Photo Credit @readyaimmedia
Easter In The Alice has quickly become a “must-do” fixture in the Australian MTB race calendar since its first year in 2013.
This year’s 9th edition saw over 40 riders from Darwin and interstate travelling to join over 60 local riders for the 4-day MTB extravaganza that includes something for riders of all levels.
The magic of Alice Springs as a premier MTB destination is well known to the locals, and they took great pride in showcasing everything the Red Centre had to offer in the event that gets bigger and better each year.
Local businesses and volunteers pulled together to work with the Central Australian Rough Riders, Alice’s local MTB Club, to host an event that includes attractions ranging from free breakfast burritos and pancakes to AusCycling National Cup points.
Day 1 of this year’s event kicked off in the cooler evening temperatures with a social ride leaving from the DoubleTree by Hilton shortly after registration. Riders from near and far socialised by the pool afterwards before an early rise for Stage 1 of the competition the next morning.
Stage 1 saw over 100 excited riders gather at the Alice Springs Scout Hall on Saturday morning for a 7 am start. A choice of two distances was available to riders with a full course of 44km or a midi distance of 22km on offer. Both distances wound through stunning landscapes with views of the MacDonnell ranges, against the soundtrack of live music performed mid-course by local musicians Nick Bitar and Ted Thompson.
Tassie elite rider Sam Fox, visiting Alice fresh off racing at the National Championships, was the first to finish the full distance in a time of 2:01:52, with local riders Henry Hackett and Owen Chenhall following minutes behind to finish second and third, respectively. Central Australian Rough Riders’ Nicola Jelinek won the full distance female race finishing 4 minutes ahead of Sydney’s Briony Mattocks in second and Kim Douglass in third.
Saturday evening saw a debut offering on the EITA menu with riders able to race in an MTB class of the opening round of 2021 HutSix NT BMX Series at Red Centre BMX Club. MTB riders made up two classes on the night, with CARR Vice President Dave Atkins recording the night's fastest MTB lap to win the Senior Class.
Stage 2 on Easter Sunday followed the weekend theme by displaying what Alice has to offer with the lapped race from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station sandwiched between breakfast burritos courtesy of locally owned Loco Burrito and a presentation dinner at the Alice Springs Brewery. Racing got off to a lung-busting Le Mans start before Sam Fox finished the 4 laps in first place again ahead of Henry Hackett and Owen Chenhall.
There was no change to the order in the Women’s race either, with Nicola Jelinek repeating her efforts of Stage 1 to finish ahead of Briony Mattocks and Kim Douglass.
Stage 3, the final day of racing, left from the DoubleTree Hilton and provided the weekend's most exciting racing. Local boy Henry Hackett pipped Sam Fox to win, but it was not enough to displace him from finishing first on the podium overall.
Normal order continued in the women’s race with no change to the placings from the previous days' races meaning Nicola Jelinek finished first overall, with Briony Mattocks and Kim Douglass taking second and third on the podium. The weekend ended as it began, with riders gathering around the pool at DoubleTree to enjoy lunch and share race stories from the weekends' action.
2021’s Easter In The Alice had something for everyone from the elites, the social riders, and even the whole family with children under 13 given free race entry.
With great racing set against the backdrop of dramatic landscapes in one of Australia’s fastest-growing MTB hubs, it is no surprise that riders across the country are already looking forward to EITA 2022.