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22 August, 2021

MADness in Paluma

by BarryScoble JUST north of Townsville lies a small community perched atop the Paluma National Park range, nestled in amongst the rainforest called Paluma. This was the site of the 2021 Paluma Push Mountain bike race just recently

 With a massive 600 riders at the starting line it was one of the biggest events that I have been to with competitors traveling from afar to compete. The Paluma Push has a 42km, 53km, 70klm event and for their 20th anniversary they threw in a 100km for the crazy ones. 

 The MAD Mountain Bike club had a great contingent of riders with about 18 of the MAD crew making the journey, with some amazing results. Anne-Marie Kehres put in a mammoth effort to ride 100kms in 6hr 54min to take out second place in the women’s category. Ethan Weiss took overall honours in the 70km with a hard-fought battle to hold off second place by just over two minutes which is pretty close for 3hrs 22min of racing. Brian Kehres in second staved off David Wilhelmi in third for the 70km Grand Masters Men’s category. 

Braith Vella fighting hard and getting an overall fourth place in the 53klm and first for the Open men’s category. Kristen Rowland rode very strong to come second by only 11 seconds after 42klms, it must have been a fierce battle. Kate Deambrogio was agonisingly so close with only four seconds to first place in the 42km Masters Women.

 Greg McGahan was only 31 seconds behind second place to take third in the 42km Grand Masters Men. Cody Weiss was lucky enough to take home some prize money by being the 20th person over the line for the 42km, a great effort for the young fellow. The trails were a mixture of a little downhill bitumen at the start leading into smooth gravel roads with various grades of climbs. 

 Then at the first checkpoint the riders started breaking off into different trails based on their chosen distance. The longer-distance racers went right across a small spill way of the dam with some picturesque views of the dam then into a pretty gruelling wet muddy climb, rutted by washouts exposing tree roots and rocks to make it even more challenging. Only the fit and technical riders could climb this sort of thing so I walked a little. 

The scenery was a beautiful rainforest area but you were either too tired or going too fast to appreciate it. After a few creek crossings, some of them nearly one-meter deep the rainforest was left behind and the riders came out into open eucalypt forest with large trees and the ground became drier and a bit looser under the tyres.

 With nearly 600 riders, there were people challenging each other the whole way for positions as they tired, then recovered or simply rode to their strengths. Some were better climbers, some could grind it out on the flats and other flew past their rivals on the downhills only to be caught back up on the climbs. This was an amazing event and it is always great to compete in a race like this in our own backyard.  

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