Anna Beck (Cyclinic, RLCSport), January 2018
Racing in Alice Springs is unlike any racing I have done in the world. It’s so quintessentially Australian, yet unlike anywhere else in Australia. While the terrain doesn’t lend itself the savage climbs of Europe, the Victorian high country, or even the bergs of Brisbane, there is enough climbing to test even the fittest of legs, yet achievable by all. While the single track isn’t like the steeps of Vancouver or the sweeping hero dirt of Rotorua, the iconic red dirt and sand trails are totally unique. Alice Springs is a land unto its own; it’s like a little microcosm that exists both within and outside of broader Australian culture.
Alice is a town whereby climate informs the casual-ness of your interactions; whether you’re in a movie theatre, at the pub, or classier restaurants, it’s a culture that tolerates shorts and thongs in most occasions.
While Easter in the Alice is first and foremost a bike race, it’s actually a whole lot more than that. Alice Springs is a destination every Australian mountain biker needs to go to. It’s an experience; and an opportunity to get up close and personal with a very unique part of this land.
While those at the pointy end of the race will be sweating and heaving in the red dust, taking a moment can allow some experiences that you can’t have anywhere else; cresting a red rock precipice littered with outback scrub with an eagle circling overhead; running across the Todd river (because gee whiz, we tried riding it but it’s pretty tricky!); enjoying beers under the gums at the Telegraph station looking towards the vast red-rock landscape. Experiencing the presence of the vast miles of red rock and sand, and blue sky; this is central Australia!
Easter in the Alice is a race, yes, but it’s also escape into the great unknown. For the majority of us that live in cities, work, have families and are on the fence about another bike race, then consider it so much more than that; and adventure into the vast landscape of central Australia, a chance to clear your mind, to experience something bigger and to do so in a very intimate way; by racing your bike through the terrain that is so specific to the red centre and so very special.
Brendan Johnston (Giant), National Marathon Series and LEITA winner 2017, October 2017
The course for Easter In the Alice is like nowhere else you will MTB. I don’t think your actually ever that far from the centre of town but within minutes of stage starts it can feel like your miles from anywhere soaking up the Australian outback. It’s one thing to ride in the outback but EITA allows you to ride premium well-made single track in the outback. An incredible location for an awesome club run event.
Briony Mattocks (Specialized), Runner Up 2017, September 2017
Having raced the Marathon course at Easter in the Alice last year, I am pretty excited to hear the national series is once again going back to the red centre! It was an awesome mix of a whole lot of different things designed to test your skills and abilities, like the red desert sand, the harsh rocky outcrops, the tight hand-cut single-track, the dry river crossings and the odd challenging double track climb. The course in 2017 was designed to be super enjoyable and importantly, super achievable. It’s a hard day out if you go out and race, but it is also a fun day out if you go out and ride. The highlight is definitely the trails in and around the Telegraph Station – you find yourself taking in the landscape and enjoying the view when you should be chasing down your opponent! I can’t wait for 2018.
James Downing (Cannondale), September 2017
For me, an XCM course should test all attributes of a rider's ability. Endurance, skill, strategy and ability to put it all together on the day.
Of course, in the ideal world, you would also have an enjoyment factor thrown in so that there is also a bit of a reward for the pain and suffering that you go through for these types of races.
Often when you are putting together an XCM course you have to bolt together ordinary bits to get to the good bits. This is where the Alice Springs XCM course differs from this methodology. Every bit is there for a reason and they all come at exactly the right time during the race.
The start for instance: You don't want to be rushing into the first bit of singletrack with everyone going nuts for the chance to get the coveted holeshot just 5 minutes into the race. Alice Springs presents riders with the chance to get a good rhythm happening on a good stretch of fireroad. As a bonus, this helps to eat up some fast, early kilometres to get you kicking on.
The early singletrack along the Hell Line trail is nice and fast, which is absolutely perfect in the first 2 hours of the race. There are a few slight ups and downs, but no major hills which also lends itself to the overall speed of the course.
One thing that you will notice is that the singletrack has been made to provide the rider with a lot of stimulation. It engages you and makes you think about how you want to get through a section in order to take the most speed. You will be presented with some quality XC technical sections interspersed with some straight line awesomeness that allows you to keep it wide open as you take as much speed as you wish.
There is a thing as too much singletrack for an XCM....a few XCM races are notorious for this. The fireroad trails are good for a few reasons...you get a chance to switch off a little bit, you can eat and drink, you can allow rider dynamics to come into play, or you can put the hammer down and eat up the kilometres! Alice Springs gets this ratio spot on for an XCM. And they don't do singletrack for the sake of singletrack. It is all quality with no bits that bore you.
Don't let the shorter distance fool you. 80-90 Alice Springs km is going to leave you quite satisfied with your day on the bike. Plus, being a stage race, you don't want to burn all the matches on the first day. The organisers have got this bit absolutely dialled.
There is a reason why I have raced in Alice Springs so much over recent years....the trails. Often you will go to an XCM race, do it, and then leave thinking....thank god I don't have to ride those trails until next year! Alice Springs makes you want to book a separate trip there at another time of the year so that you can just ride your bike all day long on the superb trails. It is really that good.
Ryan Standish (Torq/Merida), runner up LEITA 2017, October 2017
I am so in love with my hometown trails, they truly are some of the best in the world.
Justin ‘Maddog’ Morris (Novo Nordisk), former pro road racer, September 2017
The XCM course at last year's Easter in the Alice I honestly found to be one of the best XCM courses I have done. An honest 'race course' where you could put the power down for the entire 75km. I like that there was not one massive climb or descent that dictated the race. The topography of the Alice is perfect for a solid 4-5 hour race. The trails there really are ace for XCM racing. I LOVED it!