Australia's Berghaus Polaris Challenge heads to the Oberon Shire in the Central West of NSW on the weekend of March 9-11. The event, now in its 11th year, moves to a different location each year and competitors are not told exactly where until two weeks before the event. This year, the event will be based out of the village of Black Springs, 23km south of Oberon.
In the Polaris, there is no fixed route. Teams of two riders, carrying tents, food, sleeping bags etc, will spend two days, using a specially made map, seeking out checkpoints scattered throughout a huge area of bush and mountain. The event encompasses an area running from Black Springs right into the depths of Abercrombie River NP, across through large areas of State Forest and farmland towards Burraga and towards Shooters Hill.
Riders will leave Black Springs between 8 and 9:30 am Saturday morning, will stay at a 'secret' camp on Saturday night after seven hours of riding before returning to Black Springs on Sunday lunchtime after another five hours on the bike. The winning riders will clock some 180km over the course of the weekend.
This year's theme is The Rocky Horror Polaris Show, so some strangely dressed mountain bikers may appear. Furthermore, all racers are required to carry a rock as part of their stipulated equipment.
Defending champions Gwyn Taverner-Smith and Ken Wilyman will face stiff competition this year with world mountain bike orienteering champion Adrian Jackson again teaming up with Shaun Lewis. Lewis is after a clean sweep in the 2006-07 Wild Horizons events 'season' after winning the Urban Polaris (with Jackson) in December and the VAUDE Highland Fling 100km Marathon in November. However, John Hardwick and David Wood, winners of the Polaris Challenge in 1998 and 1999, will also challenge; they are making their first showing together since 2000.