The UCI announce the 2016 World Cup and World Champs calendar, diaries out, it’s time to book flights to Cairns!
9-10 Apr UCI MTB WORLD CUP – DHI Lourdes FRA
23-24 Apr UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Cairns AUS
21-22 May UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO Albstadt GER
28-29 May UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO La Bresse FRA
4-5 Jun UCI MTB WORLD CUP – DHI Fort William GBR
11-12 Jun UCI MTB WORLD CUP – DHI Leogang AUT
25-26 Jun UCI MTB MARATHON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – XCM Laissac FRA
28 Jun-3 Jul UCI MTB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – XCO/XCE Nove Mesto na Morave CZE
9-10 Jul UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Lenzerheide SUI
6-7 Aug UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Mont-Sainte-Anne CAN
20-21 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro BRA
3-4 Sep UCI MTB WORLD CUP – XCO – DHI Vallnord
6-11 Sep UCI MTB WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – DHI/4X Val Di Sole ITA
Welcome to the 2015 Giant Australia downhill team.
On the team’s roster this year is a combination of youth and experience – featuring Ben Cory, Tim Eaton, Thomas Crimmins and Josh Button. The team will be riding the Glory 27.5 on the roughest courses as well as the all-new Reign Advanced 27.5 0 for enduro races.
They’ll be wearing the latest Fox/Giant co-lab range thanks to Fox Head Australia and are supported by SRAM components and RockShox suspension.
Look out for members of the team at an enduro or downhill race near you!
Pivot have taken their 29er dually and given it a touch of new-school trail radness, and it looks pretty damn fine. It boasts a whole new frame, and could unite big wheel fans and fun-loving trail shredders.
The greatest trail bikes do everything well, no matter what or where you ride, and Pivot’s new Mach 429 Trail raises the bar for amazing bikes even higher. Our goal when designing the Mach 429 Trail was to create a new category of trail bike – one that takes advantage of the best features of 29 and yet maintains the performance characteristics that make you forget about wheel size and, instead, translate to the “best-ride-ever,” every time you ride. – Pivot.
The 429 Trail uses a 116mm travel DW-Link suspension design, and is aimed to accompany a 130mm fork. A whole new mid-travel linkage design has been developed for this bike.
The 429 Trail marks the introduction of Pivot’s new mid-travel trail linkage design, specifically for trail bikes. With major influences from the clevis design of the Phoenix DH Carbon and Mach 6 Carbon, the 429 Trail utilises an entirely new upper linkage to provide the same ultra-precise control and bottomless feel of our longer travel dw-link™ designs in a more compact, lighter package for trail applications. – Pivot
We’re over the moon to see an updated cable routing system. The external rear brake and gear cables now travel down the underside of the downtube for cost saving and ease of access, not past the rear shock as seen on current Pivots (tricky to prevent nasty cable rub). A new front derailleur mounting system that if removed is hardly visible at all, very tidy!
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The new wider Boost hubs front and back gave the designers to bring the rear end length to a tight 440mm, retain good tyre clearance, and add stiffness to the 29″ wheels.
Additionally, we’ve designed this full carbon frame with value in mind – building on our years of composite layup and construction experience – we’ve maintained the highest levels of stiffness and strength to weight, while making focused changes to keep the costs down and the technical advantages high, such as strategic, easy-to-service external routing combined with key features of the Pivot Cable Port System – including ports for use with an internal dropper post and clean cable/housing routing through the chainstays. – Pivot
The xc race focussed Pivot 429 SL remains (100mm travel rear, 100/120 fork) as their leanest and sharpest dually, but the 429 Trail takes a small but considered step in the direction of the trail rider that appreciates the speed and confidence of a 29″ wheel, but still likes to chuck it about all in the name of a good time.
Frame prices will start at around $3599, and complete bikes from $5500.
We’ll be on the case to score a test ride as soon as possible, sit tight.
Visit www.jetblackproducts.com for how you can get your hands on one.
One of the benefits of living in Australia, besides riding to school in the pouch of a kangaroo, is that each year we get to see the new range from Scott and Avanti bikes a little ahead of the rest of the world. On a sunny Melbourne winter’s day (an anomaly) we took a look at much of the 2016 lineup from Scott and Avanti, and here are our highlights.
