Bike riders ready for first Forrest Festival

Organiser Norm Douglas, right, and Redhill Riders Jerrad Coomber and Andrew Stone are gearing up for the first Forrest Festival this weekend.

ABOUT 400 mountain bike enthusiasts will converge on the Otways to see the inaugural Forrest Festival come to life this weekend.

The tireless work of organisers and six months of preparation will come to fruition when competitors take off from the starting line for stage one tomorrow morning.

Organiser Norm Douglas, of Forrest, said he was harbouring nerves in the lead up to the festival that would break the mould of the traditional mountain bike event.

“I’ve run events before but this one is a bit more complicated – it’s the first time a multi-stage event like this one has been run in the west,” he said.

“We’re essentially running four small races over two days as opposed to something like the Forrest Six-hour where people go around and around and around in circles, whereas in the Forrest Festival people get to ride all the trails of Forrest and have a great time.

“It’s been absolutely frantic but we’ve done all the big tasks and we’re ready for the day.”

Around 300 riders, including 50 from Colac and district, will go down in history as the first competitors of the Forrest Festival.

They will race in the first three stages on Saturday – a 15-kilometre cross country, hill climb time trial and a descent time trial – before backing it up with a 50-kilometre marathon on Sunday.

“I’m really looking forward to stages two and three, the time-trial events,” Douglas said.

“I think riders will love the iconic Red Carpet trail in stage three – the faster you go, the more technical it becomes,” he said.

“They were the hardest to organise, we put a lot of time and effort into it so it’ll be great to see that come off.”

In between races, riders and fans will get to enjoy the festival atmosphere in Forrest’s town centre with Douglas organising live music for tomorrow night, while the top 32 riders battle in a Twilight Eliminator.

“All the stages start and finish in the town and we’ve received plenty of support from the people in town,” Douglas said.

Colac competitor ready for circuit’s tests

TALENTED Colac district mountain bike rider Hamish Middleton says the Twilight Eliminator at this weekend’s Forrest Festival will be worth watching.

Hamish Middleton, 16, is Colac's sole entry in the Forrest Festival.

The 16-year-old is Colac’s sole entrant in the under-19 junior category of the inaugural event, and will battle six other riders from across the state.

Middleton said he was eagerly awaiting the four-stage festival, which kicks off in Forrest’s town centre tomorrow morning.

“It’s really good, there are not many of these races around or accessible,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ll go as good as I can in juniors but my whole concentration will be on that Twilight Eliminator, it’s a really quick sprint which is in my area.

“It’s one of first ones done in Australia, so hopefully I’ll do well in that.”

The eliminator will be open to tomorrow’s top performers, with the top four juniors able to earn a spot.

But the Colac Trinity College Year 10 student said he was hoping to mix it with the senior riders.

“I was lucky enough to be one of the people that Norm Douglas asked what I thought about the grand plan when he first started planning,” Middleton said.

“I just think it’s a good event to get involved in – it’s good to support the club and riding in the area as much as we can,” he said.

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