TROP­I­CAL ES­CAPES AT REEF TO REEF

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS: MIKE BLEWITT PHO­TOS: MATT ROUSU, PHIL GALE, EMMI COLLINGE, MIKE BLEWITT

New for 2018, Reef to Reef com­pletes what some are call­ing Aus­tralia’s MTB Triple Crown, as the 4-day event fol­lows in the foot­steps of Cape to Cape and Port to Port. But this time – it’s in Trop­i­cal North Queens­land.

Once a year, the world’s best moun­tain bik­ers are se­lected by their coun­try to go into bat­tle – rac­ing the clock or rac­ing bar to bar to see who will win the World Cham­pi­onship ti­tle and earn the rain­bow stripes. This is an hon­our not just for the next 12 months, but it of­fers moun­tain bik­ers a chance to etch their name into the his­tory books. In 2018, the UCI Moun­tain Bike World Cham­pi­onships took place in Len­z­er­heide, Switzer­land. A coun­try and town that is bike mad could only mean one thing – epic cour­ses and rac­ing and in­sane crowds. The rac­ing in Olympic Cross-Coun­try and Down­hill did not dis­ap­point. One week later, the party would shift to Auronzo di Cadore in Italy, where a de­mand­ing course in the Dolomites would de­cide who would be the men’s and women’s Cross-Coun­try Marathon cham­pi­ons. The World Cham­pi­onship races in Cairns in 2017 were im­mense, and the whole area and even coun­try lifted for the event. But even with ef­forts to glob­alise cy­cling, Europe is the heart­land of cy­cling – moun­tain bik­ing in­cluded. In Europe, cy­cling is part of life. It is some­thing just about any­one can en­gage with. Ev­ery­one knows what it is like to ride a bike. To ride into a head­wind. To get stuck in the rain. In Europe, cy­cling and moun­tain bik­ing are far bet­ter un­der­stood than in many other ar­eas around the world. And that’s why a World Cham­pi­onship event in Europe is un­like one off the con­ti­nent. Next year as the En­duro World Se­ries comes un­der the watch of the UCI, we ex­pect the fi­nale in Zer­matt to be a sim­i­lar level – but for now, these two week­ends of rac­ing de­ter­mined the sport’s world cham­pi­ons. Here’s what we saw.

For more, find the gal­leries on AMB­mag.com.au.

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