2018 Giant Anthem – First Ride

Say hello to Giant’s new cross-country weapon.

While Giant’s 2017 Anthems steered away from the bike’s race focused history (their 2017 model bordered on trail bike territory with a 120mm front end paired with an 110mm rear – read our review here), the 2018 Anthem 29” takes this ever-popular model back to its racing roots. We know a lot of racers who are going to be very excited to see this bike back in its pure, Watt-bombing form.

The Anthem is back rolling on big wheels.

Apart from the move to 29” wheels, the new Anthem also sports a 100mm front end paired with 90mm of rear suspension. Yep, 90mm out back. Didn’t we tell you this was a dedicated XC weapon?


Why all the dramatic changes- weren’t Giant 100% committed to 27.5” wheels?

Where the previous year’s Anthem models focused on versatility and appealing to a wider audience than merely dedicated racers, the 2018 Anthem is an unashamed race bike through and through.The goal for the 2018 Anthem, was speed. Filthy, nasty speed.

The frame is beefy where it needs to be, and slender everywhere else. Our complete bike was 9.8kg.

The bike’s intentions were perhaps best summed up by Kevin Dana, Giant’s Global Off-Road Category Manager.

“We’re completely unapologetic, we know this isn’t a bike for everyone, this is a purebred cross-country race bike”

Southern California’s smooth single track was the perfect testing grounds for the new Anthem.

So, the bigger wheels are faster now?

Yep. Giant were staunch 27.5″ advocates – indeed, they might have been the industry’s strongest proponents for 27.5 – proclaiming that the handling attributes of a 27.5” wheel outweighed the benefits of a 29” wheel. Maybe this was the case in 2014, but we don’t need to spell it out that 29ers have come a long way in the past three years, across all segments of the mountain bike market. New technologies and approaches to geometry have seen 29ers get their mojo back, and Giant has incorporated these into the new bike.

The new Anthem’s geometry is radically different to its 2013 predecessor, and Giant feel they can now create a bike that takes advantage of the benefits of the big wheels without the handling compromises of previous years.

Boost spacing played a big role in the new Anthem.

We’ll spare you the standard longer, lower and slacker diatribe, but the triple threat treatment means the bike feels far less twitchy than a cross-country bike of yesteryear- no more sweaty palms descending aboard a 29” cross-country bike with a 72-degree head angle! Full geometry is below.

The new Anthem 29 handles the descents far better than its predecessor.

One area of geometry that drastically effects the Anthem’s handling is the shorter rear end. During the prototyping phase, long-time Giant athletes Carl Decker and Adam Craig wanted the bike to be easier to flick around on the trail and pop onto one wheel for getting over obstacles.

Carl Decker was instrumental in this bike’s development.

The number they settled on, which they were able to achieve through the new standards of 1x drivetrains (the aluminium model features a brazed-on front derailleur mount for nostalgic purposes), Boost spacing and metric shocks, was 438mm. That a full 24mm shorter than the previous Anthem 29er! That number felt pretty spot on to us, providing the right mix of making the bike’s handling livelier than its boat-esque predecessor while keeping the bike’s wheelbase in check for its intended use (1133mm for a size medium). 438mm is a sensible length – we’ve often noted that going too short on a XC bike can make it harder to keep the front end from lifting and can detract from the overall stability.

The new Anthem features a trunnion mounted rear shock.
The new Anthem is a 1x only affair, with the exception of the aluminium model.

What about the suspension- why 90mm of rear travel?

90mm of travel definitely feels like a pretty hardcore approach – we can’t think of many bikes in recent years emerging with less than 100mm out back. Giant’s rationale for the abbreviated travel isn’t just about positioning this bike as a race weapon, it’s also because they feel that 90mm of premium quality travel is better than 100mm with compromises.

The aim with the Anthem was to provide 90mm of fully usable travel.

Less can be more. Explain, please! 

When Giant first set about reincarnating the Anthem 29”, they tested several 29” dual-suspension cross-country bikes already on the market, all of which had 100mm of rear travel. What they found was that due to the short shock strokes, low air volumes and high leverage ratios generally used on these bikes, the shock’s air pressure had to be run quite high, which lead to suspension performance compromises.

With high suspension leverage ratios and the associated high shock pressures often found on XC race bikes, it was often difficult to obtain full travel. And often, to get full travel, they ended up having to run too much sag and lose mid-stroke support. Finally, high shock pressures can result in less usable rebound tuning range – it’s something we’ve seen often, too much pressure leads to you having just a couple of clicks of truly relevant rebound adjustment, with the rest being largely superfluous.

The Anthem features a more usable rebound range than other XC bikes on the market.

So, how does the Anthem’s 90mm shock solve these problems?

What Giant found after trialling a couple of 100mm prototypes was that moving to 90mm travel with a lower leverage ratio, and using a shock with a higher air volume and a longer stroke length, allowed for lower air pressures to be used.

Carl Decker explains the rationale behind the Anthem’s rear suspension.

Pushing through all the tech talk, lower air pressures let Giant obtain better shock sensitivity, more mid-stroke support, more rebound control, and the usability of the full travel range without blowing through and bottoming out.

We would describe the Anthem’s rear suspension as supportive and efficient.

The mid stroke support gives you a better riding position, as regardless of whether you’re in or out of the saddle there’s minimal bobbing and good traction. Cutting to the chase- we were very impressed by the Anthem’s rear travel. It’s not the brutal, and super firm feel we anticipated when we first heard it had 90mm of travel, but rather it’s quality, and it’s effective.

The Anthem’s 90mm of travel isn’t a lot on paper, but it works superbly.

How did the rest of the bike go out on the trail?

Fast. We were aboard the top of the line Anthem 29 Advanced Pro 0 for the bike’s launch, a bike featuring nothing but the best components available, and the bike didn’t disappoint.

Suffering on the climbs behind Carl Decker.

Our testing took place in Southern California at Giant USA’s headquarters, on perfect testing grounds for the bike of predominantly smooth and fast singletrack, although the treacherous loose over hardpack surface kept us on our toes! Due to the trails’ slippery surface, many of the climbs were best tackled in the saddle, where the bike’s seated traction was impressive. It felt precise and easy to manage on the switchback climbs too, whipping through nicely with the shorter rear end.

The rolling terrain was best ridden with intent.

Opening up the speed a bit more on wide open fire trails, punchy ascents and undulating singletrack, the Anthem came into its own. The impressively light overall weight (9.98kg without pedals for a medium) was backed up by predictable traction, and the bike’s geometry encourages you to go for it.

A big chainring for a fast bike.

With the suspension’s excellent sensitivity, out of the saddle efforts over choppy surfaces resulted in far less skipping of the rear wheel than we’ve experienced in the past, meaning more of our power was delivered to the ground, even on the seriously loose trail surface.

We enjoyed powering out of the saddle on the Anthem.

The shock uses a remote lockout – it’s a two-stage system, with the compression either open or locked. Racers will love it, though we’d like to have seen a middle setting here – something similar to Scott’s Twinloc system would be very useful. With the bike locked out, the super firm compression setting tended to see the rear wheel skipping. And with the bike fully open, the compression sometimes felt a little more wallowy than we would’ve liked if we were racing and every second was on the line.. Something in the middle would have been ideal.

The longer paddle is used to open the suspension.
The shorter paddle is used to lock the suspension.

This is a minor complaint, and perhaps setting the bike up with a touch less sag (Giant recommend between 20-25%, and we were using the latter measurement for our testing) would allow you to run the bike fully open all the time whilst retaining as much efficiency as possible, saving the lockout for only full blown sprints.

Sag setup on the Anthem is critical. 20-25% is the recommendation. We’d urge you to go closer to 20%.

What about the descents?

As mentioned above, the new Anthem features the standard longer, lower, slacker treatment that barely rates a mention when a new bike is released these days.

Who said you can’t have fun on an XC bike?

Key measurements like a 69-degree head angle, 73.5-degree seat tube angle and a 610mm top tube in a size medium mean the Anthem’s handling on the descents is far less twitchy than in years past. Combined with the more pliable rear end, the Anthem is a surefooted descender for a cross-country race bike, however, we think a dropper post would’ve been a welcome addition.


No dropper post?

Nope. And with a 27.2mm seat post, there aren’t too many options to fit one. This is another nod to the Anthem 29’s intentions as a dedicated XC race bike, however, there are provisions for an internally mounted dropper. As a side note, Giant’s Senior Global Marketing Manager had a dropper on his Anthem, and he was flying down the descents!

Giant’s Andrew Juskaitis tips his dropper equipped Anthem into another slippery Socal turn.

Giant also justify the decision as the 27.2mm seatpost provides additional compliance when smashing along in the saddle, and by running a rigid post there are the obvious weight savings over a dropper. Still, as comfortable as the bike is when powering in the saddle, we’d be looking to install some kind of dropper – even if it were just a short-travel XC-specific offering.

A rigid seatpost was never going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

Any other neat touches?

We’re big fans of the Kabolt axles front and rear on the Anthem, that both shave weight and give the bikes a clean look. The skeletal, one-piece carbon Maestro link is also svelte looking piece of kit, as is the hidden seat post binder – schmicko.

The carbon Maestro link has been refined for maximum weight savings.

Something that’s often overlooked on cross-country bikes is that an 180mm front rotor provides quality stopping power- we’re glad Giant chose to sacrifice a bit of weight over speccing a 160mm offering.

An 180mm front rotor gets a thumbs up from us.

Lastly, the cabling of the bike rates a mention. Giant have always done a superb job, but the way they’ve kept it all smooth and rub-free is nicely done. The dual lockout lever is clean and ergonomic, and the rear lockout comes out neatly just underneath the bottle cage, very unobtrusive.


Right, how many Anthem models will we see in Australia, and for how many dollars?

There are four Anthem models, with three carbon models and one aluminium bike in the range. The bike we were testing is the only full-carbon model with both a carbon front triangle and a carbon rear end, while the other two carbon models feature an aluminium rear end. According to Giant, the carbon rear end saves around 120 grams.

We tested the top of the line Anthem Advanced Pro 29 0.
The Anthem Advanced 29 1 features an aluminium rear end.
The Anthem 29 1 is the only aluminium model that will be available.

The 2018 Anthem models that will be coming into Australia, as well as their prices, have not been confirmed, but watch this space!

Crankworx Rotorua 2017 Wrap-Up

Stoke levels were high at Crankworx Rotorua.
Stoke levels were high at Crankworx Rotorua.

This year, Crankworx Rotorua played host to no less than seven different events, as well as numerous riding clinics and the huge expo area that’s open to the public everyday, showcasing the latest and greatest from brands across the world.

Competitors and spectators received a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.
Competitors and spectators received a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.

Let’s take a look back at all the action over the past week- is it too early to start getting excited for next year? 


Pump Track Challenge Highlights:

The Pump Track Challenge is always a crowd favourite due to its tight racing, which makes for awesome spectating.

Keegan Wright edges out Barry Nobles in front of a full house.
Keegan Wright edges out Barry Nobles in front of a full house.

This year’s event saw the best pump track course yet at Crankworx Rotorua, as well as a big field in both the men’s and women’s categories.

Jill Kintner was edged out by none other than Caroline Buchanan.
Jill Kintner was beaten in the final by none other than Caroline Buchanan.

New Zealand young gun Keegan Wright took out the men’s category, whilst Caroline Buchanan took out the women’s in a great start to what’s set to be a big year of mountain biking for Caroline. Check out some of the best shots from the event below!

Cody Kelley turns the style up to 11.
Cody Kelley turns the style up to 11.
Sage advice from pump track master Adrien Loron.
Sage advice from pump track master Adrien Loron.

Dual Speed and Style Highlights:

Dual Speed and Style is an event unique to Crankworx that draws together racers from all disciplines, as well as trick maestros competing in the Slopestyle, resulting in an interesting mix of approaches.

With time bonuses on offer for tricks, Dual Speed and Style sees some interesting match ups.
With time bonuses on offer for tricks, Dual Speed and Style sees some interesting match ups.

For 2017, the riders were praising changes made to the course that allowed for more speed and bigger jumps throughout.

The course was in absolutely prime condition.
The course was in absolutely prime condition.

Oceania Whip-Off Championship Highlights: 

The Oceania Whip-Off Championship was held under lights this year, and more riders than ever before lined up to get sideways off the massive step up.

Riders turned it on in front of a huge crowd at the Whip-Offs.
Riders turned it on in front of a huge crowd at the Whip-Off.

Young American Reed Boggs took out the main event, but there was so much style on offer that we don’t think we could’ve picked a winner! Have a look at some of the best shots, and see how many Aussies you can recognise.

Jackson Davis flies the VANZAC flag.
Jackson Davis flies the VANZAC flag.
These aren't your regular media squids.
These aren’t your regular media squids.
Reed Boggs and Casey Brown took the wins.
Reed Boggs and Casey Brown took the wins.
And it's not hard to see why.
And it’s not hard to see why.

Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza Recap: 

Crankworx slopestyle contests are arguably the highest profile events in our sport, attracting an audience within the mainstream media, and offering serious prize money.

The Kelly McGarry designed course once again played host to some insane trickery.
The Kelly McGarry designed course once again played host to some insane trickery.

The Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza at this year’s Crankworx Rotorua lived up to the hype. With Brett Rheeder and Thomas Genon out with injury, and Brandon Semenuk failing to get his run dialled, it was Nicholi Rogatkin who took the win ahead of some rising names in the sport.

Brandon Semenuk boosts through the trees.
Brandon Semenuk boosts through the trees.
It doesn't get much better than this.
It doesn’t get much better than this.

Rotorua Downhill Highlights:

The downhill track in Rotorua is a steep, gnarled mess at the best of times, but this year wet conditions made it a true test for all riders.

Loic Bruni mistimed the pond jump just a tad in practice.
Loic Bruni slightly mistimed the pond jump in practice.

Australian young gun Jack Moir came out on top in the men’s, dominating in the wet conditions in a strong showing of early season form, and securing yet another win from an Australian rider at the first Crankworx stop for 2017. Tracey Hannah made it an all-Australian affair on the top step by taking out the women’s.

Shark Attack Jack took the win in the downhill.
Shark Attack Jack took the win.
Two Australians on the top step.
Two Australians on the top step.

Air DH Recap:

The last event of Crankworx Rotorua 2017 was the Air DH event. Held on Skyline Rotorua’s Mr Black trail, riders jumped and pumped their way down the buttery smooth track that is similar to Whistler’s famous A-line.

Richie Rude shows Mr Black who's boss.
Richie Rude shows Mr Black who’s boss.
We think it's fitting to finish up with yet another shot of Casey Brown sending it- were excited for Les Gets already!
We think it’s fitting to finish up with yet another shot of Casey Brown sending it- we’re excited for Les Gets already!

Crankworx Rotorua is growing year by year, and once again it’s got us pumped for a big season of racing! The next stop on the Crankworx calendar is Crankworx Les Gets in June, and we can’t wait.

Success For Schurter, Stirnemann, Suss And Stenerhag at Absa Cape Epic

Nino Schurter and ... took the win in the mens category.
Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann took the win in the mens category.

Watch highlights video below.


Swiss duo Schurter and Stirnemann (SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing) were first time winners of the men’s race, while Süss and Stenerhag (Meerendal CBC) claimed the Hansgrohe Women’s category.

It was Stenerhag’s first win in her fourth attempt, while for Süss it was a third title after winning the Mixed in 2011 and the Women’s category in 2012.

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Stirnemann wins the Absa Cape Epic in his first attempt, while for Schurter, a bronze, silver and gold Olympic medal winner in cross-country racing, the win comes in his fourth Cape Epic – his previous best had been a fifth place in 2014.

The current Olympic and world champion, cool and calm as ever at the end, admitted that the strategy was always to come and win the Absa Cape Epic, but only in 2018.

“The plan was to come here in 2018 and win, but we are a year early!” said Schurter. “This is very special. To win the Olympics and then come to South Africa and win the Absa Cape Epic, that is great. After Rio it was always my intention to come and win the race, but this has taken us by surprise. I thought next year would be our year. We are ahead of schedule.”

Stirnemann called the moment ‘unreal’ and said only tonight or tomorrow will he be able to let it all sink in. “This is amazing, just amazing. I really can’t believe it.”

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In the Hansgrohe Women’s category, there were emotional scenes at the finish. A year after having heart surgery Swede Jennie Stenerhag wept on Sunday as she and Esther Süss won the Absa Cape Epic in their first effort as a team.

“Since that day my biggest goal was to try and come back to win this race,” said Stenerhag. “To pull it off is something completely unreal. I cannot believe that I am standing here as the winner. I think we won by keeping everything smooth and consistent. We just kept calm and never thought we could win until now when we crossed the line.”

Experience and consistency were key to that win when Süss from Switzerland and Stenerhag crossed the line as third women’s team at the final stage to Val de Vie Estate near Paarl, but having done enough to claim a convincing victory overall in the Hansgrohe Women’s category.

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Süss was ecstatic about the win.

“I am only happy, happy, happy!” said the 2010 Marathon World Champion. “It was quite tough and fast and you had to really be focused because something can happen so fast. I am only happy.”

In the race for the Absa African special jersey, presented to the best all-African team at the Cape Epic, there was only going to be one winner after a strong week of riding from PYGA Euro Steel. Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys were in command of the jersey all week, and finished strongly yet again to claim seventh overall at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic.

“It was a great Absa Cape Epic!” said Buys. “It’s a pity we missed out on a stage win, but we really put everything out there today and we are really happy with the red jersey. We learned a lot this Epic, so I’m sure we will come back smarter.”

In the Virgin Active Mixed race the Scott-Sram Nextlevel duo of 22-year-old Rio Olympic Champion and 1996 world champion Jenny Rissveds of Sweden and 47-year-old Thomas Frischknecht of Switzerland were in a class of their own.

On Sunday they finished off a clean sweep of eight victories in eight days as they cruised to a massive 65-minute win overall over South Africans Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (joBerg2c-Valencia), with Johan Labuschagne and Briton Catherine Williamson (RBI Tech – Mitas) a further 45 minutes a back in third.

In the Dimension Data Masters category, Australian Cadel Evans and American George Hincapie (BMC Absa Racing Team), riding in their first Cape Epic, got stronger with each day of the event. Starting the final day almost three minutes behind the category leaders Tomi Misser and Ibon Zugasti (Orbea Factory) of Spain, Evans and Hincapie cycled like demons to overtake Orbea Factory.

Cadel Evans made a return to racing, taking our the masters category with fellow road racer George Hincappie.
Cadel Evans made a return to racing, taking our the masters category with fellow road racer George Hincapie.

They eventually won the category comfortably, ending the day five minutes ahead of the team that had lead the category for most of the Absa Cape Epic. Evans and Hincapie finished 20th overall.

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“I didn’t know it was this hard, but fortunately I got in shape as the race went on,” said Hincapie. “I stay relatively fit at home but not by any means for this kind of effort. I’d love to be back next year and race again.”

There was no such drama in the Grand Masters category, with Swiss/Austrian duo Barti Bucher and Heinz Zoerweg (Meerendal CBC 3) leading from start to finish. They finishing 34th overall and won their category by an extravagantly comfortable two-and-a-half hours.

Diepsloot MTB Academy riders William Mokgopo and Philimon Sebona crossed the finish line in high spirits yet again, and after an impressive week of riding, claimed the Exxaro special jersey and finished the event in 42nd place overall. As they crossed the line, a delighted crowd clapped and cheered as the pair exchanged high fives and hugs with their team managers.

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William Mokgopo and Philimon Sebona claimed the Exxaro special jersey.

“It was difficult stuff today,” said Mokgopo. “I’m not a flat terrain type of person, I prefer it up and down and that’s the type of rider I am. I just try relax more when it comes to flats and really push it in the undulations. But today we didn’t need to do any work, we just enjoyed ourselves.”

Crankworx Rotorua 2016 Deep Summer Photo Epic

The Deep Summer Photo Challenge dropped into Crankworx Rotorua for the first time in 2016, making the most of the cultural and geothermal hotbed of New Zealand. With incredible natural landscapes and an extremely strong mountain biking culture, the invited photographers found everything they needed to compose a stellar slideshow.

Casey Brown at the whip-offs.
Casey Brown at the whip-offs.

Over the course of the challenge, five mountain bike photographers had three days to put together an epic slideshow. Slideshow presentations then lit up the evening at Rotorua Skyline Gravity Park after the Crankworx Slopestyle Finals – and a massive crowd was able to experience deep summer in Rotorua through five different lenses.

The EWS returns to Crankworx Rotorua after a one year hiatus- it's all happening!
The EWS returns to Crankworx Rotorua this year after a one year hiatus- it’s all happening!

Deep Summer returns to Rotorua in 2017 with new photographers and a new location, and we can’t wait to witness it live in just a few weeks time- hopefully you’ll be there too! In the meantime, grab yourself a brew, pop the quality onto 1080 and check out all the action from last year!


Deep Summer Rotorua 2016 Simeon Patience:

Simeon Patience took the win at the Crankworx Rotorua Deep Summer Challenge, and it’s not hard to see why with his amazing blend of Rotorua’s unique landscape coupled with stellar looking trails.


Deep Summer Rotorua 2016 Sean Lee:

Australian Sean Lee is a name to watch out for in the future. For last year’s Deep Summer Challenge he teamed up with the Australian contingent of the Vanzacs crew.

Sean took out the people’s choice award, and it’s not hard to see why with his brilliant work showcasing all that Rotorua has to offer, from natural, technical trails, to carpet smooth jump lines. If you don’t have time to watch the full video, skip straight to four minutes for some pure magic.


Deep Summer Rotorua 2016 Zach Faulkner:

Zach Faulkner’s entry really focuses on the Rotorua community, and how the mountain biking lifestyle just plain fits with everyday life in this beautiful part of the world. It’s not all about the gnarliest lines and biggest jumps, it’s about having a good time on awesome trails with your mates.


Deep Summer Rotorua 2016 Callum Wood:

Callum Wood’s entry really showcases the talent that is on show at Crankworx Rotorua. It’s one of the things we love so much about the event, being able to go for a ride in the morning, and watch the world’s best riders do their thing with a beer in hand for the rest of the afternoon.

Crankworx Rotorua is just a few short weeks away, and to find out more about how you can join us there, head over to the Crankworx Rotorua website.

Harris And Johnston Break National Elite Series Drought

It also marked the continued dominance of Cameron Wright (QLD) in the Junior Men, as the 16 year old again produced a scintillating ride to make it five straight victories.

For Harris, who is competing in her first year of elite competition, it was the win she’d been waiting for as the Armidale rider took up the challenge to defending series champion Rebecca Henderson.

“I was sitting in behind Bec feeling alright and my team-mate Kathryn (McInerney) made a big attack and I sort of followed her and then somehow I took off on the front.”

However, Harris had to hold off more than the challenges from the chasing pack as the final of the five laps approached on a dry and dusty Mt Taylor course.

“I sort of remembered the mistake I make every single race and that’s blowing up so I tried to not do that.”

Hunting her down was Jodie Willett (QLD), who made her move on the fourth lap and was closing.

“I’ve been here helping with the MTBA junior squad and I think it’s a bit inspiring, I was riding on inspiration as it’s their first race and it inspired me to get involved and give it a go.”

The last time Willett medalled in the national series was at Pemberton two years ago.

Harris finished in a time of 1:29:52 ahead of Willett and McInerney, with Henderson more than three minutes back in fourth.

It’s been a big week for the dual Olympian, having signed on with a new bike sponsor Scott earlier in the week.

“There’s been a lot going on and it’s been a pretty stressful time trying to get everything together, and today I was just really low on energy.”

“These back to back races aren’t doing me any favours, and I’m just struggling to recover and it’s taking its toll the next couple of weeks.”

No such trouble for Johnston, who in only his third race this series stormed off the start line and held his place at the front of the 25 man field.

“I was lucky to be at the front and fortunate not to consume too much dust,” he remarked.

After back to back seconds at Armidale, Johnston again attacked from the race gun and this time it would pay off with Tasman Nankervis (VIC) and Reece Tucknott (WA) unable to real the Canberran back in as he crossed the line in a time of 1:26:47, more than 30 seconds in front of the minor places.

“It’s my first ever elite win and it’s something I’ve maybe thought it was out of the question in the era of Dan McConnell, but the rest of us are starting to really challenge him and I’m just really happy.”

Nankervis, who finished second here last year, tried to match it with Johnston early in the six lap race.

“First lap was ok, then I had a stack into a tree and Trekky was going that solid I couldn’t catch him again.”

“Lately I’ve been doing a lot of training for these types of races and haven’t tapered at all, and I think it might work in my favour,” warned Nankervis ahead of Round 6 on Sunday.

In the junior men, Wright’s purple patch of form continued, as he produced the third fastest overall lap time of the day and accounted for another stacked junior men’s field.

Despite his untarnished record this season, the Brisbane-based rider wasn’t expecting to again dominate a talented field.

“Going into the season I’ve been feeling really strong but I actually had my doubts today.”

Cameron Wright once again won the Junior Men's category.
Cameron Wright once again won the Junior Men’s category.

Another junior relishing the Australian season is New Zealand’s Jessica Manchester (NZL).

