A DETERMINED 50-kilometre effort helped Colac district rider Jessica Douglas clinch the first Forrest Festival at the final stage.
The talented endurance rider trailed Sydney’s Becky Mates by 36 seconds heading into the fourth and final stage of the elite women’s category.
But the 50-kilometre marathon, known as the Forrest Fiddy, played into Douglas’ hands as her experience showed on her home-town trails.
Douglas blitzed the final stage in two hours and 44 minutes, taking her overall time to three hours and 54 seconds – just over four minutes ahead of runner-up Mates.
“It was a very close race in the lead up, it was really anyone’s race,” Douglas said.
“I had a think about the trail, I knew where to attack and I had a lot of pre-race training so I devised a bit of a plan of attack,” she said.
“I loved doing the shorter stages but there is no time for error – when I worked out the next stage was more suited to me I worked out how to win it.”
Douglas said her opponents pushed her throughout the race and made it as difficult as possible.
“I kept suffering during the race – I was cramping and then I had a bit of a crash,” she said.
“I had everything thrown at me but I thought ‘if I’m suffering then I’ll make sure the other riders are suffering too’, and I was able to push through.”
Wheelers Hill rider Peter Kutschera claimed the festival’s first men’s elite category, while fellow Colac district rider Hamish Middleton also ranked among the top riders in his division.
Middleton failed to overtake Geelong’s Simon Harrington in the final stage, finishing three minutes and 26 behind in second place of the under-19 junior category.
Douglas said she was “one of many” riders who enjoyed Forrest’s newest mountain bike event, which her husband Norm Douglas organised.
“All the mini stages he came up with hailed back to the era when mountain biking started,” she said.
“When you invest so much time into racing you want to go away and experience not just racing and I think everyone enjoyed themselves on the weekend.”
Forrest Festival organiser looks ahead
ORGANISER Norm Douglas says he’s looking forward to the return of the Forrest Festival in 2012 after a successful first race.
More than 300 riders and spectators braved wet weather to be a part of the inaugural multi-stage event and mountain bike celebration, which centred around the heart of Forrest.
Douglas said the event not only showcased some of the world’s best riders, but was a way of attracting tourists to the area in coming months.
“Our main goal is not necessarily the racing, but to bring people to Forrest and experience it as a whole,” he said.
“We had probably 300 people in total including spectators experiencing Forrest as a whole including the fantastic trails, a number of locals have said it was a great atmosphere and visitors were saying how much they were looking forward to coming back.
“We’re not just looking for riders to return next year, but in coming months, hopefully they might come back just to ride and make a weekend of it.
Douglas said he hoped to attract more Colac and district food growers to next year’s Forrest Festival.
The Forrest Six-Hour looms as the next large-scale event in the town, which will be in May.