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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Good News from the World Championships!

Updated: Apr 6

(Updated October, 2023)


Gary crossing the finish line
Gary, a little bloodied, but victorious, winning the Masters 70-75 MTB Marathon World Championships

The conversation unfolded like this:


"Rider passing," I called to Roger from behind as we navigated a narrow and perilous single track at a breakneck pace.


"Who's that?" He inquired.


I swallowed hard, "Gary," I said quietly, and as innocently as possible.


"Gary who?"


"Gary Moller."


With that exchange, the cat was out of the bag, and the unspoken tension hung in the air. The outcome of the race teetered on a knife's edge.


That uncomfortable chat revealed my presence to my arch-rival, Roger Cull. We were roughly midway through the gruelling 62-km UCI Masters Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, competing fiercely for the 70–75 age group title. It was a moment of truth.


Cyclist
Roger Cull victoriously crosses the finish line at the World Masters Cycling Federation World Championship in St Johann Austria, in 2018. Photograph: Roger Cull

Roger is no slug, as you'll learn from reading this article from the Guardian. He's used to winning everything.


I finally caught Roger after a setback early in the race. A fellow rider had lost control and collided with me just three kilometres in, bending one of my brake and gear levers. That painful crash had cost me dearly, dropping me 80 or so places behind. Roger seized the opportunity and, along with the long peleton, he disappeared into the distance.


Winners shaking hands
Congratulations shared with my friends Marcello from Italy (in the red) and Mario from Portugal.

My strategy was clear: regain my composure and fix my levers while keeping an eye on the bigger picture. In races like these, victory remains uncertain until the finish line. Drawing from a previous world championship when I had outpaced Roger, I knew my strength lay in navigating single tracks — and there were plenty of those ahead. My plan was to maintain a steady pace, avoid further mishaps, and eventually catch up with him.


Group photo of the winners
Winners of the 2023 UCI Masters Marathon World Championships, including Your's Truly (far left).

Although I was thrilled to bridge the gap sooner than anticipated, an immediate challenge emerged: I had to pass Roger now — not later. Being already about halfway through the main body of single track, the immediate terrain favoured my skill set, but not for much longer, so I had to get well ahead now, and Roger knew this. Despite my pleas, he wasn't about to yield — the gloves were off. Then, as we approached a hairpin turn at high speed, he veered slightly, creating the slimmest of openings. Seizing the opportunity, I dove through, brushing against some undergrowth but maintaining control. I had claimed the lead! Now, I had to build a buffer!


From there, I gave it everything, swiftly increasing the distance between Roger and me. My goal was to ride as hard as possible, for as long as possible, and put as many riders as I could between us. Although it was a Iong way to go, I was confident in my abilities and stamina to maintain this pace for another 30 kilometres, but, in these races, nothing is certain (Watch the last video below this article to get an idea of just how fast riders were going).


All was going according to plan until, with a mere eight kilometres to go, I entered a corner too hot and skidded out painfully. Let me assure you, using your rear end and elbow as brake pads isn't advisable and results in sleepless nights for weeks to come. This slip cost me four places, but I still held the lead over Roger, quickly passing those riders again, understanding that each rider served as a valuable buffer between us.


In the end, I emerged victorious, clinching the 9th place overall finish across all ages from 50 and up — a result nearly as satisfying as securing the age group title. The exhilaration and relief that wash over you as you cross the finish line as a winner are indescribable.


Race results chart
19.9 km per hour over 62 km of dirt trails - wow!

Here's the overall results below. Note the good company, such as our very own world record holder from Tirau, Jim McMurray, who was not that far ahead.


Results chart
Overall placing in the race

I'm so proud as well, of the love of my life, Alofa, who finished in fine form, placing 9th in the 55–60 women's category.


Alofa Kosena

This victory marks my third consecutive UCI Masters win, spanning several years and disciplines: two in the shorter XC version of mountain biking and now one in the marathon.

It's a testament to the power of what Alofa and I do for a living and our commitment to ageless health and fitness — naturally — of course!


The day was a special one for the PNP Wellington Club, with Samara Shepherd convincingly winning the Oceania Championships and Ann Hunn coming 3rd in her age group race after leading but fading towards the end.


Samara crossing the finish line

Here's a video of the event:




 

Dwellingup and Western Australian Hospitality


In our coverage of this remarkable race, it's essential to acknowledge the outstanding professionalism, warm hospitality, and extraordinary generosity of the Western Australians, especially to the residents of Dwellingup and the event organisers.


Dwelling100, the ladies of Dwelling Adventures, the gracious individuals at the Visitor Centre


Recognition goes to the dedicated team that organised the Dwelling100, the ladies of Dwelling Adventures, the gracious and helpful ladies at the Visitor Centre; Simon, and Simon, the local cops for helping us out after someone stole my expensive bike computer and gloves while I was repairing a puncture — and our heartfelt gratitude to Tania and Allan of Longriders Cafe. Tania and Allan kindly allowed us to park our campervan at the rear of their cafe for an entire week, making our stay exceptionally comfortable, and just 200 metres from the start-finish.


Gary at Long Riders Cafe


We extend our sincere thanks to master trail-builder and course designer, Tony Tucknott. Tony took the time to personally guide us through the course upon our arrival in Dwellingup. Throughout the race, his encouragement proved invaluable, and he generously provided us with memorable course keepsakes to bring back to New Zealand.


The trails in Dwellingup rival those found in Rotorua, and the region has even more to offer. If you're ever contemplating a mountain biking adventure, Dwellingup should undoubtedly be on your list of destinations to consider!


 

Additional Thanks


Thank You, Simon Gilbert, for helping me build a bike designed to meet the special challenges of the Dwellingup course.


a Bike
My special hard tail racing machine!

And thank you, Jason and Team at Flow Tyres, for your invaluable advice about tyre selection for the race, and great value for money.


Finally, thank you, Brook Daly and the team at Wide Open Sports for the fabulous protective glasses and helmet, which served me well.


 

Video:

You'll see me in the lead bunch at the beginning (Number 1705) in the blue and orange kit, but then I dropped back a long way after crashing. It took more than half of the race to make up for those lost places! This is a good video of the race, but, for some reason, there isn't much shown of the single tracks.



2 Comments


Paul jackson
Paul jackson
Sep 23, 2023

Awesome achievement Gary, Congratulations on another world championship. Incredible

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Gary Moller
Gary Moller
Sep 25, 2023
Replying to

Thank you, Paul.

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