The diminutive Kiwi was again unstoppable as she racked up another victory on foreign soil and is heavily backed to claim the Oceania title in two weeks time.

Flashing Finish For Henderson

The duo were locked together heading into the last of the 5 laps around the 6 km course, before it came down to the final 50m.

“The outside line wasn’t ideal but I was able to carry that little bit of extra speed and thankfully it was a little quicker,” Henderson admitted.

“It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had a sprint finish.”

The Canberra rider got home by eight hundredths of a second with time of 1:37:08:24.

For Kwan, it was foreign territory out in front battling for the lead with the dual Olympian.

“I’ve never been in that position before, so this is a first for me and it’s given me a big confidence boost.”

“I thought I might try and get in front to try and control the pace, and I didn’t want her to get too far ahead so popping out into the open section I knew I might as well go,” said Kwan.

It was local favourite Holly Harris (NSW) who took up the challenge to Henderson early and tried to pull away on lap three before the reigning national series champion made her move.

“I just used that rock garden to get a little bit of a gap and got away again and then Eliza caught me through the pedally section.”

While in the elite men Jared Graves (QLD) was a late withdrawal from Round 4 through illness, which left it a battle between Dan McConnell (ACT), Cameron Ivory (NSW), and Brendan Johnston (ACT), and it was the Novocastrian Ivory who made it back to back victories in the New England.

“I wasn’t sure how I was going to pull up after yesterday but I was happy to find the form and managed to pull Trekky back,” Ivory said.

Ivory finished in a time of 1:21:59:85, with Johnston in second and Ben Oliver (NZ) holding out for third.

Riders were faced with only five laps on a fast and flowy course with only a few technical rock features, the section where Ivory proved his legs were up to speed.

“Just in that punchy section he’s at another level than me and I tried to hang on through the rocky section and get away but he mowed me down and he was just too strong for me in that part of the race,” said Johnston, who notched up his second runner-up place of the weekend.

There was no change in the junior men and women’s results, with Cameron Wright (QLD) showing his turn of pace to wrap up another top of the podium finish, ahead of Matt Dinham (NSW) and Kian Lerch-Mackinnon (VIC).

In the junior women’s race, Jessica Manchester (NZ) had to fight off Armidale favourite Katherine Hosking (NSW) in a sprint to the line earlier in the day.

Ivory And Henderson Prevail In Armidale

Despite having little time on the mountain bike heading into the season, the Newcastle rider showed a change of coach in the off-season has paid off, finishing in a time of 1:46:21, 33 seconds ahead of Brendan Johnston (ACT) and Jared Graves (QLD) after eight laps.

Jared Graves made an appearance, finishing an impressive third.
Jared Graves made an appearance, finishing an impressive third.

“Coming in here I didn’t know what to expect with all the quick guys and I knew Trekky (Brendan Johnston) would be hard to beat as always,” Ivory remarked.

“For me it’s the start of a new mountain bike racing year coming into the European season, and it should be a good year.”

It wasn’t the opening round reigning national series champion Daniel McConnell had hoped for, crashing in the rock garden before removing himself from the race with three laps to go.

That left Johnston and Graves to chase down Ivory who looked strong right to the finish on a course that physically punished the riders with tough climbs and tougher descents.

“Coming into the second lap thought I’d test the legs and see who could come with me,” said Ivory.

“I knew it was a good course for Gravesy with all the skills work out there so I just tried to get a little gap and hold it.”

Johnston, who has been racing on the road recently found the early going tough.

“It was hard first up and the track really made the day pretty solid with that punchy climb right in the middle every lap and with the obstacles you never got a rest and you had to work hard the whole time.”

In the elite women, Henderson was pushed all the way during her win in by Anna Beck (QLD) in second and Holly Harris (NSW) in third in her winning time of 1:36:16.

Bec Henderson took the win in the elite women.
Bec Henderson took the win in the elite women.

“That was seriously brutal all day and my heart-rate was always in the 180’s, which is very high for me,” Henderson commented.

The 18 women had 6 laps of the punishing course.

“I was seriously suffering on the last two laps,” said the national series reigning champion

“The middle bit suited me really well and I was able to get up the rock pinches and got a little bit of time there. I hated the climb though, you had to pedal and pedal and you wanted to rest but you couldn’t.”

Beck, who was looking for her second win of the series, faced a tough mental battle as Henderson kept pulling away in the rock garden section.

“I could feel myself catching her on the climbs and on the rest of the course there was a bit of cat and mouse, but she had one up on me today,” Beck said.

In the junior women New Zealand’s Jessica Manchester spoilt the possibility of a home town win for Katherine Hosking, who finished second, taking vital UCI points in a time of 1:09:37 seconds.

Cameron Wright (QLD), who averaged just over 13 minutes a lap in the junior men’s race, produced a dominant performance to take the top step of the podium ahead of Matt Dinham (NSW) and Kian Lerch-Mackinnon (VIC).

Flow’s Year In Review: Enduro Bikes Of 2016

If this is the sort of attire you'd wear out on a ride, you'll enjoy reading this article.
It doesn’t get much more enduro than this.

Whilst the constant confusion around what to call this style of riding and the bikes it involves (aggressive trail, all-mountain, long travel trail, enduro) makes defining this category difficult, here are some of the bikes we’ve ridden in the past 12 months that fit the bill. The links below will take you straight through to the full reviews.

Giant Trance Advanced 1

Merida One-Sixty 5000

Focus SAM C Team

Scott Genius 710 Plus

Polygon Collosus N9

Whyte G-160 Works

GT Sensor Carbon Team 2

Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Race

Pivot Firebird Carbon Pro XT/XTR

Lots of riders out there know that riding capable bikes that make you want to go faster is a tonne of fun
Lots of riders out there know that riding capable long travel bikes is a tonne of fun

We’ve already done a ‘Trail Bikes of 2016’ piece, which summarised some of the best trail bikes we reviewed here at Flow last year, so this article moves one rung up the travel ladder.

The bikes we're talking about in this article are all about how fast you can head down the trail
The bikes we’re talking about in this article are all about how fast you can head down the trail

Where in our Trail Bikes piece we discussed bikes that really nail the ‘jack of all trades’ moniker, this article will take a look at bikes with a bias towards descending fast, aggressively and most probably on the sphincter clenching limit at one point or another.

It's foot out, flat out aboard these bikes.
It’s foot out, flat out aboard these bikes.

Before we get stuck into the bikes, we should clarify that all the bikes discussed fall within the rear travel boundaries of 130mm-170mm of travel. Savvy readers might remember that our trail bikes review covered bikes with more than 130mm of rear wheel travel, however this is a perfect example that the amount of travel doesn’t necessarily define ride qualities, and whilst some bikes don’t have huge amounts of travel, it’s perfectly clear that they’ve got very rowdy intentions when it comes time to get the tyres dirty.

The GT Sensor hasn't got huge amounts of travel, but it makes up for it with its hard-charging attitude.
The GT Sensor hasn’t got huge amounts of travel, but it makes up for it with its hard-charging attitude.

On the flip side of the spectrum, we found that a bike like the Pivot Switchblade has 135mm or rear wheel travel and 150mm of travel up front, however it’s not an out an out descender like the bikes discussed in this article, and is better suited as a trail bike despite its longer travel.

The Pivot Switchblade might have 150mm of travel up front, but it's better suited as a trail bike than an Enduro racer.
The Pivot Switchblade might have 150mm of travel up front, but it’s better suited as a trail bike than an Enduro racer.

In terms of price, just like our trail bikes round up there’s a fair variance between the models discussed. At the low end, the Merida One-Sixty 5000 retails for a shade under four and half thousand. The Pivot Firebird tops out the pricing, with its price approaching the five-figure mark.

The Merida One Sixty 5000 offers outstanding value for money.
The Merida One Sixty 5000 offers outstanding value for money.

Alright, enough disclaiming, let’s jump into some of the bikes we think you should be looking at if the ‘cruise to the top, descend till you drop’ motto is your cup of tea!

Giant Trance Advanced 1:

“What about if I had a bike with a slick carbon frame, carbon wheels, top of the line suspension and a wide range single-ring drivetrain for under six grand,” says the bike shop guy with a grin.”

The Giant Trance Advanced 1 offers excellent bang for your buck.
The Giant Trance Advanced 1 offers excellent bang for your buck.

We know that the link to this bike is for a First Bite, but we’ve spent plenty of trail time aboard this beast over the summer, and a full review is just around the corner.

Paul Van Der Ploeg was shredding aboard a Trance in our Flowtown video.
Paul Van Der Ploeg was shredding aboard a Trance in our latest Falls Creek video of the all new Flowtown trail.

With 140mm of rear wheel travel paired to 150mm of squish up front, the Trance doesn’t push the travel envelope, however some geometry redesigns make it an excellent option for Australian tracks, as our typically flatter and more pedally terrain means that 140mm of rear wheel travel in the hands of a skilled rider is pretty much bang on for technical riding across the country.

The Fox 34 is a superb offering up front.
The Fox 34 is a superb offering up front.

“The Trance platform received major updates to the frame this year, it’s longer in reach, lower in bottom bracket height, shorter in its chainstay length and fork travel is bumped up 10mm to 150mm. The 2017 model comes with a host of new and emerging technologies, such as boost hub spacing front and rear and a trunnion mounted rear shock.”

The Maestro linkage on the Trance is stout and stiff.
The Maestro linkage on the Trance is stout and stiff.

We summed up out first impressions of the Trance by discussing how a few changes for this year have got us really excited, and these changes have delivered in spades out on the trail.

The full review is yet to come, but rest assured we’re pretty content that the Giant Trance rolls together a bike that you can race on, but is also capable of general trail duties at the same time.

Lots of gears for all sorts of terrain.
Lots of gears for all sorts of terrain.

“A bike like the Trance Advanced 1 is probably going to have an owner that uses it for many things, so that’s exactly what we’ll be doing. From buff singletrack to downhill bike worthy terrain, we’re keen to see what this bike is capable of.”

The Trance is ready to be challenged by the aggressive rider.
The Trance is ready to be challenged by the aggressive rider.

Merida One Sixty 5000:

Merida is one of the largest bike companies in the world; their reach spans 77 countries, and they’re found on just about every trail and road down here too. So, it’s about time they cracked open the lucrative current enduro market with a genuinely competitive offering that may well be the cause of a few nervous, clammy hands amongst the big brands.”

The completely redesigned Merida One Sixty really impressed us.
The completely redesigned Merida One Sixty really impressed us.

We don’t think we’re being harsh to say that even at first glance, the Merida One Sixty 5000 is a far superior machine than its predecessor, which was very much due for a revamp. For a brand with such a big presence internationally in almost every cycling discipline, it’s exciting to see them finally step into the limelight of Enduro bikes with the all new One Sixty.

Despite its long travel, the One Sixty felt lively out on the trails.
Despite its long travel, the One Sixty felt lively out on the trails.

“The One-Sixty is a new all-mountain/enduro bike with those key components that are essential to the type of riding this segment is all about. We’re talking about 160mm (you picked it!) out the back and 170mm travel up front of RockShox travel, aggressive tyres, dropper post, wide bars, and a single-ring 11-speed drivetrain.”

A 170mm RockShox Yari leads the charge up front.
A 170mm RockShox Yari leads the charge up front.

In terms of the suspension, Merida have kept things simple with a proven design, allowing them to focus on getting the geometry and spec dialled.

“The all-new carbon/aluminium frame is built around their ‘Floating Link’ configuration. We received many comments that shape of the new One-Sixty resembles the vertical shock mount and kinked top tubes of bikes like the Giant Trance or Trek Remedy. But in all fairness, this is reflected across the whole industry, with bike designers from many brands seeing the benefit of mounting the rear shock low and central to the bike’s architecture.”

The shock is attached via a Trunnion mount arrangement.
The shock is attached via a Trunnion mount.

Out on the trails, despite the One Sixty’s beefy spec and ample amounts of travel, it didn’t have the monster truck-like feel of some other 160mm enduro bikes on the market.

The shorter reach numbers compared to other bikes in this category plays a big part, which we feel is an excellent character trait for the rider looking for a bike with long travel, but snappier handling out on the trail.

The One Sixty was a playful ride.
The One Sixty was a playful ride.

“The reach doesn’t feel as long as many of the racier 160mm bikes we’ve reviewed like the Canyon Strive or Whyte G-160. The new generations of 160mm travel bikes are becoming increasingly long, requiring trails with serious gravity on their side, certainly not for everyone’s capabilities or regular trail rides.”

The One Sixty corners tight trails easier than other 160mm bikes out there.
The One Sixty corners tight trails with more ease than other 160mm bikes out there.

In terms of the spec, for under $5000 we think the One Sixty 5000 is one of the best value for money enduro bikes out there, due to the sheer performance of the components for a fraction of the cost, and marginal gains in weight.

The carbon front triangle is exceptional quality at this price.
The carbon front triangle is exceptional quality at this price.

“Merida has chosen some new offerings from RockShox for this year, with a trunnion mount Super Deluxe rear shock and a 170mm travel Yari. The forks look massive with the Boost hub width and the front hub also uses the Torque Cap system, when in combination with the forks provide a more positive connection between fork and axle to lift front end rigidity.”

Super Deluxe in name and performance.
Super Deluxe in name and performance.

Despite not being the top of the line components, the kit on the One Sixty performed admirably on the trail.

The Merida branded dropper post didn't miss a beat throughout testing.
The Merida branded dropper post didn’t miss a beat throughout testing.

We also appreciated the small details on the One-Sixty, details that truly showed this is an enduro-race ready machine.

“One of the details we appreciate is the adjustable MRP micro chain guide – a simple addition that removes the need for an expensive aftermarket purchase and just makes rides safer, quieter and hassle-free.”

We think every 160mm bike should come with a chainguide.
We think every 160mm bike should come with a chainguide for the rowdiness they will encounter on the trail.

The Merida One Sixty has us excited for the future, where performance will continue to trickle down to lower and lower price points, lowering the cost of entry for riders after a long travel machine to take their technical riding to the next level.

Sram's NX drivetrain is another example of trickle down technology delivering excellent performance.
Sram’s NX drivetrain is another example of trickle down technology delivering excellent performance.

“If you are either looking to tap into the unlimited fun a long travel bike provides, or upgrade to something to take it even further, the One-Sixty 5000 is a legitimate contender in the competitive and rapidly growing segment of 160/170mm travel bikes.”

Focus SAM C Team:

Some Enduro bikes have one focus, and one focus only. Bikes like the Whyte G-160 and the Pivot Firebird have been designed to go downhill as fast as possible, which makes them amazing for racing and flat out, knuckle clenching riding, but less exciting when you just want to go for a razz around some cruisy singletrack, or your regular descents aren’t overly steep or technical. Luckily, if this sounds like you, the Focus SAM C Team is a different sort of 160mm bike.

The Focus SAM is a high energy 160mm ride.
The Focus SAM is a high energy 160mm ride.

Eagerness: the Focus SAM C Team has it in spades. Like an excited dog pulling its owner about as it charges to sniff every tree and post, this is a bike that’s always in a hurry.”

The SAM's stiff frameset encourages you to ride fast everywhere.
The SAM’s stiff frameset encourages you to ride fast everywhere.

The SAM C Team is a bike that can handle the rough and tumble of ‘Enduro’ style riding, but still feels capable of keeping a relatively high pace on undulating and climbing terrain.

“The suspension is a simple linkage-driven single-pivot setup, handing out 160mm of very responsive, lively travel. It’s a buttery, supple suspension feel too, but with enough anti-squat it preserves the sprinty, excited performance under pedalling that we like about the SAM.”

The linkage design is simple and effective.
The linkage design is simple and effective.

If a bottle cage mounted inside the frame is a prerequisite for your next bike selection, unfortunately the SAM is a pack only ride.

“A RockShox Monarch Plus is housed centrally in the frame, which means no bottle mounts, so it’s a pack-only affair. Having the shock nestled there between your knees gives easy access to the compression lever, so you can quickly flick it into firmer setting on the climbs.”

The centrally located Monarch Plus shock allows no room for a water bottle.
The centrally located Monarch Plus shock allows no room for a water bottle.

In terms of spec, the SAM costs a pretty penny at $8999, however you get some quality kit for your money.

Sram's Guide RSC brakes are solid performers.
Sram’s Guide RSC brakes are solid performers.

“It’s an attractively adorned bike, as it should be for the $8999 price tag. The premium SRAM XX1 drivetrain is a standout, with a 32-tooth chain ring. The drivetrain that started the single-ring revolution continues to impress us, its quiet, stable performance is brilliant. There’s no chain guide, but it’s possible to mount one off the ISCG tabs, which would be a good idea if you’re going racing. SRAM have been given the nod for the brakes too, with the premium Guide RSC stoppers. With a 200mm rotor up front, you’ll have all the braking confidence in the world.”

It's always nice to have a full XX1 drivetrain underneath you!
It’s always nice to have a full XX1 drivetrain underneath you!

Summing up the SAM, it’s a bike that is well up for the rowdy descending Enduro racing demands, but also excels in tamer terrain in the way few 160mm bikes do.

“There’s a lot of urgency to the way this bike rides, even on flatter trails, it keeps shooting forward in a way that few Enduro bikes do. It sprints out of corners beautifully, feeling even lighter than it’s already impressive 12.8kg weight figure. We really came to love the way the SAM could pump speed out of trails, letting your work the bike, pumping into terrain that would see you simply holding on for dear life on board a lesser bike.”

Scott Genius 710 Plus:

What! A plus bike? I thought this was an article about Enduro bikes?!

Hold on with us for a second here. If you’ve ridden a plus bike, especially one with the right tyre and suspension settings for the conditions, you probably don’t think we’re crazy for including a plus bike in this list.

Some of our rowdiest riding last year was aboard a plus bike, on Sydney's loose and rocky trails.
Some of our rowdiest riding last year was aboard a plus bike, on Sydney’s loose and rocky trails.

For many riders, the biggest hindrance to increasing their descending speed is traction and control in corners and technical terrain. With a well setup plus bike, your confidence will go through the roof in both of these areas, as the increased contact patch with the ground allows for huge amounts of traction, braking control and the ability to make your own line through choppy sections of trail that would have you bouncing all over the place aboard a regular bike.

Loose corners that would have you washing hard on a regular bike are no sweat on a plus bike.
Loose corners that would have you washing hard on a regular bike are no sweat on a plus bike.
The Genius Plus was a hoot on the trails.
The Genius Plus was a hoot on the trails.

Anyhow, enough on why we’re talking about a plus bike, let’s get into why we’ve chosen the Scott Genius Plus 710 for this wrap-up!

The Scott Genius Plus 710 would be a good bike for lots of riders!
The Scott Genius Plus 710 would be a good bike for lots of riders!

“The Genius platform is now available in three wheel sizes – 27.5, 29 and 27.5+. If you can’t find a version to suit you, you’re a very unique individual indeed. Visually, the three frames are similar, but there are travel and geometry differences. The 710 Plus shares the same travel as the 29er version, with 140mm up front and an adjustable 130/90mm out back, but the geometry is quite different. The 710 Plus is significantly slacker, a 67.5 degree head angle versus 68.9 degrees on the 29er, and the stays are a tad shorter.”

We think Scott got the head angle spot on for the Genius Plus.
We think Scott got the head angle spot on for the Genius Plus.

Whilst handlebar clutter is one of our pet hates here at Flow, we excuse Scott to an extent because their Twinloc system works bloody well, and they’re integrating it in a more aesthetically pleasing way every year. The Twinloc system on the Genius allows for on the fly adjustments, which are great for firming things up for climbs and flatter singletrack, then switching back to fully open as you get over the crest.

That's not a front derailleur shifter, thankfully!
That’s not a front derailleur shifter, thankfully!

“As with all Scott duallies, the suspension system is built around Twinloc. The bar-mounted lever lets you select either 140mm or 90mm travel modes, or you can lock the rear end out completely. The fork’s compression is activated in tandem – open, firm or locked – completely changing the character of the bike at the push of a button.”

“Really the Twinloc system and Plus tyres are a perfect match – the extra compliance of the big volume rubber makes the shorter travel mode more usable in rough terrain.”

The Twin Loc remote gives you three travel settings to play with in the rear.
The Twin Loc remote gives you three travel settings to play with in the rear.

As we touched on earlier, tyre pressure is so critical to getting the most out of any plus bike, and here’s what we settled on with the Genius.

“Tyre pressure is critical with this much air volume. Too high, and you’re not going to get any advantages from the big tyres, just a bouncy, jumping castle kind of ride. Too low and you risk a vague, slow feel. For us, the sweet spot was about 14/15psi. A digital pressure gauge is essential, don’t trust your track pump.”

A bit of trial and error is critical to getting the most out of the Plus tyres.
A bit of trial and error is critical to getting the most out of the Plus tyres.

Once we set up the bike to suit the conditions, we began to consider if the plus bike option would be faster not only for a small minority, but the majority of riders riding the loose, techy sort of riding we experience daily on Flow’s home trails in Northern Sydney.

If you haven't tried a Plus bike, put it on your bucket list for 2017.
If you haven’t tried a Plus bike, put it on your bucket list for 2017.

“We struggled to get our head around the cornering abilities of this bike. Even with its long rear end, the way it flings into a corner is ridiculous. On trails that we’ve ridden a hundred times, we needed to unlearn our usual braking points, and on corners where we’d usually unclip our inside foot, we could ride with both feet up. You just carry more speed through turns, and that makes for a faster ride overall.”

A chainguide was a welcome inclusion on the hard-charging Genius.
A chainguide was a welcome inclusion on the hard-charging Genius.

Okay, we’ve been pretty flattering of the Genius, but there are a couple of downsides as a trade-off for the many pluses (pardon the pun). Other than a small weight penalty however, we believe the Genius Plus has earned its place on this list as a bike that deserves consideration as a long travel, enduro race ready weapon!

“So what about downsides? Certainly, there are some. On smooth, flatter trails, there’s a small increase in rolling resistance, but it’s hardly perceptible. There’s also a little more weight to cart about, but again not a lot. When you compare the Genius 710 Plus to its 29er equivalent, there’s about 600-700g in it. But it’s not weight for weight’s sake, it comes with huge benefits in terms of traction. We know what we’d choose when it comes to trade-off between weight or grip.”

Polygon Colossus N9:

Resembling a prop from a Star Trek movie more than a bicycle with its futuristic frame design, the Polygon Colossus N9 is a bike that impressed with its fun and lively attitude, and it would suit a rider after the forgiveness of a longer travel machine, but more playfulness than an out and out enduro racer.

Funkier than a Gary Fisher outfit, the Polygon Colossus N9 stands out from the crowd.
Funkier than a Gary Fisher outfit, the Polygon Colossus N9 stands out from the crowd.

“It truly is one of the most spectacularly outlandish frame designs going, big scimitars of carbon out back, a collection of tube profiles that comes together in great style, a real demonstration of what’s possible with carbon and creativity. In an era of increasingly similar frame designs, it’s one of the few frames that look like they were approached with a truly blank slate. That attention to detail continues with other design features, like the smart cable ports and bonded chain slap protection.”

The attention to detail on the Colossus frame is flawless.
The attention to detail on the Colossus frame is flawless.

We can’t talk about a Polygon without talking about value for money. Of course, a bike is so much more than the parts attached to it, and without a good frame you’re not going to get very far, but the Polygon Colossus takes the dollars to bling ratio to the next level.

Premium parts adorn the Colossus for a very reasonable price.
Premium parts adorn the Colossus for a very reasonable price.

“The FOX 36 is just one highlight in a truly stacked spec sheet though. Polygon bikes are always incredibly well equipped, and when you consider the price tag, we can’t think of another bike which even comes close to matching the N9’s component offering. A full SRAM XX1 drivetrain, E13 TRS race wheels, XT brakes, a RockShox Reverb dropper… If you’re more of a Shimano fan, you can get a the N9 with an XTR double-ring drivetrain and XTR brakes for the same price! Ridiculous.”

We were big fans of the E*13 wheels for their stiffness and responsiveness.
We were big fans of the E*13 wheels for their stiffness and responsiveness.

Much like the Merida One Sixty and the Focus SAM, the Polygon Colossus prefers a variety of terrain, and a rider that can flick it around over ploughing technical descents at top speed.

“Playfulness and pedalling performance are two of the elements which stand out for us. This isn’t a 160mm bike that hugs the ground like a mini downhill bike. Rather it gives you the engagement you’d normally expect from a 140mm-travel bike, but with some more forgiveness when you need it. You’re not isolated from the trail, and even when already pushed deep into its travel, the N9 can be flicked to a new line easily.”

The Colossus' firm mid stroke allows you to play with the trail more than you would expect aboard at 160mm bike.
The Colossus’ firm mid stroke allows you to play with the trail more than you would expect aboard at 160mm bike.

“This responsiveness is in part due to the supportive suspension which has a firm mid-stroke, and the responsive E13 wheels, but it’s also a product of the bike’s geometry. When you compare a medium-sized N9 to other medium-sized 160mm bikes, you’ll notice the wheelbase is shorter. The head angle is 66.3 degrees (which is pretty standard for this category of bike) and the stays are 430mm (again, pretty much the norm) but the top-tube/reach measurements are 15-20mm shorter than is common. This makes it an easier bike to flick about, at the expense of stability when it’s really steep and fast.”

