Falls Creek has closed out one of its most successful ski seasons on record with perfect conditions for the 3rd annual McKayos mass start gravity enduro and Flow captured all the action.
Billed as a Snow-Dirt-Road Mountain Bike Enduro, the race incorporates a mass start on snow from the highest slopes of Falls Creek’s alpine ski terrain. Riders use extreme skill negotiating the snow-covered trails through to more traditional singletrack and National Park fire trails. This race is the only mountain biking experience of its kind in Australia.
McKayos has promised one thing it had yet to deliver in the past 2 years – a hectic mass start racing on a frozen snow course. Consider that debt paid.
You might have followed the epic snow season Falls Creek has had (2m depths across the board no trifling matter) and its impact was felt in the planning for this crazy bash. Dropping the traditional Mount McKay start from too much snow, the alternate route brought an excellent alternative – a seemingly purpose-built runway heading through snow fences & ski terrain from the resort’s Ski Patrol headquarters.
Next it was the weather’s turn. Brilliant blue skies with zero cloud this side of Albury set an incredible backdrop for the 87 strong field whilst a healthy overnight freeze did the desired job in locking up the freshly groomed corduroy. The result? the promised epic start we’ve all been waiting for!
With 2 time McKayos champ Paul Van Der Ploeg not in the field, Panozzo was the early favourite & this showed with strong form handling the unfamiliar surface in a pre-race shoot the day earlier. True to expectation, Panozzo was first out of the blocks and took an early lead ahead of a super fast field before turning into Shortcut where the fast and smooth ride was quickly a white-knuckle affair. Big bumps and sharp turns in a steep, narrow trail soon sorted out the pecking order as the spills stacked up.
The McKayos course is definitely unique but it’s safe to say there were plenty happy to leave the snow behind and get onto tarmac as the route made way into the village. Bombing stairs through the village Plaza soon took way to the singletrack Falls has earned a big name for before Junction Spur fire trail set the stage for the real racing to begin.
“Mountain biking is an intrinsic part of the culture at Falls Creek. We are excited to see more and more riders come to experience the resort”
In the lead pack it was a 3 way arm-wrestle between Ben, Seb and Chris with each taking turns as the lead. Panozzo emerged ahead heading within striking distance of Bogong Village before disaster struck. An ill-fated call by Panozzo to take the creek crossing offered Mcilroy & Jayne the chance to overtake via the longer B-line and pip him to the post for the finish.
The diverse field was a great result for organisers and included riders of both sexes from Junior U15 through to 50+ Super Masters. The Ladies Elite was a tight battle with only minutes separating Lisa Brydon, Indi Boer and Rebecca Feltrin. Indi was a sore sight climbing the podium, having overcome a major spill earlier to push back through the field and finish top 50 overall.
Josh Tanzen set it alight, bursting into the overall top 8 on his way to win the Junior U19 category & prove he is one to watch going forward. The same can be said for Joel Grimes who scored a tidy 11th overall from the same Junior category. Locals Dylan Cosgriff and Ayla Armitage were surprise packets in the Junior U15 categories with Dylan breaking the 45 minute barrier and Ayla continuing her impressive form from last season to finish the best-placed Junior female rider.
Falls Creek Mountain Bike Park will open its trails at the popular social ride event “Ignition” on November 17-18. Marking the official opening of the Mountain Bike season, this event is followed by the resort’s gravity shuttle service which operates every weekend. For more information visit fallscreek.com.au
Check the full set of results HERE
1st – Ben McIlroy
2nd – Sebastian Jayne
3rd – Chris Panozzo
1st – Lisa Brydon
2nd – Julia Boer
3rd – Rebecca Feltrin