It’s loud, busy, dusty and dirty and sometimes even muddy BUT aficionados wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s the UCI MTB World Cup and in the lead up to the BIG event you can’t help but notice an increase in toned bods, flashy lycra outfits, jaw-dropping expensive bikes and foreign accents getting around Cairns. Battling it out on steep rainforest trails are the World’s best riders and if you’re keen for some hard core action then you can’t afford to miss this…..
Smithfield Mountain Bike Park has played host to a number of UCI Mountain Bike races thanks to its world class trails originally built by the master himself, Glen Jacobs. Jacobs now builds bike trails all over the world but Cairns is his home town and its here that he built his first trail with a rake, in his family’s backyard.
It was Jacob’s trails in the rainforest that inspired the first UCI MTB World Championships to be held here in 1996. Cairns now has a solid reputation for hosting epic mountain bike races and cyclists fly in from all over the world to battle it out in the tough humid conditions and unforgiving environment of the Tropical North Queensland. (Check out our video below from the recent 2016 event)
In the case of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, it is the downhill race that appears to attract the biggest and nosiest of crowds. The course itself takes the cyclists straight down the mountain and over the toughest of terrains – across rock gardens, big gullies, boulders and tree roots – and all clock a time that defies reasoning.
At the most popular spots (ie the one’s that technically can cause a rider great harm) you’ll find supporters with all manner of noise making items: cow bells, horns, clackers and I’ve even heard a chainsaw (thankfully minus the actual chain). The noise that the supporter’s create follow the cyclists as they descend the mountain and it’s easy to know when to expect them on the trail near you.
This year we caught the Elite Woman’s Cross Country (XCO) race and weren’t disappointed – the women battled it out over several laps on a course that had them pumping as hard downhill as in the uphill sections.
It was great to see Aussie girl Rebecca (Bec) Henderson take third place. From what I heard the race itself was seen as a bit of a precursor to the next Olympics so I’ll be watching with more interest now.
It can be a busy day trackside and pretty overwhelming for younger kids but if you choose your spot well (plus take plenty of food and water) you should see plenty of action to keep them entertained. Just don’t forget to bring something ‘loud’ to help cheer the cyclists on……
Good Things to Know:
Have you been to a UCI Mountain Bike World Cup yet? What event do you enjoy the most?