Blue Mountains mtb rides
Careflight Woodford to Glenbrook Classic

early days - Cheryl Hodges photo

This event happens each winter, usually late June or early July, and is held to raise funds for the Careflight helicopter service. Careflight run the rescue helicopters in NSW, and while we hope we never need them, it's good to know they're about if we do. Originally run by Western Sydney mtb Club, the Oaks Classic is now organised by Careflight themselves - more information can be found on their Calendar of Events.

The race starts at Woodford railway station and follows the main Oaks firetrail, turning right onto Bennett's Ridge Road not far after the second gate (past Woody Pear Dam).  We finish in Euroka, a nice camping/picnic area where you can almost always see some grey kangaroos. Euroka's a great place to have your family and friends meet you for a post race picnic. As an added bonus, if your family meets you, you don't have to ride out! Although the ride out is fine, you should be too knackered to enjoy it after giving your all in the race...

It's not only riders out pushing their limits, runners get a go as well, the fastest overtaking the slowest riders, and finishing in less than an hour and a half.


Chris and Greg at the end of the race in Euroka. Who'd have thought they'd get so big and boofy? - tony fathers
ohhh - Brad was so cute back then - tony fathers
Euroka's kangaroos have seen lots of people

In 1997, some 230 other brave souls took part in the cycle and some 50 runners entered the foot race.  in 2009, rider numbers were capped at 750.  For 2010, the cap was 650. I think 750 or 650 seem to work, the years when there were over a thousand were a bit too crowded, and I saw quite a few crashes. The worst I saw in 2010 was a SPD stack.

A lot of fun - you don't have to take it seriously at all, many riders take it fairly slowly. Keep left, and be prepared to have some old bloke screaming "passing on your right, on your right" as he barrels past at warp speed, though. There's plenty of room for overtaking, so if you hold your line, the passing rider should get by you safely.

The really serious riders start first, then the rest of us start in waves, gradually getting older - until the under 15s, who overtake many of the oldsters in front of them - the fast ones went past me. Mind you, the fastest 60+ went past me as well - like I was standing still!

In 2010, the track was mostly smooth (not up to 2009's baby buttocks standard), and well packed after recent rain, so times were pretty good. The winner was home in 41:50 minutes. Me? 58:03, only 8:08 behind the class winner (I was 11th in class). I even raised some money for Careflight.

In 2009, the winner was home in an elapsed time of 40:00 minutes (40:04 from start), which I think was a record. I almost managed a PB. with 56:42 minutes riding (56:57 from start). The difference in times is thanks to the excellent timing system. I finished in 56:57 after the gun went off for Curmudgeon class, but I only took 56:42 to travel between the start and finish lines, as I started towards the back of my group.

My best time for the race is 56:11 - around eight and a half minutes behind the winner of my class ("Curmudgeon" - I'm not "get offa my lawn" class yet). Given current track conditions, any time under an hour is pretty good.

Many thanks are due to the volunteers that help with this event, particularly the Rural Fire Service (aka the bush fire brigades), the local Lions club, the good people from St John's ambulance (another group whose help we hope we won't need!), and all those that contribute behind the scenes.

2002 pix

Here are some pix from the start and finish of the 2002 Oaks Classic - I was too busy wheezing to stop and take photos during the race... All photos taken by Tony Fathers, except for the one of the fat hippy impersonating a badly painted garden gnome, taken by Dave!@ (Dave Hughes).

Cath, Jen and Mike at the start - tony fathers
Terry gets gung ho for the start - tony fathers
first group ready - tony fathers
and away they go! - tony fathers
Cath, Jen and Mike get psyched
Terry gets serious
On your marks...
here comes the pack! - tony fathers
it's all spinning wheels and legs in there - tony fathers
the finish crowd yells encouragement - or a bagging - tony fathers
get 'em while they're young - two kids got an easy race - tony fathers
the main pack get rolling
out of our way!
finally there
start 'em young
at least this one had to pedal a bit - tony fathers
the tutu twins roll in - tony fathers
no fair, she's really two up! - tony fathers
there's always one idiot - dave hughes
are we there yet?
here come Cath & Jen
Jen's got a hidden helper
one in every crowd

The race is always fun and not to be missed - four and a half fat hippies

one fat hippyone fat hippyone fat hippyone fat hippy one fat hippy

All rides are now rated in Fat Hippies - one means grab a slice of pizza and stay on the couch, two means not bad, three means well worth a ride, four means a great ride and five means stop looking at your computer, go ride it!

Distance ~25 km

Medium/Hard - may need to walk some uphills. Best to get picked up in Euroka, or you'll face a few more climbs.

Time Varies - around 40 mins for the winners, anything under an hour is quick. Some riders get beaten by the fast runners.
Trains Woodford, Glenbrook
See also... The Oaks, Anderson's fire trail, Murphy's Glen, Ingar, St Helena, Oaks at night!
Interest fund raising for a good cause, bound to be some clowns all dressed up
Raced June 2010
Reviewed June 2010

fAt  hIpPy productions
another fAt hIpPy production