English, Douglas to defend 24-hour national titles this weekend

Australian solo 24-hour nationals happening in Canberra

The 2010 Australian Solo 24-hour Mountain Bike National Championships will take place this weekend at Majura Pines in Canberra. Over 100 riders will compete for the title of National Champion in both open and age-based categories.

Riders will be racing the well-known Majura Pines trails, with a nine-kilometre course set to challenge all. The winning rider will traditionally complete over 40 laps non-stop in the 24 hours, resulting in a total of approximately 400 kilometres of riding.

Canberra Off-Road Cyclists (CORC), Australia's largest Mountain Bike Club is hosting the event, including providing a cash prize pool for the elite riders of over AUS$8,000.

Many of Australia's leading 24-hour mountain bike riders will be present at Majura this weekend, including Jason English, the reigning 24-hour World and National Champion. English was also the national champion in 2008, and this year he will be challenged by Dan Mackay who finished second at nationals in 2009 and third in both 2007 and 2008.

Among the women, Jessica Douglas will return to defend her national title. She was also fourth at the World Championships in 2009.

The event comes about six months before Australia will host the 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Solo 24 Hour Championships at Stromlo Forest Park as a part of the annual Australian 24-hour Mountain Bike Championships race run by CORC. It will be the first time the 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Solo 24 Hour Championships are conducted outside of continental North America, a coup for CORC, Canberra, and the mountain biking in Australia.

With Australia's proven talent pool of 24-hour mountain bikers, many racer this weekend are expected to be amongst the leaders at the world championship event as well.

On a sad note, the Australian mountain biking community is mourning the recent loss of one of its greats, James Williamson, who was the 2008 World Solo 24-Hour Champion and the 2006 Solo 24-Hour Australian Champion. He died on March 23 in his sleep between stages of the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race in South Africa. The start of this weekend's race will feature a tribute to the well-known Canberra rider, who suffered from a previously undiagnosed heart condition.

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