Brilliant Stage 4 Cruises Into Port Douglas

12 August 2018

After four days of exploring the trails and splendour of Tropical North Queensland, the final stage of the inaugural Reef to Reef arrived in the stunning tourist destination of Port Douglas, adding a new chapter into the legacy of MTB racing in the region.

After four days and almost 200 kilometres in the saddle, it was a delighted and tired Brendan Johnston and Jon Odams who crossed the finish line at Four Mile Beach picking up stage honours and securing the win for the GIANT Shimano team.

Johnston and Odams were followed in by the second placed Melbourne based pair of Brad Clarke and Rohin Adams, with local riders Nathan Sandford and Sarah White winning the solo categories and flying the flag for Queensland firefighters.

With a handy lead going into the last stage, the experienced Johnston was determined to ride fast but conservatively to secure the inaugural win for his team. He was delighted with the win and welcomed the new event to the annual calendar.

“I think it has gone off without a hitch. It is hard to get an event like this off the ground so the organisers have done a really good job. We have seen different parts of Tropical North Queensland region and that  is pretty cool. There is so much variety in the riding from Smithfield in the rainforest, to the outback and back through the rainforest to the beach. It is a perfect ride and it will only improve further over time. It has amazing potential.”

“We are going to do everything we can to show people what they missed out on in the inaugural year, especially those riders in the southern states where it is so cold at the moment. I really don’t want to go home to the cold. Port Douglas is a great place to finish the week, it is absolutely spectacular, picture perfect and couldn’t be better.”

Despite holding a substantial lead Johnston knew the Total Rush Mornington Cycles team was keen to make up time on the last day, but he and Odams had to ride with their minds on the big prize and not risk everything by getting caught up in the excitement of the moment.

“Anything is a possibility on the Bump Track, it is so fast and I had to warn Jon because I know how quick he can go. All you have to do is get to the bottom and we win it, so I was trying to convince him that is all we had to do. He still dropped me though but we came together at the bottom so it was all good.”

Odams played the team role to perfection but he admitted he had amusing flashbacks of the instructions he was often given by his parents while riding as a junior.

“The tactics were to ride fast and ride harder than we did yesterday. We knew there were a couple of pinches before the bump track so we didn’t slow up there. Brendan gave me the ‘Dad’ talk at the top of the Bump Track – ‘Don’t get a flat tyre, don’t crash’. I had a chuckle to myself because I had that ‘Mum and Dad’ chat when I was racing downhill. ‘Don’t do anything too silly’. There was plenty to lose so I wasn’t going to go too nuts but it is super fun down there.”

Odams joined Johnston in praising the quality of all aspects of the new event.

“Reef to Reef is certainly an event that I would recommend. It is good if you are a general rider and want a challenge and a holiday with the family but if you also want to come and gas it out there is certainly plenty of racing to be had with the challenging terrain that is different every day. It is nice to be the inaugural Reef to Reef champions, I am loving it,” he said.

Second place overall and winners in the Masters category, the Total Rush team had an amazing four days and were thrilled to be in among the action. Brad Clarke said that Brendan and Jon were a bit strong for them in the final stages.

“Our legs were trashed and we lost them just before the Bump Track. We just worked as a team to then get through to the finish line. It was a lot of fun. Riding the Bump Track for the first time I just took it a bit easy. We had a huge lead in our category and comfortable buffer to second overall so all we had to do was ride conservatively and get through the morning. But we still had fun.”

“The event, the trails and finish line have been spectacular, we will be back. It really complements the other two events Cape to Cape and Port to Port. I was blown away with Port to Port and again here, just blown away. It is a credit to the organizers and the magnificent staff who work on the events. They have put together a banger for the first one and I can only imagine when the photos and the word gets out there will be a lot larger field next year,” Brad said.