The Colossus is slightly shorter than other bikes in its class.
The Colossus is slightly shorter than other bikes in its class.

Whilst we loved the nimbleness and fun loving nature of the Colossus, we do think that if Enduro racing is your focus, you might want to upsize your frame for a bit more stability when the pace is getting blurry.

“If you’re hoping to use your N9 for Enduro racing, we’d encourage you to consider ‘up-sizing’ to get more length in the front end. If you’re a trail rider looking for a bike that’ll give you the ability to descend harder, but without too many handling or performance compromises usually associated with a longer-travel bike, then make sure the N9 is on your shortlist.”

A fun and engaging ride, and great value for money are key attributes of the Colossus.
A fun and engaging ride, and great value for money are key attributes of the Colossus.

Whyte G-160 Works:

Rocking up to the top of a trailhead aboard the Whyte and dropping into anything but the most demanding and gnarly descent is bringing a bazooka to a knife fight.

The single minded Whyte G-160.
The single minded Whyte G-160.

This is the bike you want if you couldn’t give a hoot about riding tame singletrack or getting to the top in a hurry, but strapping on a race plate and waiting for hours at the bottom of descents for your mates is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

There aren't many bikes that descend faster than the G-160.
There aren’t many bikes that descend faster than the G-160.

“UK brand Whyte are well-known for their high-quality frames with radical geometry, if you didn’t know that already take a look at this one – the Whyte G-160 Works is a real monster. We absolutely love the way it doesn’t aim to please everyone, its purpose is crystal clear, to dominate descents.”

Getting after it on the G-160!
Getting after it on the G-160!

Long, low and slack pretty much sums up the G-160s’s geometry, which is optimised for the rowdiest Enduro riding imaginable.

“The G-160 Works is a 13.2kg big-travel enduro bike with seriously aggressive geometry and 160mm of travel. It has the longest top tube measurement of any bike we’ve ever tested here, 636mm long for the medium size frame optimised for use with a super-short 32mm stem. Geometry aside the G-160 is built for speed and steep terrain with a burly parts spec and a single-ring specific frame design.”

The G-160 is a loooooong bike.
The G-160 is a loooooong bike.

As with all the Whytes we’ve tested here at Flow, the build quality and finishing touches on the G-160 are on another level, it’s quite clear this British brand have a great deal of pride in their products.

The G-160 features rubber chainstay protection.
The G-160 features rubber chainstay protection.

“Take a close look and you’ll certainly be impressed with the classy finish and the all the pivots and suspension linkages look stout, add in the fact that the suspension bearings are backed by a lifetime warranty, you’ll certainly have confidence in the construction and ability to handle all types of weather.”

Whyte seal their bearings from nuclear warfare.
Whyte seal their bearings from nuclear warfare.

One surprising attribute of the G-160 however was the lack of chainguide as standard- for a bike this aggressive, we’d be strapping one on before heading out for the first ride.

“With no chain guide fitted as standard, we were a little apprehensive when the trails turned ultra rough, and sure enough we dropped a chain when we really needed it most. We’d suggest fitting one, the weight and appearance sacrifice is worth it.” 

Get a chainguide on here pronto!
Get a chainguide on here pronto!

Spec-wise, the G-160 doesn’t muck around with anything but the most meaty and aggressive components for the job at hand.

“A Pike RCT3 fork and Monarch Plus RC3 Debonair rear shock are a perfect match and suited this bike’s appetite for gravity-fed gnar. The combination of a meaty High Roller on the front and the low-profile Minion SS out the back is growing in popularity for the racers, the lighter rear tyre loses the tall centre knobs but retains plenty of chunky tread on the side for cornering traction. While we certainly appreciated its fast acceleration we’d be sure to keep a matching High Roller rear tyre on hand to match the front when the trails are steeper and the dirt is softer.”

A Pike RCT3 fork gives immediate confidence up front.
A Pike RCT3 fork gives immediate confidence up front.

As we continually stressed throughout the G-160 review, this is a bike with single minded intentions, and with that comes limitations in other areas.

“Our first ride on this bike began with a climb, and believe us we were not exactly singing the Whyte’s praises along the way up! With so much bike in front of you it takes great care to steer it where you want it to go when spinning up a climb. The short stem reacts quickly to your steering input, almost too quickly at times, we often found ourselves chasing the front wheel with little warning.”

The ultra short stem makes climbing on the G-160 interesting.
The ultra short stem makes climbing on the G-160 interesting.

Summing up, we think that for the money, if Enduro racing and descending are your out and out priorities, the G-160 should be right up there as an option for your next bike. 

“The Whyte G-160 Works has massive appeal for a rider that knows what they want, can forego all-rounder capabilities and appreciates ultimate build quality.”

If descending fast is the aim, the G-160 should be at the top of your list.
If descending fast is the aim, the G-160 should be at the top of your list.

GT Sensor Carbon Team 2:

Much like the Scott Genius 710 Plus, some of you might be questioning why a 130mm bike is appearing on this list, especially considering we did a trail bikes wrap up only a few weeks ago.

What the Sensor lacks in travel, it makes up for in attitude.
What the Sensor lacks in travel, it makes up for in attitude.

Well, despite only packing 130mm of travel in the rear, we thought that the aggressive, push me harder attitude of the Sensor makes it a worthy candidate on this list, particularly if you want to do some technical riding and Enduro racing, but you appreciate the flexibility a shorter travel bike provides.

“After a few weeks pounding the GT Sensor Carbon Team around our trails we’ve grown an appreciation for its finest attribute – its brawn. GT label the Sensor as a trail bike, but have dressed it in some serious parts. The big tyres, 150mm RockShox Pike and wide bars make this ‘trail bike’ look badass.”

It didn't take long for us to start pushing pretty hard on the trail aboard the Sensor.
It didn’t take long for us to start pushing pretty hard on the trail aboard the Sensor.

Starting with the burly frame, the Sensor strikes a serious demeanour from the get go.

“There’s nothing svelte about this one, it’s built like a tank. Big shapes and wide-set pivot points give the Sensor real muscle.”

There aren't many 130mm bikes as chunky as the Sensor.
There aren’t many 130mm bikes as chunky as the Sensor.

The spec shows real attention to detail, which really impressed us as it allows you to roll out of the shop content that you’ve got the best parts for the job at hand.

The Sensor uses a well thought out mix of parts that suit its personality well.
The Sensor uses a well thought out mix of parts that suit its personality well.

“GT seem to have a thing with shopping around for parts, there’s an eclectic bunch of bits from a wide range of brands on this bike, but all the parts work well together, testament that whoever specs these bikes rides them too.”

A chainguide as standard says alot about the Sensor's intentions on the trail.
A chainguide as standard says alot about the Sensor’s intentions on the trail.

 As we said earlier, despite its 130mm of travel, the Sensor doesn’t want to plod about the trails sedately, it wants its owner to take control and put the 150mm front end and stiff chassis to good use.

“Once up to speed it’s easy to keep it there and if you’re game, the key is to lay off the brakes and give it hell! It’ll hold lines through rocky sections and won’t lose momentum, the rear end stiffness helps gobbles up big impacts transferring the energy of the impact into the shock rather than deflecting. You don’t ride this bike like your run-of-the-mill trail bike, you ride it hard and then reap the rewards from such a solid chassis and firm, supportive suspension.”

The Sensor's progressive rear end begs for the rider to take control.
The Sensor’s progressive rear end begs for the rider to take control.

Where a bike like the Pivot Firebird, with its 170mm of travel front and rear and ground hugging traction wants to plough through the meanest lines with careless disregard, the Sensor is a bike that would suit the rider who likes the challenge of moving around the trail, popping from one line to another and pumping undulations for speed.

“Rather than a ground hugging or offering a supple kind of ride, it’s more a firm and engaging one that responds instantly to your input. Jumping from one side of the trail to avoid a rut, or gapping over a hole and into a corner becomes a possibility when you’re not wallowing in a cushy and comfortable bike. This beast begs you to take control.”

Should you come up short, the 150mm RockShox Pike has your back.
Should you come up short, the 150mm RockShox Pike has your back.

Whilst GT went through a barren patch a few years ago, bikes like the Sensor get us excited about the future for this historic brand. If you’re after a bike that forces you to take control, rather than make the decisions out on the trail for you, the Sensor is worth a look.

Tell the Sensor what to do out on the trail, and it will obey.
Tell the Sensor what to do out on the trail, and it will obey.

“The GT Sensor is a prodigious bike that relishes hard riding. Where many bikes sacrifice robustness, the Sensor manages to keep its weight down to 13kg but still feels so solid beneath you. But it certainly isn’t a peppy and agile trail bike, so if you’re a lighter or gentle rider you may find it a bit heavy to get going.”

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The Sensor in its natural environment.

Canyon Strive CF 9.0 Race:

The word ‘Race’ in this bike’s title, combined with the fact Fabien Barel helped develop, and then piloted this bike to numerous EWS podiums tells you straightway this isn’t the bike to do a bit of everything on.

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The Strive’s lines are ultra smooth.

“Make no mistake the Strive ain’t no casual all-rounder, this is a dedicated enduro race bike. It’s super long, very slack and as we were to quickly find out it needs to be ridden hard or its capabilities will go to waste.”

Fabien Barel could rail a shopping trolley, but he proved the capabilities of the Strive at the highest level of Enduro racing.
Fabien Barel could rail a shopping trolley, but he proved the capabilities of the Strive at the highest level of Enduro racing.

“Our test bike comes from the ‘Race Geometry’ range of Strives, which have a slightly longer front centre than the ‘Regular’ models, a requirement from the race team to meet the demands of top-level enduro racing. A longer bike coupled with a short stem will result in quick handling but with room for stability at speed.”

The Strive adheres to the descending oriented long, low and slack geometry.
The Strive adheres to the descending oriented long, low and slack geometry.

At times, direct to consumer brands get a bad wrap as ‘cheap’ alternatives to the main players in the Australian market, but the Canyon Strive is a truly jaw-dropping bike, both in appearance, and engineering precision.

Neat protection for chainslap and the unlikely event of the chain dropping show great attention to detail on the Strive.
Neat protection for chainslap and the unlikely event of the chain dropping show great attention to detail on the Strive.

“It’s a full carbon affair front and back and wowzers it’s stiffer than an Eskimo’s nipples, there’s a serious lack of twisting or bending when you grab the rear wheel and flex it side-to-side. All the cables travel internally via nice little rubberised ports, and while we did hear some rattling at times from the rear brake line inside the frame we found it all pretty easy to work with.”

Internal routing throughout gives the Strive a clean look.
Internal routing throughout gives the Strive a clean look.

Whilst the Strive is a heavy hitting 160mm Enduro race bike, the very clever Shapeshifter technology promises the old ‘two bikes in one’ claim. Does it work out on the trails though? Hell yes!

The Shapeshifter lever can be mounted in a variety of ways.
The Shapeshifter lever can be mounted in a variety of ways.

“The Shapeshifter is a Canyon developed system that switches the rear shock between two positions via a button at the bars – climb and descend mode. The two distinctly different positions toggle the rear suspension travel between a super plush 163mm and a firmer 139mm while simultaneously having huge impact on the bike’s geometry. It’s very slack and low when descending and in climb mode the head angle sharpens 1.5 degrees and the bottom bracket sits 20mm higher.”

The hardware that makes the Shapeshifter system work.
The hardware that makes the Shapeshifter system work.

“The Shapeshifter is essentially just a volume of air with a lockout button, lean your bodyweight back into the rear of the bike with the lever pressed and it’ll compress into descend mode with a faint clunking sound, increasing the leverage on the shock and dropping the bottom bracket height. To pop back to climb mode shift your bodyweight forward with the button pressed and it’ll extend open again.”

In classic direct to consumer style, the Strive represents amazing value for money, so if Enduro racing on a budget is your priority, you’ll be very pleased with the bang for your buck the Strive presents.

Sram's X01 drivetrain handles the shifting duties.
Sram’s X01 drivetrain handles the shifting duties.

“Canyon went shopping in the enduro section to deck out this one in the best bits. The RockShox Pike RCT3 is ideal, and the SRAM Rail 50 wheels are a worthy. A Maxxis High Roller front and Minion rear combo offers remarkable traction anywhere and are a Flow favourite, we especially like the way they bite in deep with the brakes on.”

The Pike fork and High Roller tyre combo gives huge amounts of confidence up front.
The Pike fork and High Roller tyre combo gives huge amounts of confidence up front.

Much like other bikes discussed in this article, such as the Whyte G-160 and the Pivot Firebird, the Canyon Strive requires an aggressive style and intent to get the most out of it, and ideally some pretty technical terrain.

Just ride like Fabien, you'll be fine!
Just ride like Fabien, you’ll be fine!

“The length of the frame promotes you to really push harder and faster, and the stability from such a long top tube gives us major courage to let the brakes off and really punch it harder. Through the turns you mustn’t forget you’re riding a true enduro race bike, it requires real body language to tip it down and whip it about but after a few runs of our local downhill track we changed tactic and came into the corners drifting sideways instead, foot out and totally pinned.”

You can use some serious body language aboard the Strive, it'll be fine.
You can use some serious body language aboard the Strive, it’ll be fine.

“The trade-off for the length is when the descents got slower and tighter, maybe that’s why Barel does such magnificent nose wheelies around tight switchbacks, because this thing can feel like a mini bus at times. But that is how you pay for the mega stability, fair is fair.”

All in all, the Strive is another bike to add to the list if you’re after a super capable Enduro race bike. And if your rides involve a lot of climbing, the Shapeshifter is a real game changer too.

You won't be able to keep the wheels on the ground either when you're whizzing through the trail on the Strive.
You won’t be able to keep the wheels on the ground either when you’re whizzing through the trail on the Strive.

“And who can look past the price, it’s a seriously good bike for the dollars, a testament to the modern sales method from this huge German bicycle company. Out of the box it is ready to shred, it’s a true modern enduro race bike.”

With it's well thought out spec and geometry, and the innovative Shapeshifter unit, the Strive won't let you down when the trail gets aggro.
With it’s well thought out spec and geometry, and the innovative Shapeshifter unit, the Strive won’t let you down when the trail gets aggro.

Pivot Firebird Carbon Pro XT/XTR:

After spending time aboard bikes like the G-160, and the Canyon Strive last year, we didn’t think we’d get on a bike that was any more downhill oriented in its intent or performance than either of those descending brutes! We shouldn’t have assumed- the reinvigorated Pivot Firebird certainly made an ass out of us!

The gorgeous Pivot Firebird.
The gorgeous Pivot Firebird.

“Put simply the Firebird adheres to the long, low and slack formula that tends to be the standard for bikes with more than 150mm of travel in 2016. Pivot have combined a modern geometry with 170mm of travel front and rear, and even on our first ride, the plushness of 170mm of DW link suspension blew our minds.”

The Firebird is packing ample travel front and rear.
The Firebird is packing ample travel front and rear.

We spent a fair amount of time on the Firebird at Thredbo’s unforgiving, technical trails and in much the same vein as other Enduro-specific bikes out there, we found our own limits on the descents much quicker than the limits of the Firebird.

Most of our time on the Firebird was spent on the edge.
Most of our time on the Firebird was spent on the edge.

“In terms of ploughing through rock gardens, committing to loose, high speed sections and taking the gnarly lines, the Pivot never felt out of its depth- it was always the rider pulling the pin before the bike lost control.”

The Firebird loves eating up rocks.
The Firebird loves eating up rocks.

“On high speed sections, as well as wide open turns, of which Thredbo has about a million, the Pivot felt exceptionally stable thanks to its long wheelbase and low bottom bracket. Combined with a rear end that grips the trail like Velcro, we never felt like we were skipping around through braking bumps, or being taken off line in rough sections. If you point the Firebird in the general direction you want to go, it’ll get you there.”

The Firebird's rear end keeps you glued to the trail.
The Firebird’s rear end keeps you glued to the trail.

With 170mm of travel, and the long, low and slack geometry, the Firebird isn’t similar to a bike like the GT Sensor where you can quickly change lines to stay smooth and pump the trail. Strap in and hold on, if you’re game!

Make sure you put your big boy pants on before dropping in on the Firebird!
Make sure you put your big boy pants on before dropping in on the Firebird!

“In the air the Firebird is very stable. Come up short or land awkwardly, it will save your bacon – we rolled out of some situations where other bikes might’ve bucked us off. In terms of using little hops or transfer lines in the singletrack however, the Firebird felt sluggish- this is a bike that much prefers to plough through disrespectfully than tiptoe its way along the trail.”

Picking the Firebird up requires a fair amount of effort at slow speeds.
Picking the Firebird up requires a fair amount of effort at slow speeds.

By now, you’re probably sick of reading that bikes with long wheelbases don’t corner amazingly when it’s tight and slow- but we should reiterate it, because we know that our home trails at Flow have lots of awkward, slow speed sections that required some real effort aboard the Firebird, so you really need the terrain to back up the Firebird’s capabilities.

“An area where we noticed the Pivot’s slackness and length was in tight turns. Getting the Pivot to corner tightly required either some serious body language to muscle the bike, or forethought about using an endo or cutty to whip the bike around.” 

Getting your fit out on tight corners aboard the Firebird is necessary at times.
Getting your foot out on tight corners aboard the Firebird is necessary at times.

Getting back to the top wasn’t as arduous as you would expect aboard a 170mm bike, and the Firebird retains the classic pedalling efficiency Pivot have been renowned for over the years, which was pleasing.

“The Pivot climbs remarkably well considering it’s a 170mm bike. The low speed compression lever on the shock was excellent for firming the bike up not only on longer, smoother climbs, but almost all the time when the trail points up. As the Firebird is such a long travel machine, the shock does bob a fair bit when it’s left open on the climbs, so utilising the compression lever (which doesn’t lock the shock out completely, and still allows the suspension to maintain traction up technical climbs) gives a much more efficient pedalling platform for climbing.”

The Firebird excelled on technical climbs, but preferred to cruise up less challenging uphills.
The Firebird excelled on technical climbs, but preferred to cruise up less challenging uphills.

Much like the G-160 and Canyon Strive, the Pivot Firebird’s component selections have as much to do with its meaty performance as its design. Continuity within all the models in the range, consisting of solid suspension and wide, aggressive tyres means you’ll be able to get the most out of the bike straight out of the box, regardless of what model you buy.

Fox's delicious Float 36 up front.
Fox’s delicious Float 36 up front.

“We discussed in the First Bite our approval for Pivot deciding to provide continuity within the Firebird models by speccing Fox suspension and Maxxis Minion tyres front and rear throughout the range, and this approval was warranted, as these critical components provide so much of the confidence the Firebird oozes out on the trails.”

The 2.5" Maxxis Minion tyre up front provides grip for days.
The 2.5″ Maxxis Minion tyre up front provides grip for days.

The Firebird is another example of a bike with one mandate, to descend the stuff you’d normally have white knuckles and a tight sphincter through with careless disregard and a smile on your face. Whilst we love this sort of riding, and for racing the gnar we couldn’t think of many better bikes, you need to have some speed and technical terrain on your everyday rides to make the Firebird, and similar bikes worthwhile.

It's flat out all the time on the Firebird.
It’s flat out all the time on the Firebird.

“If you place a high priority on descending fast, you’re an aspiring Enduro racer, or you want to boost your confidence on technical descents, the Pivot Firebird is a very worthy consideration. This bike has a clear mandate – to descend as fast as possible whilst still being able to ride to the top. It knows what it wants to do, and does it incredibly well.”

You'll have no excuse to not descend fast aboard the Firebird.
You’ll have no excuse to not descend fast aboard the Firebird.

So, which of these bikes is the right one for me?

Luckily, we think that if you randomly picked any of these bikes, you wouldn’t be disappointed. That being said, despite belonging to a similar category, many of these bikes are real ‘horses for courses’ options. We see this as a real positive, as it allows the consumer to pick a bike that truly suits their goals and riding ambitions. With that in mind, we’re going to finish this piece by giving examples of what bikes would suit what situations, with questions we hear pretty often from people trying to decide on their next bike purchase.

I’m looking for a bike that I can improve my technical descending skills on, but still head out for faster paced trail rides on with my mates on the weekend?

If this sounds like the sort of bike you’re after, bikes like the Giant Trance Advanced One, Focus SAM C Team and the Polygon Colossus N9 are worth a look.

The Focus SAM is fit for a broader scope of use than its 160mm of travel would suggest.
The Focus SAM is fit for a broader scope of use than its 160mm of travel would suggest.

I’m confident in my handling abilities in technical terrain, and am looking for a playful and lively long travel bike that I can jump around the trail on rather than feel like a passenger on?

For a long travel fun machine, rather than single-minded descending plougher, we think the Polygon Colossus N9, GT Sensor Carbon Team 2 and Merida One Sixty 5000 are pretty good options.

The Polygon Colossus combines the forgiveness of long travel with a playful and lively geometry.
The Polygon Colossus combines the forgiveness of long travel with a playful and lively geometry.

I’m pretty fit, and I don’t want something that’s designed for EWS racing but I do want to feel more confident in technical terrain, both up and down?

If you’re after confidence on the descents and ascents, bikes like the Scott Genius 710 Plus, Merida One Sixty 5000 and the Canyon Strive are worthy options that are still fun to ride on tamer trails.

If you're after more confidence when the trail gets technical, the Scott Genius Plus will have your back. If you're currently shaking your head, go and try one!
If you’re after more confidence when the trail gets technical, the Scott Genius Plus will have your back. If you’re currently shaking your head, go and try one!

I couldn’t care less about anything less than the rowdiest, most downhill-esque trails and riding them at KOM pace in preparation for raceday?

For ultimate downhill performance in a package that can still pedal back up the hill reasonably efficiently, we’d be looking at the Canyon Strive, Whyte G-160 and Pivot Firebird. The last two bikes especially really do require some serious pushing, or rigorous terrain to shine, but if you’ve got the conditions, they’re hard to go past!

We're wondering when we'll see the Firebird shine on the EWS stage...
We’re wondering when we’ll see the Firebird shine on the EWS stage…

We had an absolute blast riding long travel bikes in 2016, which has given us the bug to get amongst some more racing this year on these capable and grin inducing machines. If you’re in the market for a new rig, or just interested in what’s out there, we hope you’ve found this wrap up useful- keep an eye out for more comparative content in 2017!

The Canyon Factory Downhill Team Is Here

With a star studded line up, we expect the all-new team will be competitive from the get-go.
With a star studded line up, we expect the all-new team will be competitive from the get-go.

The goal of the CFDT is to equip the best riders in the world with the best setup, and provide them with a team and support system unlike any other on the scene. Leading up the project is multiple World Champion, Fabien Barel, who will, in his own words, be responsible for “putting the right people and the right structure together to bring our bike and our riders up on the podium.”

Mountain Biking legend Fabien Barel will manage the new team.
Mountain Biking legend Fabien Barel will mentor the new team.

“Our bike” will be the Sender CF. Troy, Ruaridh and Mark will be the first riders to race Canyon’s flagship downhill bike at World Cup level. Canyon is eager to work with the team to receive in-depth feedback and further advance the company’s mountain bike and downhill technologies. Barel, who works closely with Canyon’s Development Department echoed the sentiment saying, “I believe that downhill is the Formula One of bike racing and that more generally racing is the best method for developing a bike. Being at the top of the World Cup circuit with our bike will definitely raise the bar for the performance and technology of the product and hopefully bring us to a new level!”

Troy Brosnan is the marquee signing for the team.
Troy Brosnan is the marquee signing for the team.

After a busy off-season including extensive testing and a visiting Koblenz to see the Canyon facilities and meet the engineers, the riders are just as excited about the new partnership. For Troy, “it has been amazing for me coming to Canyon. It’s really like a small family where you know all of the right people, in all of the right places, and if you want something done, it doesn’t have to go through too many people to actually get to the top.”

Canadian Mark Wallace makes the switch from Devinci to Canyon.
Canadian Mark Wallace makes the switch from Devinci to Canyon.

The team’s staff will be rounded out by Team Manager Mathieu Gallean, Head Mechanic Nigel Reeve, Troy’s Personal Mechanic Aaron Pelttari and Mechanic Yoann Jurgaud.

Troy's mechanic Aaron has also come across to Canyon this season.
Troy’s mechanic Aaron has also come across to Canyon this season.

The CFDT will work with Mavic, SRAM, RockShox, Maxxis, Muc-Off, GoPro, Crankbrothers, RTI Sports, E.Thirteen, Ergon, Topeak, Mucky Nutz, Troy Lee Designs and Adidas Eyewear.

For an in-depth look at the Canyon Factory Downhill Team go to www.canyon.com/factoryracing

 

Dry, Dusty Racing In Orange As The XCO National Series Kicks Off

Riders faced hot, dry and dusty conditions at Kinross State Forest for the first two rounds of the season at the venue, which played host to a national series for the first time.

In the opening round of the elite women Rebecca Henderson (ACT) picked up where she left off last season, and clocked 1:35:45 over the five laps on what was a short, punchier 4.7km Saturday loop, ahead of Kathryn McInerney (NSW) and Eliza Kwan (ACT).