Please note, many of these bikes are super-early samples, so parts spec isn’t always 100% correct and they’ve been assembled hastily, so things might be a little screwy. If in doubt, consult your bike shop, and if pain persists, please see a doctor.
On the whole, Scott’s super adaptable, long-travel trail bike is largely unchanged for 2016. It continues to employ Scott’s super effective (if slightly tangled-looking) Twin Loc on-the-fly suspension control, which is at the heart of this bike’s do-it-all abilities.
There are, however, two extremely notable additions to the Genius platform; the Genius Plus (27.5+ wheels), and a new Contessa Genius (women’s specific).
The Genius Plus is, for want of a better word, a ‘sick’ looking piece of kit. With its 2.8” Schwalbe tyres on 40mm rims and stoutly proportioned FOX fork, it looks pumped up to laugh at all the trail abuse you can dish out. Only the Genius 720 Plus ($4499.95) was on hand at this showing, but the higher specced 710 ($5999.95) will also be coming to Australia.
The frame uses the same basic architecture as the rest of the Genius line, but the rear hub spacing is 148mm wide (the new Boost standard) to accommodate the huge rubber. Compared to the Genius 29, the chain stays are 3mm shorter, and the head angle is half a degree slacker, at 67.5 degrees. Travel is 130mm out back and 140mm up front, though with the Twin Loc system you can shorten the rear travel to 90mm with the press of a button, or lock it out entirely.
Theoretically, you could run a set of standard 29” wheels in this bike, if you wanted to have lightweight set of hoops as well for cross-country use. It’s an interesting idea, but not one that we’d bother pursuing.
What’s really intriguing is how small the weight penalty is for all this extra traction. The tyres are sub 900g, which is only a smidgen heavier than a 27.5” trail tyre in 2.35”, yet the volume difference is tremendous. The rims themselves have a small weight penalty too, when compared to a narrower rim, but having had the pleasure of running 40mm rims already for the past six months (we’ve been using the Ibis 741 rims non-stop – read our review here) we know the extra weight is a small price to pay for the extra support.
All up, the complete Genius 720 Plus weighs in at 13.8kg, and the higher specced Genius 710 Plus is only 13.2kg (lighter once you go tubeless). That’s pretty respectable.
We have to say, we’ve really changed our thinking about this new wheel/tyre size. When we first heard of it, we wanted to scream, but now that we’re learning more, all we can think about is riding faster and faster and faster with more control.
The women’s trail bike market in Australia has been neglected for a long time, but Scott are doing their bit to rectify things with two models of the Contessa Genius coming to Australia in 2016.
To be fair, the Contessa Genius is a far cry from the all-out women’s specific efforts we’ve seen from the likes of Specialized recently. Rather than being an entirely new bike, differences between the Contessa and the regular Genius are limited to component choices (shorter stem, narrower bar, different grips and saddle) and aesthetics.
What is cool about the Contessa Genius is that has the same 150mm-travel as the regular Genius – it doesn’t skimp on travel, because plenty of women like to shred too.
[divider]Scale and Spark[/divider]
Scott’s World Champ and World Cup winning rocketships don’t receive any overhauls this year, but they do gain a grippier counterpart, with a new 27.5+ Scale Plus joining the ranks. Unfortunately the Scale Plus wasn’t on display, but the catalogue tells us it’s a more trail-oriented bike with a 120mm fork, shorter stem and generally radical attitude. It’s also keenly priced, at $2299.
When Scott launched the Voltage a few years ago, it was met with mixed reviews. On the plus side, it was versatile bike that could be adapted for everything from all-mountain, to slopestyle to downhill use. Unfortunately it was pretty free and loose in the rear end and its chameleon-esque nature left people unsure of what to actually do with it.
For 2016 the Voltage makes a return to Oz. There are a few similarities with the Voltage of yesteryear; you can still adjust the travel (170-190mm) and the bike is suitable for either single-crown or double-crown forks. Like the Gambler, it’s also designed for either 27.5″ or 26″ wheels, the smaller wheels giving you the option of dropping the chain stay length to a sneeze-and-you’ll-wheelie 410mm.
There are two Voltage models coming to Australia. The 710, pictured here, is $5499 and weighs in 16.7kg with a FOX 36 RC1 with 180mm travel up front. For $3599 you can pick up the 720, which has a cheaper FOX/Marzocchi suspension package.
