After eyeing off The Redback for many years, former pro cyclist Phil Anderson OAM is making the journey north to Alice Springs this winter for an adventure stacked with dry and dusty trails. And he can’t wait.
Usually at this time of year Anderson can be found over in Europe hosting cycling tours, but in 2017 the stars have aligned.
If you’re racing The Redback this August, you’ll be sharing a start line with the former world number one, two-time Commonwealth gold medal winner, and 11-time Tour de France yellow jersey wearer.
Here’s what he has to say about the upcoming race.
Q) You raced on road throughout your illustrious career, has mountain biking always been on your radar?
From the early 80s, I always had an mtb in the shed and for the last three years of my racing career (91-94), I incorporated a little cross training using the mtb to help with the monotony of the 1000s of kms required to sustain a season’s training. I lived in the south of France where there was a national park behind my place where I enjoyed getting lost.
Q) What kind of riding are you currently turning your hand to?
My wife Anne and I live in the Otway Ranges on the south west coast of Victoria where there is rainforest and reasonably hilly. I usually ride two days a week, one on the road bike(120km) and the other day on a gravel bike (50km) riding the Great Ocean Road and the network of dirt logging tracks on offer. I don’t ride the mtb too often, maybe once a month but enjoy doing the Otway Odyssey each February.
Q) Yes, you placed an impressive 4th in your category; how was your race and what did you think of the course this year through the Otways?
I love doing the Otway Odyssey and getting through the ride without having to train too much. To be more competitive it would take a much bigger time commitment, so for me now it’s all about the adventure and fun of riding.
Q) How do you feel in the lead-up to races these days since retiring from pro cycling in 1994?
Throughout the year I keep a base fitness, generally trail running five days and riding the other two. Leading up to events I read up on the event notes, especially the maps, make sure my bike is fit and tuned for the event. Keeping general fitness and a healthy lifestyle allows me to do most physical activities without too much discomfort but gives me time to spend on the business and time around the home. Life as a professional cyclist is about the preparation and results 24x7. Every minute of the day is aimed at this.
Q) What first caught your eye about The Redback? Have you ridden in and around Alice Springs before?
Years ago I did and couple of Crocodile Trophy’s in northern QLD, and there was a rider there from Alice who was always banging on about the great trails up his way. When I saw Rapid Ascent was involved in the Alice event I thought maybe it would be an excuse to come and look at the centre of our wonderful country.
Q) What are you looking forward to about it?
A few days in the Alice will be a nice escape from the southern chill. It’s all an adventure really. I have heard many things about the town of Alice and how the trails are great to ride. There is always a mob of Alice riders who come to do the Odyssey so I guess it’s a way to return the trip.
Q) Is there anything you’re not looking forward to?
I have heard it’s really rocky, not too much mud which should be different that the Otways. And cold nights, so I guess I’ll be throwing a jacket in!
Q) You’ve come from a superior place of success in multi-day, multi-stage racing; do you have a certain fondness for these longer-style events over single day races?
In Grand Tours I was known for becoming stronger in the third week however that was many moons ago and we are now talking about a four day event. I guess I’m not overly stressed at the Redback’s stage distances as they say muscles have an innate memory.
Q) Will you be heading into The Redback competitively, or are you planning to race more for the enjoyment of riding in this amazing location?
Adventure of riding the Redback and catching up with Odysseyites.
To read more about Phil and his Cycling Tours and Holidays head to philandersoncycling.com.au
The Redback MTB Stage Race is a four day, six-stage race that allows you to ride as much single track as possible whilst keeping the race logistics super simple – stay in the one location all week, no car or support crew needed.
It is taking place in and around Alice Springs, NT from 17-20th August. To find out more or to enter head to TheRedback.com.au