But the reigning national series holder struggled to back up on Sunday, on the steeper 6km loop, with a hard earned second.

“Today I was super flat and rusty and was suffering and couldn’t just find a good speed,” said Henderson.

“Finally on the fourth and final lap I had a little target and was feeling good and I could hear that Anna wasn’t that far ahead and sort of gave it what I had and almost got there,” Henderson remarked.

On Sunday Beck held a two minute lead heading into the final lap over McInerney and Henderson.

“I think I had more to prove today having a mechanical yesterday in second and everyone had sore legs so I tried to go out early and get a visual gap which worked.”

Anna beck took the win in the Elite Women's race on Sunday.
Anna Beck took the win in the Elite Women’s race on Sunday.

“It was super hard; the course got more blown out, the climbs just seemed to get steeper and that whole last lap I was thinking just ride consistent and safe and not crash,” Beck said.

The Brisbane based cross-country rider crossed the line in 1:40:02 with Henderson six seconds behind.

Despite the likes of Cam Ivory, Brendan Johnston and Kyle Ward missing, McConnell would still dominate the clock in the opening rounds of the series with an average 16minute lap time to finish 1:38:31 ahead of Russ Nankervis (VIC) and Ben Bradley (TAS) who rounded out the podium in round one, before holding off Bradley and Ethan Kelly (QLD) on day two.

“It’s always hard the first race of the season and you never really know where you are at, so to come away with two race wins I’m pretty happy and I can build that lead into a good season,” McConnell said.

“I think over the next few rounds you will see few more guys come back and the rest of the season will get more competitive.”

In a stacked Junior men’s field, Cameron Wright (QLD) would take top spot on the podium both days with some scorching lap times to ensure an early lead in the series over Matthew Dinham (NSW) and Kian Lerch-Mackinnon (VIC).

“Definitely having a shorter race you can push a lot harder a lot sooner.”

“I’m looking forward to the rest of the national series and felt great round one and two, so round three and four will be full on with the boys on my heels.”

Katherine Hosking (NSW) claimed wins on both days in the Junior female category. She beat second-placed Olivia Nendick by about 10 minutes on both loops.

Riley King (NSW) was superb in the Under 17s, winning comfortably by 16 seconds on both loops, with Charlie Todd (NSW) coming second in both races.

Flow’s First Bite: Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup

The brand new Scott Spark is drastically different to the previous design.
The brand new Scott Spark is drastically different to the previous design.

Okay, maybe nobody said that to us, and we certainly haven’t thrown the Spark sideways through the air like the Swiss wizard himself, but the all new 2017 Scott Spark has been filling our heads with thoughts that maybe we missed our calling in life as fit and powerful cross-country racers.

Motoring through the trails is what the Spark is all about.
Motoring through the trails is what the Spark is all about.

So, this is a brand-new Scott Spark for 2017?

Yep! We were lucky enough to attend the launch of the new Spark range earlier this year, and we won’t go into the incredible number of changes and new additions the 2017 frame features here, but check out our recap of the launch to see just why the new Spark is perhaps the most desirable cross-country bike on the planet right now!

An integrated derailleur hanger is one of the Spark's many weight saving revisions.
An integrated derailleur hanger is one of the Spark’s many weight saving revisions.

It looks like there’s some top of the line kit on the Spark- is there anything on this bike that you can upgrade? 

Our large sized Spark RC 900 World Cup weighs in at ten kilograms on the dot without pedals, and the only components that aren’t top of the line are FOX’s Performance Line suspension, a set of alloy Syncros wheels and SRAM’s XO1 Eagle groupset rather than the flagship XX1.

Fox's Performance Elite forks still get the Step-Cast treatment.
Fox’s Performance Elite forks still get the Step-Cast treatment.

Despite this, we’re pretty much of the opinion that if you’re on this bike you instantly relinquish any bike/weight/equipment related excuse that you may have used in the past.

The Ritchey World Cup Series finishing kit is simply sublime.
The Ritchey World Cup Series finishing kit is simply sublime.

The Scott Spark RC 900 World Cup sits one model below the top of the line SL model, which comes decked out with factory level Fox suspension, a full complement of Syncros carbon finishing kit and some super light carbon wheels made for Syncros by DT Swiss.

The Scott Spark RC 900 SL is the lightest dual suspension bike in the world.
The Scott Spark RC 900 SL is the lightest dual suspension bike in the world.

What sort of geometry numbers are we looking at?

The Spark is an out and out cross-country race bike, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t received some of the ‘modern’ geometry touches that have increased the capabilities of bikes in all travel categories. The new Spark has moved from a 70-degree head angle to 68.5 degrees; the reach has been lengthened in every size (for example, our large sized bike has gone from 438mm to 456.8mm) and the chainstays have been shortened across the range by 13mm to a very snappy 435mm.

The geometry changes Scott have made to the Spark make it a more lively ride.
The geometry revisions have made the Spark a more lively ride.

What’s the lever on the left hand side of the handlebar if there’s no front derailleur or dropper post?

Scott loves their bikes to be adjustable, and the new Spark is no exception. The bike features a Twin Loc remote that controls both front and rear suspension simultaneously. The system has three positions. Firstly, a fully open position that allows full travel, front and rear. One click of the black lever switches the rear shock to Traction mode, while the fork remains fully active and the shock is switched to a firmer setting. Click again and rear shock and fork both lockout fully. The silver lever returns the suspension to full travel.

The Twin-Loc remote system is an excellent feature for Cross-Country racing.
The Twin Loc remote system is an excellent feature for Cross-Country racing.

On trail bikes, we’re not huge fans of lockout levers cluttering the handlebar and creating a bird’s nest of cables adorning the front of the bike, but the Twin Loc system on the Spark makes a lot of sense for cross-country racing and is well integrated. In a recent interview, Nino Schurter commented that he often finishes races with a sore thumb from using the Twin-Loc system continuously throughout a race!

The Twin Loc cable for the rear shock pops out neatly at the bottom of the downtube.
The Twin Loc cable for the rear shock pops out neatly at the bottom of the downtube.

What about if I don’t want to race cross-country World Cups?

We’ll point this out now after only a few rides on this rig- it’s not a trail bike. Every single element of the Spark has been engineered to optimise performance on the cross-country race track. You don’t have to be Nino Schurter to reap the benefits of this machine, but unless you’re racing, or your riding consists of flowing, non-technical trails, then perhaps this bike isn’t the right choice.

The Spark wants to go fast all the time.
The Spark wants to go fast all the time.

Despite this bike being a dedicated race bike, look out for a full review soon, where we’ll go into more detail about how the Spark handles the variety of riding we plan to throw at it.

Cannonball MTB Festival 2016 Event Recap

The weather was at its alpine best with blue sky and sunshine across the weekend. Amateurs, pros, juniors and novice riders were competing for a share of the $50,000 prize pool. There was a roll call of big name riders including Troy Brosnan, Connor Fearon and New Zealand’s Brook Macdonald, plus home town heroes Andrew and Thomas Crimmins.

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Brosnan busted through to hit a sub-five minute time, definitely a new track record.

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On the famous 3.5km Cannonball Downhill track, Troy Brosnan took out the main event, the Go Pro Australian Open Downhill, in an scorching time of 4 minutes and 56 seconds. Luke Ellison and Thredbo rider Thomas Crimmins took home 2nd and 3rd place respectively. The strongly contested event pushed riders to their physical and mental limits, all vying for the biggest prize purse on the Australian Mountain Biking event calendar.

Brosnan keeping it breathtakingly low and fast into the finish of the GoPro Australian Open Downhill.
Brosnan keeping it breathtakingly low and fast into the finish of the GoPro Australian Open Downhill.

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World Cup rider Troy Brosnan was ecstatic with his win. “It’s such a great event, I love coming here and to win for the second time is amazing. The track, the race, the whole vibe of the festival is amazing and something I love being part of,” said Brosnan.

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A big contingent of pros turned out to race, including Josh Carlson.

The weekend opened with a new event- the Canyon All-Mountain Assault –where a mix of gravity and XC skills were key. Riders took on the epic 7km flowy descent through the diverse Thredbo alpine terrain, with a nice little pinch climb at the end that left riders breathless at the finish.

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This is how excited people were about the All-Mountain trail.
This is how excited people were about the All-Mountain trail. Carlson, frothing as usual.

The ROCKSHOX Pump Track Challenge rounded out the first day of competition, with young gun Remy Morton tearing up the new look Pump Track to take home the coveted title. The action was big in the SRAM Whip Wars, with over 100 riders lining up to impress the judges. The flips, old school manoeuvres and massive whips excited the massive hillside crowd. Connor Fearon was eventually crowned the King of Style.

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CRACK IT!

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P-U-M-P-I-N-G
P-U-M-P-I-N-G

With both sides of the resort pumping tunes from DJs and live acts, and Thredbo’s stellar offering of bars and restaurants alive and pumping, Thredbo again proved why it’s the ultimate holiday destination for summer. The riding is not just for pros, with a range of new trails to suit every level of rider added to the already extensive network. Thredbo boasts 25 kilometres of epic riding in the region, including the latest and greatest Thredbo All-Mountain Trail.

Cannonball MTB Festival 2016 – Day One And Two

With rainfall across Thursday evening and the sun arriving just in time for Friday morning, riders were provided with perfect conditions to test their skills on the All-Mountain, Downhill and Flow trails before getting stuck into competition mode.

The Canyon All Mountain Assault was the first event to kick off the festival, and the 500 plus field of competitors flew down the 7km long track at high speeds, navigating their way through tight trees, rocks and a variety of berms all the way to the finish line.

There was an awesome and friendly vibe in the air for the first day of competition with families, riders, kids and some of the best pros in the world all enjoying the mountain biking festivities in the competitors area, accompanied by tunes blasting from Red Bull’s specialised DJ booth.

This is the vibe right now at the Cannonball MTB Festival.
This is the vibe right now at the Cannonball MTB Festival.

It was tight competition between the competitors but Benjamin Forbes came out on top in the Pro Men’s competition. Claire Whiteman won the Pro Women’s category, showing off her years of experience and skill on All-Mountain style terrain.

The times throughout the Pump Track Challenge were tight, with riders having to either complete one lap or a figure 8’ish double lap of the insane course. Coming out on top was Daniele Beecroft in the Pro Women’s category, narrowly followed by local ripper and Thredbo rider Tegan Molloy. In the Pro Men’s category it was Remy Morton who took out the 2016 Rockshox Pump Track Challenge for the second year in a row.

The Rockshox Pump Track Party attracted a huge crowd.
The Rockshox Pump Track Party attracted a huge crowd.

On the second morning, riders eagerly got out on the mountain at 9am to get practice laps underway before racing started at 11:30am. The Flow and Downhill trails were jam packed with novices, amateurs and pros all figuring out the fastest line to shave crucial seconds off their time.

With cloudless skies and warming temperatures the Maxxis Flow Motion Cup got underway. The women hit the Flow trail first and took the definition of speed and control to a whole new level, with local Tegan Molloy showing the boys a thing or two about riding the technical Flow trail.

The men’s race was a wide open field and a definite winner was hard to pick. High speed also means high consequence and there were some of the biggest bails we’ve seen so far this mountain biking season. Coming out on top was Josh Carlson In the Pro mens category and Tegan Molloy in the Pro Womens.

Josh Carlson took the win in the Flow Motion Cup.
Josh Carlson took the win in the Flow Motion Cup.

The Sram Whip Wars were up next, with non-stop freestyle whipping mania for a full hour on the 40-foot table top. Conner Fearon took out the event for the second year in a row, however there were some definite contenders in the mix with Ryan Dawson sending it bigger than most of the pros and Ellie Smith and Ronga Hill being the only women to step it up to the insane whip off.

Connor Fearon didn't only go crazy sideways, but was bringing them back every time.
Connor Fearon didn’t only go crazy sideways, but was bringing them back every time.

Stay tuned for all the Sunday action tomorrow. It’s the GoPro Australia Downhill event this afternoon and we can’t wait for it!

Quarq Set to Revolutionise EWS Coverage for Fans and Athletes

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For the first time in mountain biking, fan and athletes can be privy to every detail of every stage of every race thanks to new technology developed by Quarq. The results are just the final chapter of a race – and the introduction of Quarq’s new analyser will tell the rest of the story. Riders who have carried a Quarq GPS tracker at any of this year’s eight EWS races will now be able to review their performance on every stage in stunning detail. They’ll not only be able to monitor their own race – but also directly compare it against their competitors so they can see where they gained and lost time on every stage they raced this year.

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All season, the top 100 ranked men, top 30 women, top 10 Under 21 men and top 10 Masters have carried the Quarq units known as Qollectors, which use GPS technology to track their location and speed. Now the technology is going one step further, and by visiting this site athletes and fans can see in detail where racers not only gain and drop time, but will eventually be able to deduce where racer’s strengths and weaknesses lie and even begin to predict which stages will suit which riders.

We bet there's a few people keen to analyse Richie Rude's complete dominance in 2016.
We bet there’s a few people keen to analyse Richie Rude’s complete dominance in 2016.

Chris Ball, Managing Director of the Enduro World Series, said: “I’m so excited about this new service – it’s going to add a whole new dimension to our races. It’s going to let people not just discover the results of the race, but understand exactly how it unfolded, stage by stage.

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For fans of the sport it’s going to bring a whole new layer of interest to each race and for the riders themselves it will offer an invaluable service. In terms of a racer understanding their own performance, I don’t think there’s ever been a more valuable tool.”

Nico Lau is known to be strong on the longer stages, now you'll be able to see exactly where he pulls ahead.
Nico Lau is known to be strong on the longer stages, now you’ll be able to see exactly where he pulls ahead.

Jim Meyer, Quarq Technology Director, added: “Every race has so much story hidden inside. From time lost and gained, to athletic prowess and power output, to performance of a bike’s suspension, there are so many aspects of racing that are hidden from fans and spectators. We are dedicated to revealing this hidden world through the lens of Qollector and Quarq Race Intelligence. We are excited to work with the Enduro World Series because they share our vision. This is just the first step to revealing a whole new level of insight for enduro racing.”

Dubbo’s fun, flowy and fast scenic loop to close out the year for Evocities MTB competitors

evocities-dubbo-masthead

2016 Evocities MTB Series Coordinator, Tracey Whillock, said with only two rounds remaining in the Evocities MTB Series and only one race left this year, Dubbo was preparing to make the most of being part of Australia’s richest MTB series.

“After an extremely wet winter which resulted in the postponement of both the Dubbo and Orange races, we’re thrilled the warmer weather is finally here and that the track has dried out enough to host the sixth round of the series on Sunday, 20 November,” Ms Whillock said.

Ms Whillock said the Dubbo leg of the 2016 Evocities MTB Series will take place at Bald Hill Reserve at Geurie and will be a combination of three single track loops for singles, pairs and teams combining the Oaks and Homestead trail networks through the “link” which runs alongside the Macquarie River and under the Arthurville Road Bridge.

“Following feedback from last year’s competitors and the Dubbo MTB Club we have shortened the track by 2.5km to a 13.5km loop which is fun, flowy and fast with plenty of room to overtake and lots of thigh-challenging climbs followed by fast sweeping downhills.”

“The trail is 90% single track and is sure to reward travellers as it winds its way up and down through Grassy Box Gum Woodland beside stunning spring wildflowers and alongside the Macquarie River under towering River Red Gums,” Ms Whillock said.

The Dubbo Junior Rugby Club will be catering on the day with a fundraising sausage sizzle, while a band performs live music to entertain spectators and waiting riders.

The Evocities MTB Series is the richest mountain biking series in Australia thanks to the generous support of sponsors including Fairfax Media; QantasLink; Forestry Corporation; NSW Mining; Charles Sturt University; Macquarie and Orange Anglican Grammar Schools; Spinifex Recruiting; Maas Group Properties; and Prime 7.

Online registrations for the ‘Dubbo 300 can be made at www.evocitiesmtb.com/enterdubbo. To stay up to date with the series, visit www.facebook.com/evocitiesmtb or www.evocitiesmtb.com.

About Evocities:

The Evocities MTB Series is supported by Evocities, a campaign that showcases the abundance of opportunities in seven of NSW’s leading regional cities due to the lower cost of living, stronger career and business prospects and enhanced lifestyle.

The seven Evocities are Albury, Armidale, Bathurst, Dubbo, Orange, Tamworth and Wagga Wagga. Living in an Evocity means less time commuting, working and stressing and more time for you and your family to enjoy NSW’s beautiful natural surrounds.

The Soapbox: Is Australian Racing Dying – A Promoter’s Personal View

Earlier this week, Flow published a bloody excellent article by Rodney Farrell. For the last year or more I’ve been surprised the MTB media hadn’t picked up on this, so good on Flow and on Rodney for doing so. I returned home to Australia a couple of months ago from a long ‘road trip’ lasting more than a year and, whilst away, often pondered the question that Rodney has gone some way to answering (I certainly hadn’t considered the impact of Strava though – perhaps I’m too much of a Strava avoider to have been blind).

Is the clock ticking for some of Australia's longest running events?
Is the clock ticking for some of Australia’s longest running events?

I too, like Rodney am an event organiser and I think it’s fair to say Wild Horizons is amongst the longest established organisers of mass participation MTB events in Australia. Back in the mists of time, in 1997, we set off down a long trail of MTB events with our Polaris Challenge. Then – and some still now – the Urban Polaris, Highland Fling, Mountains To Beach, 3 Ring Circus, Rock&Road…..

Back in those early years we could pick any weekend we liked without having to even consider what else was going on. Now perhaps it has come full circle and you almost don’t need to consider other events as it’s almost a given there will be plenty to conflict with whatever you do.

The entertainment, the trepidation, the pain, the pleasure, the laughter, the tears, the food, the beer, the mateship, the prizes, the contribution to regional communities.

For 11 years with the Polaris Challenge we’d drag 600-700 people off to a new destination for 2 days. We didn’t even tell riders until 2 weeks beforehand where we were going! We’d take over a small village and a whole area of forest and farm, seeking out tracks and trails. We’d camp, dress up as cows or Dr Frankenfurter or worse. It opened up eyes as to places to ride; destinations.

IMG_0482
Are stage races the new growth area of Australian racing? Maybe, maybe not. If so, then it would buck the notion that cost is driving people away from racing, as stage races are generally not a cheap exercise.

I’ve loved witnessing the growth of the sport, the growth in events, the growth of trail networks and those MTB destinations. I’ve competed (and I use that term loosely) in hundreds here and overseas and still get a buzz from the whole event experience. As an organiser I get that same buzz from seeing riders and their families enjoying and enduring the event experience – the entertainment, the trepidation, the pain, the pleasure, the laughter, the tears, the food, the beer, the mateship, the prizes, the contribution to regional communities…….

Port-to-Port-MTB-34

The market, like all markets, has and should refresh its produce. 12+ years ago it was all about 12/24 Hour racing, then 6+ years ago came the turn of the Marathons, then a flourish of Stage Races (which many media pundits said was the next ‘big thing’ but in reality, given the commitments of time and money, could never really be so). Now I have come home to Gravity Enduro in the news. This is, I think, another result of now having excellent trail networks on which to entertain ourselves.

Event entries probably peaked in 2011-2012… Since that time entries have been on a steady decline.

Event entries probably peaked in 2011-2012. How good was it to sell out a marathon in a day, stick the money in the bank, do nothing for 4 months then bang in a few signs, grab a mic and warble for a day with a town full of people? Since that time entries have been on a steady decline. Hardly a major event has bucked the trend (with few notable exceptions like the Cape to Cape). Even some of those quoted in the comments to Rodney’s articles as ‘growing’ have actually fallen markedly. Our Highland Fling had over 2200 riders in 2011 and last year was down to about 1300. Our 3 Ring Circus had over 800 in 2011 and next week will be something like 350 when we run it for the 7th and final time. As much as I love the event, eventually it becomes more sane to spend the same money on a new bike and bugger off on a road trip…….

There's  little doubt there has been tremendous growth in the social side of mountain biking. Could that be a reason for declining race numbers?
Mates going for trail ride or a road trip. Bloody good fun. But could the increase in the informal mountain bike scene be a reason for declining race numbers?

Certainly, as Rodney alluded to, there are now a vast array of destinations for people to head to; to load up the car, ride great trails, drink local beers and wines and fuel up on excellent food. But it may be worth remembering that many of these destinations came about by event promoters and clubs developing trails with a primary function of putting on events; whether local club events or bigger ones. Purely as examples the Flow Trail at Thredbo was developed in part after we showed that it was possible to create an XC line down from the Top Station of the chairlift which we did each year for our Mountains To Beach stage race. Similarly the impetus for better trails at Lake Crackenback Resort was the same event. The great trails in Wingello Forest were originally developed with the impetus of events and are of course now there for all to enjoy. This is mirrored across the country.

Of course this, in itself, is no reason for sticking with the events.

Mont 24 2014
Yes, event promoters can make good money out of a well-run event. But there are also enormous expenses and risks. Last year’s last-minute washout of the Mont 24 should highlight this pretty clearly.

Cost is absolutely a consideration in everything we do to entertain ourselves and we, as race organisers, must understand that we compete against a thousand other demands for dollars not just against some dozens of other MTB events. No-one I know has made a fortune running MTB events and I am sometimes surprised at the occasional criticism made of so called private promoters as if it is OK for big brands, big (or small) shops to sell bikes/bike bling and make a living but not for someone to offer an entertainment product where you can use that bling. And of course the more the numbers fall the harder it is to maintain the entry price – things are much cheaper in bulk and sponsors understandably start to question their contributions if numbers are decreasing. So we have just put up the entry price for the 2015 Fling for the first time since 2011, a risky strategy perhaps, but I am not interested in putting on ‘cost and corner cutting’ events. But like all businesses if we don’t give the customer want then ultimately we close the doors (and bugger off on another road trip…..)

Are riders looking for new styles of events? Perhaps with less of a racing focus, like the Melrose Fat Tyre Festival.
Are riders looking for new styles of events? Perhaps with less of a racing focus, like the Melrose Fat Tyre Festival.

Like all entertainment, we have to keep it fresh; bring in new aspects and events. Sure the way we approach our events – themes, course modifications etc hopefully does this but it has not stopped the slide. This year at the Fling we are introducing the Some Fling, a shorter distance aimed primarily at junior (13-16) racers; a gap I’d happily to admit we’ve always had between our U-12 Kids Fling, non competitive Casual Fling and minimum 16 Half Fling. This year we are also introducing The Bundy Run, a Trail Running event on the Saturday. Whilst we’re not expecting many to run Saturday and ride Sunday we do recognise that MTB events are still an 80/20 M/F split. Trail running is something approaching 50/50. So The Bundy Run gives families a better chance of something for everyone. One parent does the Trail Run on Saturday; the other the Fling on Sunday and there’s always someone to look after the kids.

I had to chuckle recently when I received an email from the local council informing me that ‘A recent economic development summit has identified the Shire as having an opportunity market itself as a cycle tourism destination.’

Rodney is right about many local regions not quite ‘getting’ the impact of MTB tourism or events. Some absolutely do; increasingly so. As a case in point, in my home shire which is also home to the Fling, the 3 Ring Circus as well as the Willo and assorted other cycling events, we have had close to zero support from our local Council or Tourism over the past decade. This when, conservatively, the events have put some ten million dollars into the local area and up towards half a million dollars have been raised by local community groups and charities. And this does not include the flow on effect of people coming to ride/stay all year round. I had to chuckle recently when I received an email from the local council informing me that ‘A recent economic development summit has identified the Shire as having an opportunity market itself as a cycle tourism destination.’ I wonder what they think has been going on this past decade? And many of my grey hairs have come from hard won battles with bureaucracies where, particularly in NSW, it is easier to say ‘No, it’s too much work for me or might adversely affect my risks’ than to say ‘Yes, what a great idea for tourism and health. Now how do we make it happen within the bounds of public safety and risk management?

The Cannonball MTB Festival in Thredbo has adopted the same approach as the Bike Buller Festival, with multiple events over one weekend.
The Cannonball MTB Festival in Thredbo has adopted the same approach as the Bike Buller Festival, with multiple events over one weekend.

  What also seems apparent is that it is not just mountain bike events that are suffering but music festivals, village shows and other outdoor activities are too.

Since coming home I’ve been talking with other event organisers, bike industry figures, riders and others like food vendors. Absolutely without doubt per event numbers are falling (your evidence was certainly not anecdotal Rodney) but it is hard to know whether it is the same number of people spread across a larger number of events. Personally I think not. What also seems apparent is that it is not just mountain bike events that are suffering but music festivals, village shows and other outdoor activities are too. Again, so much choice, so much competition for the dollar, so few weekends. Perhaps we should all be campaigning for a shorter working week with a ‘short weekend’ every Wednesday? 104 weekends a year………

It has been very interesting to see the increasing crossover of road and MTB in the last 3-4 years. It is a key reason why we introduced our Rock&Road event this year. But what I have very much noticed since I’ve been back is the number of committed mountain bikers who used to ride occasionally on the road who are now committed roadies who ride occasionally on the dirt. Why is this? Is it the profile of road cycling? Is it the reduction in the amount of maintenance, cleaning, laundry? As someone who loves the sounds and smells of the bush, loves the relative safety of mountain biking and loves being dirty, I find this surprising. And yes I do ride a roadie too.

