2019 Rocky MTB Gravel Rush

2019 Rocky MTB Gravel Rush Pursuit Race

To round off a great year of racing and social events, the Gravel Rush is a super-fun, super-fast bike race with a difference – It’s a handicap pursuit!

Think of an old English fox hunt – That’s pretty much how it works.

For experienced mountain bikers, the race will be a high speed hoot, and for roadies who have been thinking about trying XC (cross-country), this is the perfect entry-level event to get some dirt beneath your tyres on easy trails.

Handicap Start

The start will be staggered – four waves of riders three minutes apart. The type of bike you race will determine which wave you’re in.

Basically, the more tech you have, the higher the handicap.

To take off with the first wave of riders (the foxes), you’ll need to be on a fully rigid bike – no suspension fork or rear triangle suspension and no power assist. A gravel bike, cyclo-cross bike, rigid fat bike, or that old 90s rig you’ve got sitting in your shed are all fine, as long as you have no suspension or motor. We’ll turn a blind eye to flexi seat posts.

The rigids will fly through the first half of the course but the second half will definitely slow them down.

Three minutes later, the hardtail hounds are off. Any bike with a suspension or flexi fork and rigid rear, whether MTB, gravel, fat bike, or a soft-fork hybrid falls into the hardtail class.

Next off the start line are the dual suspension dobermans. They have a chore ahead of them to catch the hardtails and rigids but they will rip through the gnarlier terrain in the second half of the course.

Finally, if an e-bike is your chosen steed for the day, you’ll take off three minutes behind the dual suspension riders. You’ll have a huge advantage on the climbs and weight on your side going down.

While the Gravel Rush is intended to be a fun and social event, it is still a race. Whatever bike you decide to ride, ensure that it is suitable for off-road cycling and in race-worthy condition. Your safety on the trails is ultimately your own responsibility.

The Event

Location: First Turkey Mountain Bike Reserve, Norman Gardens

Date: Saturday 30 November 2019. Registration commences at 2:30 pm, with the race briefing at 3:50 pm, and start time at 4:00 pm.

Entry Fees: Senior $25 per rider, Junior $10 per rider.

  • MTBA race membership required, or
  • MTBA recreation membership upgrade for additional $15, or
  • non-MTBA members Day Licence available for additional $36 (19yo +), $22 (<19) (purchase online during entry) .


Entries: Close Friday 29 November 2019 at 6 pm. No Late Entries.

Rules: This event is run to MTBA rules and technical regulations.

Categories: Open Men, Open Women, and Under 16s.

Release the Hounds

The Course

[Strava Segment – 2019 Gravel Rush]

Staged on the low trails and fire roads at First Turkey, the course is predominantly green trail and has less than 100 metres elevation over each 6.8 km lap. The first half is smooth and easy so the foxes can run free, while the second half has more obstacles such as rocks, roots, bridges, and loose descents where the pursuers can make up ground.

Starting from the park at German Street, riders will head out along Sunset Trail then veer onto the service road and over the concrete causeway. Turning left onto Moore’s Creek trail, riders will then climb up Lower Pig to the top of Cannonball, then descend and ride back along Moore’s Creek trail.

And that’s the (kind of) smooth first half out of the way. Here’s where it gets tough for the rigid riders who will need to sacrifice pace for precision.

Veering up onto Creek Link, riders will head down the bottom of Finley’s, along Horseshoe, up onto Hanging Rock to Guthrie Hub, then a loose and rocky descent down Guthrie Link, and across the lower crossing back to the car park to do it all over again.

Two laps for everyone, roughly 15 km in total. First one across the finish line, regardless of the bike you ride, is the winner of the inaugural 2019 Gravel Rush.

It will be a blast! We hope to see you there on the day!


Published by Andrew Thompson

Andrew is web guru and social ride coordinator for Rocky MTB and Cycle CQ. He rides XC, enduro, road, track, fat bikes, and gravel. His life ambition is to declare First Turkey a separate country and be crowned emperor.

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