A dry start to Autumn kicks off a huge weekend of racing, with Saturday bringing Downhill racing, and the pumptrack show in the village centre. Words and Photos by mediaman Nick Waygood.
Entries were lighter than previous years in terms of Australia’s best, with this week’s National Championships clashing with the first round of UCI’s World Cup series, hosted the following weekend in Portugal.
As we came into the event, we heard of the news that UCI postponed the first round of the World Cup series, and as such Troy Brosnan and Connor Fearon rolled into town to compete for the Aussie sleeve.
Despite the light participant list, there were still several hundred competitors taking on Mystic Bike Park’s notorious downhill trail. This week’s event had a true local-race vibe, with a fun, tight-knit downhill community just wanting to ride their bike, and fast.
Trail conditions continued to deteriorate through the week with a dry and loose course ahead of racing on Saturday afternoon, with a dusty loam sprinkling the trail.
With a course change taking competitors down the fire trail alongside Kamp Krusty, times were tight as racers empty the tank on a 200-metre sprint to the finish line.
Crowds swarmed to see the big show as the sun lowered itself in the sky, with cow-bells and general noise-makers heard from high on the hill as the quickest crossed the line.
In Junior Women, it was Cassie Voysey who crossed the line fastest, with a time of 4:33.5, ahead of Ashleigh Weinert in second.
"Yeah it was wild, I nearly crashed at the end of the track, held it together [as I was] hanging off the front of the bike, but yeah besides that I'm pretty stoked!" Voysey says.
In Junior Mens, Luke Meier-Smith takes the top step in his final year of juniors, ahead of Josh Arcus in second. Joel Sutherland takes third in the category.
"Yeah it was pretty smooth, I had a big crash in practice so I definitely backed it off a bit but the track was twice as worse as yesterday, so super stoked to get a clean run in and get to the bottom." says Meier-Smith.
In Elite Womens, light entries only saw five of Australia’s fastest take to the hill with Sian A'hern taking her first championship win ahead of Tegan Molloy in second, a solid 15 seconds seconds separating the two.
"It was a good race run, it was pretty messy. It was quite windy up in the middle jumps and I played it safe but I'm happy, I gave it a pretty good go and I'm just stoked to finally take away the win. It's been a long few years of only just [coming second], and I'm just so stoked to win." says A'hern, still trying to find her breath.
In Elite Mens, it was anyone’s game as to who would take top step. It would be Troy Brosnan who takes the top step, defending his title and holding onto the Aussie sleece. Connor Fearon takes second, only 1.2 seconds behind Brosnan's time of 3:33.8. Aaron Gungl takes third, 3 seconds back and still hungry for a win.
"That was tough man, even from practice the track deteriorated so much and luckily we got some rain last night, otherwise there would have just been nothing left. My run felt really fast, I rode a little bit tight through the mid-section because I just knew I had to go fast today, but just held on despite massive armpump. Really stoked with the win." says Brosnan.
As the Downhill wraps up and everyone heads to the pits to start the packup, the Pumptrack National Championships kicks off in the event village under lights.
Crowds moved down the hill to line the pumptrack course as practice sessions were underway.