2021 Ambassadors will be announced soon! In the meantime, check out some wise words from James Downing…


Ambassador – Brendan Johnson

Brendan Johnston has cemented himself as the most consistently high performing mountain biker in marathon XC events all over Australia in recent years.

He has collected 4X National XCM Championships, 19 straight Marathon wins and was a National XCM Series Winner in 2016/17.

Brendan is a confirmed starter in 2020.


Ambassador – Paul van der Ploeg

‘I’m more than excited for the Redback this year!!! It’s been a crazy 2020 and getting into the outback while escaping Melbourne winter couldn’t be a better way to restart some normality!’

After winning the 2019 Redback in superb style (as always), Paul van der Ploeg just couldn’t stay away from the event in 2020 and is another confirmed starter.


Ambassador – James Downing

“2019 will be my 6th Redback. My first one was in 2013 and I have been hooked ever since! It is such a great location for racing and riding. For me it is the perfect opportunity to escape the dreary winter weather and hit up some of the best singletrack in the country. Nothing quite beats the stage race lifestyle….riding, eating, sleeping…..and chilling out by the pool after each stage. It is simply living the dream!!! James Downing, ACT

I first started riding bikes when I was 8 and first put on a number plate in 1989 to race the mountain bike. Back then it was all about rigid forks and toeclips. Fast forward 25 years and the cycling scene has drastically changed but my enthusiasm for the sport has not diminished one little bit.

I have been riding for Cannondale since 2010 and a member of the Canberra Off Road Cyclists since 1992. They do an amazing job of sorting both trail advocacy as well as running races on just about every weekend of the year. They also put a lot back into women’s and juniors development which is fantastic.

I remember when I first started racing mountain bikes back in Brisbane as a junior. I had a lot of fantastic fast riders that I hung out with to learn as much as I could from. They were generous with their assistance and advice and it definitely was a great opportunity for me back then as a lot of those basic elements have held true for many years. In order to give back to the sport that has provided me with so much enjoyment over the years I genuinely enjoy helping out other riders with any aspect of the sport.

Be it bike advice, skills work, line choices, training, nutrition or just about anything, I simply like helping anyone get just that little bit extra out of the sport to boost their satisfaction levels.A

Ask James!

Got a question about The Redback, MTB stage races or just MTBing in general? James is happy to help out.

Email James Downing or shoot him a message on Facebook.

And make sure you catch him for some tips in the Q&A session at The Redback Race Briefing and Official Welcome! 

James’ Race Report:

“The racing was only about 10 hours worth, but the memories of 7 days in an amazing oasis of mountain biking is the life experience that I will take away from this event!”

Read his race report from The Redback here.

Previous Race Reviews and Testimonials

Imogen Smith:

“It’s the atmosphere and the mood of this race that have helped me perform again and enjoy pushing myself in competition once more.”

Read her race reports on Marathon MTB here:
Stage 1 | Stages 2 & 3 | Stage 4 | Stages 5 & 6 | Stage 7

Jo Bennett:

“The camaraderie between all the riders over the week makes this event what it is, and brings us back year after year. If you have thought about contending this event, you should. It is achievable for all riders no matter your ability. And once you have arrived in Alice everything is only 5 minutes away!”

Read her race report here

Other great event reviews from competitors:

– Flow Mountain Bike by Nic Learmonth
– Liv Giant by Jo Bennett (overall female winner!)
– Hero Dirt – thanks to Phil Jessen and Adam Kelsall
– Flat Out Forty – thanks to Steve Burton
– Ride the Dirt Trail