If you were in Derby for the EWS you’re probably still feeling quite weary, like we are. It was one hell of a week, and we were not even racing.
If there was one thing we learnt from the EWS in Derby, we want it to come back ASAP. The event is a wonderful mix of everything we love about the sport; there’s incredible racing, dreamy riding, friendly socialising, rowdy partying, cool bikes, kooky locals and an electric atmosphere. Racing it would be amazing, also spectating, but for us as an honorary media squid, we got front row seats into the heart of it.
We crashed the Shimano Australia Team’s party, staying at their place in little Derby which gave us a great insight into the inner workings of a great bunch of riders and how they approached the race of the year. We saw highs and lows, lots of coffee, GoPro footage and focussed race rituals.
Join Flow’s Mick Ross and his camera for a look back through the photos and good times. Enjoy!
Mixing the format up a little, Saturday arvo was the queen stage, points up for grabs on ‘Kumma Gutza and Air Ya Garn’. An obvious crowd favourite track for heavy heckling. The Vertigo crew were SO pumped. Stage one set the tone for the next day, it was going to be busy spectating. Heckle band practice, quite LOUD, Barelli got carried away and bashed through an old frame with a handlebar, so excited for the racing to begin! Stage one, a race for some, a party in the woods for the rest!
Everyone was so amped, we couldn’t get over the atmosphere and party vibes all weekend, it felt like everyone had been waiting a long time for this week.
Rae Morrison bursts through a tunnel of noise on Air Ya Garn. Chris from local craft brewery Little Rivers, so engaged in the event, they even converted a rusty old mining relic into a massive ice bucket and sold beers on the side of the track with donations going to the trail upkeep, amazing! Stage one set the tone for the next day; it was going to be busy spectating. Catching up with Pole Bike enduro team manager Matti Lehikoinen, we got a closer look at their incredible CNC’d aluminium bike. Wow! Friday night’s XTR’rivia trivia was a right laugh, with questions spanning many decades and genres of mountain biking, it was confusing and challenging! Paul Van Der Ploeg recovering from a broken leg switched his duties from racing to commentating and cruised about on his sick e-bike. What a legend! Race day was quite different to two years ago, sun all day long and primo dirt conditions made it a perfect day. Ronning’s Giant Reign is a mighty rig, dialled to perfection for the cause, it was very EWS ready. Panozzo’s Cannondale Jekyll draws a mean silhouette and is dripping in fine kit from Shimano and FOX. Misty mornings to start the big day. Launceston’s Rowena Fry won a stage and never left the top-five, ended up in third overall against a field of full-time pros, SO impressive! Great racing, Row! Pretty sure these guys were dressed as Mexicans last time? Ben McIlroy won here two years ago; many eyes were on the talented youngster to see what he would do. Dave McMillan dazzled spectators with displays of bike handling wizardry and backed it up with a result many were surprised by. Fit, fast and great to watch, more Dave, please! Graeme Mudd tucks in his wings and punches through the iconic crack on Detonate, an amazing trail with a lot more rocks than last time it seems, or less dirt…? James ‘Cannonball’ Hall through the first crack, watching this guy ride is quite entertaining, full power with great consideration to line choice. Are you impressed by our early light internal rock pan shot with sun flare photo? Cool huh… Chris Panozzo readies for the tight plunge on race day. Local support for the local shredder, Miles Smith. He seemed to have more fans than anyone out there! Miles Smith shooting the breeze with Ed Masters after a long climb up from town. Two legends right here, Michael Ronning and Nigel Page raced the hell out of the ’90s in downhill, the stories they’d have would entertain nerds like us for many long road trips. SRAM’s resident lobster, Lachy McKillop bench presses over a big slab nice and smooth. Allllllmost had it Hands of granite riders. Gentlemen of Launceston. Thumbs up for Australian media! AMB’s Mike Blewitt and Tim Bardsley-Smith pumped out great content from their time in Tassie from a musky campervan, make sure you check it out on www.ambmag.com.au yiew! World Champion DH’er Miranda Miller looked so confident on the big rock slabs. Cannonball twists the throttle on a big granite slab, nearly causing an avalanche as he rumbled on past. BeeMac laughs in the face of expensive tyre inserts with his pool-noodle inspired creation made from the heart. Well, it worked, didn’t it! One of the sports greatest has become a brilliant all-rounder, turning her attention to EWS. Jill Kintner took home a silver medal, a sign of things to come, for sure. Bryn Atkinson follows his number one up the Snig Track liaison to get racing underway. Great to see the fast and creative guy back in Australia for a visit. The rocks bite, they