Port to Port MTB 2015, Stage 4: Coastal Showers

“You bastards,” laughed Peter Selkrig as he slid on his arse in the mud, “get that camera out of my face!” He needn’t have been so self-conscious – there were plenty of other riders making less-than-graceful descents on their chamois on their way out of Wallarah National Park.

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The calm waters of Lake Macquarie lulled the riders into a false sense of security, the day was going to be tough.

 

The final leg of the Port to Port MTB 2015 won’t be forgotten in a hurry. The faces tell the story, a mask of mud, broken only by big white grins. This 48km stage took riders from the edge of Lake Macquarie, up the coast and through the sweet singletrack of Glenrock MTB Park, before finishing by the beach in Newcastle.

The gentle patter of rain in the pre-dawn light was probably not what most riders wanted to hear this morning, but it wouldn’t be a stage race without a little inclement weather – it’s all part of the journey, right? With the rain came more than a little mud. “This is just bullshit!” exclaimed one rider who’d been over the bars twice and whose brakes had long since stopped working. No mate, it’s not bullshit, it’s what mountain biking is all about!

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Jason Pye going the wrong way, not the right way around. Sorry, Jason!
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Photo of the day goes to: Chamois slider man! Come on down!

With the morning rain and a few hundreds sets of tyre through it, it didn’t take long for the usual benign Wallarah fireroads to turn in to a war zone.

“That was filthy – there were bikes and bodies going everywhere!” laughed Rohan Adams.

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Wallarah National Park is a bit nice on the eyes, but tough under the tyres.

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Rohin Adams leads out a hungry pack of attacking racers.
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Croc watch.

The usually buff singletrack of Glenrock took on a more menacing, challenging character too. “Man, it was proper slick in there,” said Jenny Blair, “like real European-style, lots of roots!”

For the elites, it was always unlikely that we’d see any real changes in the overall classification, short of some serious mechanicals or crashes. But that didn’t stop the fast lads having a dig, with Rohan Adams launching an attack that prodded the lead pack into action. “My legs felt ok, so I thought ‘bugger it, let’s go’,” said Adams. “Once we hit Glenrock it was every man for himself.”

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Into Glenrock they went, some very fine trails indeed.
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Glenrock alone is worth travelling interstate for, the trails are bloody fun and quite varied.
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Only a puddle here and there.
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WA’s Pete Hatton sure can handle a bike, with years of mountain bike experience he’s hard to beat when the trails are tricky.

In the end, it was Trek’s Pete Hatton who managed to extract a small gap and take the stage win, just edging out Tasman Nankervis and Reece Tucknott. “The goal was to try and pull back some time on Torq, but a stage win is a nice consolation,” said Hatton.

“Actually, the best consolation was that it was a bloody fun stage, Glenrock was so much fun.”

Things almost came unstuck for Mark Tupalski. “I was full gas chasing them after I got a stick stuck in my spokes,” said Tupalski. And even though the Torq hammer lost some time today, his overall lead was too big to really be threatened. For defending champ Andy Blair it was a more rewarding day, finding himself in a three-man sprint for second place. “I was pretty stoked to really be a part of the race, after a couple of days out of it up front,” said Blair.

 

The final standings were no surprise, with the dominance of Mark Tupalski and his wingman Tasman Nankervis awarding them first and second, and Trek’s Reece Tucknott’s ferocious chasing down of attacks netting him third overall ahead of Pete Hatton.

In the women’s field, Jenny Blair’s seemingly tireless engine saw her knock down four stage wins and yet another overall title – her wardrobe must be bursting with pink leader’s jerseys. But not far off her wheel today was Naomi Williams, who had a cracking stage, finishing ahead of her teammate Rebecca Locke.

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Yeahaaaaa, Glenrock!
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A local welcome to the finish.

“Sometimes today, when you were sliding sideways, all you could do was laugh!” chuckled Willams.

“Bec and I had been riding together until the neutral section (part of the course was neutralised for safety concerns due to pedestrian traffic), but then she said “if you think you’ve got the legs to go, go,” because we thought perhaps Jenny would have a tougher time in the singletrack.” But the time gap Blair opened up on the flats was just too much in the end, and the overall standings stayed put; Blair first, Locke second and Williams in third.

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There’s no doubt that the second edition of the Port to Port MTB was a superb evolution, with the course changes getting the thumbs up from everyone involved.

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The number one, Mark Tupalski. Winning Cape to Cape and Port to Port back to back, this friendly young lad did no wrong all week and took away the win.
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Jenny Blair makes it two from two at the Port to Port. To strong for the fast chasers Rebecca Locke and Naomi Williams.

“We take a look at the rider who comes in 150th and that’s who we target the course and event too,” said Chris Heverin, the event director. It’s a formula that we thoroughly agree with, as it offers a perfect mix of challenge and achievability for the elites all the way through to the bloke in footy shorts with a shopping rack on his bike. So roll on Port to Port MTB 2016 – we’ll be there for sure, and you should be too.

Click here for all the Port to Port results across all categories.

Event website here – http://porttoportmtb.com/

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See you next year, no doubt about it.

