February 15th 2014, we were at the World’s newest event, the first ever Dusk till Dawn 12hr is on in Tamworth! Tamworth’s own Centaur Outdoor Events and Ay-Up Lighting brought us 12 hours of darkness and a fantastically organised event on a tough, brilliant track. Here are a few observations on the first ever 12hr Dusk till Dawn in Tamworth (you can just skip to the results if you want, by going to the bottom of the page)
Watching the unfolding Ay-Up 12hr Dusk till Dawn put me in mind of the martial arts movies I used to lap up in the 70’s. Two foes inflicting unimaginable punishment upon one another, for an impossibly long time and with unbelievable brutality. That was the battle as it unfolded between reigning World 24hr solo champion Jason English and the hard-hitting Andrew Lloyd. And like those same movies, all this taking place against a multi-coloured backdrop of dozens of other martial artists going toe-to-toe.
That, however, is where the similarity ends. Unlike the Kung Fu flick there were no baddies, no enmity and no revenge. In fact, the Ay-Up Dusk till Dawn 2014 was one of the friendliest and most relaxed events I’ve been to… well, relaxed except for those moments of self-inflicted brutality on track.
The 11km track around the Tamworth Bike Park took in smooth, fast, rolling singletrack, beastly little switchback climbs and rocky descents. It has something for everyone – something to enjoy and something to make you think! The track is part of a trail network hand-built by Tamworth Offroad Cyclists over the past year or so and, as a sample of their wares, it really is a job they can be proud of!
85 riders registered for the first ever 12hr Dusk till Dawn in Tamworth. The biggest proportion of the field were in the Solo categories, with depth and quality in both men’s and women’s fields – plenty of veterans of the WEMBO 24 hour World Solo Championships, including outright winner Jason English, 20-39 Male champ Sean Bekkers and 20-29 Women’s title holder, Charlie McCabe. When I saw the quality of the field I knew it was going to be a grand stoush… and that was before I saw the track!
From the gun, Team Bike Shed Mortdale rider Guy Frail led,with the pack in hot pursuit. And gun is the operative word with 16 year old Frail clocking an astonishing 30.5 minute lap, which would stand as the event’s hot lap despite his own best efforts next morning to top it. Guy’s no stranger to the podium and his TBSM Team would hold the overall and team of three lead for the full 12 hours and take outright honours.
In true Kung Fu style, the TBSM boys didn’t get their victory without a fight, with a real ding dong of a chase orchestrated by Sean Bekkers and Michael Crummy from headline headlight sponsors’ Team AY-UP and the boys from Baiocchi Griffin JT Fossey hitting TBSM and each other with everything in their arsenal. Crummy and ‘Bozza’ had the early running but the numerical advantage of the very strong Baiocchi Griffin outfit saw the AY-UP crew hauled methodically in. Peter Selkrig showed he was riding, as they say in l’equip, ‘on a different level’, when he pulled out two of his best laps in the wee small hours and helped cement Baiocchi Griffin’s second place in the teams of three and overall. Selkrig’s team mates, Phil Welch and Ray Griffin, were both very strong and consistent for the whole 12 hours but the AY-UP boys could take pride in a great ride and a category win – 2 Man Teams – ahead of Regan Tatloack and Will Lulham – the 26ers and Brad Wilkie and Brendon Martin – who are doing a wonderful thing for the Beyond Blue Foundation – 52 races in as many weeks… how are the legs, boys??? Tamworth 29ers, The Dusketeers and the Silvertops, featuring anchorman John McQueen, had another doosie of a battle for the third spot on the teams of three podium, with the niners finally edging out the Silvertops and Dusketeers for third. Josh Brown, Mitch Green and Paul and Scott Carrigan aka Team No Idea took out first place in the teams of four event from the Eather, Rohr, MacPherson, Livingston “Missing Link” crew, with only a little over half a lap separating these guys after 12 hours.
As seems to be so often the case with endurance racing, the Women’s side of the fence might be described as small but perfectly formed. Three women in the open solo category all put up massive rides with WEMBO World Age 20-29 Women’s Champion Charlie McCabe taking category honours. But to do so Charlie needed to stay on her bike all night because there at her – and each others’ – heels were the ever-present pair of Kirby Knowles and Pauline Raffaele. The latter finished in that order but second position was up for grabs all night and see-sawed between Pauline and Kirby on a regular basis. Watching them transition was like a tennis match with the ball in one court and then the other. It was a great, and very friendly tussle and made for great sport on the timing couch!