say. The spectators got wilder as the day progressed. Believe it or not, Specialized actually painted Dave McMillan’s bike to match the trout on Trouty. Look at those layers, too good to be just a coincidence. When two limbs are out of action, but your flights are already booked, you join the heckle instead. Dave Ludenia gives a focussed Kiwi an earful of colourful Australian language. Packing in the instruments of abuse and noise. When you heckle for long enough, your instrument of choice can look a little worse for wear. Bang on! Maes hucks to flat without batting an eyelid despite the deafening crowds. Isabeau Courdurier emerges straight as an arrow from the crack onto a commanding victory. Sam didn’t have the energy this week to realise his full potential, 9th place keeps him very much in touch of the fight to retain his overall crown from last season. Watch this space! Hats off to Rhys Atkinson for a stellar race, while he built most of the trails we can’t say he’s been training the house down in preparation, natural bike skills and a cool head would see this guy right up there with the best pros. Life is too short not to HUCK the world. Kezza leaps the jank to keep it smooth. Leonie Picton hammering the rocks and wafting past chainsaw smoke on 23 Stitches on the way to a very credible 15th place in Pro Women. Travelling Tasmania is a great experience, many partners of racers were there to support too, it’s a great vibe, we wish it happened at least twice a year! Michael and Karla from QLD enjoying the week. Shimano had full tech support available, Badger dials in Ben’s bike after the fateful crash. Wyn trading wheelies for turn-down whips coming very close to our camera, well it felt like it anyhow! If you’ve seen our video on local Miles Smith, you’ll know. https://flowmountainbike.com/features/mountain-biking-never-came-along-derbys-impact/ Josh Carlson is a hit with the crowds and locals, with his family in town to support, he was all smiles and great to watch. Don’t stall! Don’t pause! Just dive right in. Germany’s Ines Thoma clean and calm despite her apparent fear of snakes on the track. Florian Nicolai possesses some magical powers; he is so light and nimble on the bike and carries amazing speed. 2nd fastest for the Frenchman. 17 seconds behind Martin Maes. Florian is within striking distance for a big win this season. Don’t ask us; we don’t know. Four hands, one chip. Ben’s sweet Rocky Mountain, goes quite fast! Fresh race day rubber for Panozzo, no matter what, it’s a ritual. A Firebird in the mist, Cannonball’s Pivot is a rock-solid rig; it’d have to be. Iago a blur, mad style and finesse. Eyes on the prize, and the step up to tight turn to the right and up over the slab to the step down to the left — Panozzo in the zone. SRAM and just about everyone had a setup in the village. This guy! Connor Fearon was so insanely fast, landing a third in his second ever EWS. The current National Enduro Champ could really do more damage to the EWS rankings if he wished to. 20-year-old Ella Conolly from Scotland unfazed by the massive rock gardens, taking the A-line like a boss. Waiting for Ben to race past, this was not the sight we wanted to see. An unfortunate crash led to a race-ending mechanical for the reigning champ. 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd for Isabeau Courdurier a roller coaster ride that favoured her consistency for the win. On behalf of Australian fans, we wholeheartedly apologise for the ‘shoey’ tradition. Two from two, Courdurier is on a roll. QLD’s Michelle Gane taking out the Master’s Women category and promptly showering all the camera lenses with podium beer. Miles on the podium in front of a home crowd, this got a deafening reception from his supporters. Martin is a good sport, drinking from his shoe. Sorry, Martin! Humble, gentle, polite and pinned. Martin is a pleasure to be around, and he’s also not 100% sure what explains the domination streak he is on right now. Boomerang shoes, they came back to be autographed, before taking off again. Event director, Ian Harwood in his tailor-made suit, congratulations on a very fine event indeed. To the Crack House!
It might be hard to explain to those who were not there, but in summary; one of Derby’s most well-known locals bought a house on the main street and turned it into a party house. And it went OFF!
Derby locals were pretty pumped that the EWS was in their little town, and with everyone staying within walking distance, it was a rare opportunity for everyone to mingle in the kooky little Tasmanian town.
The man with the crazy plan, Jeffery. Showtime! Contributions toward trail maintenance and you’re into the party!
Best week ever!
’till next time, cheers, Derby!
Get more Derby in your life here: Our trip to Derby in December 2018 to check out the latest trails. Air Ya Garn full GoPro run, strap yourself in, it’s jump madness! A great tale of Derby and young local Miles, how mountain biking came to him. Everything you need to know about Derby, right here!
Flow’s time in Tasmania supported by Tourism Tasmania.