Port to Port MTB 2015, Day 3: Bring on the Froth

66 kilometres is a big old ride, but when it finishes with a wicked singletrack descent, you tend to forget the pain. Overall race leader Mark Tupalski echoed what we heard time and time again: “The moto stuff was awesome, you could just keep pumping it like a big BMX track, and that fresh new singletrack at the end was unreal.”

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Awaba MTB Park brought the singletrack that everyone has been hankering for.
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Naomi Williams on the tail of Jenny Blair heading into the classic race track of Awaba.

The third stage of Port to Port MTB 2015 was an entirely new addition to the race.

“After last year’s race, we rode Awaba mountain bike park and we decided it had to be part of Port to Port,” said Jason Dover, one of the drivers behind the race.

Not only did the course setters squeeze in 12km of Awaba, but they also strung together a killer descent, mixing plenty of moto trails and fresh cut singletrack.

 

Today saw the field swell, with a number of riders joining the fray for the weekend, and so the neutral start as the pack rolled out from Cooranbong was a pretty incredible sight. But with the trails of Awaba not far out, things quickly got heated, with the leaders jostling to get the advantage and dictate the pace in the singletrack. Torq rider Tasman Nankervis got the holeshot, but Andy Blair inserted himself into the lead spot before long, keeping a lid on the youngsters.

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Tasman leaps into the singletrack first.

Unlike yesterday’s stage which dragged the climbing out, today’s stage got it over and done quickly, like ripping off a band-aid. Unsurprisingly, it was the same Torq duo of Tupalski and Nankervis who launched the first attack, and only Reece Tucknott had the legs to go with them. “Tas hit it pretty hard, I think he though I was Hatto!,” said Tucknott, who held on during some massive accelerations from, before the trio settled into a rhythm and began to work together like clockwork.

“Tas was climbing like a beast – I kept asking him to back it off a fraction,” said Tupalski. “Yeah, I got a bit too excited – I thought Reece was Hatto, and all I could think is ’12 seconds, 12 seconds’ so I kept trying to drop him,” laughed Nankervis. “At the top of the climb we knew we had a big time gap, but yesterday we thought we had a big gap too, when it was really only 20 seconds, so we just kept pushing.”

Trek Racing Australia’s Reece Tucknott won the stage, a real confidence boost for the young fella ahead of his World Cup campaign this year.

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This is what it’s all about at the end of the day.

With the lead group of three finishing together, the notable casualty in the overall standings was Pete Hatton, who slipped from his second place. “I think I’ve probably lost the podium, which is a disappointment,” said Hatton.

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Team Torq do a great job of fostering young talented riders, Josh Battey is one of them.
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Bryan Dunkin is a local hitter, and his bike skills are insane.

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One of the real standout aspects of this year’s Port to Port is just how many young riders are at the pointy end; “I think the average podium age has been about 15,” joked Tupalski, himself still only 24. But in all seriousness, the talent on show particularly in the Torq and Trek teams is pretty staggering. There’s been plenty of talk of a changing of the guard, but you’d be a fool to write off Blairy yet – “I had a rubbish day today,” said Blair, “but you don’t get slow all of a sudden, I’m just tired at the moment.” Blair added reflectively: “Perhaps today was an exercise in what I’ll go through over the next few years as I do slow down. But one positive is that when you’re off the pace it takes you back to what it was like when you weren’t racing to win, and you remember why most people do these races, meeting new people and not taking it all too seriously.”

Jenny Blair, who by her own admission isn’t the strongest in the technical stuff, was surprised by just how much she enjoyed the extra singletrack of today’s stage.

“That was awesome – the loose descent was so good! Just get yourself behind the saddle and have a go! You really appreciate the singletrack after a lot of fireroad over the last couple of days.”

Jenny’s lead is looking very safe now, short of total implosion on stage 4.

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Team 4Shaw riders Naomi Williams and Rebecca Locke hold second and third in the women’s field. “I don’t have any legs – that was a long stage for day 3,” said Locke. The fatigue came into play at the end of the stage too, on the steeper singletrack. “I looked back over my shoulder and Bec was off the bike and hanging out of a tree like a koala!” said Williams.

The consensus from the pack about the new Stage 3 course was overwhelmingly positive, and tomorrow’s stage has seen some serious tweaks too, with another supersized helping of singletrack in Glenrock. Come back tomorrow for the fourth and final instalment of our 2015 Port to Port MTB coverage.

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This guy. This guy is a working class hero.

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http://porttoportmtb.com/

Click here for the full results from Port to Port MTB here.

Port to Port MTB, Stage 2: Down the Rabbit Hole

“I normally find the second day a lot easier,” Pete Hatton told us yesterday after bagging second place in Stage 1 of Port to Port MTB.. Well, sorry Hatto… in the case of Port to Port, day two is a whole lot harder! 

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One of the neat things about this stage race is the diversity of the places and terrain, that you take in over just a few days. No more keenly are these contrasts shown, than in the difference between stages 1 and 2. Leaving the beaches behind, stage 2 takes riders to the middle of the famous Hunter Valley. Vineyards, horse yards, towering sandstone escarpments and densely wooded forests, it’s all a far cry from the sand dunes and ice cream parlours of stage 1.

