Our mountain bikers have certainly put the region on the sporting map.
The New England Mountain Bikers’ club hosted two rounds of the National Series this year at the new trails at SportUNE which was hailed as a major success.
As a result of the National Series rounds, the club were awarded the right to host the country’s most prestigious mountain biking event in 2018 – the National Championships.
The Championships are considered a step above the National Series with the event being a standalone.
The competitors have once chance at a podium spot unlike the Series which was previously run over six rounds.
Club president Peter Hosking was thrilled the region has been recognised to host Australia’s top mountain biking event.
“We held the National Series and thought we would have to do a few of those before we would be in contention to have the National Championships and I think we showed we could hold a successful event,” he said.
“It was great to see everyone agreed and Armidale is now going to run the National Championships.
“Next year the Series has increased to eight rounds but the National Championships is the ultimate event.”
Hosting the National Championships will once again give locals the chance to cheer on our own athletes to glory including Walcha’s Jack Feltham.
To top off their superb effort in hosting the National Series, the club were also approached by the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organisation to place a bid for the 2019 Championships.
The only other Australian city to host the international event was Canberra in 2013.
New Zealand’s Rotorua hosted in 2016, the only other place in the Southern Hemisphere to do so.
Hosking said Armidale Regional Council threw their support behind the club hosting it with financial backing.
“That is very exciting as well, that is in 2019 so it is a long way out but you have to put your hand up for these things nice and early so we are pushing hard for that,” he said.
“We were approached by WEMBO to put a bid in for that literally about a week after we held the National Series so once again Armidale has been recognised for the quality infrastructure and facilities and all the supporting town as well.
“It is a little bit unusual to have mountain bike trails right in the middle of town with all the surrounding facilities, often they can be 15-20 minutes out of town.
“We still have to put a bid in and so forth but obviously the council coming on board, the hosting is a lot larger, and assisted with that process so we are very excited about that possibility as well.
“Holding the National Championships and people like WEMBO approaching us to put bids in shows that we are getting recognised on a world stage.”