Racing: Brosnan and Beecroft Break Through at Awaba

While the world number three was the main attraction on the final day in front a strong crowd of fans up and down the course, there were several other results that got spectators into a frenzy on a day perfectly suited for racing on what was described as a world class track.

Troy Brosnan.
Troy Brosnan.

Dannielle Beecroft (NSW) was one who didn’t hold back in her race run in the elite women.

Beecroft, who only one won round of the series in her come back year in 2016 after injury, was last down the course and dropped a winning time of 4:19:78, more than seven seconds ahead of  Tegan Molloy (NSW) and local veteran Sarah Booth (NSW).

“Yesterday I was too cautious hanging on the breaks to much and thinking about crashing but today I let it go and it paid off,” Beecroft said.

dannibeecroft
Danni Beecroft.

“I certainly didn’t think I’d be getting that time for sure.”

While time certainly wasn’t on Brosnan’s mind, it became the talking point of the strong supporter base at the finishing bowl as the South Australian rider clocked a 3:30:19.

“I really didn’t think I could go faster but pretty stoked with that.” 

Jake Newell (NSW), who had the local cheer squad, hardly had time to get into the hot-seat after his run of 3:36:00, before Brosnan crossed more than six seconds quicker to take the top of the podium ahead of Newell and Jackson Frew (ACT) who was competing in his first elite race.

“I was expecting the rocks to be a bit drier so was a little bit wild in there but was rolling down and having fun and there were a lot of people on the track and everyone cheering on,” Brosnan admitted.

It was a disappointing end for reigning national series holder Graeme Mudd (NSW) who was forced out through illness Sunday morning.

But the crowd still had plenty of locals to cheer for when Brunkerville local Patrick Butler (NSW) lit it up in the junior men, as he laid down the second fastest run overall with a 3:34:16 on the track which is 14 minutes from his home.

Pat Butler.
Pat Butler.

Butler took the lead in the series ahead of Joshua Clark (NSW) and Harry Parsons (NSW).

Ellie Smith (NSW) took out the junior women ahead of Sally Potter (NSW) while in the U17 Kye A’hern broke the 4 minute mark to win.

For full results head to Online Results.

Port To Port MTB Returning in 2015, Bigger and Better

Registrations have now opened for the 2015 Port to Port MTB, returning to the Newcastle region across the newly announced dates of Thursday 28 – Sunday 31 May, 2015.

Following on from the success of the inaugural event held earlier this year, which saw 300 recreational and professional riders participate, Port to Port MTB is quickly reaching the heights of sister event, Cape to Cape MTB in Western Australia, the largest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Port to Port MTB 42

 

The new dates were announced this morning at the event’s official launch, attended by the Lord Mayor of Cessnock, and representatives of Newcastle City Council, Shimano Australia and other event partners. The launch was hosted by popular decorating duo Maxine and Karstan from Channel 9’s THE BLOCK: GLASSHOUSE who donned special riding gear for the day to celebrate.

Event Director Chris Heverin said he was thrilled to launch the 2015 Port to Port MTB. “We were delighted by the positive response from those who participated earlier this year in our inaugural event. With exciting new course alignments that will include a special stage at Awaba National Forest and a Sundown Shootout for the elite riders in the Hunter Valley on the Friday, an update to the timing system and an even better rider experience, we look forward to welcoming everyone back to Newcastle and the Hunter with your game face on, support team by your side and sporting your best game face,” he said. NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events Andrew Stoner said he looks forward to welcoming participants from around the country and the world to Newcastle and The Hunter in NSW for the second Port to Port MTB. “This year’s Port to Port MTB was very well received, delivering a significant economic benefit to the local community.

 

The NSW Government is proud to have secured the event from 2014 to 2016 through our tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW”. “The event showcases this magnificent region of NSW to an international audience, with competitors traversing idyllic beaches, picturesque wine country, and forest trails over four action-packed days of competition,” Mr Stoner said.