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Today’s stage had seen some tweaks in response to feedback from year one, and while the final stinging climb had been tamed, it was still a tough, but rewarding, day in the office for most. Starting right outside the cellar door at Lindeman’s, riders had to dig deep straight out of the gate, with a 12km climb up onto the ridge lines overlooking Pokolbin. Unsurprisingly, the sharp end wasted no time in sounding each other out, with the Torq team using their numerical advantage to set the pace high and test the legs of the Pete Hatton and his Trek teammates and Andy Blair.

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Through the saddle, a brief respite between the pinches of climb one and two.
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Through the moto singletrack high up above Pokolbin.

Before long, the incredible form of Mark Tupalski came to the fore, when he and teammate Tasman Nankervis established an early break and worked together perfectly, playing the chase group like a fish on the line. “We learnt last year that we can’t wait, we have to make a break early – it’s that old stereotype, you know, offense is the best defence,” said Torq’s Dean Clarke.

Recent grading of the fireroad climb might have filled in some of the most savage ruts, but it had left the top inch of soil a perfect energy-sapping consistency. Grimly set jaws, bobbing heads, grinding gears and just a bit of swearing characterised the appearance of a large chunk of the field. The pay off for the climb came with the Down the Rabbit Hole descent, a plummeting drop, churned up, wild and loose thanks to the recent rains, that had riders cooking brakes and eating fat chunks of flying mud, before hitting the valley floor.

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Reece, the face of the chase.

Surprisingly, for such strong climbers, the Down the Rabbit Hole descent played a key part in team Torq’s strategy, with Nankervis and Tupalski using the downhill to back the intensity off. Dean Clarke explains: “They were just cruising down, knowing that Blairy would have to work hard and potentially make a mistake, while they could save energy and not take too many risks. The worst thing that can happen is to have the lead and throw it away.”

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Through Cedar Creek, at the bottom of Down the Rabbit Hole.

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“We were flat out like a lizard drinking on the descent,” said Tristen Ward, one of the chase group, “Blairy was just trying to kill us!” Reece Tucknott was one of the chasers too, and thought the chase could have succeeded with a bit more cohesion. “We had a chase group of about six, and it was all working well together. Then when we started to close the gap and got close, it seemed that everyone started to attack each other, like they thought they could get across, and the chase kind of broke down. And of course the Torq guys in the chase weren’t going to do any work with their teammates out in front.”

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Spot the bunch.

“Our overall goal at the start of the day was get Tasman into second place, and managed to do that, by about 18 seconds over Hatto,” said Tupalski. “Even if the time bonuses after the shootout come into play, we should still have a few seconds, which puts the pressure on Blair and Hatto to make it happen. But Blairy’s a wiley bugger, and he’ll get stronger and stronger as the race goes on.”

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Tasman Nankervis and Mark Tupalski worked together like clockwork today.

“The difference between Blairy and these young guys, is that the youngsters can redline earlier and recover, whereas Blairy is a little older and it takes him longer to recover. But if he can get into a rhythm, then he’s very strong and that’s the risk,” said Dean Clarke.

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Mind the gap.

4Shaw rider rider Rebecca Locke, in second overall, stated yesterday that the ability to back up day after day could be the deciding factor in a race like this, and by her own admission Stage 1 took a toll. “I struggled a lot today, so it was good to have Naomi, she really got me through,” said Rebecca. “I tried to nurse Bec as much as I could,” said Naomi Williams, “she’s got a bit of a diesel engine, so I hoped she might come back, but she had tired legs.”

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Jenny Blair, head down, on the final pinch.

For Jenny Blair, today was much more suited to her style. “It was my kind of course, that type of riding is my gravy,” said Jenny. “Because I knew the course and knew that the start in particular suited my style, I pushed as hard as I could to maximise the time gap.” The strategy worked, and Jenny Blair now holds a commanding lead of around eight minutes.

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The day was capped off with the Crowne Plaza Shootout, an individual time trial around the golf course at Crowne Plaza, with big time bonuses up for grabs. Pete Hatton continued his out-of-nowhere form, taking the win, and scoring a minute time bonus that scooted him back into second place. Mark Tupalski further cemented his lead, with his third place giving him an additional 40 seconds. Meanwhile, Blair had the worst possible outcome, snapping his chain and having to scoot across the line with any hopes of scraping back a big chunk of time dashed.

Tomorrow’s stage is completely new, taking in the famed flow of the Awaba Mountain Bike park, and some unseen descents through the lower slopes of the Watagans. We’ve been promised by course-setter Rex Dubois that it’s a killer stage. Excellent stuff, come back tomorrow for all action.

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Briar Ridge Winery put on live music and a full-blown farmers’ market at the finish, it was a great vibe.

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The final event of the day was the Crowne Plaza Shootout, a 1.5km time trial around the golf course with time bonuses up for grabs.
Hatto. Can turn a pedal! Peter Hatton moves into second place, after a healthy time bonus at the Crowne Plaza Shootout.
Hatto. Can turn a pedal! Peter Hatton moves into second place, after a healthy time bonus at the Crowne Plaza Shootout.

