Words and photos: Eerik Sandstrom

Aussie mountain bikers have been spoilt for choice in recent years when it comes to choosing a mountain bike destination to visit on our own shores. The likes of Derby and Maydena arriving on the scene has set the bench mark for trail building in Australia.

That being said, smaller bike parks are taking notice and are developing epic trails to attract visitors. One such place is Mystic Bike Park located in Bright, Victoria which is this year hosting the 2019 Australian Mountain Bike Championships for cross-country, downhill and trials.

Racing kicked off today and with 600 competitors expected to hit the dirt over the coming three days, we are set for some spectacular racing!

The who’s who of Australian mountain biking are in town, here are a few of the riders to keep an eye on as you follow the action;

Rebecca McConnell is back in 2019 to defend her title as the 2018 National XC Champion. After taking a break from the racing scene for most of 2018, Rebecca has started the year, fresh and looking strong on the bike. Hanging on close to Rebecca’s wheel will be Holly Harris who is coming off the back of a good year racing, finishing second in the XC National Series and National Champs. Kathryn McInerney also looks to be in top form as another challenger.

In the Men’s XC, expect some close quarters racing with guys like Cameron Ivory, 2018 National Champ and Series winner will be working hard to fend off Dan McConnell who will be hungry for the win. Can our contributor Sebastian Jayne improve on 3rd from last year - or is it time for a Nankervis brother to stand on the top? And the big question - has the Cape Epic made Brendan Johnston even stronger?

The Downhill event returns to Mystic Mountain after a successful 2018 Nationals held on the same hill, but this year riders are pumped to be riding a new track. Troy Brosnan is back to defend his title in the mens, and with the likes of Jack Moir, Jackson Frew and Dean Lucas hungry to claim the green and gold stripes for there sleeve in 2019, expect some quick racing. Tracey Hannah is back for 2019 to protect her title, and looks like she is riding strong in practice today.

Day 1 started with the with the junior riders taking to the XCO course, the mens under 17s was nail biting race for fans, with the top riders sticking together off the front for the entire race. In the last few hundred meters Ryan Smith broke away to take the win. With 47 riders on the start line this was a huge field and a sign of a strong future in XCO for Australia.

The women under 17s was a different race with Haley Oaks taking the win convincingly from a field of 15 riders, leaving the other rider to battle it out for the minor placings.

Masters racing was hot, with plenty of categories racing today. There was a close race for Masters 3 women with Meaghan Stanton just beating Mel Ansett. MAsters 6 Men was also pretty close but Brett Stevens got the better of Peter Varley and Les Heap. Sharron Heap made sure a title stayed in the family in Masters 6 women, while John Allison won Masters 7 men by another tight margin. Full results for all events including eMTB, Expert, other Masters categories and U15 are online.

The Downhill riders took to practice, many excited to ride the new middle section of the track. The section has a f    ew decent sized jumps for riders to contend with. Even with all the rain yesterday and overnight, the track tried out to it dusty conditions as most riders know the track for.


Pump Track Champs

New for 2019 is the fact that the winners of the pump track race will be recognised at National Champions, so riders were paying attention.

Jack Frew opted to go chain less which proved to be his un doing in the Semi Finals, finishing just in 3rd place, while Duke Millington took the win and crown of 2019 Open Men’s pump track champion.

For the women’s, Danielle Beecroft rode strong all evening, taking the win and womens title for 2019. See the gallery above for images.