Team Norco International - Australian National Championships
DH MTB - Adelaide, South Australia
Leaving the nice mild temperatures and comfort of home in the Blue Mountains, Bryn and I set off on a little road trip for the Aussie National Mountain Bike Championships in Adelaide. South Australia is know to be ridiculously hot, so we rented a big 6 passenger motorhome to battle the heat. Temperatures were between 37-40 degrees Celsius (about 100F), so our air conditioned rig was much needed relief throughout the week.
With the World Cup Downhill season only a few weeks away, this race was perfect to get a feel for competition against one the most talented countries in our sport. With names like Sam Hill, Troy Brosnan, Chris Kovarik, Bryn Atkinson, Jared Graves, Rhys Willemse, Mitch Delfs, Tracey Hannah, etc, there was some serious depth to the elite fields. Juniors in OZ are on the radar as well, with times that place on elite podiums by the winner of under 19 male, Connor Fearon.
With four days of practice on a fairly basic course, race day was all about squeezing every bit of speed out of the track, staying hydrated, and keeping good traction on the loose skatey soil.
This course flowed along the ridge line up top, exposing riders to wind, then dropped into a couple steep rocky shoots, followed by a little wooded section in the middle, a rock garden, then into some man made switchbacks and jumps. I thought it was fun to ride.
Spectators were pretty set up as well with a live camera feed of nearly the entire run of each rider. Three minute intervals, two minute course. Big-screens always make a great viewing event for the fans!! Another highlight was the wildlife in the trees. It's not every day you can stop on the side of a track, look up, and see Koalas 2 feet from you munching on gum leaves.
Back to racing:
Seeding was on Saturday afternoon, 39 degrees out, filthy hot. I laid down a pretty strong run and came second by only .8 off Tracy Hannah who is a former World Cup winner. Primed for the final, I was making up time in a really solid race run when I got a rear flat towards the bottom of the run. Tracey took the win, and I still managed 2nd sliding all around, 8 seconds off.
Bryn's final run was solid. It looked smooth and fast watching from the jumbotron. Clocking in more confidence and experienced race runs vs. World's best downhillers, Bryn adds another podium to his collection with 5th place. Just a small mistake in the rock garden cost him those fractions of time. I have video footage of the top 6 coming soon…
Troy Brosnan won the Elite Men's title of Aussie Champ with what looked like a flawless run. Sam Hill finished 2nd to his teammate, while Rhys Willemse took 3rd. Chris Kovarik, Bryn, Jared Graves, Delfs and Bryn's little bro- Rhys Atkinson took 4th through 8th, respectively.
Leaving this race with 2 podiums and some good test time on our Aurum's, we're both looking forward to getting the World Cup season started off strong in South Africa.
Thanks again to all our sponsors!!!! We got a lot of people coming by to check out our bikes. Big thanks to Norco Australia (Advanced Traders) for helping us out with the motor home! Best pit zone ever. On the way home, we drove along The Great Ocean Road, which is a sight not to be missed. The Australian Coast line is beautiful. Glad we could combine a little life experience with business.
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