Visiting Perth rider Michael Kerklaan capped a successful trip north last weekend as he took home the solo victory in Karratha’s six-hour mountain bike enduro race, this year contested by a record 86 cyclists.
The Pilbara’s closest thing to the Tour de France, the Burrup Mountain Bike Club’s Dr Baynton’s 6 Hour Remedy race took men and women’s solo, duo and team riders over a rocky nine kilometre off-road loop.
And it was Kerklaan who dominated from the outset as he completed 13 laps in six hours to finish ahead of local rider Richie Chipman on 12 laps in the men’s solo, while Mikayla Smith took the women’s title with eight laps.
Toby and Nick Muller were the fastest team over the course as they blazed through 14 laps to beat home Shannon Tunstead and Kim Sparks on 13 laps in the men’s duo category.
But perhaps the day’s big winner was the event itself, which attracted high praise from visiting riders from Perth and Hedland, such as Kerklaan.
“I loved it – it was one of the best events I’ve been to for some time,” said Kerklaan, who has competed around Australia and next year travels to South Africa for the famed Epic mountain bike stage race.
“I’ve had a chat to a few of my mountain biking friends in Perth, who are already saying that they’ll come up next year.”
Fellow Perth rider Dylan Cross, who finished third in the men’s solo, agreed.
With visiting riders housed for free at the Ibis Styles Hotel and in local homes, he was able to use his frequent flyer points to get a flight to Karratha for $57 and do the trip on the cheap.
“It was a no brainer to come up – even if I had to spend a couple of hundred dollars more, I still would have had a blast,” Cross said.
And along with the race organisers and friendly locals, Cross also singled out Karratha’s trails for praise.
“You guys are spoilt for trails because, one, there is some unique, really fun stuff, and, two, it is so close to town,” he said.
Among other results on the day, the four-member My First Foresome won the team’s category with 13 laps, while the Dust Bunnies’ Carly Doyle and Sally Smith won the women’s duo with 10 laps.
Husband and wife team Mitch and Amanda Ewin won the mixed duo with 11 laps and the BRS Racing Team was the first team home in the social category over the shorter six-kilometre loop.
The Dust Bunnies were also unanimous victors in the best costume category and were party stalwarts in the after race celebrations that extended past 2am.
Steve McLeod was arguably the most famous racer on the day – not only was he a member of the My First Foresome team but the Sorry Steve and The New Steve & Trev teams were also named in his honour.
Visiting rider Bart King laid claims to being called the event’s iron man.
As well as completing 11 laps as a solo rider, he also drove an hour back to the Cape Preston mine once the event finished at 9pm so he could start an early morning shift at work.
Back in Perth, meanwhile, Kerklaan is now facing the decision whether to keep spruiking Karratha’s six-hour race to his city buddies or preserve it as a hidden secret.
By winning the Karratha event, he picked up points for the WA enduro race series that his main rivals missed out on.
“That is the thing, I’m torn between telling everybody about it and how good it is or just keeping it to myself and basking in the glory,” he said with a laugh.
The Burrup Mountain Bike Club wishes to thank six-hour race sponsors Scott Cycles, Karratha Earthmoving, Opportunities Without Boundaries, Galvin Plumbing Supplies, Horizon Power, Pharmacy Help, Life and Soul, Abundance Health, Reece. Multi Service Group and Tru Blu Hire.
The club’s next event is a skills clinic on July 20- 21, visit www.home.spin.net.au/burrupmb for details.