style course is expected to see some tight racing and close finishes.
On Sunday morning the elite and under 23 women’s race precedes the men’s. The 8.5 km laps will be similar to the recent World Cup circuit with a fire road start which hooks into the single track. The famous 300 m ‘Cardiac Climb’ is followed by a technical rocky section. The one metre rock drop known as “Hammerhead” will again become popular for spectators. About mid course riders will head into the berm track known as the ‘Weekend at Bermies’. There is a double feed zone followed by a climb known as ‘Blackberry Climb’. The remainder of the course has fast descents and been described as a quick and flowing course. Women will race for approximately 1 hour 45 min while the men’s competition is closer to the 2 hour mark.
Sunday afternoon the downhill riders will complete one seeding run. The 2.2 m track starts from a 2.7 m high scaffold start ramp. Riders head into the first open section which has step downs followed by the fire road jump. Competitors then need to choose the faster ‘A line’ or the easier ‘B line’ through the lengthy rock garden into the traverse. The tricky ‘G 20’ section will sort out the riders before they head through the downhill bridge. The ‘triple treat’ has high speed berms followed by a road gap known as ‘first blood’. As expected on a course like this riders face a pedally “wallaby run” From the busy ‘J walk’ intersection riders then need to pump home with one final jump before the finish line. Winning times are expected to be between 2.30 to 2.45 minutes.
The Mountain Bike Trials will set up and competition will be conducted throughout Sunday.
In amongst the events are Friday's Club Team Relay and the Short Course Cross Country on Monday morning.