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Mountains To Beach 2011: Final report

The Mountains To Beach stage race, a five-day 380km mountain bike race starting around the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, was first held in 2009. The 2011 edition has just wrapped up, here’s a stage-by-stage account of the race as it unfolded.

Stage 1

The Limar Mountain Run saw 91 riders start in fine weather from the top of the Kosciuszko Chairlift to ride 12km downhill to finish in the middle of Thredbo Village.

With perfect weather all the way down Andrew Fellows made short work of the trail, getting to the bottom in just 00:33:54.  Scott Pomroy was almost five minutes behind in 00:38:32 with hot Masters favourite, Richard Peil coming in third with a time of 00:39:06.

The first woman down the mountain was pairs’ rider Bianca Mauch with a time of 00:44:21, followed by Meg Carrigan in 00:47:09 with her nearest rival for the Open Women, Belinda Porter coming in at 00:49:22.

Stage 2

Day 2 of The Mountains To Beach saw the riders going through some spectacular scenery in almost perfect weather for the 80km Osprey Hydraulics Mountain Traverse.

The morning started with a sedate cruise up Ski Tube underground railway, for the ride through the mountain to Perisher ski resort and then it was serious business, the Osprey Hydraulics Mountain Traverse.

Climbing up from Perisher towards Guthega, riders got a taste of mountain weather on the Main Range, with rain squalls and 60km/hr headwinds.  Soon though the sun shone through and the wind came upon their backs as riders followed fire trails and dirt roads to the Snowy River and up over to the vast Snowy Plains. It was then a long climb up Nimmo Hill and on through to the shores of Lake Eucumbene at Buckenderra Resort.

The scenery obviously wasn’t a distraction for Andrew Fellows who beat Garry James by 20 minutes and 10 seconds. Andrew completed the 80km course in 3:19: 03, with Garry clocking in at 3:39:13.

Bart Hickson was a further 8 minutes and 17 seconds behind finishing third in 3:47:30.

This win sees Andrew’s overall lead increase to 30 minutes 32 seconds with a total time of 5:11:39. Garry James is second overall with a total time of 5:42:11, closely followed by Bart Hickson with a total time of 5:52:44.

Stage 3

Despite the forecast, the mountain weather remained perfect for Stage 3 – the Maxxis Muster around Lake Crackenback Resort.  Andrew Fellows seems to have stamped his mark on the 2011 Mountains To Beach winning with a time of 1:18:42, with Richard Peil staking a claim on second spot overall in a time of 1:21:29.  Third place went to Garry James, another contender for the Masters Category, with an overall time of 1:22:07.

Andrew Fellow’s nearest rival for Open Men, Scott Pomroy came in fifth with a time of 1:22:12 – three minutes and 31 seconds behind.

Bianca Mauch again proved strong winning Stage 3 in a time of 1:39:00, fourteen seconds ahead of Belinda Porter (1:39:14) with Meg Carrigan a close 3 seconds behind. The women’s overall category is certainly looking strong this year.

Stage 4

Today saw riders leave the Snowy Mountains for a grueling 90km race stage followed by a 40km cruise into Bermagui on the NSW South Coast on the Shotz Big Day Out.

The day started with a loop around the Cooma Racetrack and then riding through the Monaro Plains to the now conquered Numeralla Mountain with Andrew Fellows the first rider to make it all the way to the top before heading down the escarpment through the spectacular rainforest of Wadbilliga National Park.

The best effort of the day goes to Jeff MacDonald, who late Wednesday night wasn’t going to ride the race stage as he thought it was going to be too hard and he wouldn’t make the cutoff. He completed the stage prior to cutoff and has every reason to be pleased with himself tonight.

At the front of the pack, Andrew Fellows again proved dominant, completing the ride in 3:38:10, followed by Garry James in 3:53:43 with Bart Hickson coming in third with a time of 3:56:16.

Today’s win by Andrew has extended his overall lead to 56 minutes and 8 seconds with an overall time of 9:59:55.  Garry James is coming second overall with an overall time of 10:56:03, 8minutes and 21 seconds ahead of third place Bart Hickson on 11:04:25.

Stage 5

The tides weren’t the only thing riders had to contend with on the final day of the Mountains To Beach.

Recent rains in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla Shires saw the Ground Effect Surf Safari become a contest of wills – rider versus nature.  The rain meant that every estuary crossing on the 50km Ground Effect Surf Safari stage from Bermagui to Narooma would be a wet one.  The combination of a falling tide and fast flowing water saw many competitors wading chest deep with bikes held aloft.

The crossings combined with soft sand beaches and lush grass paddocks made it a real challenge for  the remaining competitors, with many experiencing difficulty with gear changes after a ride across paddocks filled chains and clusters with grass.

The conditions didn’t seem to deter Andrew Fellows who completed the ride in 2:24:03, 5 minutes and 10 seconds ahead of his nearest rivals – David Harris and Bart Hickson who finished just 1 second apart with times of 2:29:13 and 2:29:14 respectively.

The win provides Andrew with his first Mountains To Beach title and a clean sweep of every stage.  His total time for the 385km event was 12:23:58, 1 hour, 7 minutes and 4 seconds ahead of Masters winner Garry James on 13:31:03 with Bart Hickson coming third, 2 minutes and 36 seconds further back with an overall time of 13:33:39.

In the Women’s category of the Ground Effect Surf Safari, Meg Carrigan maintained her top position finishing in 2:54:30, just beating Belinda Porter (2:54:36) by 6 seconds.  Third place today went to Bianca Mauch with a time of 3:00:45.

In the overall women’s category, first place goes to Meg Carrigan with a total time of 15:41:51, 46 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Belinda Porter on 16:28:26.  Helen Dorsett retained third place overall with a total time of 17:48:17, 1 hour, 19 minutes and 51 seconds behind.

All riders agreed that while challenging the locations visited certainly made it worthwhile. Many of the returning riders found the change in the countryside amazing and will be making every effort to return next year to try to once more conquer the Mountains To Beach.

Full race results can be found at www.wildhorizons.com.au/mountains-to-beach/results-reports

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