Hailing from across the lake in NZ, Avanti have been producing some outstanding, no-nonsense workhorse bikes lately. We recently reviewed Torrent Carbon, and earlier in the piece we tested their Ridgeline cross-country 29er duallie. For 2016 Avanti have added a whole new model to their dual suspension range, and made a well-considered change in the Torrent line-up.
[divider]Competitor Full Suspension[/divider]
The new Competitor S (is it just us, or has Avanti had a Competitor since Adam was a boy?) is a 120mm-travel, 27.5″ wheeled platform that represents extremely good value. With two models, priced at $1999 and $2499, it’s a simple range to get your head around, which is ideal given it’s aimed at the consumer buying their first serious mountain bike.
Both Competitors share many of the construction elements found on the bomb-proof Torrent frame, but get a quick-release rear end to keep costs down. It’s small costs savings like that which have allowed Avanti to put more money into the areas which are more likely to be appreciated by a newer rider, things like a reliable drivetrain, good brakes and decent, tough wheels.
$2500 will get you the Competitor S7.2 with Shimano XT/Deore 2×10 drivetrain and RockShox throughout, while the cheaper S7.1 gets X-Fusion suspension and full Deore with down-specced brakes. Either way, these are a really dialled looking pair of bikes and we’re going to aim to review one in the coming months.
We really like the look of this one. The S7.2 is the premium alloy offering in the Torrent line, and it’s got the kind of no-stuffing-about component spec that we like. It’s good to see a 1×11 XT drivetrain, along with SLX brakes, and a Pike is a unbeatable choice up front. The new Kenda Nevegal X tyres look pretty aggro too!
Fast food, fast cars, fast tracked, fast bikes…. Everything and everybody nowadays has to be fast. I still wonder why in our society we always apologise for our lack of speed?
I don’t consider myself a lazy man but I like to take my time. When I am in a rush I usually make a lot of mistakes, in life and on my bike…
To escape the pressures of modern life I like to take my bike to the mountains, alone or with friends, and enjoy time without keeping any record, without a watch, back to basic needs, and simple pleasures…
My playground for my adventures is the Himalaya, east Nepal: Solukhumbu to be more precise. An ancient land still untouched by mass tourism and definitely the best place that I’ve ridden. When you ride the trails you can’t help thinking that the people who built them thought that mountain bikers would come here one day, they are so much fun to ride.
The ultimate place on this trip is Pikey peak, 4050 meters high. Here you can enjoy the view of 8 summits over 8000m high : Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest), Makalu, Kanchenjunga, Annapurna, Lhotse…. they are all here and just for you.
Standing there in front of these giants, admiring the sunrise gives you a priceless feeling of immensity, a simple pleasure that cannot be measured by time.
To reach this summit takes 3 days, pedalling 3 days for a downhill!! I’ve already heard many riders used to lifts protesting about the practice of this kind of torture. Quantity and quality are two very different and separate things.
On this journey we pass through local villages where you can see that the use and value of time is very different than the one people experience in our modern societies.
The rhythm of the day is still dictated by the sun, by the season, and a watch is a very small insignificant object. Here time is flexible.
These trips to the mountains really make me realise we need to slow down.
Western Australia’s Cape to Cape MTB stage race is one of the country’s premiere mountain bike events, and its standout stage has always been a singletrack fiesta in the Margaret River Pines. Unfortunately, as is often the case with trails in pines forests, the area is due for logging soon and this inevitably will have an impact on the trails and Cape to Cape too.
Read on for a chat with Jason Dover, race director of Cape to Cape MTB, to learn more about what the likely impacts will be and how he’s planning on ensuring riders don’t go hungry for great trails this year.
Q: We keep hearing that The Pines are due to be logged in Margaret River. What is the latest there?
A: The logging of The Pines is imminent. Our expectation is that The Pines will be logged some time before the 2015 Cape to Cape starts so we are making plans with that in mind. Whilst we are really attached to The Pines as they were born out of our event there is more to Margaret River than The Pines and the loggining of this area will see the redevelopment of a heap of new and old trails in the region.
Q: So does that meant all of the trails in The Pines will be gone if logging goes ahead?
