All is fair in love and war, and sporting competitions are no different. With a spirit for adventure and a will to be the best, personnel from HMAS Cairns are looking forward to this year’s Rural, Rainforest and Reef (RRR) Mountain Bike Challenge which will take place on Sunday 1 June.
Commanding Officer Anthony Powell will ride alongside Physical Training Instructors Petty Officer Kristian Weldon and Leading Seaman Justin Bailey in what is sure to be a gruelling fight to see who is fittest.
In a display of true Navy team work, junior sailor, senior sailor, and officer have been training together, out and about on Cairns’ local mountain bike haunts.
“We are fortunate that Cairns recently hosted the Mountain Biking World Cup, so the local tracks are in great shape - specifically noting the amount of rain we had earlier this year,” Commander Powell said.
A seasoned veteran coming back from injury, Kristian is a regular RRR contender and this year’s event will be his fourth. Relishing the opportunity to show his first-time compatriots how it’s done, he plans to draw upon the experience he has gained from previous races to boost his winning edge. He loves being part of the iconic race, and the veteran is keeping his insider information to himself.
Leading Seaman Bailey is a passionate mountain bike rider who has been in the Navy for nine years.
“I don’t like to lose, so it’s all or nothing,” he said.
With such dedication, it’s no surprise that his fellow compatriots name him as the firm favourite to cross the line first for Defence. Also the most gravitationally challenged rider out of the three, he proudly displays his battle scars as a symbol of his ferocity and determination.
Leading by example, Commander Tony Powell is an avid sportsman who is always looking for new challenges. Juggling his role as Commanding Officer of Cairns with training for the event, he still manages to hit the tracks on a regular basis. Perhaps not as reckless as his younger rivals, the plan is to utilise a more vigilant approach.
“Age and experience has taught me that the more mature bodies take longer to mend, so my aim is to avoid the stacks,” Commander Powell said.
Easier said than done, the race begins at Mount Molloy’s Wetherby Station and winds through creek crossings, cow trails, sugarcane plantations, rainforest and even an old railway line. With a finishing line at Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, the route encompasses all of Far North Queensland’s unique and diverse environs. The infamous ‘Bump Track’ is an especially noteworthy 6km drop of rocky track that, without fail, claims its victims every year.
As Australia’s longest running mountain bike race, over 400 participants from all over the world mix with the locals in this truly stand out event.