From "eventis horribillis" to huge success: that's how Wollombi Wild Ride event director Paul Humphreys has described the rollercoaster that was this year's event.
With ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions to comply with, and a powerful storm the night before Saturday's event, Humphreys said the 2020 event caused him more headaches that he had ever experienced in 25 years in the events industry.
However, it did run extremely well on the day - with 285 riders taking part.
"We are here for the long haul and are happy to comply with rules that protect the community," Humphreys said.
"We also accept that the authorities are doing their best in a challenging and dynamic environment, but this event planning was like running the 100m hurdles!"
Changing participant numbers, restrictions on pre- and post-event socialising and security concerns were among the challenges Humphreys and his team at H Events had to overcome.
The regular date of the event (which is now in its 12th year), had to be changed due to uncertainty of the rules and local course issues.
Then after securing a new date and when the event was almost sold out, the rules changed again to prevent out-of-area entrants, meaning more than 30 percent of the entrants were rejected.
This rule was changed again two days before the event, allowing out-of-area participants, but Humphreys said by then most had made other plans.
Then on Friday (the day before the ride), horrific winds caused several trees to fall across the course. A team of locals and crew cleared this, but the storm continued overnight with substantial rain, and the event compound was worse for wear by first light.
But by Saturday morning the sun was shining, and the wind dropped sufficiently for the event to be staged.
"All riders were very respectful of the COVID environment and enjoyed the event," Humphreys said.
On behalf of H Events, he thanked the local community and businesses, event sponsors, Laguna Volunteer Fire Brigade, property owners, local authorities, suppliers and crew, and of course the participants for the success of the 2020 event.
"While it was a very hard event to make happened, it is very rewarding to see the smiling faces of participants as they completed this challenging event around the beautiful valley of Wollombi," he said.
See the full results at wollombiwilderide.net.