Amongst all the madness of 2020, the Race to the Rock still managed to go ahead. As the race started, with state borders shut and Melbourne still deep in lockdown many riders people missed out, but thankfully there were a lucky few (mostly South Australian) riders that still got to enjoy the highs and lows that Race to the Rock has to offer.
Once again Jesse Carlsson has pieced together an amazing route, extending out the inaugural 2016 route with a new section south of its original Adelaide city start point. Below is a course overview and brief race summary of the 2020 Race to the Rock. For a full history of detailed daily reports, go to the Race to the Rock Facebook page.
We’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners and first people of this land on which we ride through and pay respects to Elders past, present and emerging. Race to the Rock covers a tiny but significant slice of this land, and the riders experience vast differences in how we all live and connect.
A huge congratulations to Erinn Klien who arrived at the finish line first this year!
Arriving in Yulara Monday, 14th September 7:45pm (NT local time), covering 2,478 kms in 8 days, 13 hrs and 23 mins. This was Erin’s third attempt at RTTR and as they say, the third time's a charm. Well done!
About 30 odd riders set out from the start line at 6:22am, in total 15 had officially registered their interest with MAProgress, with half these registrants planning for a full course meal. The remaining riders wanted to enjoy a “little taste” of the Race to the Rock, which ended up being a big day in the saddle. Normanville is located in the Fleurieu Peninsula about 85 kilometres south of Adelaide, and boasts some of the prettiest coastlines in Australia, famous for its wine regions, in particular McLaren Vale.
The course was designed to showcase of Adelaide’s awesome off-road cycling network, from beach riding, to gravel roads and a lot of technical single track, and don’t forget the climbing, a heap of climbing, close to 4000vm! Plus Jesse always likes to include a few surprises, the twists and turns of course teased riders with glimpses of Adelaide, before they had to ride away again, leaving them wondering “when will the madness stop”.In the end David Rossi crushed the ‘Amuse Bouche’ section, arriving at Norton Summit at approximately 8pm that same day.
With a mouthful of Amuse Bouche, the riders hit the Mawson Trail. The Mawson Trail is a well ridden bikepacking route roughly 900 kms long. The trail gives you a bit of everything, it changes regularly and covers country roads, State forest, National park fire trails, farm access tracks and unmade or unused road reserves, it’s also got some gnarly and/or rocky single track and even a few sandy patches.
From the Adelaide hills into the Clare and Barossa wine regions and through the Bundaleer Forest. Things began to dry out after here, as riders grind through the edges of the Australian outback, but towards the end of the Mawson Trail there’s a massive payoff when riders make their way through the stunning peaks and amazing scenery of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.
However this entree was extra spicy, where a few days served the riders some healthy doses of 50kph headwinds. This was proper tough riding, and a few had to succumb and finish here, XXX retired, and XXX had only signed up for the entree. Erin arrived first XX days before the start.
This left a handful of riders hungry for the main course, and it was a lot to swallow. As riders left the cover and mountainous beauty of the Flinders Ranges, they descended into a new world. Welcome to the Australian outback. Riders followed the fast bitumen roads of the Outback Highway to Marree which included a 30 km detour down a beaten up Old Beltana Rd through heavy bulldust, gravel and dried up river crossings following the old Ghan Railway line.
It was a taste for what was to come, as from Marree, they then hit the Oodnadatta track, a sandy often corrugated road that travels through the South of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre at the lowest point in Australia, at approximately 15 m below sea level. Here the big gaps between the little, yet colourful towns of William Creek and Oodnadatta see the riders scrambling around opening hours of pubs and the famous Pink Roadhouse.
From Oodnadatta they head north on the most remote and sandy section of the route. The 430 km stretch has one waterhole 170 km in, then the aboriginal community of Aputla-Finke is just past the NT border, however due to Covid restrictions, travellers have been advised not to pass through. So riders had to aim for the big Roadhouse/Petrol station in Kulgara situated on the busy Stuart Hwy, and the first sign of bitumen that riders would have seen in a while. The final stretch is to Uluru saw riders return to outback roads where they battled more sand, corrugations and even some cattle, with riders reporting getting startled by cattle at night.
Overall Erin had favourable conditions to finish the in Uluru gate entry under the veil of dark, he would not have even seen Uluru as he arrived. These races often don’t have fancy finish lines and sometimes there is no one there to take your photo but you, and that’s exactly happened with Erin.
The Race to the Rock season is August - September (you can probably throw in April as well). This route is a great one for touring during this season. Why not do your own tour when it works for you? Trapped in another state? Why not check out the other Race to the Rock courses or sections of them if you're allowed to do so.