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Port to Port MTB 2015, Stage 1: Sun’s Out, Guns Out

Hello sunshine, hello dolphins, hello wine, hello sweat, dirt, blood and good times. Hello Port to Port MTB.

Back for the second year, this four-day stage race is roving affair, taking in some of the more stunning parts of NSW on a journey from the sea at Port Stephens, to the Hunter Valley and finally back to Newcastle. (Take a squiz at our 2014 coverage here.)

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The usual flocks of whale watchers, seagulls and white haired holiday makers were ushered aside today, to make way for the 300+ racers who began their four day odyssey alongside the lapping blue waters of Nelson Bay. The course set for them on Stage 1 mixed in some of the trails utilised last year, plus a bunch of new sections, like the unconquerable Three Bears.

After last year’s epic battle between Andy Blair and Chris Hamilton, there was a plenty of anticipation this showdown might be emulated with an in-form Mark Tupalski a clear challenger to the experienced Blair. In the women’s field, the recently crowned XCM Champ Jenny Blair (yes, she and Andy tied the knot) was the clear favourite, but as we saw today, it mightn’t be plain sailing.

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The rolling neutral start may have been too mellow for some (“I’ve had way too much caffeine for this, let’s get racing!” was yelled from somewhere in the bunch), but the pace didn’t stay low for long. The first scrappy climb proved to be incredibly decisive, with Blair facing what he called the “worst possible situation” after getting caught in a rut and watching the trio of Tupalski, young Liam Jefferies and Pete Hatton make a break. Without any team mates to work with him, it was entirely up to him to ride down the two Torq riders and Hatton.

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The opening climb of the day is steep, scrappy and a real burner.

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Hatton, who has been absent from the scene for a while and whose dark horse performance caught plenty of people by surprise, tells the tale: “We were working well together, right up until the Three Bears (three super steep fireroad climbs in a row), when I really pushed it into the red. I could tell that Tupalski was super strong, and he made a break. I had to back it off consciously, and that’s when Andy bridged across to me. I basically sat on his wheel then, trying to recuperate, and then managed to gap him at the end on some of the short climbs.”

“I couldn’t see them behind me and when you have a gap you just have to bury yourself!”

“Blairy’s no fool – he wins plenty of races by being tactically smart, so I’m not taking anything for granted.”

History repeated itself in some respects today; last year, it was Andy Blair’s running up the impossibly steep Vertical Beach that gave him a gap, this year it was Tupalski who sprinted his way to a healthy gap, running hard over the top of the final of the Three Bears. “I didn’t think the gap I’d opened up was quite that big, but I couldn’t see them behind me and when you have a gap you just have to bury yourself!” Burying himself definitely worked, and Tupac will take a lead of just over a minute to Stage 2. “Blairy’s no fool – he wins plenty of races by being tactically smart, so I’m not taking anything for granted,” said Tupalski.

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The first of the Three Bears.

“I’ve had plenty of races that have turned out well, today just wasn’t one of them, so you’ve got to take the good with the bad!”

As the defending champ, Blair knows how Tupalski would have been feeling today. “It’s a real psychological game – when you’re on your own out the front, like Mark was, you just keep your head down and ride. But when you’re chasing, and especially in a situation like today where other riders aren’t going to work for you, you’ve just got to back yourself that you can ride as hard as Mark is. Really, the situation today was a reversal of last year where I had the break; I’ve had plenty of races that have turned out well, today just wasn’t one of them, so you’ve got to take the good with the bad!”

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Us: “Everyone rode it before you guys!” Them: “Fu#k off!”

“Then I just hung on for dear life, as she kept hitting me.”

In the women’s field, Jenny Blair was given a real run for her money by Rebecca Locke. “I could see Jen just in front, and then I managed to ride a couple of the steep pinches where she lost traction, and that let me come across to her a little bit. Then I just hung on for dear life, as she kept hitting me,” said Locke. “I think it’ll be a really telling sign to see how we each back up from day to day.”

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There’s still a bit of water about from the epic rain storms of the last months. Andy Blair disrupts the mosquitos.
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Woo!

For Jenny Blair, the course today didn’t play to her strengths. “Today was too soft!,” she said. The whopping climbs of Stage 2 might be more to her liking, as the show rolls inland to the Hunter Valley tomorrow. Stage 2 was a savage affair last year – a tough climb and white knuckled descents, with eyes full of mud. Hopefully the rain stays away, as it’s a tough enough day on the bike without the extra challenge of a downpour.

Tune in tomorrow for more Port to Port MTB!

For full results head here, and to learn more about Port to Port, jump over here.

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Left to right: James Bond, Peter Hatton, Mark Tupalski, Andy Blair, Tony ‘Golden Tonsils’ Tucknott.

Port to Port 2015 Day One 24 Port to Port 2015 Day One 45

Course Preview of the First XC World Cup in Nové Město na Moravě

Join Specialized Racing’s Jaroslav Kulhavy as he takes us around the Nové Město na Moravě World Cup cross-country course. 

