Katherine's growing mountain-bike community might end up being one of the very few beneficiaries of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The closure of usual sporting options around town and the search for safe thrills which respect social distancing has seen bike sales go 'through the roof'.
Saturday's annual '4-hour' mountain bike race on Katherine's sole cultivated track showed this increased engagement with the sport with more than 100 participants compared to 45 last year.
Riders challenged themselves to complete up to seven laps of the 12-odd kilometre track in the gruelling weekend sun, then many backed it up with a 'recovery ride' on Sunday at Nitmiluk National Park.
The national park celebrated the opening of a new network of mountain-bike tracks set in the sprawling rock-plains around the Katherine Gorge.
The Katherine Multi-Sports Club's Dale Bryan has been the driving force behind the sport in Katherine for years now, and says the enthusiasm he is seeing now is unlike ever before.
"To have over one hundred participants in the four-hour is just phenomenal, with COVID-19 people have been looking for new ways to get out and mountain-biking is a great way to do it," he said.
"There are really good strong communities of riders in Darwin and Alice springs, here in Katherine it is much smaller but we're just starting to see it really grow.
"To have those tracks just there in Nitmiluk will be a drawcard absolutely because now we can offer a range of places to safely ride and compete," Mr Bryan said.
Multi-Sports Club President Andrew Pickering is himself one of those fresh to the sport, and completed the four-hour with his son on the weekend.
"It can obviously be a massive adrenaline sport but I just like to go along quietly in the awesome scenery we have here," he said.
"I'm a strictly recreational rider and this is my first time in a competition.
"I've found though it's just a fantastic feeling of freedom and the climate we have here is really perfect for it.
"You stay cool on the bike because you're moving so it's the perfect way to get around the bush during the day," Mr Pickering said.
Fellow Katherine residents Jaimee Anderson and Lucy Seiler are also part of the community's new wave of riders.
"We're new to the sport but enthusiastic," Ms Anderson said.
"Some of these guys are crazy but we just take it easy and relaxed," she said.
"People need to realise it can be cruisy and relaxed as well," Ms Seiler added.
At the other end of the scale, Greg Bird has been riding for 40-plus years.
He said experienced riders can find tracks through the scrub-land to use, for beginners there really hasn't ever been sufficient options around Katherine until now.
"It's great people are getting into it because it's absolutely a unique rush," he said.
"To ride over the stuff we do and turn around like, I just did that! It makes you feel fantastic.
"It does take a bit of scouting and skill to find those bush tracks, Dale Bryan does an awesome job with the four-hour track.
"But to have some tracks in a location like this will raise the profile pf the sport in Katherine absolutely, both for locals here and in the communities already in Darwin and Alice Springs.
"The community here has no 'I'm not good enough' attitude, and to have a good beginners track here will help us keep bringing people into the sport," Mr Bird said.
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