Rankine takes on Croc
MOSSMAN cyclist Steve Rankine will battle it out this Saturday along with the toughest athletes in the most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world, the Crocodile Trophy.
Strength, endurance and pain thresholds will be tested in the eight day and 930km race, starting from Smithfield, going into Cairns, on to Lake Tinaroo, Atherton, Irvinebank, Mt Mulligan, Maitland Downs, Maytown, Laura and finishing in Cooktown.
After competing in the race back in 2009, Rankine said this year he is more prepared and had been training hard with his Cairnsbased team - the trio are aiming to all finish in the top 10.
“I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve always been into bike riding and back in 2009 I was asked to do it with a team in the last hour and managed to get into the top 10 overall with very little training and organisation on my part,” he said.
“After that effort I thought if I was able to give myself three months of decent training and was at least 20 to 40 per cent fitter, I’d place better.”
The race is in nine stages - the longest stage is the last leg of 140km to Cooktown, but with the roughest terrain Rankine said each day could take five hours for elite athletes and all day for the slower riders.
“It’s about 300km less than the previous year but the time spent on the bike will be very similar, a single track cycle riding is more intense at a lower speed,” he said.
“And this one you’re dodging between trees and cattle trails, it’s going to be tough this year and hot and it’s something I quite enjoy compared to other riders.
“I’ve worked up in that area so this should be a test and I’ve raced in Europe, trained in Europe and they never get the sort of races like the heat we do here.”
And this year, with more preparation Rankine has been following an intense training regime of running and cycling, lost weight and is ready for the gruelling challenge one of his teammates described as the same as giving birth.
“I don’t know personally but I’d say it’s a bit like childbirth, I used to be a triathlete and competed at an elite level and I’d take on the half iron man and hated it, the whole way through I thought ’ Why did I do this’,” he said.
“But then you finish it and go, ’ That really hurt, but I’m going to have another crack at that’.”
The public are welcome to participate and race in the first two stages - five laps of Cairns to Smithfield and Cairns to Lake Tinaroo or just cheer on the Rankine and his teammates Brendon Skerke and Paul Mashford battling it out for top honours.
“Fingers crossed, we have a really good chance to win, it’s one of those races where you have to look out for large rocks, drop- offs, sticks, roots and stuff that can damage your bike, you can’t be prepared and anything can happen,” he said.
“If we all ride well unscathed and everyone stays on their bike, we will do well in the team classification and from an individual point of view I think we got a really good chance of getting one our riders in the top five, if not all of us in the top 10.”
ON A MISSION: Steve Rankine (centre) with teammates Paul Mashford and Brendon Skerke