Within about a 5 km radius of the property that hosted the Prestige Series 5, there occurs 134 species of terrestrial vertebrate animals. This includes 5 species of snake hiding among the rocks and boulders that you were all riding over, in and around.
You probably did not want to know that, did you? My bad. Sorry.
If you want to include all the bugs that call this place home, the species count skyrockets to 448. There are also 426 species of plants, but I am a zoologist and I have very little interest in plants.
Having said that though, plants are, undeniably, the best indicators of environmental health.
This is convenient because, for quite some time, I have been asking myself the question: "As riders and club members, what are the environmental impacts we are having on the land on which we compete?".
I am very pleased to report that it would seem we have very little impact at all.
How can I be sure? Because the answer is written in the landscape.
In the first instance, we are riding on private property. We are, for all intent and purpose, riding in paddocks that have giant lumpy bits in the middle of them. We are not riding in the fragile hills, scarps and gullies of our rapidly declining native bushland.
These outcrops, over which we run our Michelins, still do support a suite of flora and fauna that is doing its best to persist in a disturbed farmland habitat. But the critical point is that these areas are already disturbed. They have been fragmented and impacted by farming for generations. We are not tearing up native bushland and riding our bikes over fragile granite tors that are island biomes of incredible conservation significance. We are riding in weed infested paddocks doing our own very best to avoid cattle turds.
Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, the land over which we ride bounces back (pardon the pun). Have a close look at the picture below. Look at the rock covered in Lichen and moss. There is a strip of vegetative material missing from the center. But it is not missing entirely. What once was damaged, is now recovering.
Lichens are a long lived and very slow growing species, with some considered to be among the oldest living things. They are among the first living things to grow on fresh rock exposed after a natural event such as a landslide; or an unnatural event, such as a Trial. They grow at a rate of only .5 - 4 mm per year. So they are a great indicator of the rate of natural rehabilitation.
Whilst I was spectating the event I spied the rock you see below. I trotted over to Mark Atherton and asked if he recalls ever riding over this particular rock at a previous event. He said he had; it was part of a section he had ridden in 2020.
Trust you will believe me, this photo was not 'staged'. It was a kids "curiosity" in action.
In only two years the impact we had had on this property was already starting to be absorbed back into the landscape.
I have to say that, as an ecologist, I have always been a little concerned about the damage we do on bikes. But now I am less so. Mother Nature demonstrates remarkable healing power. It's nice to be able see her hard at work.
Mark Atherton's approach to reducing your environmental footprint is just to levitate over most obstacles.
Ben's approach is to get in and out as quick as possible, riding it like he stole it (from Neil Price).