- Twisting, testing, technical circuit
- Crazy S-bend and pinch
- Can you turn left?
HART is a car-free 1.5-kilometre circuit, a training facility for learner motorcyclists. For those of us who prefer pedal power, it hosts Manly Warringah Cycling Club’s summer criteriums.
1. Start-finish to first hairpin
Travelling anti-clockwise, the start-finish straight is a fast downhill.
Take care; towards the bottom there is a seam or dip across the width of the road that can cause punctures. Some riders bunnyhop it.
You’ll come to the first of three left-hand hairpins on the course. It’s wide enough to pedal through most of the corner. However, it does string out the peloton with an accordion effect, forcing you to sprint to stay in contact before the S-bend.
2. HART’s S-bend
The S-bend features a tight left hairpin immediately followed by an uphill pinch that curves right. No matter how hard you charge up the 20% gradient, you’ll feel like you’re grinding to a complete stop.
The hairpin is HART’s trickiest corner. If you’re not a confident bike handler, you’ll be leaning your bike over further than you thought possible!
Correct gear selection beforehand is key. If you change gears on the climb, you risk dropping a chain. I’ve found it helpful to shift into the small chainring and one cog easier on the cassette.
3. Uphill drag and final section
After the steep pinch, there’s no respite. You come to an uphill drag that keeps taxing the legs, even with a brief dip halfway.
If you’re stuck near the back, don’t give up here. Dig deep to hang on; you can rest or improve your position on the downhill later.
This drag ends with the third and final hairpin: a gentle, wide curve. Then, you’ll fly through HART’s administration buildings and traffic lights before entering the start-finish straight again. The downhill straight is your best opportunity to improve your position.
We spoke to Luc McCann (Cheeky Velosport), a recurrent HART A-Grade winner, for his thoughts on the criterium course.
A true test of attrition
“HART’s one of my favourite circuits. It’s a true test of attrition. It’s not like Heffron or Eastern Creek where you can really sit in on the bunch for as long as possible. Every lap there’s an effort and at the end of the day it ends up being the stronger guys that are left.”
Tips for mastering the pinch point
“A couple of things. Don’t hit it too hard, you’ve got a fair bit of time to make up ground if you do lose it around that bend. The other thing is, a lot of guys take the steepest section because it’s the shortest route through, but in essence the wider section of the corner is probably the fastest.”
Sprint or breakaway?
“Definitely a breakaway. It is a downhill sprint so it doesn’t suit the lighter guys. So typically if you can get away earlier on, you’ve probably got a better chance than sitting in and waiting for the sprint.”
When to race
Manly Warringah Cycling Club runs criteriums at HART on Friday evenings during daylight savings, typically October to March.
Sign-on is at 6:00PM and racing begins at 6:30PM for grades A-D. The club sometimes also runs races on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
During racing, MWCC offers free kids training on the skid pan in the middle of the track.
How to get there
HART Driver Training Centre is located at 451 Mona Vale Road, St Ives (Google Maps).
By car, enter off Mona Vale Road and you’ll find ample parking space inside. If approaching from the west, there’s a right-turn lane on Mona Vale Road.
It’s common for riders to reach HART by bicycle. Mona Vale Road is a busy road, but there are shoulders in both directions. The shoulders disappear as you approach St Ives, but the road is three lanes wide.
For a race video featuring HART criterium circuit, check out Cornering Hard! HART Criterium.