By John Stevenson
Australian race organisers Rapid Ascent have announced details of the Bullrider Mountain Bike Stage Race in the MacDonnell Ranges around Alice Springs, Northern Territory. The five-day, seven stage event will run May 19 - 23, 2008, with all stages starting and finishing "within rolling distance of Alice Springs," according to Rapid Ascent.
The Bullrider is the reincarnation of the event formerly known as the Central Australian Bike Challenge (CABC). The couple hundred riders that took part in the 2006 Central Australian Bike Challenge still talk in hushed tones of amazing scenery, swooping singletrack and perfect winter desert conditions. Hushed, that is, unless the memories take over and they start to rave, and then weep because the original organisers were unable to continue the race in 2007.
The Bullrider returns to the CABC terrain and some of the organising team from CABC are on board to provide local knowledge. "Jack Oldfield approached us to take it over in the wake of [our] Otway Odyssey success," said Andrew Connolly of Rapid Ascent to BikeRadar. Connolly says that the original CABC team "have basically set the course and told us exactly how they used to run it. Given how well it was received pretty much universally, we figured it would be stupid to ignore it.
"There's a few things we can do quite well, but we're not looking at running it 'our way' per se, simply adding to what was already a great event."
The local trail fairies have been busy though. "Apparently the trails are better now than when it used to be run - more quality tracks have been built," says Connolly. Highlights of the Bullrider include a 45-second dash-for-cash time trial stage up Anzac Hill in the centre of Alice Springs, and, at the other end of the scale, a 90km mass-start run from Red Ross Station deep in the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges back to the Alice.
Reminiscing about the CABC, Sydney rider Matt Barr told BikeRadar, "The locals have put in some amazing work over time, building some great singletrack into the hills around town. Couple that with some longer stages that take in the fantastic McDonnell Ranges makes the riding top notch. Yes, there was lots of sand. And more than a few corrugations. But that's really part of the fun."
The prize list for serious types is pretty generous, with AUS$2,500 on offer for the first male and female riders, down to AUS$300 for fifth. Registration opens Monday. For more information, visit www.rapidascent.com.au/Bullrider.