The stage plan of the 25th Anniversary edition of the Crocodile Trophy will be a celebration of this iconic mountain bike stage race’s history over the last quarter of a century and an homage to the land it calls home: Australia. It will showcase the beautiful landscapes of Tropical North Queensland and its 709km will take its riders from the tropical surrounds of Cairns through the rainforests and onto the lush farming land and so typical Australian bushland of the Atherton Tablelands. The event then heads for the iconic Outback mining country near Herberton next and then stops in the tropical paradise that is the Skybury Coffee Plantation before winding its way further North and via majestic rainforest trails back towards the coast and finish on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
The course will transverse over 700+ kilometres with an approx. climbing of 13,000 – 14000vm. There will be four main stage destinations: the Crocodile Trophy camp will be set up at Ringers Rest, Wondecla and Skybury Coffee Plantation for two nights each before the last night in the Mt Malloy area. With a daily average of 88km, this year’s longest stage will be 126 km long and the shortest stage will be a 34 km time trial.
The course was designed by our seven-time finisher Brendon Skerke, a Cairns-local who has instilled all his passion for this race and his enthusiasm for mountain biking in his home region in and around Cairns into this anniversary stage plan. For the first time the Ringers Rest bush venue and camp will host the Crocodile Trophy for two nights, offering an authentic stay in the Australian bush.
Stage 1 is a 80km marathon and offers 2100vm of climbing – as it has become tradition, this year’s race will start with a neutral ride out of Cairns. The entire Crocodile Trophy peloton will start the Anniversary edition on the Esplanade in the heart of the City to cheers of spectators from all over the world with a neutral ride on the iconic Lake Morris Road.
After the official start it will be an 8.4km bitumen climb, averaging 6% gradient through lush rainforest before taking a breather on the rolling hills to the Copperlode Dam, Cairns’ main water supply. After crossing the Copperlode Dam Wall the “real race starts”, so many former Croc racers have told us. The pace increases at the front, even though this is where steep dirt climbs commence for about 5km through beautiful and dense rainforest vegetation with sections of up to 35% gradient. By now you’ll be already fully immersed into “Croc-Trophy-country” – rolling hills with some fun fast dirt descents and a couple of creek crossings are on the menu before we enter the Davies Creek Mountain Bike Park: 20 km of relatively flat and fun, fast flowing purpose built single trail await! Exiting the MTB Park you’re on your first home stretch, traveling along the water channel to the Finish at Ringers Rest, your home for the two nights.
For the first time the Crocodile Trophy will stop at this beautiful bushland property. Ringers Rest is nestled in the Mareeba valley of the Cairns Highlands. It is surrounded by open woodlands and the rocky remains of ancient volcanic activity. Here you be able to recover in the so typical Australian bush setting. Surrounding our camp are relics from the past, old cattle yards, a traditional bush kitchen, native wildlife, farm animals and a campfire to relax by, all creating an authentic portrayal of life in the Australian bush and a place to recover from a day in the saddle. As the sun sets and illuminates the evening sky with a vast array of colours and patterns settle down at the dinner table and refuel your body with nutritious and delicious food from the region and enjoy a chat with your fellow Croc mates.
Wake up on day two to the sound of native Australian birds and the bush, smell the crisp spring air and dig in at the hearty breakfast buffet! A 77km marathon with start and finish at Ringers Rest is on today’s stage menu and you will cover 1900vm of climbing.
Your day features three climbs ascending and descending the beautiful Mt Edith via a non-technical and winding dirt road within Danbulla Forest National Park. Your average climbing gradient is 7-8% throughout the day and this is a spectacular part of the central Atherton Tablelands, covering 12,000ha between the Tinaroo and Lamb ranges, and bordering Lake Tinaroo. It includes eucalypt and acacia forests, pine plantations and Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforest.
After a short rolling section you begin the first of 3 major climbs that will have you climbing what is known to locals as the “Mt Edith Loop”. The first climb is approx. 10km in length and the second climb is shorter with 4-5km. Your final climb is 8km and your reward is picturesque scenery throughout the day overlooking the Tablelands and getting glimpses of the sparkling Lake Tinaroo. The climbs through the National Park are beautiful but tough and will test your endurance and will power. However, for the non climbers, remember “what goes up must come down” and for 20+ km of climbing there are just as many fun fast descents.
Once again you return to the beautiful Ringers Rest bush camp where you will be treated to hearty and delicious food and a rest in the Aussie bush, knowing you’ve completed one quarter of the stage plan. Your next Crocodile Trophy destination awaits you on day three, get a good night’s sleep for the 83km marathon along fast gravel roads and through the rainforest to Wondecla, a small village near the historic mining town of Herberton.