IMG_1234

Giveaways/Goodie Bags are an interesting area. We try (try being the operative word) to have a strong element of sustainability in what we do. So when it comes to giving away things we really do think about the usefulness and quality of the items and the need or otherwise for a bag to put them in. So, using the Fling as an example, we have given away $20 bottles of local wine, $15 CamelBak water bottles, hydration packs, bladders, firestarter flints (well it was the Flingstones theme….), bananas (when they were $18/kilo after Cyclone Larry).

 The number of committed mountain bikers who used to ride occasionally on the road who are now committed roadies who ride occasionally on the dirt.

We have never done cheap water bottles and in 20 years have never given away T-shirts. It is a difficult balancing act and I accept that this is potentially fraught as, whilst we might lay out our sustainability credentials not everyone will support that and may avoid the event in the belief we are cheapskates. None of these giveaways are free though. It is rare these days for a sponsor to say ‘here’s 1500 widgets’ particularly if you are chasing 1500 quality widgets.

So thanks again Rodney for writing on the topic and time will continue to tell what happens to the event scene. As mountain bikers we’re lucky to have an ever increasing canvas across Australia and NZ on which to entertain ourselves – destinations, events, tours – and the bike bling to decorate them. That’s healthy.

The Soapbox: Is Australian Racing Dying – A Promoter's Personal View

Is Australian racing dying? Entrants numbers at some of our country’s best events are on the decline, while the sport overall is going from strength to strength. To an outsider it doesn’t stack up, so we asked an insider for their perspective instead. Huw Kingston of Wild Horizons is a well known, long standing event promoter, whose events have been (and still are) some of the country’s biggest. Here’s his perspective on the changing events scene.


Earlier this week, Flow published a bloody excellent article by Rodney Farrell. For the last year or more I’ve been surprised the MTB media hadn’t picked up on this, so good on Flow and on Rodney for doing so. I returned home to Australia a couple of months ago from a long ‘road trip’ lasting more than a year and, whilst away, often pondered the question that Rodney has gone some way to answering (I certainly hadn’t considered the impact of Strava though – perhaps I’m too much of a Strava avoider to have been blind).

Is the clock ticking for some of Australia's longest running events?
Is the clock ticking for some of Australia’s longest running events?

I too, like Rodney am an event organiser and I think it’s fair to say Wild Horizons is amongst the longest established organisers of mass participation MTB events in Australia. Back in the mists of time, in 1997, we set off down a long trail of MTB events with our Polaris Challenge. Then – and some still now – the Urban Polaris, Highland Fling, Mountains To Beach, 3 Ring Circus, Rock&Road…..

Back in those early years we could pick any weekend we liked without having to even consider what else was going on. Now perhaps it has come full circle and you almost don’t need to consider other events as it’s almost a given there will be plenty to conflict with whatever you do.

The entertainment, the trepidation, the pain, the pleasure, the laughter, the tears, the food, the beer, the mateship, the prizes, the contribution to regional communities.

For 11 years with the Polaris Challenge we’d drag 600-700 people off to a new destination for 2 days. We didn’t even tell riders until 2 weeks beforehand where we were going! We’d take over a small village and a whole area of forest and farm, seeking out tracks and trails. We’d camp, dress up as cows or Dr Frankenfurter or worse. It opened up eyes as to places to ride; destinations.

IMG_0482
Are stage races the new growth area of Australian racing? Maybe, maybe not. If so, then it would buck the notion that cost is driving people away from racing, as stage races are generally not a cheap exercise.

I’ve loved witnessing the growth of the sport, the growth in events, the growth of trail networks and those MTB destinations. I’ve competed (and I use that term loosely) in hundreds here and overseas and still get a buzz from the whole event experience. As an organiser I get that same buzz from seeing riders and their families enjoying and enduring the event experience – the entertainment, the trepidation, the pain, the pleasure, the laughter, the tears, the food, the beer, the mateship, the prizes, the contribution to regional communities…….

Port-to-Port-MTB-34

The market, like all markets, has and should refresh its produce. 12+ years ago it was all about 12/24 Hour racing, then 6+ years ago came the turn of the Marathons, then a flourish of Stage Races (which many media pundits said was the next ‘big thing’ but in reality, given the commitments of time and money, could never really be so). Now I have come home to Gravity Enduro in the news. This is, I think, another result of now having excellent trail networks on which to entertain ourselves.

Event entries probably peaked in 2011-2012… Since that time entries have been on a steady decline.

Event entries probably peaked in 2011-2012. How good was it to sell out a marathon in a day, stick the money in the bank, do nothing for 4 months then bang in a few signs, grab a mic and warble for a day with a town full of people? Since that time entries have been on a steady decline. Hardly a major event has bucked the trend (with few notable exceptions like the Cape to Cape). Even some of those quoted in the comments to Rodney’s articles as ‘growing’ have actually fallen markedly. Our Highland Fling had over 2200 riders in 2011 and last year was down to about 1300. Our 3 Ring Circus had over 800 in 2011 and next week will be something like 350 when we run it for the 7th and final time. As much as I love the event, eventually it becomes more sane to spend the same money on a new bike and bugger off on a road trip…….

There's  little doubt there has been tremendous growth in the social side of mountain biking. Could that be a reason for declining race numbers?
Mates going for trail ride or a road trip. Bloody good fun. But could the increase in the informal mountain bike scene be a reason for declining race numbers?

Certainly, as Rodney alluded to, there are now a vast array of destinations for people to head to; to load up the car, ride great trails, drink local beers and wines and fuel up on excellent food. But it may be worth remembering that many of these destinations came about by event promoters and clubs developing trails with a primary function of putting on events; whether local club events or bigger ones. Purely as examples the Flow Trail at Thredbo was developed in part after we showed that it was possible to create an XC line down from the Top Station of the chairlift which we did each year for our Mountains To Beach stage race. Similarly the impetus for better trails at Lake Crackenback Resort was the same event. The great trails in Wingello Forest were originally developed with the impetus of events and are of course now there for all to enjoy. This is mirrored across the country.

Of course this, in itself, is no reason for sticking with the events.

Mont 24 2014
Yes, event promoters can make good money out of a well-run event. But there are also enormous expenses and risks. Last year’s last-minute washout of the Mont 24 should highlight this pretty clearly.

Cost is absolutely a consideration in everything we do to entertain ourselves and we, as race organisers, must understand that we compete against a thousand other demands for dollars not just against some dozens of other MTB events. No-one I know has made a fortune running MTB events and I am sometimes surprised at the occasional criticism made of so called private promoters as if it is OK for big brands, big (or small) shops to sell bikes/bike bling and make a living but not for someone to offer an entertainment product where you can use that bling. And of course the more the numbers fall the harder it is to maintain the entry price – things are much cheaper in bulk and sponsors understandably start to question their contributions if numbers are decreasing. So we have just put up the entry price for the 2015 Fling for the first time since 2011, a risky strategy perhaps, but I am not interested in putting on ‘cost and corner cutting’ events. But like all businesses if we don’t give the customer want then ultimately we close the doors (and bugger off on another road trip…..)

Are riders looking for new styles of events? Perhaps with less of a racing focus, like the Melrose Fat Tyre Festival.
Are riders looking for new styles of events? Perhaps with less of a racing focus, like the Melrose Fat Tyre Festival.

Like all entertainment, we have to keep it fresh; bring in new aspects and events. Sure the way we approach our events – themes, course modifications etc hopefully does this but it has not stopped the slide. This year at the Fling we are introducing the Some Fling, a shorter distance aimed primarily at junior (13-16) racers; a gap I’d happily to admit we’ve always had between our U-12 Kids Fling, non competitive Casual Fling and minimum 16 Half Fling. This year we are also introducing The Bundy Run, a Trail Running event on the Saturday. Whilst we’re not expecting many to run Saturday and ride Sunday we do recognise that MTB events are still an 80/20 M/F split. Trail running is something approaching 50/50. So The Bundy Run gives families a better chance of something for everyone. One parent does the Trail Run on Saturday; the other the Fling on Sunday and there’s always someone to look after the kids.

I had to chuckle recently when I received an email from the local council informing me that ‘A recent economic development summit has identified the Shire as having an opportunity market itself as a cycle tourism destination.’

Rodney is right about many local regions not quite ‘getting’ the impact of MTB tourism or events. Some absolutely do; increasingly so. As a case in point, in my home shire which is also home to the Fling, the 3 Ring Circus as well as the Willo and assorted other cycling events, we have had close to zero support from our local Council or Tourism over the past decade. This when, conservatively, the events have put some ten million dollars into the local area and up towards half a million dollars have been raised by local community groups and charities. And this does not include the flow on effect of people coming to ride/stay all year round. I had to chuckle recently when I received an email from the local council informing me that ‘A recent economic development summit has identified the Shire as having an opportunity market itself as a cycle tourism destination.’ I wonder what they think has been going on this past decade? And many of my grey hairs have come from hard won battles with bureaucracies where, particularly in NSW, it is easier to say ‘No, it’s too much work for me or might adversely affect my risks’ than to say ‘Yes, what a great idea for tourism and health. Now how do we make it happen within the bounds of public safety and risk management?

The Cannonball MTB Festival in Thredbo has adopted the same approach as the Bike Buller Festival, with multiple events over one weekend.
The Cannonball MTB Festival in Thredbo has adopted the same approach as the Bike Buller Festival, with multiple events over one weekend.

  What also seems apparent is that it is not just mountain bike events that are suffering but music festivals, village shows and other outdoor activities are too.

Since coming home I’ve been talking with other event organisers, bike industry figures, riders and others like food vendors. Absolutely without doubt per event numbers are falling (your evidence was certainly not anecdotal Rodney) but it is hard to know whether it is the same number of people spread across a larger number of events. Personally I think not. What also seems apparent is that it is not just mountain bike events that are suffering but music festivals, village shows and other outdoor activities are too. Again, so much choice, so much competition for the dollar, so few weekends. Perhaps we should all be campaigning for a shorter working week with a ‘short weekend’ every Wednesday? 104 weekends a year………

It has been very interesting to see the increasing crossover of road and MTB in the last 3-4 years. It is a key reason why we introduced our Rock&Road event this year. But what I have very much noticed since I’ve been back is the number of committed mountain bikers who used to ride occasionally on the road who are now committed roadies who ride occasionally on the dirt. Why is this? Is it the profile of road cycling? Is it the reduction in the amount of maintenance, cleaning, laundry? As someone who loves the sounds and smells of the bush, loves the relative safety of mountain biking and loves being dirty, I find this surprising. And yes I do ride a roadie too.

IMG_1234

Giveaways/Goodie Bags are an interesting area. We try (try being the operative word) to have a strong element of sustainability in what we do. So when it comes to giving away things we really do think about the usefulness and quality of the items and the need or otherwise for a bag to put them in. So, using the Fling as an example, we have given away $20 bottles of local wine, $15 CamelBak water bottles, hydration packs, bladders, firestarter flints (well it was the Flingstones theme….), bananas (when they were $18/kilo after Cyclone Larry).

 The number of committed mountain bikers who used to ride occasionally on the road who are now committed roadies who ride occasionally on the dirt.

We have never done cheap water bottles and in 20 years have never given away T-shirts. It is a difficult balancing act and I accept that this is potentially fraught as, whilst we might lay out our sustainability credentials not everyone will support that and may avoid the event in the belief we are cheapskates. None of these giveaways are free though. It is rare these days for a sponsor to say ‘here’s 1500 widgets’ particularly if you are chasing 1500 quality widgets.

So thanks again Rodney for writing on the topic and time will continue to tell what happens to the event scene. As mountain bikers we’re lucky to have an ever increasing canvas across Australia and NZ on which to entertain ourselves – destinations, events, tours – and the bike bling to decorate them. That’s healthy.

Recovery: How to Recharge During a Stage Race

We caught up with Dean after Stage 1 of this year’s Port to Port MTB and asked him all about the best strategies for recovery, so you can back up to race day after day.


You’ve just done your first stage, you’ve come out of the gates super hard, and now you’ve got another three days to go – what should you be doing to recover properly?

The thing is with stage racing, it ‘s not like one day race – the key to backing up each day is ensuring you get those carbohydrate stores built back up. Now there’s an optimal window of about 15 minutes to half an hour after you finish racing, before your body starts to go into what I call scavenger mode. That’s the time in which you need to be looking to get your carbohydrate stores topped up, so your body doesn’t go into scavenger mode. Because it’s not a huge time window, you should aim to have your food pre-made, ready to go as soon as you get back.

It’s an all-day thing, if you think ‘I won’t each too much so I feel lighter for the racing tomorrow’, you’re fooling yourself. The more you eat, the more carbs you’ll have for later in the race. If you starve yourself during the race, you need to get it back in. Don’t fool yourself – getting plenty of carbs in right after the stage is the key.

Dean Clark TORQ 3

And what kind of things people be eating, and how should they take it on? 

You’ve got two main options, either a specifically made recovery product or ‘regular’ food. Proper recovery products which are mixed with water, in a shake form, in which the serving size is based on your weight, are going to allow you to digest and absorb the carbs quicker. With regular food, it is harder to make sure you’re getting enough carbs and protein, which is were a formulated recovery drink helps.

If for instance, you don’t have the opportunity to eat straight away, what should you do?

Oh look, of course getting the carbs on board later is still much better than not eating at all. But really, you need to build these habits in training. It’s like drinking on the bike – if you’re not doing it in training or in your regular riding, you just forget about it. It has to become part of your routine. In some ways, making sure you eat for recovery is like preventative medicine – if you put in all that hard work and you don’t get recovery food on board, your body starts to strip from itself, your immune system suffers and you get sick.

What you need to stay away from is anything that has a high fat content – cheesey pizza, battered foods… it blocks your system.

What about the physical side? A lot of people talk about a cool down – is that important? 

Yes, absolutely. Once you’ve got your food in, you should try to have a roll around, let your heart rate come down, and get that lactic out of your legs. Don’t just have a sit on the floor and think ‘ I’ll feel better later’, because you won’t!

Dean Clark TORQ 4
“Love lifts us up where we belong…” Come on, Dean, join me for the chorus.

Obviously a lot of people will head to the pub for dinner, have a big meal and a beer or two. Is that ok? Should you be having a big meal?

Look, it is ok, it’s beneficial to have a big meal. But what you need to stay away from is anything that has a high fat content – cheesey pizza, battered foods – because what that fat does is actually slow down the carb delivery. So if you go out after a stage and have a massive pasta but drown it in cheese, then it doesn’t really matter what you eat tomorrow, because all that fat from the cheese has actually blocked your system, because your body is trying to process the fat. So the less fatty stuff you have, the quicker the carbs will be delivered to your working muscle. That’s the key with your evening meals.

Beer is ok, but it has quite a high fat content – you’re probably better off with wine actually.

Tasmin TORQ

So what will your team be eating tonight? 

A pasta dish, or some kind of stirf ry with rice and veggies. And then try and get the head down early.

How important is sleep? 

A lot of us like to think we’re invincible and we don’t need much sleep, but unfortunately we’re not. The more sleep you can get, the better, particularly in stage racing. Maybe not on the second day, but by the fourth day it’ll really take a toll.

And finally, is beer an effective way to take on carbs?

Ha, for me or you, yes! Beer is ok, but it has quite a high fat content – you’re probably better off with wine actually, it has hardly any fat and it has a lot of anti-oxidants that are good for you. Still, one or two is fine, we’re all here for fun at the end of the day.

 

 

Lakes Entrance Epic – Event Preview

Entries close soon for the Lakes Entrance Epic, held on the gorgeous East Gippsland coast in Victoria. This is just the second running of the event, but it has all the hallmarks of becoming a classic addition to the race calendar. Full event details and entries are available here – or take a gander below to get a better idea what this region and race are all about.


 

2015 Lakes Entrance Epic from Jake Lucas on Vimeo.


 

The Lakes Entrance Epic is one of those amazing events riders are drawn to. Pristine, beautiful beaches, a buzzing coastal town, amazing trails, plenty for the whole family to do, and some of the best scenery in Australia: the Lakes Epic truly has it all.

A field of seasoned guns and a huge mix of riders and characters from all over the country rolled into the beautiful seaside town last year, and now with the addition of trail running on the Sunday, the event is set to grow.

With fantastic local trails, Lakes Entrance provides the perfect location for this style of event, with multiple distances and varying terrain, and has all the key ingredients needed in the perfect location of East Gippsland, Victoria.

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There’s something for everyone at the Lakes Epic with the mountain bike event having three distances to choose from with 25km, 50km or the full 100km,; and the trail running event with 7km, 15km or 25km, as well as a kids’ event in both disciplines.

Lakes Entrance is such a family friendly destination and a great place for holidays. The town is packed with so much to do including boating, great fishing, beautiful beaches, local wildlife with seals and dolphins frolicking in the Lakes, mini golf, a huge skate park, plenty of shopping, wineries just out of town, the Bullant Brewery in Bruthen, plenty of funky little cafes, heaps of great restaurants, fresh seafood, and of course the fantastic trails of the Colquhoun Forest.

The event itself starts with beautiful views over the water on the foreshore, then competitors head along the highway under police escort and through town, and only after a few kms competitors are rewarded with flowing single trail taking them out into the Colquhoun forest. This is where the different distances of each day will split and go different directions, with the shorter distances experiencing some of the forest, and the longer distances experiencing the Colquhoun Bike Park, the Discovery trail, and the northern end of the forest. The best part though is that all competitors in either the bike or run events, regardless of distance, finish at the same amazing finish line with spectacular views out over the ocean and the town!

After such a huge success in its first ever year, Alpine Gravity took on valuable feedback and will continue to improve and refine the event to make it bigger and better for competitors each year, with some great improvements and even some brand new single trail, making the Lakes Entrance Epic one of the most sought after entries on the event calendar!

See you in May for the 2015 Lakes Entrance Epic!

 

Hero. Legend. Brother.

Yet another win for Jason English over the weekend at the 24 hour Nduro over the weekend in Rotorua.

A fine achievement by an incredible rider, but the story of the weekend is Rotorua local Lance Tavinor’s amazing effort to raise money for Kidney Health New Zealand.


Hero. Legend. Brother.

Rotorua mountain biker, Lance Tavinor was all those things and more when he took on the solo category in the 24 hours of Nduro in the Whakarewarewa Forest over the weekend.

With $5 from every entry going to Kidney Health New Zealand, he was riding for a cause close to his heart.

His older brother, Grant, is ill with kidney disease. Lance is undergoing rigorous testing to see if he is a suitable donor.

He also put himself through one of the most challenging tests for a mountain biker, when he started the Nduro at midday on Saturday.

“He went out a little fast with his race face on at the start,” said his pit crew boss, Benny Devcich who works with him at local bike shop, Cyclezone. “But he settled into a good rhythm as night fell.”

The weather and riding conditions were perfect. After one of the driest and hottest Januarys on record, there was rain on Friday night and the race started in a refreshing drizzle.

Lance was still going strong as dawn broke on Sunday morning.

He passed the 300-kilometre mark on the demanding 14-kilometre course as the clock ticked down to midday.

At the same time, multiple 24 Hour Solo world champion, Jason English, from Australia confirmed his favouritism to win the men’s race, with the New Zealand title going to David Rae in second place.

Another Australian, Liz Smith, was first over the line in the hard-fought women’s category with Kiwi, Anja McDonald, riding a brilliant race to take the women’s title. 

Then the focus turned to Lance’s last lap. He was cheered on his way by a big crowd of supporters and arrived back to an even bigger round of applause. “I had to ride that last lap upright,” he said as he enjoyed a post-race beer. “My back was so sore I couldn’t lean in to the handlebars.” He took a long swig and then held out his hands. They were bruised and calloused. “Sleep next,” he added with his trademark grin.

He was cheered on his way by a big crowd of supporters and arrived back to an even bigger round of applause.

“I had to ride that last lap upright,” he said as he enjoyed a post-race beer. “My back was so sore I couldn’t lean in to the handlebars.”

He took a long swig and then held out his hands. They were bruised and calloused.

“Sleep next,” he added with his trademark grin.

“If there was a Spirit of Rotorua Mountain Biking award, Lance would be a front row contender,” said Rotorua Bike Festival event coordinator, Martin Croft. He was there to watch the end of the race, which was a dress rehearsal for the WEMBO 24 Hour Solo World Championships.

This will be one of the feature events at the 2016 Bike Festival.

This year’s festival launches on Friday February 15 and Lance will be there.

“I’ll see how the recovery goes,” he said. “It’s a great time to be in Rotorua at Festival time, with all sort of events to enter or watch.”

Last year, he channelled Elvis at the Bike Speedway in front of Rotorua’s historic Museum and Art Gallery.

“I might have to just sit in a chair and spectate this year,” he added with a grimace.

Fundraising for the Tavinors and Kidney Health New Zealand continues in April at the New Zealand Singlespeed Championships – very special 100th anniversary Anzac edition.

Race day is Sunday April 26:

www.rotoruasinglespeed.com

Donate to Lance’s fundraiser for Kidney Health New Zealand:

https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/lancekranksitforkidneys

Rotorua Bike Festival:

www.rotoruabikefestival.com

 

Record Number Of Teams For EWS 2015

It’s not just the Australian Team DERT joining the EWS ranks this year, a record number of professional teams will be fighting it out for spots on the podium. Read on for the official press release.


The countdown to the 2015 Enduro World Series is gathering pace – and this year a record number of teams will be fighting it out for the title.

Twenty nine official teams have been selected to compete for the coveted team world title – up from 24 last year. With new teams joining the series and some big changes to their rosters, the upcoming series looks set to be the most exciting to date.

For the first time in 2015 there will also be the chance to get up close and personal with our Gold Supporter Teams – as we bring you a series of exclusive behind the scenes films. Dropping throughout the year, these edits will offer a rare insight into some of the sport’s biggest teams including GT Factory, Specialized Racing, Canyon Factory Enduro Team, Cube Action Team and Santa Cruz. The films will form part of a completely new style of coverage for enduro this year– details of which will be released very soon.

Another new addition this season will be the introduction of an Under 21 age category in both the men’s and women’s competition, which will replace the junior men category. This new category is designed to highlight the incredible talent that is emerging in the 17-20 age group and give them a platform to showcase and develop their skills over a four year period, rather than the traditional two. It’s hoped that by creating an Under 21 category for young women, more girls may be encouraged to try their hand at racing enduro. Full details of the new category will be included in the updated 2015 Rulebook, which will be available from January 19th.

With less than two months until the first race, entries open for Crankworx Rotorua on January 22nd, followed by a rolling entry system for the rest of the events. Full details available on www.enduroworldseries.com.

Chris Ball, Managing Director of the Enduro World Series, said: “This year is going to be amazing – more events featuring more teams means even more exciting racing. We’re blown away by the level of support we’re received from the industry and I’d like to thank all the teams who have committed to the series this year.

“The addition of the U21 category is going to throw the spotlight on to the next generation of racers and hopefully encourage more to try enduro. And the new way we plan to film and cover the races is going to really shake things up – roll on New Zealand!”

Enduro World Series 2015 Official Teams (renewed); BMC Factory Trailcrew, Cannondale Overmountain Team, Canyon Factory Enduro Team, Cube Action Team, Devinci/Alltricks.com Enduro Racing Team, Giant Factory Off-Road Team, GT Factory, Ibis Cycles Enduro Race Team, Lapierre Gravity Enduro, MS Mondraker Team, Polygon UR, Rocky Mountain Urge BP Rally Team, Santa Cruz, Scott SR Suntour Enduro Team, Specialized Racing, Trek Factory Racing Enduro Team, Yeti/Fox Shox Factory Racing Team, Yeti Belgium – Urge BP Enduro Team

New Teams for 2015; Chain Reaction Cycles/PayPal, Commencal Vallnord Enduro, Dert Down Under Enduro Race Team, Endura Bergamont Factory Team, Hope Factory Racing, Radon Factory Racing, SB Gravity GT, Team 23 Degrees/Trek, Lac Blanc-Scott.

MTBA Announces Inaugural Enduro National Series

Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) is thrilled to announce the inaugural Enduro National Series in 2015.

The Gravity Enduro discipline has seen significant growth in recent years, combining the thrills and excitement of downhill with the fitness elements of cross country racing. The series is comprised of a mix of landmark events in some of Australia’s best mountain bike destinations.

Beginning in early February, the first two rounds visit the hotly-contested RockShox Enduro Challenge events in Mt Buller and Toowoomba.

Round three sees riders head to South Australia, racing with the active Inside Line Mountain Bike Club.

In round four, the action will take place in the West Australian Gravity Enduro event on the challenging trails of the popular Goat Farm mountain bike park in Perth.

The series concludes in the ACT with Canberra Off-Road Cyclists Club at Stromlo Forest Park, the home of the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships. 

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“The Enduro format has really taken off in recent years and I am proud that MTBA is now able to present a truly national series of established events for all riders,” said MTBA President Russell Baker. “In addition to being a great fun part of mountain biking, having our own Australian series will provide more opportunities for our riders to experience this level of competition at home and lead to the development of more world-class Australians.”

