ECHUCA-MOAMA mountain biker Shane Roberts has conquered Australia’s Red Centre.
He overcame 32-degree heat, a gash to his leg and some 170 competitors to finish the 2017 Redback Mountain Bike (MTB) Stage Race at Alice Springs fourth overall and second in the 40-49 age category.
Roberts said he went better than he thought after playing the first two stages relatively safe.
‘‘You don’t get long between races to recover meaning it was important not to go too hard in the early stages,’’ he said.
‘‘I made up some time towards the end of the week and ended up only missing the category win by a minute.
‘‘The actual winner had been unbeaten for two years coming in to the race and being from Darwin was already used to the warmer weather, which took me a little while to get used to.’’
Roberts said a lot of the riders suffered dehydration, but that was the least of his concerns after a low-speed crash 5km before the finish line in the first stage of the race resulted in a gash to his left shin and seven stitches.
‘‘I didn’t think too much about it until I got up and blood was just pouring out of my leg,’’ he said.
‘‘We had a really good medical crew following each stage and once we got to the finish they cleaned me up and stitched the wound.
‘‘I didn’t lose much time from the crash, it was just concerning for the rest of the week but it didn’t give me any trouble.’’
Roberts finished the sixth and final stage of the race with a category win and finished second in the night race, which was the highlight of his week.
‘‘It was my favourite of all the stages,’’ he said.
‘‘Aside from the start and finish line, the rest of the track was in darkness and you had to rely on the lights on your bike and helmet.
‘‘It started along the back of the golf course, then went through the residential area and the bushland on the outskirts of town.
‘‘We reached the highest point of the track and got to look out over all of Alice Springs.’’
When competitors weren’t racing they got to take in the local culture and enjoy the warmer weather.
The event culminated in a presentation dinner with all the competitors at the accommodation.
Echuca-Moama’s Paul Oman and his son Ben also raced in the series with Paul finishing fourth in the 60 and over age category and Ben finishing in the middle of his age group having missed one stage of the event.
Only 20-30 competitors were from the area and the rest had travelled from interstate, including one international competitor from Germany.
‘‘It was a really good experience and I got to meet some incredible people,’’ Roberts said.
‘‘I’d certainly like to go back next year and give it another crack and see how I go.
‘‘I’ve set the benchmark pretty high, but you always think you can go better.’’
Roberts returned in good form having just won his age category in a six-hour mountain bike event in Bendigo the weekend before last.
His next race was another six-hour ride in Bright and he had already planned another couple of events throughout the next few months.