The Convict 100 is celebrating its 15th year in 2019, and if you haven't been for a little while, you might be surprised that ther have been a few changes in the past few years.

One change is the direction, with the route still starting and finishing in St Albans, it now crosses the MacDonald River and climbs Jacks Track. Yes - up Jacks Track! This does mean the descent down to Webbs Creek is fast and relatively non-technical, perfect for lining up the canoe bridge, then moving towards the more demanding riding.

Once across the river again, you know climb Sheppards Gully as opposed to descending it. The route had a lot of maintenance work in 2014 and 2015, so for better or for worse it's a fast climb, and a lot shallower than Jacks Track. The route continues to the most technical riding of the event, on the section to the Western Commisioners track. How this was ever a road is anyone's guess. There are numerous small drop offs and bigger rock rolls, ledges to climb, holes to negotiate and sandy sections to manage. And there's also plenty of fast pedalling on one of the lines that have worn in. This is one of the most popular sections to ride out and back from Wisemans Ferry - so it is nicely bedded in. Well as nicely bedded in as sandstone and sand gets!

The descent past the Wat Buddha retreat might see you hit close to 70kmh, which is way over the marked speed limit. After a top up of food and water at 10 Mile Hollow the second half of the race will take you on some classic Convict Road sections, including past the old Clares Bridge.

There's still a sting in the tail, with plenty of small climbs before your big final descent and back road into town. But St Albans and their old pub awaits.

But I don't think I can ride 100km

No worries! There is a 68km and 44km distance as well. Both these events are really popular, and it is certainly worth entering the event that is going to have the right mix of fun and challenge.

Sounds great - but it's an early start!

Yes, it is. But the traffic isn't too bad if you leave yourself time in the morning. Alternatively, come up on Friday and camp. It's only $10 per vehicle and you'll be with lots of like-minded people.

Dude it's a firetrail race

Is it? There is plenty of technical challenge on the rough sections of the Convict Trail. Se if you can ride this section above 20km/h, like the elite riders do. And when it's smoother, take a look around - you're in a really pretty part of NSW.

The Convict 100 has a lot to offer both experienced riders and those new to the sport. It's also one of the few marathons that offers a variety of distances without making a course that is just more laps for more kilometres.

The event is on May 4th, all the details are online, but if you want a mountain bike experience that is close to Sydney and enjoyable for many, you should enter - and get some mates along too. There's a price rise after 4th April, and entries close 1st May - so don't think, act!


Photos: Outer Image Collective