Australia boasts the reigning Enduro World Champion and World Series Champion, Jared Graves of Toowoomba in Queensland.

Graves, known as the “swiss army knife of mountain biking” due to his cross-discipline success, rode a truly amazing season on the way to the title. Racing in the opening round, the RockShox Enduro Challenge on Jan 31-Feb 1, will see reigning Champion Jared Graves race 2013 Champion Jerome Clementz (FRA), with downhill legends Troy Brosnan (SA) and Sam Hill (WA) adding even more superstar power to an amazing weekend.

Riders competing in the series will race for over $9000 in prize money, as well as the coveted title of National Series Champion and the Green and Gold jersey.

“We’ve had significant demand for the creation of National level events in this domain, and I’m pleased that MTBA has been able to respond to this demand,” said MTBA CEO Shane Coppin. “The Series is comprised of some of the discipline’s most iconic destinations and events and riders and fans alike can look forward to fantastic Enduro action”.

The inaugural Enduro National Championships will be held in Cairns, QLD based out of iconic Palm Cove in October as a standalone event separate to the series.

More information about the Series will be be available on the Enduro Nation Series website to be launched in mid-January.

Round 1 : Rockshox Enduro Challenge – January 31 & February 1 – Mt Buller, VIC

Round 2 : Rockshox Enduro Challenge – March 7 & 8 – Toowoomba, QLD

Round 3 : SA Inside Line Enduro – May 23 & 24 – Fox Creek, SA  (online information coming soon)

Round 4 : WA Gravity Enduro – June 13 & 14 – Goat Farm MTB Park – Perth, WA (new website coming soon)

Round 5 : CORC Enduro – July 25 & 26 – Stromlo Forest Park (online information coming soon)

 

Avantiplus Hellfire Cup: Final Race Wrap

The Avantiplbus Hellfire Cup is a done deal! Read on to learn how it all went down over the final two days.

Hellfire Cup Final wrap 4

STAGE 4: OVERVIEW

The time trial course takes racers out of the village in a 6km cruise stage to the time trial start on the Marchweil property. Special access to the stunning private property has been arranged for the Hellfire Cup which follows the coast and is below the event’s namesake Hellfire Bluff. The course then heads into nearby hills via a plantation fire road. The riders then jump off via a single track gully link which takes them onto the main climb for this short and sharp 14k time trial course.
STAGE 4: RESULTS
Day 3 started cool after a clear starry night over the Kellevie race village. Tasmanian competitors wandering around in t-shirts were greeted by interstate competitors in down jackets and beanies for the race briefing. The cruise stage allowed racers a chance to chat amongst the pack – there’s nothing quite like seeing a huge pack of riders winding their way up the hills on the gravel back roads of South East Tasmania. The chance to chat with pros and just enjoy the scenery was a nice leadup to the time trial stage.
At the picturesque Marchweil property the competitors assembled again surrounded by farm houses and a sea of lycra. The competitors were put into seeded pairs based on their results over the proceeding days, and were sent off in 30 second intervals.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 7
For the Elite Male category Team Torq had a better outing than on Stage 3, and recorded a stage winning time of 25m 46s. They were followed a little over a minute later by Team 4SHAW who came in at 26m 57s. Team Torq’s strong performance will eat into the lead that 4SHAW and Avantiplus have carved out into the overall standings, but will not take them up a place on the overall podium at this stage. The competitive team of Avantiplus Launceston came looking like they hard worked hard for their time of 27m 12s.
The Elite Female teams Team Torq (Em Parkes & Jenni King) and Willylocke (Rebecca Locke & Naomi Williams) came across the line within 2 seconds of each other with Team Torq sneaking the stage win with a time of 33m 06s.
In the Elite Mixed competition team Jeffy & Pesta (Jarrod Moroni & Peta Mullens) came in very strong and took out stage 4 with a time of 31m 11s. Team My Mountain (Melissa Anset & David Ransom) followed in with a time of 33m 09. Less than a minute later A+ Launceston (Sam Calow & Rowena Fry) pushed across the line at 33m 47s.
 
STAGE 5: OVERVIEW
This afternoon stage is based around the classic Kelleive XC course, made famous by the Kellevie 24 Hour races. This track has been further developed and improved over the course of 2014 by new landowners Mtn Trails. The 9.5k course is all single track, which is ridden as a pairs relay for teams and lone wolves get to enjoy two laps of the course.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 2
After leaving the race village the riders descend into the Kellevie rainforest. This section is a fast-riding, winding path that rewards riders willing to brave the encroaching trees for an opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. The course also features a short, sharp ascent up the Shimano Switchbacks across the crest of the hill. Following a quick paddock sprint, the riders meet the 4SHAW rock garden. After that they will go into the Jeanneret Electrical Technologies luge which will
The return leg is ideal for riders with big engines as pure power here will be the determining factor on the undulating blast back into the Race village and transition.
STAGE 5: RESULTS
Team Torq has notched up a narrow win (57m 59s) just 7 seconds faster than Team 4SHAW (Tom Goddard & Scott Bowden). There was only a small gap between the top 2 placed teams and Avantiplus Launceston which followed in at 59m 32s.
In the Elite Female category Torq Girls (Em Parkes & Jenni King) continue to dominate with a combined time of 1h 09m 54s. Followed closely by WillyLocke with a time of 1h 11m 48s.
In the Mixed Elite category Jeffy & Pesta (Jarrod Moroni & Peta Mullens) have taken out first place for Stage 5 with a time of 1h 07m 33s. Team My Mountain followed less than half a minute next with a time of 1h 7m 57s. Popular local riders Ride Bellerive (Jason Mennitz & Edwina Hughes) were in top form and took out 3rd with a time of 1h 09m 56s.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 1
STAGE 6: RESULTS
 
Stage 6 of the Avantiplus Hellfire Cup is an optional night event at the end of Day 3 – it’s an XC dash for cash over 9km. This has the first man and woman across the line racing for $1,000 each from Laser Electrical and bragging rights as the King & Queen of Kellevie for 2014.
In a tight race, the King of Kellevie was won by Chris Hamilton with a time of 24m 58s. Chris was followed by the Queen of Kellevie Peta Mullens with a cracking time on the tough course of 29m 02s.
Stage 6 is a special stage and times do not contribute to final race standings, and was just for the people who felt they hadn’t been punished enough by the proceeding stages. It was only the hardy few who could stomach the prospect of a 3rd race leg in one day, however a good portion of the race village turned up at night to cheer them in across the line.
 
STAGE 7: SUMMARY
 
A beautiful sunny morning met competitors, even though the race village was a little slow in waking up after a few days of racing. Late night hooting and hollering was heard happening at the Iron House bar after a sunny afternoon which may have had a little something to do with this.
The Tuff Torq Elevator is a nasty little hill climb designed to wring the last drops of power out of very tired legs. Tough on a good day, but after 3 days of racing? Utterly Brutal. The course heads straight out of the village and up the hill that looks over the race village. Elevation ramps up quickly and switchbacks turn into an uphill straight push sure to demoralise all but the strongest legs. Elites and punters alike found this tough, and those who got the early run at 8am were grateful when they saw the temperature rise for the noon second wave.
Pairs are split for this stage, and sent off in seeded waves.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 5
Peta Mullens and Jarrod Moroni – get the pair, for just $5000!
STAGE 7: RESULTS
Team Torq (Mark Tupalski & Chris Hamilton) had a good outing (18m 59s) and nibbled into Team 4SHAW’s lead who placed second with a time of 19m 07s. AvantiPlus Launceston were close behind with a time of 19m 36s.
A great stage for the Elite Women racers Willy Locke who took out the stage with a time of 25m 59s. This placed them well in front of Torq with a time of 30m 15s.
Team My Mountain (David Ransom & Melissa Anset) had blazing fast run of 23m 24s. Second place went to Avantiplus Launceston with a time of 23m 38s, which was followed by Jeffy & Pesta (Peta Mullens & Jarrod Moroni) who came in at 24m 08s.
STAGE 8: SUMMARY
 
The last hurrah for the Avantiplus Hellfire Cup 2014 is the Jettech Hectic Mayhem dirt crit. This repurposed motocross track has sweeping bermed dirt corners that allow for a final fast blast over the short course. The course is hectic and close and provides a great opportunity for spectators and team members to encourage their mates along. At around 3-4 minutes for the lap (fast riders), major mechanicals is about the only thing the elites have to worry about and this last leg is all about having a final blast to wring out the last drop of sweat for Hellfire 2014.
 
STAGE 8: RESULTS
The short course was EXTREMELY closely contested by the 3 leading Elite Male teams. Avantiplus Launceston took it with a time of 6m 20s, followed a second later by 4SHAW and another second later by Team Torq. Insanely close stuff.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 6
WillyLocke, half impressed, took home the five gorillas.
WillyLocke continued to have a great day on the bike, with a combined time of 7m 10s on the short course. Torq Girls recorded a time of 7m 17s for their last stage of racing.
Avantiplus Launceston had a good hit out (6m 55s) and found themselves another 9 seconds on Team My Mountain (7m 06s). Ride Bellerive came in next with a time of 7m 23s.
FINAL HELLFIRE CUP 2014 OVERALL RESULTS
After 4 days of racing, enjoying the very best Tasmania has to offer in weather (read: All of the weather – sometimes all at once) the 2014 Avantiplus Hellfire Cup is done and dusted for another year. The organisers would like to take a moment to thank all of the volunteers who have contributed to the event, you are filled with the Spirit of Hellfire and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. They would also like to thank our generous sponsors and the the community of mountain biking which has got behind us in a big way. Finally, we would like to thank all our competitors for coming out and racing with us, we hope you enjoyed your brief stay in Hell and will join us next time!
The Hellfire Cup is committed to equal prize money for both genders and the winners in each elite category will go home with $5,000 in prize money, second place takes home $2,000 and third place elite team takes home $1,000.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 3
Team 4-Shaw, surely must be pretty chuffed to have edged out the powerful Torq team for the win.
Elite Male Competition
The Elite male competition was a close run affair with the 3 leading teams looking like they could all take the event out at any stage. In the end the local knowledge and sheer power on the bike won the day and Team 4SHAW will go home as victors for the 2014 Hellfire Cup with $5,000 cash in their pocket. Their total cumulative time for the event was 6h 16m 28s edging out Avanti Plus Launceston who came in second place overall with a combined time of 6h 23m 55sAvantiplus Launceston will take home $2,000 prize money. Team Torq put in a stellar effort and were on the podium in third place overall with a time of 6h 24m 52s and will take home $1,000 prize money.
Elite Female Competition
The Elite Female competition was tight for the duration of the race – often seconds separating them on return from individual stages. At the end of play on day 4 the honours went to WillyLocke with a massive effort of 7h 39 18s combined time. This category was extremely close, in the end Team Torq trailed by only 31 seconds behind 1st place with a combined total time of 7h 39m 49s.
Elite Mixed Competition
From Day 2 onwards Jeffy & Pesta (Jarrod Moroni & Peta Mullens) looked very strong and they keep building their lead into an unassailable margin. By the end of Day 4 their total combined time was 7h 07m 01s which could not be touched by second placed team Team My Mountain (David Ransom & Melissa Anset) who recorded a total time of  7h 33m 50s. Avantiplus Launceston (Sam Calow & Rowena Fry) will take home third place overall in the mixed competition with a final time of 7h 35s 08s.

 

The Melrose 18hr

With the new Rise Against record soothing my inner ear and a light snack on the passenger seat for sustenance, the 3-hour cruise from Adelaide to Melrose is full of epic postcard scenery; rolling hills, a pink lake (didn’t expect that one) and old crumbling stone homesteads littering knee high crop-filled paddocks. All very, very South Aussie as a Kiwi would say.

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Over The Edge, the beating heart of Melrose, and not just the bike scene – this place is the cornerstone of the whole town.

The purpose of this excellent adventure was the 6/18 hours of Melrose Enduro (that’s ‘ride a long time’ enduro, not #soenduro). As the event title suggests, the headliner is an 18 hour race contested by both teams and solo riders. The Friday midnight start time allows for the maximum use of a weekend and is certainly something a little different to your normal endurance event. 18hr riders have the option to get out of work at 5pm Friday, head up to Melrose, race till 6pm Saturday evening and have time Sunday morning for another singletrack expedition on the plethora of other trails not used in the race. Departing shortly after lunch Sunday even gets you home in the evening, keeping the other half happy. If the 6hr option is more your flavour, there’s time to travel Saturday morning and make the midday start.

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The warm buzz of race HQ on race night.

Melrose has this amazing ability to slow life down and sooth the spirit. Upon rolling into town you forget city troubles. From this moment, life is about banter with friends new and old, the latest and greatest bikes and generous pub meals (a necessity for those attempting the 18 hours solo, those crazy bastards).

The sign-on sheet held lots of familiar names, people with a lot of love for South Australia’s riding culture, with at least one of the 6 hour riders being a founding member of the Adelaide MTB Club way back in 1989, right through to weekend warriors and first time singletrack riders (converted roadies).

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The Over The Edge workshop is always good for a chin wag.

Having signed up for the 6hr event, but arriving on Friday evening to watch the 18 hour start , Over the Edge Sports in the main drag, the heart of Melrose mountain bike culture is a great spot to hang out. It’s gotta be one of the coolest bike shops in the country, filled with boutique frames and forks on the walls and uber bling build parts gleaming in glass cabinets.

This weekend, the shop has been turned into event central with space heaters and a coffee machine pumping out great brews all night. Here, talking shit about bike builds with the shop mechanic and other punters quickly brings around the midnight start time.

 

The atmosphere out on the main street was building as team riders, early arrivals for the 6hr and locals filed out of pubs, and 18hr riders who’ve tried to get in a few extra minutes of shut eye emerge from tents, motel rooms and campers to roll slowly around keeping legs warm. ‘Cops and Robbers’ was this year’s theme; each year there’s a different novelty le-mans style start. Those who had chosen to ride the larger wheel size (29ers) were assigned to be “Cops” having to try and gulp down a donut hanging on a piece of string hands-free! The “other” wheel sizes, Robbers, needed to run to the old town bank (now a really cool café) to steal chocolate coins from the vault. Gun fire signalled the start and luckily no bikes were hurt in the ensuring madness: the race was on!

Melrose-jc-10
Any race that starts with eating a dangling donut is a good race.

I hung around huddled over a fire barrel to watch the first lap riders come through, Chris Jongewaard, riding in a team of 6 set a cracking first lap time of 28mins 24secs for the 10km course with several 18hr solo riders close behind (I think these guys may have forgotten the length of the race). It was about this time that I realised what a busy day lay ahead, 6hrs on the bike, something I hadn’t attempted before and for some reason had thought was a good idea to do on my new single speed sans any real training…So I went to bed.

My 7am alarm was not a welcome sound. Snooze…7.15am. I decided to wander over to event HQ, noting that the lead solo riders had already put in more than 100km with a tight battle going on out front but still smiles all round (probably grimaces).

Melrose-jc-15
Glorious Melrose, with its picturesque, perfectly-benched singletrack.

11am came remarkably quickly. Time to prep my bottles, get my riding kit on (hot tip, an event is probably not an ideal time to try new shoes), have a bit of a warm up and before I knew, it was my turn to eat a dangling doughnut. The 6 hour was on!

Starting a race at the base of a mountain means one thing, the first bit of trail is going to be a climb; in this case, a long one. With about 150m of climbing per lap and my love of riding up things (ha), let’s just say I had heaps on fun on the descents.

Melrose-jc-29

With the course being composed of about 90% single track, the concentration required to keep rubber side down for the full 18 hours is all part of the challenge. Some of the technical sections contour steep gullies where if you take your eyes off the trail for a moment to enjoy the scenery you’ll quickly become part of it. (The number of skids leading to no-man’s land reminded me of that). After a total of 5 laps I called it a day and set up at the race village to do some heckling.

The quality of trails at Melrose is certainly no closely guarded fact with many being hand cut and are super flowy with rocky descents, lots of features, bermed corners and nicely contoured climbs (wait, did I just say nice climbs?). “Dodging Bullets”, with its spiralling start through a tunnel, warp speed downhill sections and a jump through the living room of an old homestead would have to be my favourite.

Melrose-jc-24
The iconic Dodging Bullets trail.
Melrose-jc-14
Melrose singletrack requires flow and focus – it’s easy to let the front wheel wander and slide down the hill.

Eventually 6pm came and when the dust had settled, Matt Ackland riding a rigid singlespeed (this guy must hate himself) came out on top in the men’s 18hr solo, Philippa Roston taking out the women’s title and 6hr bragging rights going to Ollie Klein and Aurelia Strozik.

Melrose-jc-28

“That was seriously the most mentally challenging race I’ve ever had,” Acko remarked at the end, inspecting his array of new blisters, “after 6500m of climbing, my legs are toast, I’d have happily traded the saddle for a bar stool 6 hrs ago but I just knew Kev (2nd place) would just keep coming at me. I had to dig deep.” When asked if he’d do it again, he cracked an evil grin and said, “see you next year!” See you then!

Rosemary Barnes and Dan MacMunn defend Australia-wide Gravity Enduro Series titles in Cairns

The final round of the Australia-wide Gravity Enduro Series was hosted by the Cairns Mountain Bike Club at Smithfield on the weekend. The local rider Berend Boer from Holloways Beach stood his ground and a gripping finish against the Series Leader Dan MacMunn from Spring Gully (VIC) resulted in a tie between the two riders. In the elite women’s division, Genevieve McKew from Sydney won ahead of Rosemary Barnes, whose second place brought her enough series points to claim the overall win.

With some of the club’s strongest riders at the start of the final Australia-wide Gravity Enduro Series, more than a two thirds of the competitors had come from interstate – as the series leader, Dan MacMunn was the strongest contender for the Elite Men’s win against fellow Victorians Ben Randall and Ryan De La Rue. Canberra’s Rosemary Barnes had travelled to tropical Cairns to claim her title with a lead of more than 600 points ahead of Sydney’s Genevieve McKew, Vanessa Thompson and Kath Bicknell.

GenevieveMcKew_27208_byKennethLorentsen
Genevieve McKew was the fastest elite woman of the weekend.
Cairns trails demand endurance and technical riding skills
The local Cairns Mountain Bike Club had put on six timed stages with neutral transition rides to the race starts. “Everything went really smoothly. These are the types of events we need and that we enjoy hosting – we were really happy to meet so many interstate riders that we could show off our fantastic trail network to”, said the club event manager, Craig Nissen.
In the elite men’s division it was a tight race from the first stage to the last. Over two days the final sixth stage was going to decide the race and it ended up in a tie to the second – both Dan MacMunn and the 27-year old local rider Berend Boer finished in 19:13 minutes. With an unfortunate crash right ahead of the finish, Rhys Atkinson from nearby Kewarra Beach still finished third with a gap of 24 seconds. As a precaution he had to be transported to hospital via ambulance due to a suspected concussion and was later cleared of any further serious injuries.
BerendBoer_27259_byKennethLorentsen
Berend Boer, the local rider who finished on equal race time with series winner Dan MacMunn.
First gravity enduro elite series titles go to Victoria and New South Wales
The shared first place was still enough for the overall series title for Dan MacMunn. The 32-year-old fire fighter had participated in five out of the six series events and said that the final QLD round turned out to be his favourite. “The types of trails we got to ride and race here over the weekend are just ideal and a really fitting way to conclude this awesome series. It was tough, but exciting racing and I’m proud of my overall title”, he said.
RosemaryBarnes_27777_byKennethLorentsen
Rosemary Barnes claimed the overall elite women’s series title.
The four elite women at the start agreed that they enjoyed the event and riding the trails together. “Some of those neutral rides to the starts were really tough – just steep and long, but the descents and timed stages were just so rewarding”, said women’s series winner Rosemary Barnes, who added that she was hopeful for more women to compete in these types of events in future. “We’ll spread the word until next year about how much fun they are”, she said.
More than 550 riders had participated in the series, which included events in NSW, VIC, SA, WA, ACT and QLD, covering almost all states and territories.
“We’re really proud that with our partner Alpine Gravity and our hosting clubs we were able to deliver this first all-Australian gravity enduro series to our riders. The rounds included a wide variety of trails and race formats and we are looking forward to a strong 2015 season”, said Rocky Trail’s Martin Wisata, who had travelled to Cairns from Sydney to support the hosting club for the final series event.
SeriesPodiumEliteWomen_27985_byKennethLorentsen
Elite Women’s series podium (l-r): Martin Wisata (Rocky Trail), Genevieve McKew (3rd), Rosemary Barnes (1st), Vanessa Thompson (2nd), Kath Bicknell (5th) – absent: Jaclyn Schapel (4th).
SeriesPodiumEliteMen_28007_byKennethLorentsen
Elite Men’s series podium (l-r): Ben Randall (4th), Simon Buzacott (2nd), Dan MacMunn (1st), Ryan De La Rue (3rd) – absent: Ben Cory (5th).
Full QLD race and series results are available via www.rockytrailentertainment.com
Top Results QLD Round
11+12 October 2014
Elite Male
1. Berend Boer [#117] // Discovery cycles-TREK // Holloways Beach QLD // 19:13 min
1. Dan MacMunn [#112] // Yetioz-Shimanoaust-Schwalbe-My Mountain // Spring Gully VIC // 19:13 min
3. Rhys Atkinson [#115] // Specialized, Sram, fjc clothing, Fektor // Kewarra Beach QLD // 19:37 min // + 24 sec
4. Ryan De La Rue [#130] // Specialized AU Lusty Industries // Colac VIC // 20:18 min // +1:05 min
5. Ben Randall [#119] // My Mountain // Hurstbridge VIC // 21:24  min // +2:11 min
Elite Female
1. Genevieve McKew [#128] // Knolly Australia, Endless Flow Cycles, Fox Australia // Chatswood NSW // 24:24 min
2. Rosemary Barnes [ #127] // Onyabike, Swell Design Group // Lyneham ACT // 26:19 min // +1:55 min
3. Vanessa Thompson [#124] // Single tracks  Banshee // Yanderra NSW // 27:24 min // +3 min
4. Kath Bicknell [#129] // Roxsolt // Sydney NSW // 29:06 min // +4:42 min
Overall Results Series 2014
Elite Male
1. Dan MacMunn // Yetioz-Shimanoaust-Schwalbe-My Mountain // Spring Gully VIC // 2720 pts
2. Simon Buzacott // Focus Bikes, Dissent labs, ion // Somerton Park SA // 1800 pts
3. Ryan De La Rue // Specialized AU Lusty Industries // Colac VIC // 1490 pts
4. Ben Randall // My Mountain // Hurstbridge VIC // 1270 pts
5. Ben Cory // Giant Bicycles, SRAM, RockShox, OnyaBike, Vans // Kambah ACT // 1100 pts
Elite Female
1. Rosemary Barnes // Onyabike, Swell Design Group // Lyneham ACT // 2540 pts
2. Vanessa Thompson // Single tracks  Banshee // Yanderra NSW // 2240 pts
3. Genevieve McKew // Knolly Australia, Endless Flow Cycles, Fox Australia // Chatswood NSW // 1700 pts
4. Jaclyn Schapel // LivAustralia:4Shaw:Adidas Eyewear:Torq Nutrition // Adelaide SA // 1520 pts
5. Kath Bicknell // Roxsolt // Sydney NSW // 1220 pts
Series winners in remaining categories:
Expert Male (B-Grade): Anthony Elliot // Wallaroo NSW // 1200 pts
Junior Under 19 Male: Aaron Felton // Sans Souci // 1020 pts
Junior Under 17 Male: Jarrod Murphy // Mount Marha VIC // 2301 pts
Veterans Male (30+): Michael Clarke // Seaham NSW // 1640 pts
Sport Male (C-Grade): Damien Brombal // 720 pts
Master Male: Joshua Lester // Westgate NSW // 2040 pts
SuperMaster Male: David Empey // Maindample VIC // 2400 pts
Junior Under 15 Male: Lachlan Clarke / Seaham NSW // 2290 pts

 

Video: The Best World Champs Downhill Ever

In what has been an incredible year for downhill racing there’s no doubt we witnessed one of the best ever World Championships  in Hafjell.

A chainless run from Neko Mulally astounded everyone by topping the men’s standings for a short time while Josh Bryceland seemingly snatched defeat from the jaws of the victory by overcooking the last bridge jump as he threatened to beat the leading time of Gee Atherton. In the end, Gee Atherton and Manon Carpenter took the World titles with the British team enjoying a 1-2 in elite men and a 1-2-3 in the elite women.

The boys from Orpheus Productions bring you the best of the action from an exciting finale to the 2014 season.

Video: Meribel World Cup Downhill Finals Highlights

The 2014 DH season came to a close with a bang in Meribel, delivering one of the best races of the year. Sam Hill returned to the top of the podium with a spectacular winning run, wildcard riders mixed up the usual standings and cheering fans wielding chainsaws, air horns and flags lined the Méribel course from top to bottom. Not to mention the crowning of a new World Cup Champion, Josh ‘Ratboy’ Bryceland.

The Parkin Bros were trackside, capturing all the spills, thrills and highlights from the last World Cup race of the season. 

Alice in Winter and racing the Red Centre

Alice Springs MTB enduro -6
The mighty MacDonnell Ranges are always there, looming over you in Alice! The way the scene changes colour as the sun drops is incredible.

