As a boy, I lived in a town with a village green. Through the summer, cricket would be played there, and whilst talking about winning The Ashes, a glass of Pimms would be drunk by the adults.
I didnt really care for the summer, nor the cricket, nor the Pimms, and I didn’t really know what The Ashes were. Grandad lived on the mantelpiece, so I wondered why he would be discussed at the pavilion….
No – the winter was what I looked forward to. The green hosted two things in the winter – the giant Bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night, and then, later in the year – the Big Top went up, and the Circus came to town.
Once a year, the green would be transformed and horses and clowns, and trapeze artists would move in and do crazy tricks and stunts. The Pimms would be replaced with Fairy Floss, and the smell of sawdust would fill the air. I was 6 years old when I first remember this.
A bit of water under the bridge since then, yet now, nearly 30years later, I get excited for the winter, because the Circus again comes to town. This time – to Wingello.
The 3 Ring Circus is becoming one of the staple winter events in any XC or Marathon racers calendar. Unlike many of the bigger events, the 3 Ring has no ‘elite’ category – so everyone races in their age-group. As a result, the vibe is significantly more relaxed and the (historically) cold morning is filled with smiling faces and the smell of Tiger-Balm.
As we have come to expect from Wild Horizons, the event is smooth, there are things to see and do (as well as race) and given the circus theme, there are always clowns, performers, and various acts to be spotted in and around the race HQ in Wingello forest.
2012 see’s a stellar cast of racers entered for this classic. Becky Mates of Team Torq looks like the favourite in the womens race – although there are a couple of ‘performers’ waiting in the wings should Becky slip up on a discarded Custard Tart….
The mens racing is going to be very competitive. Some big names are racing, and the winner will need to really plan their attack as if shot from a cannon. Sid Taberlay and Matt Fleming are both names synonymous with the highest level of MTB riding in Australia – be it XC or Marathon. Their experience and age will be tested by the youthful exuberance of Jet Racings U23 Kyle Ward – who recently won the first round of the NSW State XC, and also U19 Chris Aitken – very recently selected to represent Australia at the World XC MTB Champs later in the year. Adding to the mix will most likely be Ondrej Slezak, Matt Potter, and as long as I don’t get side-tracked by any fairy-floss, I hope to be somewhere near the front too…
The racing and rivalry extends right down the field; another Jet Racing rider Wayne Dickinson will be the marked man in the Masters male category, and in the Super Masters Paul Sloan and Steve Knight will re-ignite their rivalry – and at the same time will embarrass riders half their age with their speed!
It’s not all about the front of the race though. This year sees the very first (in any Australian Endurance MTB event) Uni-Cycle category, with 4 entrants. There are also 13 riders choosing to ride Single-Speed – which around a course like Wingello is a serious undertaking!
Further to all of that – the option of the Family Team racing (watch out for the Townings in that category…) really makes it a great day out for all the family.
No matter which category you enter, will you ride The Wall? Ultimate car-park bragging rights go to anyone that achieves this immense feat of strength.
Roll-up, roll-up, the Circus is back in town. See you down there – anyone for fairy-floss in their back pocket?