It’s Cool in the Rainforest

Nightcap National Park is one of those hidden gems that surprises with its proximity to other, better-known tourist attractions; and then keeps surprising the visitor with layer upon layer of hidden gems. 

Only 30km North of Lismore, and just by the alternative lifestyle town of Nimbin, Nightcap is a treasure trove of walking trails, waterfalls, wildlife, and greenery. Officially designated a sub-tropical rainforest, it is in fact several degrees cooler under the canopy – but also several percentage points higher in humidity. 

This lush, green and inviting playground attracts visitors from all over the world and is a challenging and rewarding place to do a MTB marathon, or a trail run, or even both. 

The Freedom series of MTB races and trail runs have a distance to suit everyone – and while not exactly slanted to beginners, the shorter distances are more forgiving in terms of downhill and technicality, although all courses feature some gnarly dropoffs and is split between single track and gravel road. 

The company responsible for these races, Summer of Cycling + Trail Runs, is based in the Northern Rivers for half the year, and at other times elsewhere in the world where adventure is to be found. Principal Anthony Mortimore is a former professional cyclist, who lovingly crafts the courses for his races with an eye to those things his customers love – and is not afraid to take ideas on board and change things up if that’s what the racers suggest. 

Saturday saw 70 cyclists take off into the green over 4 distances ranging from 12km to 65km, while Sunday’s trail runs involved over 130 runners and 5 different challenges – ranging from 5km to the demanding 50km race. Although the latter day saw some navigational challenges, all participants returned safely and full of enthusiasm for the course and the organisation. 

Tropical thunderstorms, high winds and humidity added to the challenges faced by athletes and race timers alike, and it was with a sense of accomplishment that the winners collected their trophies and drove off down the mountain. Most were promising to do Summer of Cycling’s next 2-day event, the beautifully-named Misty Mountain MTB and trail runs – not far from Nightcap but featuring a volcanic crater for a complete change of pace … 

Read all about Summer of Cycling + Trail Runs here, and perhaps plan to be involved in a race in this beautiful part of Australia. 

Full results for both days can be found here.

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