Paul Darvodelsky has raced every iteration of the Red Centre Enduro, and gladly discussed the finer points of this years course. If you are heading out, and it is your first time – it is probably worth reading.
Stage 1 – Monday.
Start: Telegraph Station at 9:00am. Finish: Lasseters Hotel Casino.
“This was 52 km last year and won in about 2.15. I rode about 2.40 but had to stop three times to pump up a slow leak. The stage starts on a road for 1 km then turns right through a large patch of sand onto a dirt 4wd track. Get the right hander right otherwise you won’t see anything for the dust” Darvodelsky recommends.
Two kilometres later you cross a sandy creek bed (“rideable if the jokers in front of you don’t stuff it up”) then onto the old Stuart Highway which has had most of the pot holes sealed. Turn right, and after 6-8 km more you head onto a dirt track again and follow this east for a fair while on very flat and soft sandy tracks.
“Then there is a lot of singletrack, about two hours of it” says Darvodelsky. This is until you ride some more 4WD track and then head back to the Casino to finish. “It’s pretty flat for the most part, generally rolling hills. There are a few really steep pinches, but a great stage for singletrack rolleurs.”
Stage 2 – Tuesday.
Rolling start from the Chifley Alice Springs Resort at 8:50am with racing starting on Smith Street. Finish at the Alice Springs Velodrome.
The start is along the railway line. There is lots of sand at the start and it gets increasingly hilly. There is some very rocky bits (tyre breaking) in the dips, so due care is needed. Some single track is used to join up to an old 4WD track, and then onto the west side single tracks. These are now in pretty good condition because of recent races and should be mostly quite fun. This is the hilliest day, but there are no big climbs.
“ It’s generally fast and flowing. But as with all the tracks here the single track is only 30 cm wide most of the time and there is plenty of grass on the sides. Watch out for the rocks hiding in the grass which catch your pedals!” cautions Darvodelsky.
Stage 3 – Tuesday evening.
Start & Finish: Anzac Hill from 4:00pm. 50-60 second sprint up a steep hill on the road.
“If you’re serious bring slicks. It will be difficult to lose more than five seconds if you’re serious.”
Stage 4 – Wednesday.
Start: Scout Hall on Larapinta Dve at 9:00am. Finish: BMX Track. Long stage: about 80 km.
Darvodelsky explained that this stage is a little shorter than previous years, partly due to land access issues. But it’s still good fun.
“The first 25 km is hilly and around the west side tracks. This is quite a tough, rough loop with plenty of climbing. I think I measured 600 metres, which is a lot for Alice. It’s constantly up and down. There is not much sand, but some very rough, stony bits.”
Then there is 17 km of undulating bike path to Simpsons Gap, followed by 14 km of sealed road, “dead flat and probably into a head wind. Then 10 km of good dirt road, still into a headwind. Then 5 km of rough dirt track but with a tailwind and then along a ridgeline which is quite steep in parts and some pretty rough rocky stuff.” Darvodeslky does believe this is one of the prettiest parts of the course though. It’s quite remote, and often reveals surprises, even to locals. The run back is on the flats for a final 5 km or so to the BMX track.
Stage 5 – Thursday.
Start & Finish: Alice Springs Golf Club from 9:00am.
Stage 6 – Thursday.
Start: Alice Springs Golf Club at 6:30pm. Finish: Alice Springs Golf Club.
Darvodeslky reckons these two satges use some of the best trails in Alice: “These are the time trial and night course respectively. They are mostly single track and very nice track at that. But there is lots of grass overgrowing the track. There is quite a gnarly descent, and quite a gnarly climb in it.”
Stage 7 – Friday.
Start: Chifley Alice Springs Resort at 9:00am. Finish: Telegraph Station.
“The last day should be a hoot, a real ball breaker.” Says Darvodelsky. The course will take in some new track which is really pretty. It is not bedded in though and hard to follow if you don’t know it. Keep a sharp eye out for streamers.
“Basically this will be about 35 km of fun single track. Some of it quite rocky and technical. There is one good climb of about 7 minutes up Undoolya Ridge. If you can’t ride across the wide, sandy Todd River before the finish you’re a wimp!”
The rains earlier in the year had made the area quite green, but that’s browning off, and conditions are about what you would expect, says Darvodelsky.
“It’s low humidity, sunny days. Temperatures head down to about three or four degrees at night, and about eighteen in the day.”
All in it sounds like it will be a stunning week. Stay tuned for daily updates from the race.