A: No way. About half the trails from The Pines will be gone but the section of trails through an area called Compartment 10 will not be logged. This area includes a mix of the natural forest and includes trails such as Big Pine, Rock and Root, Hoodies and Managers. We even think Long Macchiato may be left as well. A trails development plan is being worked on by a group down there headed up by David Willcox. This includes the full redevelopment of the Compartment 10 area along with Wharncliffe Mill, the River Trails, South Carters and also the trails east of the highway out to Ten Mile Brook Dam.
Q: Can you fill us in on what is being planned for Cape to Cape MTB 2015 and the Margaret River Special Stage?
A: It is the “special stage” so we are going all out to make sure this stage is really special. Over the years of building the Cape to Cape we have found and used just about every bit of trail around Margaret River. So the design of a new course which does not feature all the trails in The Pines but still maximises the riding experience, gets the distance we need for the overall stage and still has that “special” feeling to the other stages is our challenge. I am really excited about our draft course at this stage. It uses a heap of the old trails that have been featured in past Cape to Cape Margaret River stages but a lot of people new to the area may never have ridden. Our Event Manager Rex Dubois reviewed it the other day and said, “Wow. This is like a Cape to Cape Greatest Hits album!” So don’t fear there is still going to be a heap of sweet single track and we are also going back to some of the most picturesque trails in the whole region.
Q: So how much can you reveal of the new alignment for Stage 3 this year?
A: We are still in the planning and approvals stage so we cant reveal the exact details. The draft course has been done up at our end and will be presented to all of the authorities and stakeholders in the coming month. We hope that everything gets the green light but we know from past experiences this is unlikely. But I can give an overview of what we are asking for.
The plan is to still have the same start roll out through Margaret River to Carters Road. And the finish out to Colonial Brewery would also remain the same. In between we have put together an alignment that includes some of the best trails around Margaret River like Wharncliffe Mill, Riverglen Loop, the River Run and the trails out of town to Ten Mile Brook Dam including a cool river crossing. We think it will be a really cool showcase of some of the best trails we have used in past Cape to Cape events and also a stepping stone toward the future trail development that is planned for the area. If all goes to plan the development of trails around all of these areas for the event and the future will be very exciting.
That is really the best thing about the alignment we are proposing. Not only is it a conduit course for the Cape to Cape this year but it is also a link between the overall planning for the area to transition from the old Pines trails into a new era of trails in Margaret River. The areas of Compartment 10, Wharncliffe Mill, the River Trails and Ten Mile Brook Dam are all part of the first stages of this master plan for the area. If we get the ok to add a little bit of South Carters in as well it would be the cream on the cake and more than make up for the logging of The Pines and make the stage truly special.
Q: Finally, how will the logging effect the Sundown Shootout? The past few years the Shootout has used The End and Woop Woop right?
A: This will perhaps see the greatest impact as both The End and Woop Woop are definitely going once the logging happens as they both sit outside of Compartment 10. As with the overall event planning we have looked at alternatives for the Sundown Shootout. One involves Big Pine from top to bottom but we feel this perhaps lack the finish line atmosphere we had with Woop Woop. The other alternative involves a combination of Rock and Root and possibly Managers which would be a really cool test for the elite riders as these are two of the most technical trails in The Pines / Compartment 10 area. For us it is a great chance to change it up so we will go and ride both alignments and work out what will be best but you really cant go wrong with either option.
The 2015 Leogang World Cup will go down in history. We’ve got all the highlights in one tasty stew.
Fresh from the editing suite we bring you highlights from one of, if not the most incredible races of all time, featuring Aaron Gwin’s logic defying race winning run in all it’s glory, the moment Manon Carpenter crossed the tape and got disqualified, together with the many other incredible moments from yesterday’s Leogang World Cup final.
Luca Shaw spent his high school’s official graduation day far from the cap-and-gown festivities, six time zones ahead of his graduating class. While his classmates were waking up and preparing for their last day as high school seniors, Luca was in Leogang, Austria, lending a hand to help set up his SRAM’s European race truck, and getting ready for the third UCI Downhill World Cup of 2015.
To be honest, the younger of two Shaw brothers, wasn’t 100-percent certain on that exact graduation date. But since he’d already completed his high school education a couple of weeks prior, and then collected a top-10 finish at DH World Cup number two at Fort William, Scotland, he could be forgiven for being focused on podium ceremonies more than the graduation kind.