Opening the cross-country World Cup season is the Nové Město na Moravě course. A firm favourite with fans and riders alike, this round is often voted the best XCO event of the World Cup.

The 4.1km course weaves through dense forest – featuring sharp and technical sprints, twisty singletrack, tricky rock sections and a power-draining climb.

Take a look at the track in the video above to find out what makes this course and venue so special for the MTB elite. 

Fastest Trail Dog We’ve Ever Seen!

Nicolas “Têtard” Ortiz is still a fast french DH racer.

After a long career as a racer (2002 French Cup overall winner, several World Cup top 30), he won’t stop riding.

Everyday, he trains his DH, enduro and MX skills with his dog “Heaven” who goes as fast as him. The collusion of theses two massive racers is incredible! Watch them riding their DH trails near Apt in south of France. More informations, in French, here: tchouktv.com/

N1NO – the Hunt for Glory – Chapter 2 – On the Go

Being on a professional MTB team, there is a lot of travelling involved- before and during race time. Nino Schurter and SCOTT-Odlo MTB Racing spent a decent amount of time in South Africa and California preparing for the upcoming World Cup season, which starts this coming weekend in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic..

South Africa is where the team heads every year to start their season. Unlike recent years, Nino Schurter kicked-off the pre-olympic race season at the Bonelli US CUP and the Sea Otter Classic in California. “At Sea Otter, my team mate Jenny Rissveds and I competed in four races, and it resulted in 4 podiums. It was a very cool experience to race in California and definitely felt good to bike where MTB was born,” Nino says.

Chapter 2 gives an inside view into the team`s life and all the preparation professional racing requires. “Everything we do in 2015 has just one goal: to be the most fit possible for the Olympic Race in Rio in 2016.”

Gold for Blair and Johnston at the Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Blue Derby

ACT riders Brendan Johnston and Jenny Blair claimed maiden Australian titles today, winning gold at the 2015 Cross Country Marathon (XCM) Championships in Derby, Tasmania, presented by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA).

The weekend saw two days of exciting mountain bike racing, with age-group riders competing on the Saturday and Elite riders battling for gold on the Sunday, resulting in hundreds of riders and spectators descending on the picturesque riverside town of DerbyMark Tupalski (ACT) and Brendan Johsnton (ACT) led the Elite Men’s race after lap one, with 2014 champion Andy Blair (ACT) sitting in third.

nFSvc
Johnston leads Tupalski.
EliteMenWinnerBrendanJohnstonCrossesTheLine_CreditHeathHolden
Elite Men Winner Brendan Johnston crosses the line.

In what may mark a handover to the next generation of marathon riders, young guns Tupalski and Johnston sat neck and neck for the first two laps.

Descending hard on the final lap, Johnston built an insurmountable lead and rode away with the win.

“I wasn’t overly confident coming in to today,” said Johnston. “I’ve been on it for awhile, since the beginning of the National Series, so I’m getting towards the end of my peak I think and I was worried I might be over the hill but I was able to pull this one out so I’m really happy.

Tupalski and Blair finished in second and third respectively. 

Mens podium. Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships.
Mens podium. Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships.

In the Elite Women’s race, Jenny Blair (ACT) led the pack from the get go, securing herself a two minute lead by the second lap, which she extended to almost 10 minutes on her way to the title. 

“I took advantage of the climb at the start and got away,” Blair explained.  “The girls got back to me a bit but I knew that I’d been training with a change of pace recently so if I could just keep changing the pace I’d wear them out and keep going on my own and that’s exactly what happened.” Irish-born Blair spoke highly of the Blue Derby trails and said she was happy to now have jerseys from both Australia and Ireland.

Elite womens winner Jenny Blair and elite mens winner Brendan Johnston at the podium_Credit_Heath_Holden
Elite women winner Jenny Blair and elite mens winner Brendan Johnston at the podium.

“It is hard racing on them [the Blue Derby Trails] but for the everyday person who wants to come here for the weekend, it’s just amazing.  “The trails are just so manicured – you can really rail it or you can just enjoy it.”

Eliza Kwan (ACT) and Rebecca Locke (VIC) rounded out the podium in second and third. 

Elite women winner, Jenny Blair finishes the Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships at Derby on Sunday.
Elite women winner, Jenny Blair finishes the Australian 2015 MTB XC Marathon Championships at Derby on Sunday.
Elite women second place getter, Eliza Kwan is congratulated by third place getter Rebecca Locke.
Elite women second place getter, Eliza Kwan is congratulated by third place getter Rebecca Locke.

In Saturday’s action, local favourite Alex Lack (TAS) dealt well with the pressure of riding at home, taking out the Junior Men’s Marathon title, while Mikayla Wolfe (VIC) won the Under 17 Women’s title.  Spectators were treated to a variety of entertainment over the weekend, including local food stalls and live music.

This is the first time a National race has been held on the Blue Derby trails, with the former mining town enjoying a resurgence, forming a new identity around an ever-expanding mountain bike trail network.

This weekend’s Championship race was also Round 7 of the World Mountain Bike Marathon Series, presented by the UCI, and is a key qualifying criteria for riders to be named on the Australian team for the annual UCI Marathon World Championships.