The Port to Port MTB begins at the tranquil Nelson Bay Marina, where riders are greeted by four days of exciting single track, fire trails, testing hill climbs and steep descents through Cessnock, the Hunter Valley, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle Region. One of the features of the 2015 event will be the Crowne Plaza Sundown Shootout in the picturesque Hunter Valley Property. This exclusive event will be a fast-paced mountain bike spectacular, consisting of a 2km time trial for the top one hundred riders that starts in the newly built Lovedale Brewery and winds around the iconic golf course.

Port to Port MTB 18

Port to Port MTB 13

For riders not competing in the Crowne Plaza Sundown Shootout, this will be the best chance to enjoy the hospitality and witness Australia’s best Mountain Bike riders up-close in action. Registrations for the 2015 Port to Port MTB are now open.

Visit our website at www.porttoportmtb.com for more information on the event.

Visit the Port to Port MTB YouTube channel to view the 2014 Port to Port MTB documentary.

Flow’s First Bite: Cell Awaba 2.0

The Cell Awaba 2.0 29er hardtail, which we first previewed around a month ago, is all set for its first outing! But before we begin skidding up those nice fresh tyres, here our our first impressions of this bargain-priced and well-considered cross country machine.

Cell Awaba logo

For what is essentially a meat-and-potatoes kind of bike, there’s a surprising amount to talk about here; the Awaba is bristling with features that could easily be overlooked but which we came to appreciate during the build.

We’re big fans of anything that cuts down on maintenance, and the runs full-length gear cable housing for the front and rear derailleurs. Similarly, the brake and gear line are routed to keep any chance of cable rub around the head tube area to a minimum.

Stiffness is boosted with a 142x12mm Maxle rear axle and wide press fit bottom bracket, while a skinny carbon seat post and lightweight triple-butted seat tube should help take some of the sting out of the trail.

The tyre combo is cool too; a fast-rolling Conti Race King out back, with a big-bagged X-King up front in a 2.4″ size. While these tyres aren’t technical a tubeless tyre, Cell supplies the Awaba with tubeless rim tape and valves, so we decided to go down the tubeless route. We’re happy to report that it all sealed up nicely! We did use a compressor rather than a track pump, as the tyres didn’t have a super tight fit on the rims and so the extra oomph of the compressor was handy.

The brake caliper is mounted on the chain stay, allowing for a light, more compliant chain stay.
The brake caliper is mounted on the chain stay, allowing for a light, more compliant seat stay.

For a mid-range bike, it’s nice to see that a low and racy riding position can be easily achieved. The head tube is short with a low-stack headset which, combined with a negative rise stem,  allows you to keep the front end height down for an efficient and aggressive position if you desire.

The spec is extremely good for the money too, with supremely reliable Shimano XT and SLX taking care of the drivetrain and braking business. At 11.7kg, the whole package is nice and light too, with the further possibilities for some easy, inexpensive weight savings (such as the cassette).

We’l be heading out for some long fire road rides and smooth singletrack sessions on the Awaba this weekend, so hold tight for a full review in the coming weeks.

 

Fresh Product: Cell Awaba 2.0 29er

Test_CELL_AWABA 30

Sydney-based manufacturer Cell Bikes have been undergoing something of a reformation of late. The brand made a name for itself with budget-priced urban bikes, but they’re now releasing some surprisingly refined mountain bikes too.  Captaining the ship as they sail into these dirtier oceans is Dave Musgrove, Cell’s new head of bike design.

We’ve just taken delivery of the brand new Awaba 2.0 29er hardtail to review and the initially unassuming appearance belies the bike’s attention to detail. It’s clear that every aspect has been considered, to a level not usually seen on a bike of this price point. We were sufficiently impressed to get Dave Musgrove on the blower to ask him a few questions about the bike.

You’ve named this bike the Awaba – does that name choice reflect anything significant in the bike’s design for intentions?