Luca’s freshman year in the pros has been pretty solid so far. Finishing just outside of the top 10 at the opening World Cup round in Lourdes, France, (11th) and then ending up 10th in round two are good signs of things to come. He looks at his performances in these races with the quiet confidence of someone with a solid plan — and the ability to keep moving up through the ranks.
“I’m not so surprised that I was actually able to get a top 10,” explains the former Junior World Cup race winner. “It’s more just…I’m pleased with how quickly I’m progressing. To get a top 10 in only my second pro race kind of gives me the confidence for the rest of the year to know I can do it.
“It’s exciting and a little bit surreal — but it’s sort of set in now. Now, I feel like I am capable of doing more than just getting top 10.”
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Luca acknowledges that for this first year in the pros, he’s not saddled with the same kind of pressure he had in his last year as a junior. Instead of concentrating purely on results, he can focus on further developing his craft. And despite the desire to make it to the podium, riding well and finding ways to improve are more important than the finishing order on results sheets.
En route to that result at Fort William, Luca turned in what could easily be called the most consistent top-to-bottom race run of any competitor. He clocked the 12th highest speed, was 9th after the first split, 9th after the second split and finished 10th. And while that last number is the only one you can take to the bank, Luca walked away with plenty of notes for the next time.
“I felt kind of slow at the top, and I felt like I maybe left a little bit of time up there. I rode the woods section really cautiously, and I thought I might’ve lost some time there.
“It wasn’t one of those runs that I don’t think I could ever do again. It was a pretty standard race run that I think I can improve on. That was big for me — it wasn’t just a roll the dice kind of thing.”
Luca looks forward to Downhill World Cup #3 with cautious optimism, knowing that the Leogang course will keep the gaps between riders close, meaning it will be perhaps harder for him to get a good result here than anywhere else this year. In the grand scheme of things, though, it doesn’t matter too much, because he’s already ahead of his plan.
School may be finished for Luca Shaw the high school student, but advanced studies in professional mountain bike racing are fully in session.
Too much excitement from the Swiss, as he chases Greg Minnaar and samples some Leogang dirt.
Fresh from Scotland and his World Cup win, Greg Minnaar joins course commentator Claudio Caluori down the Leogang track. With some brand new sections for this year, it’s a blind run for Minnaar – who had not yet ridden the updated sections before.
Watch below as an overly-confident Claudio chases him down.
The Austrian round, held in Leogang Bike Park, is a divisive one for riders. Some of them love the track and the flat out speed and the tight race times it produces, whereas others are not too fond of the groomed trails.
However, this year there’s brand new sections to add some variety to the course – check back tomorrow to see how the riders get on with the new course during practice.
You may think Minnaar is riding slightly tentatively to begin with, but we should mention that he didn’t want to walk the course in advance (unlike Claudio) so as not to get an advantage over the other riders – so he’s riding this blind.
Look out for some extra information along with Claudio’s standard commentary as we show you his speed, heart rate, G-force, and more stats thanks to the team at LITPro.
The battle of Fort William is over, the race has been won. This is what happened.
High winds and driving rain provided the backdrop for one of the biggest World Cups on the race calendar. With riders struggling to hold their lines due to the strong wind at the top of the track, and muddy bogs towards the bottom, there was always going to be a little bit of carnage come race day.
And by “a little bit” we mean quite a lot. The Parkin brothers, all three of them, were on the mountain to capture the action so, sit back, put your feet up and watch the world’s best battle the elements so that you don’t have to.
With back to back EWS weekends I think everyone knew it would come down to who could recover the best from Ireland. It was in Peebles last year where I managed to score my first podium ever and with two days of racing so much can happen, so it’s an exciting race. Coming from near perfect conditions in Ireland it was almost a given before I checked the weather forecast that we would see some typical Scottish weather over the week. It was pretty much what we expected but with extreme changes, we would see everything from blue skies to sideways rain with ice, axle-deep mud to fresh dusty loam! The week would see a lot of woollen clothing, rain jackets and waterproof gloves and our nutrition requirements would be huge this week.