Alice in winter

By May, when other parts of Oz are taking a right old beating, in the Red Centre smatterings of summer rain have damped down the dust, and clear blue skies are the general rule until next summer. By May the daytime temperatures in Alice are in the high 20s, and the locals are starting to complain about ‘the cold’. Winter conditions like that put the muddy grey days of winter riding in Melbourne and Sydney to shame. Suddenly flights to Alice for you and your bike start to feel as justifiable as post-ride beers and chips.

Alice Springs locals love their winter riding, and the event calendar reflects that. Alice’s mountain bike club, the Central Australian Rough Riders, runs a marathon, a 6-hour, a 12-hour night race, a three-day Easter stage race and a point-to-point series – and they’re all awesome. But for many interstate riders, Rapid Ascent’s Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro is the drawcard.

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A cloud in the sky during an Alice winter is enough to make the locals stop and stare. You’re almost guaranteed perfect riding conditions, with clear days topping out in the high 20s.

 

The Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro

With seven stages over five days, the Ingkerreke (pronounced ‘in-gear-uh-kah’) is long enough to feel like a break, but not so long that you need more than week off work. Rapid Ascent has been running the Ingkerreke for years, so the event runs as smoothly as your bike does on that first post-drivetrain overhaul ride.

This year’s Ingkerreke attracted some fast elites, with Jo Bennett securing an overall win in the women’s division, ahead of Imogen Smith (second) and all-but-local Jess Douglas (third). In the men’s division, Taswegian past-winner Ben Mather took the honours after fighting off recently returned local Ryan Standish (second) and Veteran class winner James Downing (third – more results here). But one of the things we’ve always enjoyed about the Ingkerreke is that it’s not just a race for the sharp end. The Ingkerreke throws together elite riders, mid-fielders and keen mere mortals for a solid week of awesome riding in a beautiful place.

Alice Springs MTB enduro -16
Jo Bennet, on her way to another Ingkerreke victory, leading Imogen Smith through the ever-shifting, super-fast singletrack.

In contrast to 2013, which started with rain, this year’s first three days were dry – even us locals had to concede that the surface was a bit loose. As we slogged down the sand on Smith St at the start of stage one, we could practically hear the thoughts of the interstaters, who were trying hard not to dwell on all the suffering they were in for in the week ahead. But the groans transformed into grins at the 10km mark when we hit that Alice Springs singletrack.

Alice Springs MTB enduro -5

Cloud cover kept the first day cool; on days two and three the sun came out, cranking up the heat and restoring the local advantage. On day four a very un-Centralian rain toned down the heat, prompting the locals to resume their complaints about ‘the cold’. But rain is always good news for mountain bikers in Alice – it packed down that otherwise loose, tyre-swallowing sand and rejuvenated the singletrack in time for the final stage, which rode fast.

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The Ingkerreke’s infamous Anzac Hill sprint climb! A brutal 300 metres, but the view is worth it.

 

It’s all Central-ised

When it comes to logistics, racing in Alice Springs is so easy. Alice is small enough that all seven stages of the Ingkerreke can start within a 10-minute ride of wherever you’re staying, and you’ll be finishing your stages in time to lunch at a café. But if the town is small, its trail network is massive, and growing – it can easily accommodate a week of riding without repeating sections. There’s plenty on the track menu, too, from fast and flowing zip-lines and loose, off-camber turns, to tight, rocky and technical switchbacks and step-ups. You can taste every dish within just a few corners and then find yourself back at the top of the menu again. The riding has a raw backcountry feel that Victoria-based Scotsman Gareth Syme described as ‘like real mountain biking’.

 Alice Springs MTB enduro -1

Singletrack and fire trail

Rapid Ascent used fire roads for early course sections to prevent singletrack congo lines. For the sharp-end, those fire roads were an opportunity to hustle; for the rest of us they were a chance to have a break and a yarn. Indeed, one-time-local Adam Nicholson said he was riding singlespeed because ‘there are more people to talk to in the mid-field’. (Adam spent his fire road time exchanging banter about gear ratios with his friend and fellow singlespeeder / bitter rival John.)

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Imogen Smith, Jo Bennet and Jess Douglas. Alice always attracts a classy, talented field.

Alice Springs’s steadily growing tangle of trails can be confusing to the uninitiated, though some tracks are now officially mapped and sign-posted. With so many new tracks added in the last few years, Ingkerreke vet Ben Mather described this year’s event as ‘a totally different race’ to the year of his previous win, in 2009. But combining a mountain biking visit with an event like the Ingkerreke means you can follow the pink tape through some of Alice’s finest sections of track without worrying about geographic dis/orientation.

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James Downing, Ryan Standish and Ben Mather.

This year’s Ingkerreke covered some of the best trails, old and new, while retaining some iconic sections of fire trail from previous years. And on the nights we weren’t racing, there were things on at the Chifley Alice Springs Resort event base, showcasing some of Alice’s local music talent, including local rider Mick Cafe.

For the full results from the 2014 Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro, jump on in here.

Chris’s parting shot

So what is different about mountain biking in the Alice Springs? A lot has been written about that since Alice hit the radar a few years ago, but here’s my two cents: it’s cross-country riding at its purest. There are no big hills and no long technical descents, just endless undulations, pinches and flowing turns under a big sky. The riding surfaces vary, from hardpack to loose corners to short rockgardens to sand, and a bit of mud if you’re lucky. There’s nothing really nasty to spit you off, and the few serious obstacles have B-lines, but every corner promises something different, something to keep you on your toes.

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Cairns 2014: Damian's Saturday selection

Saturday was all about downhill and while the weather improved it still proved to be a telling factor in the results. The rain stayed away and it made life a little easier for the riders, and photographers. Damian Breach pick 40 or so of his favourite shots from the day.

Enjoy.

After the on-off, and sometimes heavy rain of the past few days, it was great to wake up to some rays of sunshine. Despite a few dark clouds the day remained dry.
After the on-off, and sometimes heavy rain of the past few days, it was great to wake up to some rays of sunshine. Despite a few dark clouds, the day remained dry.
But the track was still a mess in places and the whole day turned into a struggle in sections.
But the track was still a mess in places and the whole day turned into a struggle to ride in sections.
Today's winner Rachel Atherton spent an eternity in the morning practice session studying the rock garden. It paid off for her.
Today’s winner Rachel Atherton spent an eternity in the morning practice session studying the rock garden. It paid off for her.
This is probably not the thing you would wan't to doing in the middle of a rock garden.
This is probably not the thing you would wan’t to be doing in the middle of a rock garden.
The work it has taken to build a world class downhill track in the thick rain forest cannot go without recognition. Thanks to legend Glen Jacobs and his amazing crew we saw World Cup racing return to Australia.
The work it has taken to build a world class downhill track in the thick rain forest cannot go without recognition. Thanks to legend Glen Jacobs and his amazing crew we saw World Cup racing return to Australia.
The fans were up early and slogged the super hard walk up the hill to get into place and support their favourite riders with noise. The noise come finals was incredible - too bad photos can't make sounds to share the ear carnage.
The fans were up early and slogged the super hard walk up the hill to get into place and support their favourite riders with noise. The noise come finals was incredible – too bad photos can’t make sounds to share the ear carnage.
Your world is a spin in the middle of a crash.
Your world is a spin in the middle of a crash.
The alien tree section was an absolute sloppy mess and only a few were able to ride it without looking like a learner. Michael Jones from the UK made it looks easy though.
The alien tree section was an absolute sloppy mess and only a few were able to ride it without looking like a learner. Michael Jones from the UK made it looks easy though.
The entry to the speed trap was a little drier today and that made life much better for the steep climb immediately following.
The entry to the speed trap was a little drier today and that made life much better for the steep climb immediately following.
The 5th member of the Beatles, Josh Bryceland, has been showing super form this season and we're picking him to win round 3 at Fort William.
The 5th member of the Beatles, Josh Bryceland, has been showing super form this season and we’re picking him to win round 3 at Fort William.
Connor Fearon unfortunately wasn't able to backup his top 10 qualifying run and finished well off the pace.
Connor Fearon unfortunately wasn’t able to backup his top 10 qualifying run and finished off the pace.
Standard rider-in-the-reflection-of-sunglasses shot.
Standard rider-in-the-reflection-of-sunglasses shot.
This little dog just wanted to watch the action but was carted off to a safer place.
This little dog just wanted to watch the action but was carted off to a safer place.
Australian for hydration pack.
Australian for hydration pack.
The crowd was huge, almost as huge as this boost.
The crowd was huge, almost as huge as this boost.
Yep, we can confirm, there are snakes in the rain forest.
Yep, we can confirm, there are snakes in the rain forest.
Some people just want the worst to happen. We however would never want anyone to land on their dick.  That would hurt.
Some people just want the worst to happen. We however would never want anyone to land on their dick. That would hurt.
We could probably think of other ways to help your fellow country person than wave a flag in their face just after they'd crashed. The conditions in some parts of the track were still crazy hard to stay on your bike.
We could probably think of other ways to help your fellow country person than wave a flag in their face just after a crashed. The conditions in some parts of the track were still crazy hard to stay on your bike.
We owe this to USA rider Jill Kintner for singling her out for crashing yesterday.
We owe this to USA rider Jill Kintner for singling her out for crashing yesterday.
Tracey Hannah wasn't able to use her local knowledge for any advantage but still managed a place on the podium in 5th spot.
Tracey Hannah wasn’t able to use her local knowledge for any advantage but still managed a place on the podium in 5th spot.
Aussie Lucas Dean had a tough time and his 51st place was not what he was hoping for. The conditions were just so though and results we're all over the place. It was a hard race to predict.
Aussie Lucas Dean had a tough time and his 51st place was not what he was hoping for. The conditions were just so though and results were all over the place. It was a hard race to predict.
A whole lot of green....... and a little bit of blue.
A whole lot of green……. and a little bit of blue.
There was still one big mud puddle left and it's probably going to be there next week too.
There was still one big mud puddle left and it’s probably going to be there next week too.
The last bit of steep on the hill (leading into Ronning's ramp) was all about body language and trying to hold your line. Glen Jacobs and his trail crew imagined some pretty crazy lines when they designed this part of the course however the rain held anyone off from going big. Maybe next time.
The last bit of steep on the hill (leading into Ronning’s ramp) was all about body language and trying to hold your line. Glen Jacobs and his trail crew imagined some pretty crazy lines when they designed this part of the course however the rain held anyone off from going big. Maybe next time.
Florent Payet of France get's ready for the pedal of his life.
Florent Payet of France get’s ready for the pedal of his life.
This photo isn't about the rider, it's about those two young kids who are probably now hooked on downhill. Yay we say.
This photo isn’t about the rider, it’s about those two young kids who are probably now hooked on downhill. Yay we say.
It just hurts.
It just hurts.
Steve Peat of the UK got a red flag on his run and had to go back up the hill for a 2nd try. Steve shows us just how excited he was to do that all again.
Steve Peat of the UK got a red flag on his run and had to go back up the hill for a 2nd try. Steve shows us just how excited he was to do that all again.
This is how much Australian Will Rishbeith missed out on qualifying by. Will was there watching and as always, with a smile on his face.
This is how much Australian Will Rischbieth missed out on qualifying by. Will was there watching and as always, with a smile on his face.
Sam Hill returned to the podium with 5th place. Everyone loves Sam and the fans were going crazy for him. This bloke probably wont wash that hand for a while.
Sam Hill returned to the podium with 5th place. Everyone loves Sam and the fans were going crazy for him. This bloke probably won’t wash that hand for a while.
This photos shows Mick Hannah's day. A crash and now he'll have to wait until 2016 to reach his dream of winning in his home town.
This photos shows Mick Hannah’s day. A crash, and now he’ll have to wait until 2016 to reach his dream of winning in his home town.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie..... Troy Brosnan flys the flag on his left arm and the fans fly the flag for him.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie….. Troy Brosnan flies the flag on his left arm and the fans fly the flag for him.
The warm glow of Steve. The fans love him and Flow does too.
The warm glow of Steve. The fans love him, and Flow does too.
Gee Atherton crossed the line with the win and a return to the top spot after over a year off the winners prize.
Gee Atherton crossed the line with the win and a return to the top spot after over a year off the winners prize.
Who the f#$k would wear onesie in Cairns. His balls must have been very moist.
Who the f#$k would wear onesie in Cairns. His unicorn balls must have been very moist.
Gee wins and Cairns wins for holding a great race.
Gee wins and Cairns wins for holding a great race.
This is the face of a genuinely happy person. Neko landed on the podium for the first time and his 3rd place was written all over his smiling face.
This is the face of a genuinely happy person. Neko landed on the podium for the first time and his 3rd place was written all over his smiling face.
Aiden Varley come in 2nd in Juniors and being in on the podium on home soil to be inspiration for the rest of the season.
Aiden Varley come in 2nd in Juniors and being in on the podium on home soil to be inspiration for the rest of the season.
Rachel Atherton enjoys something that's way better than Red Bull.
Rachel Atherton enjoys something that’s way better than Red Bull.
This shoes are not his. Gee ran flats and "borrowed" them off a local. We hope he returned them with something extra in them to say thanks.
This shoes are not his. Gee ran flats and “borrowed” them off a local. We hope he returned them with something extra in them to say thanks.
It did rain today, it rained champagne on the podium. (Thanks to Gary Perkin for the inspiration)
It did rain today, it rained champagne on the podium. (Thanks to Gary Perkin for the inspiration)

 

Cairns 2014: Damian’s Saturday selection

Saturday was all about downhill and while the weather improved it still proved to be a telling factor in the results. The rain stayed away and it made life a little easier for the riders, and photographers. Damian Breach pick 40 or so of his favourite shots from the day.

Enjoy.

After the on-off, and sometimes heavy rain of the past few days, it was great to wake up to some rays of sunshine. Despite a few dark clouds the day remained dry.
After the on-off, and sometimes heavy rain of the past few days, it was great to wake up to some rays of sunshine. Despite a few dark clouds, the day remained dry.
But the track was still a mess in places and the whole day turned into a struggle in sections.
But the track was still a mess in places and the whole day turned into a struggle to ride in sections.
Today's winner Rachel Atherton spent an eternity in the morning practice session studying the rock garden. It paid off for her.
Today’s winner Rachel Atherton spent an eternity in the morning practice session studying the rock garden. It paid off for her.
This is probably not the thing you would wan't to doing in the middle of a rock garden.
This is probably not the thing you would wan’t to be doing in the middle of a rock garden.
The work it has taken to build a world class downhill track in the thick rain forest cannot go without recognition. Thanks to legend Glen Jacobs and his amazing crew we saw World Cup racing return to Australia.
The work it has taken to build a world class downhill track in the thick rain forest cannot go without recognition. Thanks to legend Glen Jacobs and his amazing crew we saw World Cup racing return to Australia.
The fans were up early and slogged the super hard walk up the hill to get into place and support their favourite riders with noise. The noise come finals was incredible - too bad photos can't make sounds to share the ear carnage.
The fans were up early and slogged the super hard walk up the hill to get into place and support their favourite riders with noise. The noise come finals was incredible – too bad photos can’t make sounds to share the ear carnage.
Your world is a spin in the middle of a crash.
Your world is a spin in the middle of a crash.
The alien tree section was an absolute sloppy mess and only a few were able to ride it without looking like a learner. Michael Jones from the UK made it looks easy though.
The alien tree section was an absolute sloppy mess and only a few were able to ride it without looking like a learner. Michael Jones from the UK made it looks easy though.
The entry to the speed trap was a little drier today and that made life much better for the steep climb immediately following.
The entry to the speed trap was a little drier today and that made life much better for the steep climb immediately following.
The 5th member of the Beatles, Josh Bryceland, has been showing super form this season and we're picking him to win round 3 at Fort William.
The 5th member of the Beatles, Josh Bryceland, has been showing super form this season and we’re picking him to win round 3 at Fort William.
Connor Fearon unfortunately wasn't able to backup his top 10 qualifying run and finished well off the pace.
Connor Fearon unfortunately wasn’t able to backup his top 10 qualifying run and finished off the pace.
Standard rider-in-the-reflection-of-sunglasses shot.
Standard rider-in-the-reflection-of-sunglasses shot.
This little dog just wanted to watch the action but was carted off to a safer place.
This little dog just wanted to watch the action but was carted off to a safer place.
Australian for hydration pack.
Australian for hydration pack.
The crowd was huge, almost as huge as this boost.
The crowd was huge, almost as huge as this boost.
Yep, we can confirm, there are snakes in the rain forest.
Yep, we can confirm, there are snakes in the rain forest.
Some people just want the worst to happen. We however would never want anyone to land on their dick.  That would hurt.
Some people just want the worst to happen. We however would never want anyone to land on their dick. That would hurt.
We could probably think of other ways to help your fellow country person than wave a flag in their face just after they'd crashed. The conditions in some parts of the track were still crazy hard to stay on your bike.
We could probably think of other ways to help your fellow country person than wave a flag in their face just after a crashed. The conditions in some parts of the track were still crazy hard to stay on your bike.
We owe this to USA rider Jill Kintner for singling her out for crashing yesterday.
We owe this to USA rider Jill Kintner for singling her out for crashing yesterday.
Tracey Hannah wasn't able to use her local knowledge for any advantage but still managed a place on the podium in 5th spot.
Tracey Hannah wasn’t able to use her local knowledge for any advantage but still managed a place on the podium in 5th spot.
Aussie Lucas Dean had a tough time and his 51st place was not what he was hoping for. The conditions were just so though and results we're all over the place. It was a hard race to predict.
Aussie Lucas Dean had a tough time and his 51st place was not what he was hoping for. The conditions were just so though and results were all over the place. It was a hard race to predict.
A whole lot of green....... and a little bit of blue.
A whole lot of green……. and a little bit of blue.
There was still one big mud puddle left and it's probably going to be there next week too.
There was still one big mud puddle left and it’s probably going to be there next week too.
The last bit of steep on the hill (leading into Ronning's ramp) was all about body language and trying to hold your line. Glen Jacobs and his trail crew imagined some pretty crazy lines when they designed this part of the course however the rain held anyone off from going big. Maybe next time.
The last bit of steep on the hill (leading into Ronning’s ramp) was all about body language and trying to hold your line. Glen Jacobs and his trail crew imagined some pretty crazy lines when they designed this part of the course however the rain held anyone off from going big. Maybe next time.
Florent Payet of France get's ready for the pedal of his life.
Florent Payet of France get’s ready for the pedal of his life.
This photo isn't about the rider, it's about those two young kids who are probably now hooked on downhill. Yay we say.
This photo isn’t about the rider, it’s about those two young kids who are probably now hooked on downhill. Yay we say.
It just hurts.
It just hurts.
Steve Peat of the UK got a red flag on his run and had to go back up the hill for a 2nd try. Steve shows us just how excited he was to do that all again.
Steve Peat of the UK got a red flag on his run and had to go back up the hill for a 2nd try. Steve shows us just how excited he was to do that all again.
This is how much Australian Will Rishbeith missed out on qualifying by. Will was there watching and as always, with a smile on his face.
This is how much Australian Will Rischbieth missed out on qualifying by. Will was there watching and as always, with a smile on his face.
Sam Hill returned to the podium with 5th place. Everyone loves Sam and the fans were going crazy for him. This bloke probably wont wash that hand for a while.
Sam Hill returned to the podium with 5th place. Everyone loves Sam and the fans were going crazy for him. This bloke probably won’t wash that hand for a while.
This photos shows Mick Hannah's day. A crash and now he'll have to wait until 2016 to reach his dream of winning in his home town.
This photos shows Mick Hannah’s day. A crash, and now he’ll have to wait until 2016 to reach his dream of winning in his home town.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie..... Troy Brosnan flys the flag on his left arm and the fans fly the flag for him.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie….. Troy Brosnan flies the flag on his left arm and the fans fly the flag for him.
The warm glow of Steve. The fans love him and Flow does too.
The warm glow of Steve. The fans love him, and Flow does too.
Gee Atherton crossed the line with the win and a return to the top spot after over a year off the winners prize.
Gee Atherton crossed the line with the win and a return to the top spot after over a year off the winners prize.
Who the f#$k would wear onesie in Cairns. His balls must have been very moist.
Who the f#$k would wear onesie in Cairns. His unicorn balls must have been very moist.
Gee wins and Cairns wins for holding a great race.
Gee wins and Cairns wins for holding a great race.
This is the face of a genuinely happy person. Neko landed on the podium for the first time and his 3rd place was written all over his smiling face.
This is the face of a genuinely happy person. Neko landed on the podium for the first time and his 3rd place was written all over his smiling face.
Aiden Varley come in 2nd in Juniors and being in on the podium on home soil to be inspiration for the rest of the season.
Aiden Varley come in 2nd in Juniors and being in on the podium on home soil to be inspiration for the rest of the season.
Rachel Atherton enjoys something that's way better than Red Bull.
Rachel Atherton enjoys something that’s way better than Red Bull.
This shoes are not his. Gee ran flats and "borrowed" them off a local. We hope he returned them with something extra in them to say thanks.
This shoes are not his. Gee ran flats and “borrowed” them off a local. We hope he returned them with something extra in them to say thanks.
It did rain today, it rained champagne on the podium. (Thanks to Gary Perkin for the inspiration)
It did rain today, it rained champagne on the podium. (Thanks to Gary Perkin for the inspiration)

 

Cairns 2014: Friday's bangers from Breach

Friday saw the qualifying for downhill and the finals of the XC eliminator. With heavy rain overnight, the conditions were going to be a tough day for both racers and photographers. Flow’s Damian Breach stood in ankle deep mud all day to bring you his view of the World Cup.

This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that's better than what happened later in the day - as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that’s better than what happened later in the day – as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Everyone's favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing however see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
Everyone’s favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing, however to see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It's worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it's not so bad for him.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It’s worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it’s not so bad for him.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section.  Respect.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section. Respect.
Even know the rain held of for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud of today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.
Even though the rain held off for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.

WEB_NEWS_CAIRNS_WC_FRI_DB-11

This isn't child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
This isn’t child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
WEB_NEWS_CAIRNS_WC_FRI_DB-7
The alien tree is big and alien like. It’s also right next to a very sloppy and slippery part of the trail which the aliens would probably like.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That's right, it's not a berm, it's a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it's clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That’s right, it’s not a berm, it’s a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it’s clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying the shoe choice or popularity was none at all.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying – the most popular shoe choice was none at all.

 

With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was by far not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th. Sam is carrying a little hand injury that will surely be hurting his confidence.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th.


Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let's hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Vicking is on the podium.
Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let’s hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Viking is on the podium.
Conner Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Connor Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Just as the XC eliminator started, so did the rain.
Just as the XC Eliminator started, so did the rain.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines - all within arms reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard long sprint up a muddy hill.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines – all within arm’s reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard, long sprint up a muddy hill.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still cam out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still came out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
The top of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice soothing mud bath.
The top section of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice, soothing mud bath.
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
There's nothing better than poaching someone else's flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.
There’s nothing better than poaching someone else’s flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.

 

Cairns 2014: Friday’s bangers from Breach

Friday saw the qualifying for downhill and the finals of the XC eliminator. With heavy rain overnight, the conditions were going to be a tough day for both racers and photographers. Flow’s Damian Breach stood in ankle deep mud all day to bring you his view of the World Cup.

This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
This is what we fell asleep to last night. More rain.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The rain had to be expected however, it is in a rainforest after all.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The day started wet once again and the view from the top was a little less than inviting.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that's better than what happened later in the day - as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
The mud was thick, however early on in the day it was still pretty wet and that’s better than what happened later in the day – as it started to dry out. It slowly turned into a thick sludge that was a nightmare.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Greg Minnaar on his tentative first run down the hill. The first rock garden had a few people puzzled and Greg was one who spent a bit of time looking at the best and safest way through it all. There was several lines, and of course, the fastest was also the scariest.
Everyone's favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing however see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
Everyone’s favourite: Chris Kovarik. We were thinking that his last internet edit with backing electronic music was a sign of Chris changing, however to see him on the track today alleviated that fear. He still Slay(er)s it.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It's worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it's not so bad for him.
You would think that Gee Atherton would be at home in the wet and mud however Cairns is a little different. It’s worse. Gee qualified in 6th spot so maybe it’s not so bad for him.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section.  Respect.
Nick Beer booooosts the huge triple on the high speed section. Respect.
Even know the rain held of for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud of today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.
Even though the rain held off for most of the day the forest was still a dark scary place for all. Just after this jump was the speed trap and the thicker mud today seemed to drop the top speeds by about 10kph.

WEB_NEWS_CAIRNS_WC_FRI_DB-11

This isn't child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
This isn’t child abuse, this is a loving father doing all he can to stop his son from hitting the deck. The mud was so super slippery to walk on, let alone ride.
WEB_NEWS_CAIRNS_WC_FRI_DB-7
The alien tree is big and alien like. It’s also right next to a very sloppy and slippery part of the trail which the aliens would probably like.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That's right, it's not a berm, it's a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it's clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
Aussie junior Aiden Varley does his best not to disappear into a huge rut. That’s right, it’s not a berm, it’s a rut carved through the mud. Aiden finished 4th in qualifying however at 31 seconds off the pace it’s clear to see how the conditions today came into play.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying the shoe choice or popularity was none at all.
There was a decent crowd watching downhill qualifying – the most popular shoe choice was none at all.

