NEARLY 700 riders from Townsville, Mackay, Cairns and even further afield negotiated dusty hills, gravelly downhill sections, logs, creek crossings and many more obstacles to power, or limp, over the finish line at the 2015 Paluma Push.
This year was the first time the iconic point-to-point mountain bike ride from Paluma to Hidden Valley featured a 53km competition course, allowing many riders to step it up from the standard 42km recreational course without having to tackle the challenging 70km competition circuit.
Regardless of the distance travelled, every single one of the 669 riders deserved the resounding cheers as they crossed the finish line — a mixture of smiles and grimaces — with many commenting that this year’s revised competition course was the toughest yet.
Congratulations to Townsville gun rider Jeff Rubach who narrowly claimed overall victory from his twin brother Dan in a repeat of last year’s performance, with just three seconds separating them in 2:49:37 and 2:49:40 respectively. The brothers worked together till the very end, finishing ahead of Cairns’ Lincoln Carolan in third place with 2:53.25.
“The last section was new and unchartered territory, and it was pretty tough and technical. There was a lot of loose rocky sections I thought, ‘There’s going to be some carnage out there’,” Jeff explained after the race at Hidden Valley.
“The plan was to conserve energy, but my brother and I are quite strong climbers, so we took it up a notch on the dam climb. There was a big bunch of us, maybe half a dozen, so we hit the climb and Dan and I hit the front and swapped turns. I kept looking back and saw we were starting to drop the guys off the back one-by-one and it whittled down to three of us. At that stage, I think it was Kyle [Marwood] from Mackay… he was riding quite strong and I didn’t think we were going to get him off before the crest of the climb, but I gave one little attack right near the summit and we managed to dislodge him and got him chasing us into the dam loop single track.
“We have been out doing reconnaissance rides and learning the course so we knew it was at our advantage to hit that single track together and we really put the power down then — I knew once we did that, it was going to be tough to beat us.
“We were drafting off each other and swapping turns in the wind, then I started playing it a bit tactical into the last loop, which was the new one. I felt like I had the strength and managed to get a lead of a few metres, but Dan was riding strong and I knew it was going to come down to a close one again. Especially with the new section as we hadn’t seen that part because it was on private property and we couldn’t practise it.”
Jeff said he’d been even more motivated with his training, which also includes road riding a couple of times a week, after coming second to Dan in the RRR (Rural, Rainforest and Reef) MTB race in June, and it was very much a case of bragging rights for the victor.
The brothers will now turn their attention to Mackay Mountain Marathon (August 1 and 2) and Cardwell Forest MTB Marathon (August 9), followed by the Atherton ELEV8XCM eight-hour on August 16, plus the Outer Limits Trail Run at Paluma Dam in November.
Jeff said there was little doubt the Paluma Push was a fantastic local event that attracted a huge variety of riders: “Thanks to Rockwheelers and the sponsors — it wouldn’t happen without them — and from a personal perspective, thanks to my wife Bianca who is always by my side and doing the stuff that no one sees — I just literally need to turn up and ride my bike — it’s a team effort.”
Mountain Bike Australia junior development coach Jodie Willett claimed the title of first female in 3:05:59, finishing four minutes ahead of Townsville-based defending National Road Series champion Ruth Corset (3:09:10), who was first on the podium last year. Sarah White was third in 3:19:51.
In the new intermediate course (53km), Melbourne’s Jarad Kohlar was first over the line in 2:10:36, followed by Glenn Debel (2:23:07) and Nelson Tilley (2:25:11). Tegan Maguire led the females (2:49:26), with Kim Novak not far behind (2:50:42) and Kathryn Evans third (2:54:06).
It’s been a massive few weeks in the lead-up to the race for Rockwheelers Mountain Bike Club, with volunteers dedicating hundreds of hours to ensure the event ran smoothly.
Event coordinator Peter McLean was pleased to dub the event as another success over its 13-year history, and was grateful for the pristine weather conditions and fantastic support from the communities of Paluma and Hidden Valley.
A total of $10,000 was raised for the Rural Bushfire Brigade, which did an outstanding job manning the course checkpoints and assisting with injuries and bike breakages.
For the full list of results, see here: http://www.rockwheelers.com.au/palumapush/index.php/2014-02-27-13-09-26/2015-results.
Well done to everyone who took part!
Here’s a cool video that rider Nick Tate put together after doing the recreational course, which will give you a good idea of the action:
For more images, see the photos below or our Paluma Push 2015 album on Facebook.