While Jeff Rubach picked up stage honours in the men’s solo category it wasn’t enough to rein in the lead of Nathan Sandford who had been amazingly strong over four days. Settling for second place into Port Douglas, a tired Sandford was thrilled by his performance and predicted Reef to Reef would have a great future.

“I really suffered that last bit, I was lucky I had Kyle Ward driving, pulling me along the beach. I was done and I dropped off with about 300 to go. I was cooked. It was a good day and the Bump Track lived up to its reputation. I had to ride conservatively because if you come off, it is a big off.”

“When the IRONMAN came to Cairns it did massive things for people who wouldn’t normally be interested in multi sport, they jumped on and I think this will do the same. Everyone around, watching and following the race will be saying ‘I am going to get a MTB and do that next year’. It will do good things,” he said.

Reef to Reef female pair winners edit

The Westcourt Fire Station in Cairns cleaned up with Sarah White also winning the women’s category. The winner of the 2015 Croc Trophy was too strong across all four days and she was delighted to pick up the win and appreciative of the efforts of many people responsible for bringing Reef to Reef to the region.

“It was brilliant and I had so much fun. A great group of riders, great support staff and a big thank you to the volunteers and the guys who set the course. Winner at Reef to Reef…I can tick that box, next year I might have to drag my husband along,” she said.

Winners in the mixed category was Kyle Ward and partner, Oceania champ Samara Sheppard.

“It was awesome and a real learning experience for us riding as a pair and by stage four we really had it dialled. We managed to hold a good pace and enjoy the trails and to finish on the beach in the hard packed sand was great. It was magic.”

“I would definitely recommend people to ride Reef to Reef, especially at this time of the year to come up and have a few days in the sun, riding with mates. There are awesome trails and some great tourist spots, good cafes as well so it definitely has a lot going for it. We will have a few quiet days and then start preparing for Cape to Cape,” Samara said.

Team GC


Pos      Name                                      Time                Stage 1            Stage 2               Stage 3            Stage 4

1          Brendan JOHNSTON                7:19:12            00:59:40          02:09:14            02:16:50          01:53:26

2          Jon ODAMS                            7:19:12            00:59:40          02:09:14            02:16:50          01:53:26

3          Brad CLARKE (144-2)              7:31:07            01:03:14          02:14:27            02:16:49          01:56:35


Pos      Name                                      Time                 Stage 1            Stage 2               Stage 3            Stage 4

1          Samara SHEPPARD                  8:02:49            01:05:32          02:27:36            02:29:12          02:00:28

2          Jessica SIMPSON                     8:44:19            01:14:46          02:33:18            02:41:35          02:14:38

3          Anna BECK                             8:47:49            01:14:22           02:38:41           02:38:59          02:15:46

Solo GC


Pos      Name                                     Time                Stage 1             Stage 2               Stage 3            Stage 4

1          Nathan SANDFORD                 7:37:24            01:02:53          02:12:01            02:24:43          01:57:45

2          Jeff RUBACH                          7:42:11            01:05:33          02:14:21            02:24:49          01:57:26

3          Nicholas NOBLE                      8:03:17            01:09:21          02:22:35            02:28:11          02:03:09


Pos      Name                                      Time                Stage 1            Stage 2              Stage 3             Stage 4

1          Sarah WHITE                         8:47:57            01:13:07          02:39:09            02:42:24          02:13:15

2          Teresa NOBLE                        9:18:55            01:20:14          02:48:01            02:48:30          02:22:09

3          Sam STEVENS                       10:33:55           01:33:05          03:05:22            03:16:35          02:38:52


Solo Stage 4


Pos      Cat                  Name                          Time

1          Open               Jeff RUBACH                01:57:26

2          Open               Nathan SANDFORD      01:57:45

3          Masters           Matthew WEBBER         02:01:01


Pos      Cat                  Name                          Time

1          Open               Sarah WHITE              02:13:15

2          Open               Teresa NOBLE             02:22:09

3          Masters 1        Sam STEVENS             02:38:52