Words by Elton Judd & George Greig
Once a year the sleepy Southern Highlands town of Bundanoon doubles its numbers when the Highland Fling, now in its 11th year comes to town. With a festival atmosphere, the Judd family were more than happy to come back for a second time with some friends, some who have ridden in several editions as well as a newcomer riding his first mtb marathon.
Following registration on Saturday there were several events including the Bundy Dash and the inaugral Bundy Run. The Bundy Dash is a 6km MTB sprint from the centre of Bundanoon and looping through firetrails in the nearby Morton National Park and finishing with a sprint up the steep Constitution Hill into town. With $200 prize money for the winner up for grabs for just over 10mins of riding this attracts many of the elite riders with Cameron Ivory taking the win. Elton decided to have a crack at this event finishing 15th just over a minute behind the winner and only 6 sec behind Andy Blair who was saving his legs for the following day (where he took the win in the 110km full-fling) and was entertaining the crowd with a big wheelie up Constitution Hill. Ian Butler decided to do the quarter marathon distance of the Bundy Trail Run and finished 8th in Masters with a time of 1hr 23min and then backed up the following day with the 55km half-fling in a time of 3hr 5min.
Elton was the only representative of the team in the 110km full-fling as he couldn’t resist the fun Wingello single track. There is always new trails added each year and this year was no different with more flowy machined trails on offer. Elton rode the first 24km to Wingello which were mostly on firetrails with many waist-deep creek crossings in a bunch conserving precious energy for the rest of the event. Then it was onto Wingello where the Elite riders who started 15min after everyone else passed at the 35km mark. One Elite rider who had a flat in the first 15km came past 6km later and was disappointed to find out how far the rest of the field were ahead of him. Wingless however isn’t just all fun single track, there is the Wall a 100m section of firetrap at 20+%, Halfway Hill almost 2km at 10% quickly followed by the Kick another loose, steep firetrail climb. Then it was back to Wingello to find a Coke hidden in the hollow of a tree before attacking the last 30km to the finish. The final section has a fun 8km of single track through Jumping Rock station which is private property and one forgets how tough and technical this is but is still so much fun. Finally its back onto firetrail for the run into the finish where Elton came in 10th in his 30-39 age catergory in a time of 5h 28min.
Elton’s kids both had successes in the kids races with Breanna taking the win in the 10-12yr girls, drafting the leading group of boys all the way to the line. Aidan despite getting boxed in at the start battled his way to 4th in 7-9yr boys.
George had an early start for the Half Highland Fling, with a 4am pickup for Martin Freeland who had just finished a night shift at 2:30am welcomed in Bundanoon with overcast and chilly weather. With a fast and easy rego they quickly set off to the start area. Once in the line they started 2/3 down the field and with Marty only haven ridden once or twice in the last four months they bid their farewells. Reeling in lots of riders as soon as George got to the first hills the frustration of riding in trains quickly returned but passing was much easier on the fire trail. A refreshing thigh deep wade across the first river saw a list of sharp intakes if breath as the shorter riders dipped a bit more anatomy than some. The first half of the course is longer faster climbs and at one point George had a train of four or five riders drafting him! He soon pointed out if they need to draft a SS rider they are doing something wrong, shamed they soon left my wheel only to be caught in the first single track not to be seen again. George caught two SS guys and passed them before the long climb of Brokeback Mountain and found it difficult to unclip his right cleat and they passed him again (and ended up first and second). George got stuck behind some riders not appreciating the tech bits of the course, and embarrassingly did a newbie fall twice with the second time into a 30+cm deep puddle when he realized he had sheared a screw in my cleat and it was spinning. Only option was to rip his foot of the pedal and ride the remainder with one cleat. Catching another SS rider in the last 4km saw me racing for a podium, spinning at 130+cadence with no cleat LOL. It was difficult and not fun but George managed to hold his wheel to snag third by just under a minute. Great race. Great course and great riding by most other riders saw a great day on the first ride on my Pivot Les in just over 3hrs. JetBlack owner Tony Simmons also finished in a few seconds over 3hrs and Marty just over 4hrs.