Alice Springs: The Redback – Mecure Alice Springs Resort Stage 6

The Redback is done and dusted for another year. Our stage racing rookie Thomas Treloar entered the four-day, six-stage event as an unknown and rode out the other side with a bucket load of experience and a top-10 overall finish, just for good measure. Here’s how the final day of racing went down in the Alice.

Words: Thomas Treloar

Photo: Reg Hatch/Rapid Ascent

I survived. I’m not sure it’s my place to really comment, given my lack of experience but with my bike and bags packed I’m sat here thinking The Redback might just be the perfect race for a rookie like myself.

The final stage was 46km and very similar to yesterday’s flowing trails with even a lick of Stage 5 tackled in reverse. The neutral start gave us all a chance to chat about the week of riding but there was one comment from Matthew Georgeson that really shone through.

“I wonder if I could do this every day for the rest of my life?”.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve got quite enough energy to go quite that distance, just yet, but I get where he’s coming from – it’s been a great race.

Rookie racer

I started The Redback with an aim to sit in, watch, ask questions and learn but having cruised through the opening five stages more or less without incident, my objectives quickly changed. Today is all about maintaining my place of the general classification.

A group of five came together not long after the start. The perfect yet nervous mix of riders sitting in 8th through to 12th. If we stayed together, my overall spot (8th) would be safe. A top-10 overall finish in my first stage race, I’ll take that. One scary moment, remember when I talked about cruising through the race without incident? Well, of course today was the day to puncture.

A minor mistake was met with the dreaded hissing sound followed by an almighty spray of sealant. Thankfully the slice was small enough to seal up and after a few nervous seconds, I was back into the line.

Four days of competitive cycling is something I’ve never experienced prior to arriving at The Redback so while I focussed on retaining my position, there was still a little bit of unknown surrounding today’s stage. I would have loved to have blasted away down the trail but it wasn’t until towards the end that I decided to leave it all out there. Pushing on and pulling away from the group, I managed to cross the line in 9th spot for the stage and, when all said and done, 8th place on GC. Mission accomplished. I couldn’t be more happy.

Everyone at The Redback came with a goal and you could see the joy of those who achieved them as riders crossed the line into the early afternoon. Many walked across the finish line holding their bikes over their head or holding a mate’s hand. For me, this is what racing or endurance events are all about.

Why do i think it’s the best stage race for a rookie? Redback organisers (Rapid Ascent) have it all covered. From the SMS updates through to the comprehensive course markings or the constant smiles and cheers from the team. Every rider is made to feel like someone has their back but the best part is the simplicity. I stayed at the Mercure hotel for the duration, which also happened to be the event village. Each night, having slogged away in the Alice desert, I’d return to my same room, warm shower and comfy bed. It also provides the ability to bring your loved ones or your support team who can share the whole experience.

Alice Springs is small and you can walk to the shops, take your pick from the local scoops of ice cream (I tried it and yep, it was good) and drop into a nice for a brew coffee. The location, while very much a journey for most of the field, is very much worth it.

Later in the year, I’ll be at The Pioneer sleeping in a tent each night. These luxuries will not be on my doorstep but with The Redback now in my pocket, I won’t be the rookie anymore.

Kit watch

Alice Springs isn’t overly warm at this time of the year but the weather is perfect for a bike race. Each day was met with temperatures between 15-20 degrees Celsius which is ideal for jersey and bibs. Nothing more.

I brought three kits to the race but the Noble Hops kit (craft beer bar in Redfern, Sydney) produced by Cuore Australia is my favourite so I washed it every day. I ran the new Oakley ARO3 helmet paired with the Flight Jacket glasses. There’s good reason to pair your helmet and sunnies with the same brand – where possible – because more often than not, they’ll sit better together and importantly, hold the eyewear when you’re not wearing them. This combination has been the best I’ve tired (and I’ve tried more than a few) with both helmet and sunnies feeling comfortable across the duration of the race.

Day 4 – Results

Full results available here

Stage 6 – Mercure Alice Springs Resort

Distance: 46km (47.4km actual)
Time: 2:15:35
Terrain: 75% single track, 24% sandy tracks, bike paths and 1% tarmac
Elevation climbed: 655m
Average speed: 21km/h
Average heart rate: 168bpm