Alice Springs: The Redback – Stage 3 & 4

Four stages down and just two to go, our resident stage racing freshman is starting to find his rhythm at The Redback. Thomas Treloar came to Alice Springs to tune his legs but with a top-10 overall finish now within sight, can he find an extra gear?

Words: Thomas Treloar

Photo: Reg Hatch, Rapid Ascent

Day 2 done and dusted. The smiles are still there but they are hidden behind some tired and dusty faces.

It was another two-stage Redback day, both on the same 22km course starting and finishing at the Alice Springs Golf Course. This is probably the greenest part of Alice and it sits in the shadow of Mount Johns. A little fact that blew my mind… Alice is at 545 meter elevation, Mount Johns is 1,039m and Blackheath, the highest point of the Blue Mountains sits at 1,064m. No wonder it has snowed here before!

Race of truth

First up: the 22km Time Trial. Riders set off at 30-second intervals and were immediately thrust into the desert. Now, the ideal plan was to catch a few people in front and not be caught by the people behind. Unfortunately, the cards weren’t dealt in my favour. Remember I said the trails would get the better of you if you are having a bad day? Well, I had a bad-ish day. I struggled with the flow, had a little tumble and just didn’t have great sensations. You can’t always be on point.

Others fared worse than me. For a while, I kept seeing white sealant scattered over rocks. It was like some kind of wounded Predator-esque animal had found its way onto the course. All this sealant but where are the riders? Finally, a wounded rider with a tyre in hand. A quick “you right?” by me and with a grunt and a nod, I was off. It’s nice how everyone looks out for one another. Sure we are on the rivet but if someone slips a pedal or has a good save you can be sure to hear a “nice save” or my go-to phrase “yeeehaaaa” or “whoop whoop”.

We had a solid break before we were due back at the golf course at nightfall for Stage 4.

Starry night

Racing at night is a whole new experience. I probably should have practiced this before the event as my light setup worked but was not ideal. Guided by advice from friends and similar to most of my competitors, I chose to have 1,500-lumen flood light on the handlebars and a 500-lumen spotlight on my helmet. My issue is that the handlebar light was pointing too far up and the head torch too far down, leaving a bit of a black hole in the middle. I’ve still got a bit to learn but I’m getting there.

Either way, it was an absolute blast. We were pumped up at the start by the loud beats of ACDC Thunderstruck and you could feel the excitement amongst the riders. Going as fast as you can at night is an exhilarating experience. It’s a novelty for nearly everyone and you could see the little kid surface in the riders – including me. It was also pretty beautiful to see lights of riders scattered throughout the landscape. I am sure it would have been great to sit and watch.

Tomorrow brings just the the one 42km stage, so clawing back some time in the GC is well within grasp.

Day 2 – Results

Full results available here

Stage 3 – Individual Time Trial

Distance: 22km
Time: 59:08
Terrain: about 60% single track and 40% sandy, 4WD tracks
Elevation climbed: 276m
Average speed: 22.3 km/h
Average heart rate: 177bpm

Stage 4 – Tourism NT Night Race

Distance: 22km
Time: 58:26 (faster at night!)
Terrain: about 60% single track and 40% sandy, 4WD tracks
Elevation climbed: 276m
Average speed: 22.4 km/h
Average heart rate: 176bpm