The Dance with the Devil – XCM National Championships was delivered by a joint partnership between MTBA, Dorset Council and Launceston Mountain Bike Club and MTBA will be returning to Derby next year for the 2016 XCM National Championships. 

Full results can be found at onlineresults.com.au.

Get more info on Derby’s amazing new mountain bike trails here – Flow Nation, Derby, Tasmania.

Fresh Product: Specialized Stumpjumper FSR 6Fattie, a 27.5+ Trail Bike

6Fattie is here. Specialized embrace the cush new era of semi-fat trail bikes with a dedicated Stumpjumper rolling on 6Fattie (27.5+) wheels. Hold on tight, they look like fun!

Click here for our final review of the Stumpjumper FSR 6fattie Comp.

The Stumpjumer 6Fattie rolls on 650b tyres that boast a whopping 3″ width. While not as obese as a full-blow Fat Bike, the tyres/wheels certainly look big – almost comical. Fitting such big rubber definitely requires some pretty careful frame construction, let alone the challenge of making it all still ride well and retaining the fun, lively ride that most mountain bikers demand.

At the recent 2016 Specialized launch in Rotorua, we were lucky to get a very advanced preview of these new bikes. Unfortunately it was still too early in the piece for these bike to be ridden. Here is what we saw. A proper test ride is coming soon! Specialized claims that the 6Fattie tyres have a contact patch that’s 69% bigger and that tyre volumes are 56% larger (though we’re not sure what these comparisons are being made to). Either way, there should be shedloads of grip.

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With such a massive tyre, the traction will be off the charts!
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3″ tyres. We weighed one at 970g, which is not that much more than say a 2.3″ trail tyre. For instance, a Specialized Butcher in a 650 x 2.3 weighs 755g.
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An aluminium rear end with no seat stay bridge helps the rear end remain short enough for good on-trail handling.
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Clearance is tight between the chain and rear tyre, so the adoption of the wider spaced 148 Boost hub standard helps line things up nicely.

Our take on 27.5+

Without doubt these new bikes are going to be fun to ride, and that’s the main goal, right? We’ve not yet ridden one, but seeing these bikes in the flesh gives us confidence that they will work, Specialized have obviously spent some serious development time on these.

But at the same time, we can’t help but expect that 27.5+ (or 6Fattie) will attract some ardent critics, and we can see 27.5+ is going to divide opinion much like emergence of the 29″ wheel once did.

And like 29ers, these 27.5+ bikes will certainly have some benefits on the trail, the control and traction on hand will be on another level, but they most certainly will not be ideal on every trail type out there.

From our perspective, the arrival of 27.5+ is bitter-sweet. We love options, we love innovation, we love bikes that have more control and grip. But on the other hand, it finally felt like the mountain bike community had gotten over the 26 vs 27.5 vs 29 debate – we’d accepted two wheel sizes on the whole. 27.5+ is a step away from this consolidation, and we can’t help but think it’ll confuse much of the mountain biking public who just want to go ride, and don’t necessarily want/need/have an opinion on the ‘best’ wheel size.

Our sport is already very confusing – imagine being a punter looking to buy their first serious mountain bike; trying to get your head around the benefits of different wheel sizes, suspension travel amounts, or decipher the different categories -and 27.5+ definitely adds another elements of complexity.

But, we need to ride one of these things before we go getting ahead of ourselves. Luckily, a 6Fattie bike is winging its way to Flow HQ at the moment. Are we afraid that we’ll love it?

6Fattie Stumjumpers will be available from July/August, at price points from $4499 for the alloy base model, up to $11999 for the S-Works version. Yikes!

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Local fellas were just as perplexed about the tyres as we were!

Fresh Product: Specialized Rhyme, a Women’s Specific 150mm Trail Bike

The expanding lineup of women’s specific bikes at Specialized is testament to growth in demand, but there are few brands out there that offer women’s bikes and product on such a complete level as the crew from California.

For 2016 we will see an entirely new women’s trail bike, with 150mm of generous travel on 650b wheels – the Specialized Rhyme, which will come in both regular and 6Fattie (3-inch tyres) versions.

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While Specialized have been a leader in women’s bikes for a long time, a longer-travel bike was noticeably absent from the range. More aggressive riders were served well by the Rumor Evo (which we tested here) but if you wanted a little more travel, or didn’t want a 29er, you were out of luck. The Rhyme solves both of those issues, with a 650B wheel and 150mm travel.

Front to back – from the size specific components to the Women’s specific suspension tuned rear shock, the Rhyme is dialled.

Highlights of the new Rhyme:

 – 150mm travel front and back.

 – 650b wheels.

 – SWAT Door technology on carbon models, internal storage inside the downtube.

 – Exclusive Women’s Rx Trail Tune FOX rear shock. For lighter riding styles, the rear shock will use its full travel more often.

 – Narrower handlebars than men’s models.

 – Size specific components, smaller size Rhymes will use shorter crank arms, stem length, and travel in the adjustable seatposts. 

 – Women’s specific Specialized Myth saddle.