The mixed pairs category was a beaut little race, too. “The Bloke with Woody” pairing were ultimately triumphant, ahead of Paul and Diane Perry – “Bobby and Super Di”. Perhaps should take a moment to elaborate on the victors. Malcolm Bradley was team with Catherine Wood hence he was the bloke with Woody… nothing untoward there I’m sure but whether it was the comfortable night in the saddle we don’t know. Both teams were well in the hunt early in the race with some excellent laps from all riders. But the Woodys were relentless and Di and Paul were keen for a kip so late in proceedings the Woody Bloke combo pulled away for a well-earned win.
And on the subject of Woody’s, what ultra endurance event would be complete without Mark ‘Woody’ Wood? Woody was the sole single speed competitor at this year’s event and with a tough little nut of a track the Woodster still dug deep to represent himself proudly as category alpha and omega. In conversation with our solo-geared solo man the next day this writer was told that Mark “knew he was in trouble” when the first question I asked when he arrived was “what gear are you running”? Apparently the vacant stare I gave him after he answered “the usual” didn’t fill him with optimism. It’s not that the Tamworth track is unsuitable for singlespeeds but with quite a few tight, slow switchback climbs its either little gears or BIG legs. I’d love to see what Brett Bellchambers could do here!
They say of Jens Voigt that if you pinned a number to a dog he’d chase it down. Hastings Valley rider Jamie Vogele put in a real Jens Voigt of a ride, fighting off a recurrent back pain to carve out a well-earned win in the Solo Male 40+ category, also ending up third overall of the solo competitors. Local rider Steve Mair took a solid second and might have been even closer to Jamie but for a mechanical through the night. Steve fought back to clinch the number two podium spot in 40+ Males from a very solid Adam Bodkin, who beat Steve Eggleton into fourth. Steve actually made it to the podium but an Electoral Commission inquiry revealed that some laps were lost in Western Australia and Adam got up on a recount. In any event, both riders deserved kudos for a solid campaigning!
The biffo came from the very start for Andrew Lloyd and Jason English, both putting in blisteringly quick first laps before settling into a slightly less frenetic rhythm. Andrew and Jason went lap for lap for 10 or 11 with the nominal lead alternating as they passed the timing tent in a very short, very fast conga line. True to form, Jason put in a big couple of laps some time after midnight and started to open up a slight lead on Andrew before both settled into first and second positions for the duration, allowing their lap times to drop to a moderately sane level. I don’t think you’d have to turn either Jason or Andrew upside down and drip cold tea down their nostrils for them to admit they were pretty hammered after this – I’ve seen Jason fresher after some 24hr innings, which is testament to what I think could fairly be described as a championship-level track. Andrew seemed to have some derailleur issues, while in an early morning conversation outside the portaloos, J.E. mentioned the physiological ramifications of eating too many Pringles, so neither rider escaped lightly. Ben Jacka took a slightly different path to the podium in a well-crafted ride to third place. After a very quick lap one Ben, like pretty much the rest of the solo field, must have asked himself what the Sam Hill he was doing, backed it off a notch and just rode like a diesel for the rest of the night. He minimised his stops, maximised bike time and had a fine ride to clinch third in Solo Males, ahead of Jarred Connolly.
That’s the précis form of the 2014 AY-UP 12hr Dusk till Dawn in Tamworth. There were plenty of other memorable aspects – Team promptpt “hot seating” a very elderly commuter machine with dubious suspension and even more dubious brakes (what a revelation in was when a couple of the lads took one of Bikes on Marsh’s Norco 650s for a blat) and Ben Huw, who should probably have a category. Ben debuted his Fat Bike, complete with Glo Sticks in the wheels, and was clearly having a ball.
Did I enjoy the 2014 AY-UP 12 Dusk till Dawn? You bet! I reckon this race has the makings of a classic and anyone – ANYONE – who is into endurance mountain biking should get to the 2015 edition!!!
Special thankyous: ‘Frosty’ Winter for being the key man on the Time Team, Beth for discipline, Mel and Chloe for impromptu assistance, Daniel Rafaele for involving us in an outstanding event, the Tamworth Off road Cyclist Crew for a cracker-jack track and everyone who made a gr8 weekend!
Want to have a peek at the track? Check out Crummy’s vid…
Individual $85 per rider
2 man team $80 per rider
3 man team $75 per rider
4 man team $75 per rider
Kids under 16 $5
For the full story: http://www.centauroutdoorevents.com.au/dusk-till-dawn