Wagga’s new Multisport Cycling Complex will host two major mountain bike events this year, confirming Mayor Dallas Tout’s theory.
“Build it and they will come,” he says.
“We built it, worked together to get this in partnership with other levels of government and now we have two national events in the first year that it’s been open.”
The ‘Field of Dreams’ moment results from a partnership between Wagga City Council and the sport’s governing body AusCycling, to utilise the $12 million facilities at Pomingalarna.
In August around 400 riders will compete in the 2022 AusCycling Marathon National Championship (XCM) followed by 130 competitors arriving in October for the 2022 Mountain Bike National Gold Level Cross Country Olympic (XCO).
Ben Creighton has overseen the development of the complex for Wagga City Council and says the high stakes nature of the event will put a spotlight on the city.
“The marathon event itself is the actual national championship, so this will determine who the best in Australia is,” he says.
“But it’s also really significant from the point of view that we can start to showcase the facilities we have here.”
Mr Creighton affirmed the council’s ongoing commitment to growing the sport and engaging the broader community.
“We’re looking at things like ‘come and try’ days where people can just come and borrow a bike and have an opportunity to try some of the different activities out here at Pomingalarna,” he says.
Local mountain bike club secretary Nathan Gregor describes the sport as an “underground movement” but says there is no doubt interest is growing.
“I’ve spoken to people from Canberra, mountain bike clubs and BMX clubs that come here regularly on weekends now because we’ve got this awesome facility here,” he says.
“It’s going to create some fierce competition around the region I think.
“I’ve seen the bike shops, just talking with those guys, they’re flat out all the time. They’ve had to close numerous days just to catch up with work.”
Weekends are getting busier as word of the Pomingalarna facility spreads.
“If you come out on a Sunday at lunchtime there’ll be a minimum of 50 to 60 people here at once … I think it’s really taken off here,” Mr Gregor says.
Cr Tout says the Complex is part of a broader strategy to encourage the “healthy, vibrant lifestyle” of cycling at all levels in the region, including active travel plans for non-regular bike riders.
But he points out that it’s not only cyclists who will benefit from the upcoming events.
“The direct economic benefit from those tours alone is around $600,000. But I think it [the benefit to the wider community] is more the vibrancy and the atmosphere it brings to the city,” he says.
The AusCycling Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships (XCM) will be from 13 to 14 August. The 2022 Mountain Bike National Gold Level Cross Country Olympic (XCO) is locked in for 29 to 30 October.