Riders get back on track at the Rocky Trail Superflow event at Nerang, Queensland.
On the 18th and 19th of July, mountain bikers flooded to Nerang, on Queensland's Gold Coast, to take part in the Rocky Trail Superflow event. With the popular event type being spread across two days, the Rocky Trail team could easily make sure their gravity fed mountain bike event stayed ahead of the COVID-safe rules, and it is clear that smart organisation and a bunch of riders using common sense made for not just a safe environment - but a really fun one as well.
If you haven't been to one of Rocky Trail's Superflow events before, the idea is simple. As they say, 'Race the way you ride'. On the trails, that means there are a few set stages, in this case there were three in Nerang forest. You could ride between the stages at your own pace, and do them in any order you want. In the upper echelons of enduro racing, stages are raced in a set order, once (maybe with a sighting run the day before), and with set start times for each rider, that creates a time limit for the transition (ie, climb) from one stage to the next.
All that fuss is taken out with the Superflow events, and while the challenge of enduro racing can lie within managing liaison stages and your equipment, and some of the chunkiest gnar around, the Superflow events are way more chill, and any barriers to entry are about as hard to tackle as a bean bag.
At the Superflow events, you don't need a full face helmet (but by all means, use one if you have one!) you can do the stages in any order you want, and a number of times. Get a flat? Sure, go fix it and try again. Want to ride up with your mates and drop in together? Fine, let the marshall at the top know. In fact, stage starts were very friendly. With 30 seconds being the default gap, if you wanted the rider behind you to start further back, you could just ask.
Your result is based on your fastest run of each of the three stages - with a limit of 5 attempts per stage. Hats off if you did all three that many times!
On the trails
Nerang is known for a fair amount of rock. Not huge rock features, but just plenty of rock around. The trails used for the three stages were a mix of local favourites, and trails used in other enduro events and of course the National XC races.
Each stage had plenty of pedalling in the shallower sections, but more than enough corners and small drops and jumps to really give an advantage to those who were happy to leave it wide open.
With racing split across two days, riders could check their phone for live timing updates.
In the strong women’s field of 37 competitors, four Elites lead the overall results – Lisa Mathison clocked in with the fastest women's time of the weekend with 12:57.1. The Olympian and 2x Junior World XC Champion is now establishing herself on the gravity scene. Holly Lubcke finished in second with Hayley Oakes in third. Anna Beck was fourth outright ahead of Masters winner Michelle Gane. Sharon Heap, the local legend, was 7th in the females overall, winnning the SuperMaster category.
Three NSW racers topped the rankings in the Elite Men: Gravity powerhouse Jack Moir repeated his Elite win from the previous NSW racing weekend at Awaba and his time of 11:16.9 from Saturday wasn’t beat all weekend, the outright fastest of th event. Young Ryan Gilchrist came in second in ahead of Jake Newell. Queensland racers Andy Fellows and Dylan Cooper come in fourth and fifth.
The real racing was in Masters men, with almost 60 competitors. Local shredder Michael Ronning took the title in 12:20.4 ahead of Julien Redmond and Deon Beier. As one of the first racers to give the Rocky Trail Fox Superflow format a go years ago, Ronning said that he enjoyed the format and that it suited the new influx of mountain bikers onto the riding and racing scene over the last few months.
“You just see so many people out here smiling. We have a really good community around our shop and there are so many different groups of riders out here today – locals and groups of friends and families with kids all riding together, it’s unreal.”
With this weekend being a return to racing for many, it is hard not to appreciate what a relaxed vibe the Superflow events create. There were riders young and old, riders with fashion forward style, along with bike pants, t shirts, shin guards and sneakers. Amidst those chasing top finishes pedalling around Nerang, new riders on hybrids were also out enjoying the bush, also witnessing the event take place. It was a good weekend to be a mountain biker, with lots of smiles and no noticeable aggression on the trail. No one can interrupt your Strava run when you've been in control of your start time after all!
Rocky Trail have a bunch of events coming up, including their Shimano MTB GP series, something for the endurance crowd. But to be honest, you can have a good day out at the Superflow or MTB GP events on just about whatever bike you have. So see if there's one near you on their calendar.