Awaba MTB Park is one of my favourite XC tracks to ride; the climbs aren’t huge, the trails are primarily single track and it’s tight and twisty with lots of fun descents. The smooth flowing nature of Awaba is always a pleasant change from my regular rough riding on Sydney’s rocky Northern Beaches. So, Awaba was the first trail that came to mind when I started playing with geometry and tube shapes for our new high-end 29er hardtails. Throughout the development process I was adamant that these bikes would be suited to technical XC trails like Awaba, so I wanted to provide all the benefits of 29er wheels without the cumbersome handling characteristics that are prevalent on many 29ers I’ve ridden. By using a longer offset fork (many brands use 46mm, we’ve used 51mm) combined with a slightly slacker head angle, we can have a relatively short “trail” measurement, which means the bike has great manoeuvrability at low speed in tight corners but maintains stability at high speed. Short chain stays are also key for swinging around corners, hopping over obstacles and manualling off drops. We opened a new mould to make a slight bend in the seat tube which allowed the chain stays to be shortened without creating mud clearance issues. We call this geometry Pro Geo.

Cell have not necessarily been known as a producer of ‘serious’ (for lack of a better word) mountain bikes in the past. Do you see this as a barrier for this bike’s success?

I hope not! Cell Bikes are well known as offering great value bikes, though admittedly a couple of older models perhaps should not have seen the light of day, let alone a mountain bike trail. The value is remaining the same, due to our factory direct sales model, however the performance of our bikes has been taken to a whole new level. We now go through a far more thorough design, testing and quality control process which is evident through performance of our entire new range of bikes. Our bikes now have the same level of quality as the big brands and we back up this claim by providing a lifetime frame warranty on all of our bikes. I hope that our current focus of offering well priced high quality bikes will have a greater influence on customers’ opinions than some of our cheap and cheerful attempts at mountain bikes from a few years ago. Perhaps customers will also appreciate that we’re a small Aussie bike company that is growing up and offering them a locally designed competitive option, rather than having to settle for a bike from a big international marketing machine with little connection to their local scene.

Who is the targeted rider for this bike, and what aspects of the design reflect this?

It’s targeted at a range of riders, from the first time mountain bike buyer who wants to shred with their buddies without splashing out on a dually, to serious XC racers who are looking for a reliable yet lightweight race bike. To cover this range of needs we focused on making the Awaba light weight with superior handling and longterm reliability. The spec is reasonably light, however it is the frame where we shaved all unnecessary weight. It has triple butted tubing throughout, including stays, seat tube and main tubes. Positioning the rear brake calliper on the chain stay allows the seat stays to be lighter weight and designed to absorb impacts more effectively. The press-fit bottom bracket and fully integrated tapered headset (without cups) save further weight and reduce potential creaking. The Pro Geo is key to the good handling in technical terrain however lateral stiffness is also important, but often lacking in many 29ers in the market. I wanted riders to be able to thrash the Awaba down rough descents and rail it around corners without the wheels, fork and frame flexing everywhere. We achieved high lateral stiffness by using a tapered steerer fork with 15mm Maxle matched with a 142x12mm Maxle to bolt the rear hub in place. Thru-axles add a huge amount of stiffness compared to traditional QR skewers, which is especially noticeable with the added leverage of 29″ wheels. Using strong eyeletted 32 spoke rims allows for high spoke tension which further improves handling and reliability.

Pick a design element of this bike that is the highlight for you (perhaps something people might not notice, but which makes a real difference).

Rack mounts! Haha. No, something that is not the biggest highlight but does make a real difference yet is often over looked – cable routing. We use full length housing for both derailleurs to keep as much dirt and water out as possible. The cables follow a smooth and direct route for a clean appearance and reliable function, and assuming the rear brake is run Australian style (left hand lever), there shouldn’t be any cable rub on the frame. Perfecting the small details is important for the long term function of a mountain bike.