So with the Tweedlove EWS there are basically two aspects, day one on the Innerleithen side and day two at Glentress, a few kms up the road. The first day at Innerleithen would see the more DH style trails; we would start with a physical stage but once through that it would be tight trees, tree roots and who could stay on. Day two on the Glentress side would have a mix of technical stages in the woods and flat out hammer to the wall endurance stages. This is where I learnt last year the race is won or lost and carrying speed while being in top physical condition would really make the difference. With these facts I had a simple game plan. Get through day one without any major dramas and then put all my energy into day two where the freshness would pay off.. Hopefully!
Practice this time around was over three days, it allowed a day on each side and one day of ‘choose which ever stage you want’. Learning these courses requires energy and there is always the fine line of how many times do you want to climb back to practice versus saving the energy with a single run. This time around we chose to ride both stage 1 and 2 twice and then a single on stage 3 and stage 4. For a first day of practice this was around 2000 meters of climbing. Getting the morning done with mild conditions we soon got to experience our first weather patterns coming in and rain showers to play in.
For the second day of training we would see rain on and off all day. This would break into blue sky moments at about a ratio of 20mins dry to 10mins wet. The climb back out from stage 5 would also show us sideways rain and being blasted by ice which felt like being on a windy sandy beach! Today we opted to start with a single on stage 6, then ride stage 7 twice then stage 8 and finish with a couple of stage 5. This meant we could learn the fresher DH style courses and save energy on the longer more physical stages by only riding once.
After our morning roll down stage 6 it was evident this would be a key stage. It was nearly 13 mins long on the camera footage and had three decent climbs which would totally break up the field. I knew there would also be some controversy about this stage.
It was so physical and basic in terms of technical aspects that some people would be struggling to be able to handle it.
None the less I was happy, physical is what I train for as well as technical. We’re not just racing Downhill, Enduro is meant to be in my opinion a mixture of both. With another 1800 meters climbed today in the rain I was starting to once again feel the body.
The morning of the last day of training I was feeling quite tired so I canned my original plan of a run on stage 1, 3 and 4 and opted for a single run on stage 1 and then put the feet up and rest the remaining day. It was the right call for me and by evening I was feeling human again and ready for the abuse I was going to get the following days.
Race Day 1: Innerleithen 4 stages with a forecast of blue skies! Happy days.
With around 7 hours from start to finish, this would be a stress free day in terms of liaison times. Each stage would allow us to cruise up and not have to drop the hammer at any point in the day to make a start time. Beginning on Stage 1 this would have us pedal straight out of the gate and then hit awkward speed zapping rocks before settling into the run on freshly cut wooded sections and steep chutes. It was a bit of shock to the system for first stage of the day and for some reason I felt a bit flustered. Crashing on right hander near the top of rocky section I instantly swore to myself and pushed on for the rest of the run annoyed. Not the start I had hoped for.
Stage 2 was wide open fast and some bar grabbing trees which were damn close at high speed.
I liked this stage a lot and felt good in training going fast. This time around I threw down a fast run without crashing and slotted into 2nd for the stage behind Richie Rude. Back on track.
With a timing check and a feed station I didn’t bother refilling my bladder as there would be water 30 mins up the next climb at another feed station (well I thought there would be at least) arriving there I was gutted to see all the water had gone and I would be on my own for the next hour before they hopefully refilled the water if I was lucky!
Stage 3 was flat out fast up top above the tree line then a moment of darkness as we entered the woods Clear and sharp vision is essential in our sport, in such conditions even more. High quality lens is a must. I had a clean run with no mistakes so another one checked off and happy for the final stage of the day. Climbing back up for stage 4 had us pass the previous empty feed station once more. Luckily for me this time there was water and I was a happy man. Neglecting fluid is something that you never want to do in these races.
Final stage of the day and this one would race us further down the hill than stage 3. It would be a similar terrain with tight woods and plenty of roots to deflect the wheels off line. Unfortunately for me it wasn’t to be a clean run and although I felt my riding was well under control.
I misjudged my speed into a right hander and down I went for the second time of the day. Finishing the stage I was annoyed again with myself for giving up some more time to leaders.
Official time check would show I was 20 seconds down for the day behind Richie Rude and in 9th position.
Frustration didn’t last long though and my focus changed to day two and how I would need not only a clean day but there would be no way I could leave anything on the stages. #fullgas!
