This November, there is a new mountain bike event that is coming to Victoria. Let's be clear, Victoria has had a pretty rough 2020. But with plans for a huge mountain bike network to be built in and around Omeo, the future for regional Victoria is really bright. And the recently announced the Cattlemen 100 MTB race creates an endurance event and weekend to get a taste of what Omeo and the surrounding regions have to offer. The event date is November 28, 2020. Lock it in!

What is the Cattlemen 100 MTB?

The Cattlemen 100 MTB  is a regional cycling event spanning across Omeo, Omeo Valley and Benambra, highlighting the High Country’s breathtaking landscape acting as a ‘teaser’ for the forthcoming mountain bike trail network. The event promoters reckon there is something for the whole family including with post race award ceremony, live music, food, beverage and much more. Get more details on the event website.

So, it's 100km?

Well, no. The Omeo Cattlemen 100 MTB is based on the famous Leadville 100 MTB in Colorado, USA, first held in 1994. The Leadville 100 MTB has become one of the best-known events in the world, with a series of qualifying events required to vet those who want to race. And it is 100 miles. The US has a whole series of 100 mile races, based on the popularity of the Leadville 100 MTB race.

The Cattlemen 100 MTB is actually 105 miles, or 175km. It covers just under 3700m of climbing, which is heaps! If you have done the Otway Odyssey, it's a little bit like that for the amount of climbing. The Odyssey has about 2600m of climbing in 100km, so the Cattlemen 100 MTB actually has less climbing per kilometre. But a lifetime of sausage sandwichs says that's not how it will feel, as there is more steep climbing in the Cattlemen 100.

Where does the route go?

Everywhere.

The route takes on mostly gravel roads and other back roads only known to locals. You'll be tackling Mount Gingee Munjie, Splitters Range, riding around Lake Omeo in Benambra and back to Omeo over Mount Sam, where you then go past the main trail head for the Omeo MTB trails. You can see the whole map on Komoot.

But it's in Victoria...

The event organisers have a Covid19 safe plan and the current situation will be closely monitored, abiding by current laws and restrictions. Regional Victoria is under very different restrictions to Melbourne, and with locations like Bright just a short hop away, the Cattlemen 100 is close by some great cyclists to take up the challenge. There are more details in the riders guide.

Why does it look like a gravel race?

Here's the thing, mountain bikes are pretty fast on steep climbs and descents, and rough dirt roads and firetrails. While the provided photos make the terrain look smooth enough for a gravel bike, anyone who has needed to do a steep descent on a dropped bar, narrow tyred rigid gravel bike will tell you that flats are just a matter of when, not if. The Dirty Gran Fondo outside of Melbourne was often won on a MTB, with a prize for fastest cyclocross bike. The Great Otway Gravel Grind is often won on a mountain bike.

With 175km of terrain, the speed of a 29er, the gearing, braking and position will be what gets people through. The race only allows mountain bikes, as the event team know the terrain.

What if I win?

Well, there's $1000 for you, and a special prize. There is prize money down to 5th place for men and women, and the prize money is equal for men and women. No special 'fastest time' bonuses or special awards for men's winners - just clear cut gender equality for those who do well. And that's great to see.

Where is the start and finish?

Right in Omeo, Victoria. The Golden Age Hotel, Omeo Caravan Park, Omeo Hotel and a few other places are all able to accommodate riders. You can head to the Visit Gippsland site to book a stay.

So how do I sign up?

Head to the event website, fill in your details and pay your $150 entry fee. Book for two nights in Omeo as there's a recovery ride the next day with coffee. This will be the perfect time to relive your exploits.

This is a great initiative, and hopefully the event sees a lot of support from Victorian mountain bikers. With so many competitive riders in Bendigo, Bright and beyond, there will no doubt be plenty of firepower on the line on November 28, and probably lots of riders there for the challenge.