The Townsville MTB Festival brings schools events, social rides and the National Cross-Country Marathon Championships all to the one amazing venue in late April.
Queensland must be pretty close to a mountain biker's paradise at this time of the year. From the trail explosion in South East Queensland, with trail expansions at Bayview, Old Hidden Vale, Gap Creek, Ipswich and of course Nerang, by late April the wet season is on the way out and the mountain bike playground of the tropics starts to win favour.
STOP! There's been an update and all the events will now take place at Douglas Mountain Bike Reserve, right behind James Cook University in Townsville.
The riding in Cairns, Atherton and Port Douglas is well-documented. We've visited Mackay as well, and their mountain bike park is top notch, with plenty on the horizon. But somehow many people have forgotten Townsville. Home to Douglas MTB Park with about 35km of purpose built trails, Cape Pallarenda with iconic trails like Smedley's and Under the Radar - right on the Coral Sea, and home to one of the countries biggest marathon races - the Paluma Push.
In 2017, the Townsville MTB Festival was set up in the North Queensland city, with a combination of social and competitive events held across a 3-day weekend. With two days of events, those who came north (or south!) enjoyed the dry and technical trails that skirted the Coral Sea, overlooking Magnetic Island.
The event venue at Cape Pallarenda is just 10km up a bike path from the centre of Townsville, and has trails from rocky singletrack, smooth, fast and flowing trails, and double-track. There's enough climbing to keep it interesting, and more than enough technical challenges to keep experienced riders on their toes.
The Townsville MTB Festival in 2018
The good news? It's back! The Townsville MTB Festival has expanded in 2018, and lands on 27-29 April - which is pretty soon! The events will stillbe hosted out of Cape Pallarenda, making parking and travel to the event location easy. The big change for this year is the addition of the North Queensland Schools Challenge.
On April 27th, The North Queensland Schools Challenge sees high school students compete in 3 categories. Junior (Years 7 and 8), Intermediate (Years 9 and 10) and Senior (Years 11 and 12). Schools can enter as many, or as few, riders as they like. Given that a number of schools in North Queensland have a booming school MTB community, we're expecting to see strong numbers on the Friday of the Festival.
The events cover a true mix of mountain biking. First up - cross country! Events will run from 30 up to 75 minutes depending on which category riders are in, and each age group will have a mass start for a set course. Every rider's time counts towards the points score, with time penalties for not finishing.
The second event is Observed Trials - not quite what we saw at the National Championships, but a selection of technical challenges where 3 'dabs', or putting foot on the ground, means a section isn't complete. Every completed section takes a minute off the rider's cross-country race time. So if you weren't that fast in the cross-country, but perfect in the trials - you could well be ahead! There's a points score, and a tally for the greatest amount of points will find winners in each category, for boys and girls.