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SWAT Door storage space under the bottle cage, and a women’s specific rear shock tune.

For more details on the frame construction head over to our in-depth review of the 2016 Stumpjumper from Rotorua, up on Flow now.

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Leave the backpack at home, put what you need in here.
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The stunning Rhyme FSR Expert Carbon 650b

Stay tuned for more, as we plan a proper test on one of these, very soon! The Rhyme will be available July/August, in three spec levels with regular and 6Fattie version in each. At each equivalent spec level, the 6Fattie variant will set you back an extra $500.

  • Rhyme Comp 650 / 6Fattie: $3999 / $4499
  • Rhyme Comp Carbon 650 / 6Fattie : $5499 / $5999
  • Rhyme Expert Carbon 650 / 6Fattie: $7999 / $8499

 

 

 

How Will You Feel Riding a 27.5+ Bike?

Here’s the new Charge Cooker 27+ being put through its
paces by Charge ambassador and all round action man Rob Jarman.

Follow Rob
as he shows us what a well ridden bike can do, taking on everything from
forests to farmyards. Beware, at times it gets pretty hairy.

The new Charge Cooker 27+. Available from September 2015.

Thanks go to;
Film + Edit – Alex Rankin
Co Directed – Rob Jarman/Alex Rankin
Music – Wolf – Shy FX
Bike – Ted James Design Handbuilt Titanium Cooker Midi

Cairns to host 2015 Enduro National Mountain Bike Championships

Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) is excited to announce that Cairns, Queensland, will host the inaugural 2015 Enduro National Mountain Bike Championships from 17-18 October.

The two-day race will be a standalone event separate to the 2015 Enduro Series and will be run on the Smithfield Mountain Bike Trails, under the guidance and hosting of the Cairns Mountain Bike Club, with the event hub located at the iconic palm fringed beach location of Palm Cove.

Flow Mountain Bike’s guide to Cairns and nearby region.

This is the first time a National Championships race will be held for the Enduro discipline in Australia, and the event will see riders return to the amazing venue that hosted a round of the 2014 UCI World Cup. 

MTBA President Russ Baker welcomed the choice of Cairns to host the country’s first Enduro National Championships.    “October will be a big month for Queensland and for Australian mountain biking, with several national events in that period,” he said.    “Cairns, with its world-level history and future, is a fantastic location for our first National Enduro Championships and I thank all those involved in setting up and supporting this prestigious event in the newest discipline of our sport.”

CEO of MTBA Shane Coppin echoed this sentiment and said he is excited to see Enduro racing gain more recognition in Australia.  “Gravity Enduro is one of the most talked about race activities on the mountain bike scene,” he said.  “The discipline has seen significant growth in recent years, combining the thrills and excitement of downhill, with the fitness elements of cross country racing. “We are very pleased to be working with Cairns Regional Council, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and Cairns MTB Club on this event, and I personally look forward to watching the growth of this exciting and popular discipline”.

The event is expected to attract a large number of domestic riders and their families, injecting sports tourism and spending into the area.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning also welcomed the announcement and the impending descent of riders on the city. “We’re very much looking forward to hosting the competitors and support crews of this international-level event here in Cairns,” Cr Manning said. “The sport of mountain biking is growing here in Cairns and our spectacular natural rainforest terrain provides an ideal backdrop. “I congratulate and thank Mountain Bike Australia and the Cairns MTB Club for bringing this event to Cairns.”

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Alex de Waal welcomed the addition of the 2015 Enduro National Mountain Bike Championships to Tropical North Queensland’s growing list of must-do mountain biking events. “Through our Ride Cairns brand we are building Tropical North Queensland’s profile as a mountain biking destination for recreational riders with more than 550km of trails throughout the region,” he said. “A National Championship of this calibre will further draw attention to the excellent mountain biking in Tropical North Queensland and support TTNQ’s events strategy to further diversify our calendar of sporting, cultural and lifestyle events for the region.”

Australia boasts the reigning Enduro World Champion and World Series Champion, Jared Graves of Toowoomba Queensland, and he will definitely be one to watch this October.

The 2015 Enduro National Mountain Bike Championships will be UCI Cat. 3 listed and modelled on European events like the Super Gravity Enduro in Finale Ligure, Italy.

Further information on the event, including schedules and entry information, will be available in the coming months via enduronats.com.au

The Cross Country Boys Who Are a Class Apart

Will 2015 see another World Cup duel between perennial favourites Julian Absalon and Nino Schurter?

It was fitting that the two men that have dominated the men’s cross-country circuit in the last decade, France’s Julien Absalon and Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, fought out an epic 2014 edition of the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup.

Absalon and Schurter went into the seventh and round of last season, at Méribel, locked on three race wins each following a World Cup series dominated by the pair. Schurter finished the French race in first but behind him in second was Absalon, and with that finish the Frenchman secured the overall World Cup title for a sixth time.

There is no doubt that these two will continue to be right in front of the competition for the 2015 edition of World Cup. Younger by six years, Nino Schurter remains the hot favourite for the overall but given last season’s form you can’t rule out the 34-year-old Absalon springing more surprises.

