At the end of winter, about 200 riders converged in Australia’s red centre to race The Redback, a six-stage, four-day race in Alice Springs. Alice boasts some of Australia’s most spectacular singletrack, with hundreds of kilometres of trails snaking through the desert landscapes around town. With so much trail to choose from, the event offers a lot of variety, and stages take on a bunch of formats, including an individual hill-climb TT with rowdy spectators, a longer ITT, a night race, and plenty of XC stages to take in the wonders of Alice’s desert surrounds.
With each stage based out of Alice Springs, logistics are simple, with no need for a hire car. At this year’s Redback, many riders set up at the event base, the Mercure Alice Springs Resort, where they could hang out in the pool in between stages and catch up on the day’s racing. In late August, Alice is already starting to warm up, and while winds kept temperatures in the mid-20s for a few days, there were still a couple of scorchers around the event, providing a welcome relief for southerners escaping the worst of winter, and an excellent excuse for a few beverages between races.
Canberran Ben Henderson took out the event over local boy Ben Gooley in second and Darwin’s Chris Hanson in third. In the women’s race, Imogen Smith from Brisbane bested Kim Willocks from Melbourne, with Zoe Cuthbert of Canberra in third.
Planning for next year’s race is already well underway, with the event locked in for 23-26 August.