Mont Madness

I can’t help but raise an eyebrow when people say they’re “just riding for fun.” When is riding not fun?  I think what they’re trying to express is that they’re riding for giggles not sheep stations. It’s a way of sounding cool when you’re really being soft.

Radical Lights Factory Racing HQ. Photo: Radical Lights

At last weekend’s Mont 24 Hour in Canberra, the Radical Lights Factory Racing team had a different conception of fun, and they weren’t being soft at all.  Riding with regular enduro hitters Jason McAvoy, Andy Hall, Kevin Wells and Garry James, I enjoyed learning from the lifestyle these guys lead – most of the team were training hard for the Australian Solo 24 Hour Champs at Easter. ‘Fun’ for them at the Mont meant doing their share of the team laps, and then heading out for an additional five or so hours because they could.

Having absolutely no intention of spending Easter in a riding coma, I spent the extra off-bike hours at the Mont catching up with mates. While almost everyone I spoke to was buzzing about the purpose built trails, I was high on the happiness that comes with so many of my favourite people all hanging out in the one place. I never did check how many people signed on for the event, but if it wasn’t 3000, it was something pretty close.

A lot of riders makes for a lot of souvenir belt buckles. Photo: Kath Bicknell

The Kowalski Bros’ Trailworks East Kowen singletrack was carefully crafted with maximum enjoyment in mind and catered well for the broad range of riders who lined up for the event. Multiple bermy cornered descents added a technical challenge for skilled riders without shaking the confidence out of people newer to the sport. Pedally bits separated the fighting from the fit and a track length of around 19km prevented the rider density from ever becoming too thick. A surprise drummer and guitarist took the sting out of the final singletrack climb as well. And the mud that everyone feared would ruin the event was hardly to be seen. The trail crew drained water away from boggy areas before the race began, which left a break in the weather to dry things out quite nicely.

Rear number plates kept over-zealous overtakers in check. Photo: Kath Bicknell.

Whatever your definition of fun, the Mont never fails to offer something for everyone: sweet trails, good catch ups, an excuse for more training, a chance to race hard with mates, 24 hours of reasons to drink more coffee, or a place to go and witness all the bells, frills and whistles of the Australian mountain biking community in action. I really enjoyed getting to know the Radical Lights crew better too and continuing to use the brightest, most relaxing beams around. The boys are so enthusiastic about riding that I might have to fight them a bit harder next year for a few more laps of the track. Or join them in their ride to the event as well. Just for fun.