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Will Kulhavy have a better year than 2014?
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Nino missed Cairns World Cup to attend a few road races, we hope we’ll see him all year this time.
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Going for his 30th World Cup win, Absalon is dominant.
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Dan’s 2014 season wasn’t as standout as 2013 with a win in Germany, but still finished high up in the overall series with a consistent performance.
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Man machine, Julien Absalon.

The rest of the field has very much been left in the shadow of these two greats in recent years with no one really emerging as a consistent challenger. Australia’s Daniel McConnell, a winner in Albstadt in 2013 and a man who has finished second and third in the overall in 2013 and 2014 respectively, could be the one to break the Absalon-Schurter hegemony, while other names worth looking out for with an eye to a World Cup win are Germany’s Manuel Fumicand his Cannondale team-mate Marco Fontana.

Check the video above for a quick recap of the 2014 season as a teaser for this year’s World Cup.

Tune in on May 24 to watch live coverage of the women’s XCO race from Nové Město na Moravě. Watch the UCI World Cup LIVE on Red Bull TV – available online and on mobile via Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Foggy Ribbons

Being cooped inside for a two week soaking makes the mind bend. Rain and cold start to look appealing. Fog looks “picturesque”, mossy rocks become booters, mud looks like loam and leeches…..well they just multiply.

Frothers Dan Irwin (RideAus) and Bryce Blackmore braved the Jurassic landscape for a brake squealing adventure. Hopefully bringing some inspiration to next time skip the rain day beer and let it slide in the mud.

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THAT FLIPPIN’ FIVE – ORANGE DIRT WORLD TEAM

Orange Dirt World Team – That Flippin’ Five a
mountainbiking video by CaldwellVisuals

“The Orange Five just begs to be ridden. Check out Phil Atwill give her a good rippin’ down in the Surrey Hills as he obliterates corners, hucks everything in sight and shreds the early summer dust.

Loam tracks, dirt jumps, the south has it all (bar mountains), and Phil gladly nails the 5 inch travel bike through everything at mach 10 unscathed. He then decided to top it off by going upside down.. that flippin’ five, eh!

The first round of the EWS is rolling around in a few weeks time over in Ireland, Phil is just giving the competitors a taste of how he’s going to approach the stages. Full throttle and sideways.”

 

Chaos Can’t Be Beautiful

Behind the bars, there are a lot of things we miss. We submit to the trail ahead and the best kind of tunnel vision as everything outside this rugged autobahn becomes irrelevant. But what if we are missing something? There must be more to the turbulent charge of a bicycle than just flying earth and weightlessness. Where rider and bike play supporting roles in a bigger story of cause and effect.

Take a moment to witness beauty beyond the chaos.

rockshox.com

Watch Out For These Cross Country Ladies in 2015

There’s strength in depth in 2015’s women’s XCO field, but will one name dominate like last year?

The 2014 Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup saw the emergence of one young woman who could be set to dominate the sport for years to come. Switzerland’s Jolanda Neff won three rounds of the seven-race series to take the overall title and become the youngest winner of the World Cup, aged just 21.

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Jolanda Neff

Neff is the overwhelming favourite going into 2015, but there’s plenty of talent bubbling underneath to challenge the Swiss rider. France’s Pauline Ferrand-Prévot won consecutive rounds last year in Nové Město na Moravě and Albstadt, but a decision not to travel to the North American races ultimately cost her the chance to challenge for the overall.

Ferrand-Prévot’s Rabobank-Liv teammate Marianne Vos is another name to look out for in 2015. Vos is the standout female cyclist of the last decade, riding and winning across multi-disciplines. She’ll be racing in the World Cup this season in preparation for an assault on winning Cross-Country gold in Rio in 2016. Vos’s presence strengthens an already-strong women’s field, where the likes of Tanja Žakelj, the 2013 World Cup Champion, and current World Champion Catharine Pendrel will be hoping their experience will lead to more World Cup wins.

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Bec Henderson
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Bec Henderson
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Jolanda Neff
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Julie Bresset
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Emily Batty

Check the video above for a quick recap of the 2014 season as a teaser for this year’s World Cup.

Tune in on May 24 to watch live coverage of the women’s XCO race from Nové Město na Moravě. Watch the UCI World Cup LIVE on Red Bull TV – available online and on mobile via Android, iOS and Windows Phone.

Crazy Germans Riding a Fixed Rope Climbing Route

VIA FERRATA is a short film about the first descent of a fixed-rope climbing-route on a Mountainbike.

Christoph Thoresen filmed My Bike Ride in the amazing Brenta Dolomites with a drone. Bocchette Alte was not ridden.

At Via Ferrata Benini, Vidi and Sentiero Orsi I rode >90% of all the downhill-sections. It was one of the best rides I ever had, especially the run down into the valley when the Via Ferrata was done and the filming was finished.

But I honestly don’t want to do this ride again. It’s stupidly dangerous, feels triple as exposed as it looks and there is a lot more uphill-climbing and ladders involved than the video shows. You think about doing this tour as well? I really recommend to walk these fantastic route without a bicycle. And only if you then see a trail too…