Un-racing the Hunt 1000
Posted on December 26 2016
Long-distance endurance races have been a fixture of the international bikepacking (lightweight touring) scene for years, and now they're cropping up in Australia as well. The Monaro Cloudride, and the Race to the Rock (to name a couple) are self-supported, multi-day races on mixed terrain. To win these races you need to endure brutal sleep deprivation: Race the Rock winner Sarah Hammond described visual hallucinations and microsleeps on the final stretch. You're also unlikely to be riding with more than one other person, if you're riding with anyone at all.
That's not really my idea of a good time.
Ollie has a theory that amateur sporting events develop like this:
- Someone gets really good at something
- They design an event to push the limits of their abilities
- Only a few people show up
The Hunt 1000 ride, from Canberra to Melbourne through the Snowy Mountains, was different. It wasn't called a race. Dan Hunt, the organiser, wrote up a suggested itinerary of 7 days. That's a fairly quick pace for almost 1000km of mostly dirt, but it's within the grasp of most fit cyclists. With the biggest day at 170km it seemed achievable. Best of all, given that most people had set aside a whole week, it seemed likely that we'd be riding together.
I've been reading Grant Peterson's book Just Ride. He's pretty pissed off about the effects racing has had on cycling, and advocates an "unracing" approach that focuses on the practical and pleasurable benefits of cycling. The Hunt 1000 seemed to be a way to unrace long-distance endurance rides.
Old habits, however, die hard. As we were riding, Steve Watson (the organiser of the Monaro Cloudride) was publishing updates on Facebook, commentating on the 'race'. We were using SPOT trackers, for safety reasons and for peace of mind for those back home, so maybe that invited the view that we were jostling for positions, but it was still odd to be identified as part of a "chasing peloton". It's a strange feeling when someone is publishing commentary on your holiday!
Anyway, it was a great ride, here are some photos:
And for those who'd like to ride this route themselves (highly recommended!) here's a complete map of the route.
Here's the ride as we did it:
- Day 1: Canberra to Three Mile Dam (155km)
- Day 2: Three Mile Dam to Geehi Hut (113km)
- Day 3: Geehi Hut to Omeo (125km)
- Day 4: Omeo to Black Snake Hut (158km)
- Day 5: Black Snake Hut to Licola (108km)
- Day 6: Licola to Warburton (161km)
- Day 7: Warburton to Melbourne (95km)
And here's a suggestion of how you might do it at a more relaxed pace (bearing in mind you'd need to carry more food on some days):
- Day 1: Canberra to Cooinbill Hut (119km)
- Day 2: Cooinbill Hut to Derschko's Hut (82km)
- Day 3: Derschko's Hut to Dogman Hut (93km)
- Day 4: Dogman Hut to Omeo (99km)
- Day 5: Omeo to JB Plain Hut (46km)
- Day 6: JB Plain Hut to Dargo (98km)
- Day 7: Dargo to Horseyard Flat Camping Area via Billy Goat Bluff (52km)
- Day 8: Horseyard Flat to Licola (80km)
- Day 9: Licola to Woods Point (58km)
- Day 10: Woods Point to Warburton (103km)
- Day 11: Warburton to Melbourne (95km)
And here's an alternative route for days 6 and 7 that cuts out the Billy Goat Bluff track.