 

With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was by far not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With everyone crashing it feels pretty bad picking out just one example. Apologies to Jill Kintner as she was not the only one to hit the Cairns mud today.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th. Sam is carrying a little hand injury that will surely be hurting his confidence.
With conditions so poor people were probably expecting Sam Hill to do well in qualifying however Sam ended up in 50th.


Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let's hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Vicking is on the podium.
Ed Masters of New Zealand shocked everyone with his 4th place in qualifying. Let’s hope he keeps it up for tomorrow as it may be the first time in UCI history that an actual Viking is on the podium.
Conner Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Connor Fearon slipped into the top 10 with this much extra weight added to his bike. The bikes at the end of the run were a mess.
Just as the XC eliminator started, so did the rain.
Just as the XC Eliminator started, so did the rain.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines - all within arms reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard long sprint up a muddy hill.
Glenn Jacobs has built a pretty cool section of the cross country trail right next to the event village. Much like a 4X trail of old it has berms, jumps, and multiple lines – all within arm’s reach of the fans. The XC eliminator dropped right into it after a hard, long sprint up a muddy hill.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still cam out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
Even though the conditions were wet the fans still came out in numbers to cheer everyone on.
The top of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice soothing mud bath.
The top section of the opening sprint in the XC eliminator was probably a relief as it meant a nice, soothing mud bath.
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
Have we mentioned that it was a little muddy today already?
There's nothing better than poaching someone else's flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.
There’s nothing better than poaching someone else’s flash to create some MTB art. Alexandra Engen raises her arms as she wins the Cairns XC eliminator.

 

Racing: Brosnan and Hannah Win Downhill Gold at MTB Nationals in Bright

Troy Brosnan (SA) and Tracey Hannah (QLD) are the 2014 National Downhill champions after a day of spectacular action at the Subaru Australian Mountain Bike Championships in Bright, VIC.

Elite and U19 DH Champions (c) Tim Bardsley Smith
U19 and Elite champions – L-R: Andrew Crimmins (U19), Troy Brosnan, Tracey Hannah, Tegan Molloy (U19)

Racing on the final day of the Championships took place in the Downhill and Cross Country Eliminator disciplines.

In Downhill, the star-studded Elite Men’s field was headlined by two of our best riders over the last decade, Mick Hannah (QLD) and Brosnan.

World championship medalist Mick Hannah (QLD) was the fastest rider in Saturday seeding. Young gun, former dual junior world champion Troy Brosnan had severe mechanical issues with his bike on seeding day. Instead of starting in his customary position with the fastest riders at the end of the field, he would start first.

Brosnan set the weekend’s fastest run with a 3:42.90, leaving the field to chase his time. He summed up how to ride in Bright “I made a couple of mistakes but I didn’t really lose too much time, in the end on a track like this you have to make mistakes to go fast”.

As widely predicted, Brosnan would sit in the Subaru hotseat for a long time, making it a long and nervous wait to see if his time would hold up.

Mick 'Sik Mik' Hannah (c) Tim Bardsley Smith
A crash of Mick Hannah kept him off the top stop.

Hannah came down the hill last, but it wasn’t to be his day. “I felt like I was having a really good run and just had a little mistake. I started to lose the front a bit and couldn’t get my foot out in time and hit the ground, getting tangled up in the trees and tape.”. He would go on to place 5th.

It was clear before Hannah finished that Brosnan was the Elite National Champion for the second time, 2012 being his first Elite title.

“It feels amazing to win, my run was smooth, fast, I was feeling fit and strong” said Brosnan. He has high goals for 2014. “I definitely want to get in a World Cup win this year, there are a few tracks that I know I can win on”.

Troy Brosnan (c) Tim Bardsley Smith
Troy Brosnan now officially wears the Aussie colours.

Connor Fearon (SA) has been racing with Troy since juniors, and he would ultimately come the closest to Brosnan today with a 3:45.14. Jack Moir (SA) took 3rd and Todd Madsen (WA) finished 4th.

Under 19s action saw Andrew Crimmins (NSW) took the win from Aiden Varley (VIC) and Max Warshawsky (QLD).

“It’s great to be national champion, it’s my first year in U19s so it’s a bit different stepping up” exclaimed Crimmins.

In the Elite Women’s racing, there was a stunning field, and then there was Tracey Hannah (QLD).

Tracey Hannah (c) Tim Bardsley-Smith
Tracey Hannah.

Hannah today won her sixth national championship, with the last three being consecutive. Hannah was last rider down the hill and blitzed the field by phenomenal 35.91s recording a sensation time of 4:22.44.

“It feels good for the first serious race of my season to come away with the win, and to be able to wear the Aussie flag on my sleeve for another year overseas is the best” said a proud Hannah.

It’s been a tough few years for Hannah with injuries since returning to the sport in 2011. “Coming back from a few seasons of injury I’d just like to get through the whole season and hopefully get some pretty good results the World Cups”.

Emma McNaughton (NSW) won the silver and Shelly Flood (SA) took the bronze.

In the Under 19s racing the Women’s National Champion is Tegan Molloy (NSW). “It’s pretty special to win, I didn’t really have the best run but I’m still happy to come away with the win and ride such a fun track all weekend”.

Tegan Molloy (c) Tim Bardsley Smith
Tegan on her way to the win.

Racing: Yeah Boi, Sick – Racing in memory of Dodzy

An event with an unusual name and a heart of gold will be one of the highlights of the 2nd Rotorua Bike Festival in New Zealand in February. Yeah Boi Sick Race will be a celebration of one of New Zealand’s top mountain bikers, James ‘Dodzy’ Dodds who died tragically in 2012.

James Dodds Whaka Forest
Dodzy.

He was a New Zealand representative in downhill and well known in international race circles, a trail and bike designer and builder and he also taught mountain bike skills.

The organizers of the race are Jo Price and Budgie Woods, close friends of Dodds. “The term yeah boi, sick is a complete Dodzyism,” Jo explained. “He used to say ‘sick’ a lot.”

Yeah Boi Sick is a short course sprint up the tar seal of Nursery Hill, the northern entry to the Whakarewarewa mountain bike network and then back down the steep, technical Exit Trail. While it’s a test of fitness and skill, it’s mainly about having fun. And there’s a serious spin: to raise as much money as possible for the James Dodds Memorial Fund.

Dodds’ long time partner, Gabby Molly, and the Rotorua-based Geyser Community Foundation created the fund in his name. To start with the income will be used to maintain a mountain bike skills park the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club is building in his memory.

The first Yeah Boi Sick Race was held the week before Christmas in 2012. It was a beautiful, warm summer’s evening in Rotorua with the giant Redwoods on Long Mile Road lit up by the late afternoon sun.

There was a wide range of riders and bikes – from big downhill bikes to lightweight cross-country bikes. Julian Dean borrowed a mountain bike and helmet and did a lap with his young son Tanner on his BMX.

Jono Church at Yeah Boi, Sick last year.
Jono Church at Yeah Boi, Sick last year.

Dean then signed one of his race shirts and donated it to the auction that followed the race. The big winner on the night was the Memorial Fund with over $9000 raised.

In 2014 the race moves into the Rotorua Bike Festival and will be run on the evening of Tuesday, February 18.

The National Mountain Bike Championships are on the first weekend of the festival. Most of the country’s top riders will stay in Rotorua to participate in other events through the week, including Yeah Boi Sick Race.

“Dodzy was a real legend of our sport and a lot of the younger riders looked up to him as a role model and a mate,” said Jo Price. “They’ll love to be able to be part of this.”

Gabby Molloy will be at the race and knows James would approve. “What is there to say? He’d freakin’ love it and I can guarantee he’ll be here with us, ripping it up, yelling and grinning, mixing it up as only Dodzy can,” she said.

The race is part of 10 days of cycling events from Friday February 14 to Sunday February 23. With around 30 events the Festival covers all cycling disciplines with road, BMX and mountain bike races.

Super heroes YBS1 © Nick Lambert copy
Super heroes at YBS 1.

“The idea is to have something for everyone, no matter their age, gender or skill level,” said Graeme Simpson from the Bike Festival team. “We want to get people on their bikes and enjoy some riding in the summer sun.” For Simpson an event like Yeah Boi Sick sums up the spirit of the festival.

“Anyone can enter, it’s light hearted and a chance for people to dress up and have a laugh and it’s only ten bucks to enter,” he added. “But it’ll also have a competitive edge as well, believe me. And all the money from entries and another auction will go to a great cause.”

Overall rider numbers are already well up on the first Festival. “Two mountain bike events – the Giant 2W Gravity Enduro and Skyline Sprint Warrior – sold out with over a month to go,” said Simpson. Rotorua is a well known mountain bike venue, hosting the 2006 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships and 2010 Singlespeed Worlds.

However, entries for the feature road events, Ibis Bike the Lake and the Telecom Inner City Street Criterium, are also well ahead of expectations. “At this time last year it was a bit hard to judge how the first Festival would go and it ended up being a real success,” continued Simpson. “This year we are sure it’ll be bigger, better and brighter and a really solid platform for the future.”

The full festival programme is at www.rotoruabikefestival.com and there are daily updates on the facebook page, facebook.com/RotoruaBikeFestival

 

Racing: Fearon and Beecroft on fire at National DH Round 1

Connor Fearon (SA) and Danielle Beecroft (NSW) rode strong races on the technical Adelaide course to run away with the first DownHill elite wins of the season.

Fearon seeded fastest on Saturday and followed up with his first Elite win, on his birthday no less, since moving up to the Elite category in 2013, all while racing against a world-class field.

Racing took place on the downhill course at Eagle Mountain Bike Park in the hills of Adelaide, a venue that hosted the 2010-12 Australian Championships.

Early running saw both local Will Rischbeith (SA) and Joshua Button (NSW) spend time in the Subaru hot seat as the fastest rider, with Button’s time of 2:04.03 holding up for third place overall.

The Elite Men’s race, however, was always likely to feature both of the Adelaide prodigies Troy Brosnan (SA) and Connor Fearon. In the words of Brosnan, the pair have featured on podiums together “almost too many” times.

Brosnan, the 2010-11 Junior World Champion, has had an amazing year finishing in the top 10 of the UCI World Cup Season. He seeded second on Saturday, and was the second-last rider down his home track in Adelaide in the final.

With a clean run, managing to go 1.07 seconds faster than his seeding run on the Saturday, he found himself the fastest rider in a time of 2:02.33 with only Fearon left on track. This time would ultimately secure second place, and Brosnan said “I’ve had a pretty good off-season training, trying to improve and second place here at home behind Connor is pretty good”.

Brosnan spoke with confidence about his and Fearon’s place in the Australian downhill landscape in 2013. “Connor’s riding really fast at the moment and it’s hard – it’s likely to be between us two for the season”.

IMG_1911_Brosnan
Troy Brosnan will be looking to equalise in Buller.

Fearon knew since yesterday that he would be the last rider down the hill for the event, and as he came out of the rock garden the screams from the crowd let him know that he was in with a chance.

Keeping the final switchbacks low and smooth, he finished in a time of 2:00.89, 1.44 seconds clear of Brosnan and the field.

“It feels awesome to win, I raced all of last year in Elite and didn’t get a win, so I was super hungry, on my birthday, and it’s my home town as well”.

He spoke about the tough conditions. “It was a bit faster today but a few corners were sandy so I had to be cautious”.

He plans to contest the whole World Cup season this year. “I’ve been training really hard, both for the World Cups and the National season to be a bit fitter.

In the Elite Women’s race, a dominant performance by Danielle Beecroft saw her win her first national race at the elite level.

“I couldn’t be more excited – it’s a great way to start the year and hopefully I can keep it going”, said Beecroft.

Beecroft raced conservatively, today racing without jumping due to a small injury on Saturday. “I took it a bit easy today, kept it rubber side down and got down the track”.

In Under 19s Men’s racing, Andrew Crimmins (NSW) won in a time of 2:04.15, amazing still managing to win after a drivetrain malfunction in the final section of the track leaving him unable to pedal. Max Warshawsky (QLD) placed second, and Ben Hill (TAS) finished third.

In the Under 19s Women’s, rising junior Tegan Molloy (NSW) won in a time (2:25.79) that would see her claim the fastest female time of the day. Second place went to Ellie Wale (VIC).

Round 2 of the Subaru Australian Mountain Bike season will take place at Mt Buller, Victoria from 7-9 February and categories exist for riders of all levels to join in the national season action.
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Racing: Counting Down to Wildside 2014

The four-day stage race takes riders on a journey through the lush landscape from Cradle Mountain to Strahan. Most days feature two race stages, with transit or ‘cruise’ stages in between. These allow riders to spin their legs and catch up with people who bust through the competition stages at different speeds.

‘The journey passes through the very unique landscape of Tasmania’s West Coast. It starts in alpine country, descends through rainforest and ends on a wild beach,’ says Race Director Nic Deka.

‘Along the way, the race follows historical trails, visits small, welcoming communities and provides a diversity of scenery and experiences that are unique in Australia.’

The entry list typically sees a 55/45 split between local and interstate or overseas competitors ready for the adventure. Previous winners include Olympians Sid Taberlay (a record five times), Mary Grigson, Lisa Mathison and Dan McConnell. This list exhibits the calibre of the racing on offer and the high regard riders have for this event at the elite end of the field.

The Montezuma Falls stage is one of the best. Fast, lush and with this swing bridge to navigate too.
The Montezuma Falls stage is one of the best. Fast, lush and with this swing bridge to navigate too, it’s certainly memorable.

But Wildside’s longstanding success lies in the way it offers a fun, rewarding and unique experience for riders with a range of goals.

‘We continue to get many people who are not serious riders who set Wildside as a challenge to recover from a serious illness or injury, something to do before they die, or simply to improve their health and fitness,’ says Nic.

‘It’s great to see the excitement and the tension at registration, the buzz at stage finishes, but most of all the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that people get from finishing the event in Strahan.

‘The fact that about 50% of our entrants are returning competitors also adds to our enjoyment because we get to know our competitors and it makes the whole experience more personal both for them and us.’

Canberra Liv/Giant rider, Eliza Eldridge Bassett, is returning this year after sharing the experience with her immediate family in 2012. This year the party list is even bigger.

‘(Last time) my dad, James, and my brother, Til, raced, and my mother Julie did the support and vehicle driving. My mum saw how much fun we had last time and decided she wanted to join in on the action too.

‘This year my uncle and aunt will come along and do the support. We’ve really made it into a whole family affair!’ Eliza’s partner, Mark Tupalski (TORQ Nutrition), will also be along for the journey pushing the field at the pointy end.

‘Mark will be at the race to fight for a position on the podium, I’ll be there to have fun and challenge my time from 2012, likewise with my father and brother, and my mum will be there to have an adventure on her bike and take in the stunning scenery,’ adds Eliza, pointing toward the broad appeal of the short stages that travel through a little seen part of the world.

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‘For me, the biggest draw card is the country we race through. The landscape is stunning, and being able to ride through it adds a different dimension from the usual bushwalking and driving trips I’ve done through the area.

‘I love the format of the race itself. The stages are reasonably short and super fun, although sometimes quite hard! And the cruise stages let you recover from the racing and have some social time.

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‘Starting in waves each stage lets you get to know your fellow riders and have a ‘mini race’ within the race; and when you’re not at the pointy end of the field like me, it means you get to feel like you are!’

The event has a reputation for tight organisation, catering that people rave about, and, most years, at least one stage that sees riders covered from head to toe in mud. Accommodation and transport packages are available, although many riders choose to bring someone along to drive a support vehicle and fill up additional accommodation options nearby.

The physical and mental journey of the race is sure to complement the visual journey. Getting from point to point with a tight crew of family or friends adds to the experience, making it more special still.

‘The fact that families and friends share the experience is something that we encourage,’ says Nic. ‘It’s very much reflected by our organisational crew who are our friends and family members too.’

Over 400 riders will start the journey on Friday January 25. They will take in 140km of competition stages, and 60km of transit sections. Entries are open for a few more days.

 

Racing: 2014 MTBA National Series – All Rounds Now Opened for Entry

We are pleased to be able to advise that all rounds for the 2014 MTB National Series are now open for entry.

MTBA are very pleased to be able to say that the 2014 MTB National Series rounds will be conducted in partnership with a number of local organisers and clubs. The support, assistance and cooperation we have received from organisers and the mountain biking community has been invaluable. The passion displayed by all those I have meet has been extremely positive and highlights the vast opportunities and potential for the sport through mutual cooperation.

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We are delighted to still be able to honour a commitment made to host a round of the 2014 MTB National Series at Echuca/Moama. The new Moama Mountain Bike Park, near Echuca is the site for a series of races in Round 3. Local organisers are very excited at the opportunity to showcase the wonderful sport of mountain bike and our community of National level riders. The track should prove fast and physically challenging. With a number of activities planned, including an XCC, Come’n’Try activities and the track’s official opening, I feel sure that this round will prove extremely exciting and I encourage as many riders as possible to attend.

The 2014 Australian National MTB Championships will be held as announced in Bright VIC on 6-10 March.

Please visit MTBA to register for all races.

Racing: Dirt Maidens Challenge

They may never be the big names in the sport, and they may not be the most ‘sik’ or ‘shred-ready’ riders on the trails, but they know how to get involved and support one another in taking up a new sport.

Dirt Maiden Challenge

Riders from as far north as Port Macquarie and as far south as Phillip Island gathered with new friends at the starting line, which appeared as a sea of stripes, stars and spots- girls dressed in theme to identify them to their team. Over 35 Jindabyne girls signed up, many for their first ever mountain bike event, as the sport amongst local women has grown at an unprecedented rate.  With a large number of girls entering the event alone, these teams were successfully designed to encourage inclusiveness and also spark a little competitive rivalry between friends. Magnificent costumes and vibrant colours wound their way through the flowing trails; fast and fit, or slow and steady- the event catered to all levels of riders.

Dirt Maiden Challenge

Dirt Maiden Challenge

With an all-male volunteer crew spicing up the trails, pink bunting and cheeky signage around the course, and a relaxed and social atmosphere created by sweet tunes and a charismatic MC, there was nothing for competitors to do but smile, ride, and enjoy themselves. Rolling Ground Jindabyne showed their support with professional timing and the setup of a sensational course, leaving the girls raving about the trails and keen to come back for more. Beers for every rider, courtesy of local sponsor Kosciusko Brewery, were well received on completion of their final lap, as was the free yoga session for riders to stretch out their weary muscles.

This was all followed by presentations, a mouth-watering meal and rad live music where participants, volunteers and spectators could socialise and enjoy the balmy temperature in a perfect setting for an after party on site at Bungarra.

Prizes were in abundance, thanks to our generous sponsors, and as well as prizes for the fastest in the XC and gravity events, prizes were awarded for a number of other achievements. The ‘Iron Maiden’- was awarded to those that battled on despite crashes, mechanicals and lack of experience, ‘Mini Maiden’- for the youngest rider, and the ‘Maverick Maiden’- which is awarded to the token badass that turns up with a bmx, a hangover, or in this case-no bike at all.

Dirt Maiden Challenge

Dirt Maiden Challenge

The following day, after a cruisey morning exploring more trails in the area, a large crew of girls gathered in Thredbo to show their support to one of our sponsors, and to our local gem and downhill legend, Tegan Molloy- who also generously donated a horde of prizes. No one was disappointed by the show she put on, as she hit the last jump and got bigger air, and applause than most of the lads.

For a first time event, with no marketing budget and no reputation to precede it, the first ever Dirt Maidens Challenge has been hailed a great success. With nothing but positive feedback, there appears to be a large number of girls who will be back- with a posse of friends in their wake. This means we will also be looking for more sponsors to make the event even better, and more volunteers of the (single) male variety to come along and support the girls, and spend a weekend riding in the beautiful Snowy Mountains.

Racing: UCI promotes Crocodile Trophy to category level S1

The Crocodile Trophy is the oldest mountain bike stage race in the world and in 2014 will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In honour of this jubilee and major milestone for the event, its organisers decided to join the UCI.

The most adventurous mountain bike stage race in the world will become a UCI event category S1.  As an official UCI race the Crocodile Trophy will still be open for professionals, amateur racers as well as recreational cyclists.

The infamous event is not only the oldest and most renowned mountain bike stage race in the world, but it also features the biggest solo competitor field of any stage race of that dimension.

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The organisers confirmed that for the 2014 anniversary race, there will be at least four completely new stages in the nine-day tour program. With a new and larger infrastructure the Crocodile Trophy will be able to host more participants than in previous years. The new stage plan through the remote Australian Outback and lush rainforests in Tropical Far North Queensland with the new stage finishes and spectacular tracks and trails will be publicized by the end of January.

The event dates are:  18th – 26th October 2014

Online registration has already been open since 1st December on www.crocodile-trophy.com!

For further information please check our website www.crocodile-trophy.com or contact:

Video: SRAM XX1 | Enduro | Part 2: Flat Out and Focused

Enduro is demanding on riders and bikes in the same way: it requires a unique combination of all-out riding and reliability over long stages, multiple days of racing and ultimately a long season.

This second chapter follows the best enduro racers in the world from the iconic Mega Avalanche in Alpe d’Huez to the final race of the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure, Italy. Here, in addition to Jerome Clementz’s victory in both the race and overall, Curtis Keene, Rene Wildhaber, Anka Martin, Anneke Beerten and many more reflect on the first season of the Enduro World Series and what it means to be an enduro racer today.

at the third round of the Enduro World Series, Les 2 Alps, France

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during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

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during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

 

Video: SRAM XX1 | Enduro | Part 2: Flat Out and Focused

Enduro is demanding on riders and bikes in the same way: it requires a unique combination of all-out riding and reliability over long stages, multiple days of racing and ultimately a long season.

This second chapter follows the best enduro racers in the world from the iconic Mega Avalanche in Alpe d’Huez to the final race of the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure, Italy. Here, in addition to Jerome Clementz’s victory in both the race and overall, Curtis Keene, Rene Wildhaber, Anka Martin, Anneke Beerten and many more reflect on the first season of the Enduro World Series and what it means to be an enduro racer today.

at the third round of the Enduro World Series, Les 2 Alps, France

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during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

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during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

during the final stop of the EWS, Finale, Italy.

 

MTBA Takes Control of 2014 National Mountain Bike Series

Mountain Bike Australia announced today that the 2014 National Mountain Bike Series will be brought back under MTBA control and delivery.

The recent re-structure of Cycling Australia’s (CA) Commercial and Events team means that the arrangement under which CA delivered the previous National Series is no longer a financially viable option.

“This provides a great opportunity for MTBA to engage with our clubs and our members to ensure that a series is delivered which meets the needs of mountain bikers while providing top-level competition for our best riders as they prepare for the international season.” said MTBA President Russ Baker. “I am confident that the future development of this delivery model by MTBA will see a better progression of club, state and national events which will provide fun, development and competition opportunities for all mountain bikers.”

“Our focus will be on providing great races for the riders, in many ways it will be getting back to the basics of our sport and providing what our riders want. It is those very basics that make mountain biking what we all love. I look forward to a successful first round in Adelaide in the new year.”
The 2014 National Mountain Bike Series will use the established venues and dates for rounds 1 and 2, and the downhill component of round 3. There will be no need to change travel plans for those events. XCO riders will still be able to earn valuable UCI points from all races in the series.

The current MTB National Series Schedule is:
Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
17-19 January 7-9 February 21-23 February
Eagle Park SA Mt Buller VIC Thredbo NSW
XCO, XCE, DHI XCO, XCE, DHI DHI

The date and location for the third XCO/XCE round is subject to a final confirmation of the suitability of the course and venue. Some of Australia’s best Elite XC riders and MTBA Staff will be inspecting courses in the next week and an announcement will be made on the MTBA website as soon as a decision is made, along with entry details. Russ Baker said, “We must make sure that the course is worthy of our riders and the standard of competition. The best advice MTBA can currently give our riders for planning purposes for Round 3 XCO/XCE is that the dates will be either 22-23 Feb or 1-2 March.”

The 2014 Australian National MTB Championships will be held as announced in Bright VIC on 6- 10 March.

In announcing the transfer of responsibility for delivery of the series, Cycling Australia Interim CEO Adrian Anderson said, “These changes have been undertaken with the best interests of CA, the sport and the mountain bike community top of mind. We would like to thank MTBA for their understanding and willingness to ensure the continuation of the series.”

Video: 2014 Cairns, Australia – World Cup Teaser

The World Trail crew has recently finished construction of the 2014 World Cup XCO & DH tracks, in Cairns Australia. These innovative styles of world class race tracks have evolved over years of professional builds, by World Trail. These tracks will cater for a whole new breed of Mountain Bike racers, both XCO and DH.

A full detailed video, profiling these unique courses, will drop in the coming months, until then, here is a short teaser of what to expect in the jungles of Far North Queensland.

2014 Cairns, Australia – World Cup Teaser from Tom Emrys-Evans on Vimeo.