Grab your bike, helmet and camping gear – we’re heading to Hidden Vale Adventure Park at Grandchester for a mountain bike race. If you haven’t raced one before, never fear, this is the perfect chance to try it out.
The Giant 3PLUS3 is on 8-9 July 2017 and it actually consists of 2 mountain bike races during the weekend, along with camping and a Christmas in July Dinner. This event is my favourite of the six mountain bike events held at Hidden Vale each year because it suits social riders like me, as well as providing a challenge for competitive racers. There’s a kids race and a social option for the kids too.


Up to 500 competitors of all ages and abilities come from around Queensland and New South Wales and as far away as North Queensland, and it’s here in the Ipswich area, right in our backyard!
As the name “Giant 3PLUS3” suggests, the race on Saturday and on Sunday are 3 hours each. You can arrive on site to set up camp either Friday from 2pm or on Saturday morning. Camping is only allowed at Hidden Vale Adventure Park during these events, so it is a rare chance to camp on the property.

Saturday

Saturday morning starts with the kids race. The kids can enter to do 1, 2 or 3 laps of a specially designed kids’ course, or they can do the social, non-competitive ride if that’s more their style. The kids race is followed by presentations where the race leaders are recognised.

After lunch, things start to get a bit more serious. Last minute preparations, gear checks, organising of food and hydration and revising race strategy and then the main event starts. The truly great thing about this event is that there’s a separate “Racers Course” for the more experienced riders and a “Social Course” for novices and people who don’t take it quite so seriously and just want to enjoy the ride. (Like me!) Perfect for you if you this is your first crack at a mountain bike event.

The track isn’t particularly difficult or technical as far as MTB races go, but it’s still challenging enough! If the track gets too technical or steep, there’s no shame in pushing, but at the end of the day it’s a ton of fun and a great workout.

For the guys on the “Racers Course”, it is fast and furious and the more technical aspects of the track are amplified by the high speed that they fly along. No pushing for these guys!

For each race, the course is a lap of 9-9.5 kilometres and the idea is to do as many laps as you can in 3 hours. The fastest guys will get 6 laps completed and head out for a 7th or even 8th lap before the 3 hour clock counts down.
The good thing for novices is that you can have a rest (and food and water) between laps and there’s no pressure to head out for another lap when you’ve had enough.

Dinner
Catered by the amazing team at Spicers, Dinner is a massive Christmas Dinner, a spread of roast meat, veg and gravy. The perfect Christmas in July Feast to be enjoyed around the campfire and there is a bar. They really get into the Christmas spirit with a light display and even real (fake) snow from a snow machine! Dinner is followed by Secret Santa, (MTB style) when you can bring a pressie to contribute and see what Santa gives back to you. The perfect ending to a great day!

The Christmas In July Feast

Sunday

It’s an early start for the kids with the kids’ race, completing the same track as Saturday but in the reverse direction. This is followed by Kids Presentations with medals and prizes, and then the kids can enjoy the activities with their new friends for the rest of the day while their parents ride.

 

These girls were getting into the Christmas (In July) Spirit!

Sunday the “Racers” and “Social” tracks are switched so everyone gets to ride a new course.  Legs are a bit tired, bikes are a bit dirty (hopefully still in one piece) and much caffeine is required! We’ll all head out again to see how many laps we can get done in this 3 hours. This is where the fun really starts. The hills seem a bit steeper and the rocks seem a bit rockier, but once again, it’s so much fun and another great workout.

Again the guys and gals on the Racers course will be pumping out the laps at a furious pace. It’s a sport that requires endurance along with incredible aerobic fitness, strength, skill, balance and concentration . Sounds like the perfect way to spend a weekend!

After the clock ticks over finishing the 3 hour countdown and last laps are completed, it’s time for presentations or “presos” as it’s called. Medals for placegetters along with prizes/goodies from event sponsors are always highly coveted.

So, for an adrenalin packed weekend in July, camping with great people, fun and activities for the kids, a delicious Christmas Dinner – it’s no wonder people travel from far and wide to come to Ipswich for the Giant 3PLUS3 weekend… See you there!