I woke on Sunday to read some really disappointing news. The event would be cut from four stages today down to two due to some predicted weather and high winds that could potentially bring trees down in the forest. I could totally understand the safety aspects and knew the call needed to be made but still, I was gutted. I thought at this stage I could bring back enough time in two stages to maybe get back to a podium finish but that would be riding the socks off it so to speak. I thought my chances of being able to win would be a far push.
Setting off for the day we had much colder conditions than our previous day of blue skies. Cold winds and rain showers reminded me of the practice days before and with only stage 5 and stage 8 it was going to be super short day in the elements. Stage 5 would be a short fresh downhill stage that finished on slippery roots. The ruts were deep in practice so everyone was going to have a mission of stage for the race. It didn’t take more than a few corners and I realised this was going to be a tough one to stay clean. The mud was incredible, every rut wanted to grab your wheels and if you slowed your speed down too much the mud was so thick it could throw you off as well. It was one of those stages you had to go fast and hold on and whatever you did, keep your feet on while in the ruts! I managed a fast clean run and 3rd for the stage. Richie had had a real problem In this stage losing his lead and with my clean run I had moved up the ladder to around 5th. I needed to empty everything I had for the final stage of the day if I was to achieve my goal of clawing myself back into a podium position.
There was a couple of key points to stage 8. It started further up the hill than previously planned due to the day being shortened. It now would have about 2 mins of stage 6 on the start of the stage and this is all bike park style corners where speed carrying is really important. We then would climb a short section before hitting the wide open part of the run and where it got fun! The middle of the run was again all about carrying your speed through flowy turns before the most aggressive short climb followed by a fire road downhill and then grind up the last short hill to have a fast and flowy descent to the finish.
I needed to be aggressive for this one and I planned to hurt myself massively on the pedalling.
I would say this run was on the edge for me, I had some moments where I was at the seat of my pants but just held it together and then the hurt I put though my legs was incredible. This was one of those runs when I was in constant fight between wanting to stop pushing so hard because it hurt so bad and the desire to want to win so bad it pushed me to hold it at the absolute limit. I remember the feeling of not enough oxygen as I crossed the finish line but with nothing left on the stage I was totally happy with my day and super exited to see how I had done with the weekend’s standings.
A short 10min ride back to the finish arena and with the final time check I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on the timing board. I had bloody done it! I had brought back not only enough time to hit the podium but had just sneaked past Florian Nicolai and Greg Callaghan to take my first ever EWS victory! It was my biggest dream come true, speechless it didn’t really sink in until the podium and hearing my name called out as the winner, I couldn’t wipe the cheesy grin off my face. What a bloody weekend and what a bloody day!! Taking over the series lead from Jerome was another unexpected surprise and with a dominant ride from Tracy and another solid ride from Rene once again we were the top team for the weekend. You just can’t ask for anything better than that!
I feel hugely proud to be series leader. It’s something to hold with respect and I’ve always looked up to the riders holding it.
Heading into a short break it’s now time to have a regroup and freshen the mind and body again. The next round in France will be another battle and will have its challenges but getting back to the higher mountains is something I’m really looking forward to and seeing some long stages again will be a lot of fun!
Now in its fourth year, the Kowalski Classic is a one-day showcase of the famous trails in East Kowen Forest and Sparrow Hill. The event celebrates the achievements of local trail builders Paul Cole, Alan Anderson and the mysterious Kowalski Brothers Trailworks, who together have hand built over 100km of flowing trail in East Kowen (the Kow) & Sparrow Hill (the Bird).
WOAH! Let’s all just pause for a moment there: The Kowalski Brothers, Paul Cole and Alan Anderson have HAND BUILT over 100km of singletrack. That is simply incredible. That alone is reason enough to come ride the Kowalski Classic, just to get an appreciation of what an effort on that scale actually looks like.
WHAT’S NEW IN 2015?New Course (of course). The Kowalski Classic is all about singletrack (in mind bending amounts), so each year we design a bold new course — weaving together our all-time favourites, long lost (seldom ridden) friends and folding in trails we’ve just built for debut on race day. The course is quite different each year and 2015’s will be no exception. Expect a day full of flow, challenge and smiles on this grand tour of skinny dirt. A singletrack marathon like no other.
