Words and pictures by STEVE CUFF
THE Snowy Mountains has some of the best cycling terrain in the country and the Ultimate Snowy Challenge (USC) cycling event attracted a hot field with competitors travelling from all over to compete in the four separate races in Jindabyne at the weekend.
The hill climb individual time trial on Kalkite hill on Saturday saw 44 riders climb the steep hill on the shores of Lake Jindabyne. Starting in the village of Kalkite, riders ascended the 5.5km course from a low point of 940m up to 1200m and for most it was a tough test which the times do not reflect.
Brodie Talbot competing in his second USC had the best overall time of 11min 13.58sec to start his weekend of in brilliant fashion.
Emma Viotto from Canberra was the leading female with 16min 08.51 sec.
Viotto who rides for the Suzuki Brumbies in Canberra also won the overall women in the criterium held at the Station Resort on Saturday afternoon.
The Station Resort held four separate criterium division races with Jindabyne cycling club members Scott Bird and Ian Brandon competing in the C grade on this winding course through the grounds of the complex. Bird was the best of the locals finishing in fifth position.
Budget Forklift team rider Samuel Witmitz timed his run to perfection and after riding with a small group towards the end of the race, he pulled away with a few laps remaining and easily won the men's A grade by 21 seconds. Craig Evers finished in second place and fellow Budget member Brodie Talbot continued his good weekend with a third placing.
Sunday morning riders competed in two separate races both starting at the Clay Pits in Jindabyne. The 80km short course to Charlotte Pass and back and the long course which ventured first to Dead Horse Gap on the Alpine Way, before riders returned to Jindabyne and then pushed onto Charlotte Pass and the return leg to the finish in Jindabyne.
Eventual winner Stuart Shaw from Canberra finished just under two and half hours with young Jordan Louis (15-16 yr) second and Toby Stewart (3rd) finishing five minutes further adrift.
The 155km long course certainly proved to be as difficult as it sounds for most of the field, but winner Michael Jaeger put in an outstanding performance to finish the distance in less than 4.5 hours and was exhausted at the finish line.
Jaeger finished close to three minutes ahead of Josh Berry and Brodie Talbot who both duelled right until the last metre to flash across the line with front wheels neck and neck.
There were a number of local riders competing in the long course and even though they train on their home mountains it was not all easy going for them.
"The race is tougher than when I am training because I am riding near my limit for the majority of the course! It's certainly a challenging course with 3100 meters of climbing and very fast descents but the conditions on the day were perfect for riding with cooler temperatures.
"It certainly gets your adrenalin flowing and I'm looking forward to next year," said Ian Brandon from Jindabyne.
Event promoter Gary Pearson from Jindabyne was ecstatic about the whole weekend of racing and mentioned, "It went very well, we had a good field, strong competitors and the weather helped us out."
Local participant Ian Brandon said, "I got very positive feedback on the entire weekend and praise was given to the organisers for delivering a successful event. The visitors are certainly envious of what this region has to offer for all cycling disciplines."
For any of those thousands of cyclists, amateur or professional who are looking for an additional challenge the Ultimate Snowy Challenge is a race you should pencil into your diary now for 2015.