New Loop Order and Wave Starts. We have made a number of changes to reduce on-track congestion early in the race. The main changes are: 1. Riders in the Full Kowalski will head out on a different 50km loop to the Half Kowalski. 2. We will increase the time gap between wave starts. 3. We will include more passing opportunities (double single track and stabs of fireroad).
New Race Distance. At 25km, the QRTR Kowalski (Tyrion) is a distance that will suit riders coming into the sport as well as those getting back on the bike and unsure if they have the legs for the Half Kowalski. Loads of singletrack and never too far from HQ. Sweet.
Junior Category. The minimum age has been lowered to include riders 12 years and up. (You’ll a ‘yes’ from your parent or guardian though, kiddo!)
Registration at East Hotel. East Hotel are sponsor and Official Accommodation Partner for 2015. Race registration will be held at East Hotel on Friday afternoon and Saturday before race day, so book a room for the weekend, register for the race, collect your event merchandise and kick back in ridiculous comfort. (See the race website for packages)New Trails. Absolutely. The trail builders have been busy in Sparrow and East Kowen, so you can expect to ride lots of new trail (Scroll down for images of work currently under way)
Which distance is for you?
Each race distance features a great combination of our favourite trails so there’s no compromise should you choose something shorter (high on smiles, lower on distance). The Bird is the Word. The Kow is like Wow.
AND THE FORESTS WILL ECHO WITH LAUGHTER
The Kowalski Brothers Trail Crew are hard at work building two bold new trails:
1. Stairway to Heaven is the toughest and longest climb they’ve ever built. Steep, squirrely and downright technical in places, it snakes up the hill in a most devilish way. It features benched traverses, uphill berms and some radical rockwork. Keep something in your tank for this one.
2. The Trail That Cannot be Named (not its real name) is a new descending trail right beside Stairway to Heaven. The terrain is steep and rocky so you can look forward to plenty of features, jumps and a healthy amount of gnar. More technical by design, this trail will ask for your undivided attention, so pack some attitude (and maybe some Band-Aids).
The fastest Kiwi in the UCI World Cup gives us an insight into what he does in between races.
Riders based in the southern hemisphere can count themselves fortunate to live an endless summer. During the middle of the year, they take to the summer race tracks of Europe and North America for the UCI World Cup, before returning home just before temperatures dip to enjoy more bone-dry riding in Australia and New Zealand.
But of course there’s always the need to stay fit, healthy and race-sharp. With that in mind, we invited Brook Macdonald to show us how he likes to unwind in his native Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.
The unReal world tour kicks off in Vancouver, BC on June 18th, 2015. Tickets for the tour are ON SALE NOW! Head on over tohttp://www.tetongravity.com/films/unr… to purchase your tickets! You don’t want to miss this.
unReal is for those of us who escape. A film that celebrates breaking free from the confines of reality and venturing into a boundless world. This place isn’t remote or hard to find, and yet many never see it. Here, glacial walls transform into mountain bike trails, rain and snow aren’t the only elements to fall from the sky and thousand pound mammals become riding partners. Breathtaking visuals conjure feelings of awe and pure joy; feelings that only those of us who venture outside can truly understand. This film is dedicated to you — the dreamers, the rule-breakers, the ones who never grow up, the ones who know the secret — the ones who know the way into the unReal world.
Starring: Brandon Semenuk, Brett Rheeder, Cam McCaul, Graham Agassiz, Steve Smith, Tom van Steenbergen and Thomas Vanderham, with Brook MacDonald, Finn Iles, Ian Morrison, James Doerfling, Matty Miles and friends.
unReal is co-produced by Teton Gravity Research and Anthill Films. Written, directed and edited by Anthill Films. Art direction and additional writing by Good Fortune Collective. Presented by Sony in association with Shimano and Trek. Additional support for the film is provided by Bike Magazine, Evoc, Knolly, Pinkbike.com, Rocky Mountain, Western Digital, and Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
Shimano XT was the first ever dedicated Mountain Bike group and we work hard to make sure XT serves the needs of mountain bikers everywhere.
To celebrate the launch of the new M8000 version, We set-off to Chile with Thomas & Andrew to meet up with locals Ignacio & Nicholas, to celebrate and document the fundamental enjoyment of Mountain Biking. To remind us all that no matter where you live, who you are or how you ride, nothing beats going on a mountain bike adventure with friends.