Round 2, Take 2 - Eagle Gets Dirty
Already postponed once, Gravity Enduro South Australia's second attempt of holding round 2 almost looked due to suffer the same fate. The heavy rains decided to leave us on Saturday morning however and the park had a bit of time to recover before race day.
Sunday morning, the organizers arrived early to an eerie atmosphere and about 5 meters visibility. But at least it wasn't raining. A quick scout of the course and it looked as though everything had held up quite well. Bring on the Race.
Round 2 was always going to have some new faces on the podiums, Both the series leaders from both Elite Men & Elite Women would be absent for this race. This left the door open for the rest to get some serious breathing room in the points chase, and with some new competitors to the series such as Troy Brosnan, Craig Yates & Genevieve McKew, those points may prove vital come Round 3.
Stage 1 was almost like a prologue, using the short and (normally) uphill trail of "North Face" to bomb down back in to the event village. This normally tame trail managed to catch a few out dealing with lack of traction and tight switchbacks. Troy Brosnan managed to take out the stage win just over Andy Clarke. Andy was some 7 seconds behind Troy on this stage, which amazingly, was the largest margin between the two all day. Genevieve managed to take out the fastest time for the Women.
A relatively short climb took the riders to the start of Stage 2. Sitting on the start line for this stage would of proved either extremely exciting for some riders, or extremely daunting. The trail started on the newly constructed trail of "On the Verge", which has recently had some loving attention from Garry Patterson and his crew at Trailscapes. Just under 1k of massive jumps ranging from some nicely sized tabletops to gap jumps measuring around 35 foot. Fortunately there were B-Lines, which quite a few people took. There was no lack of showmanship however, Cameron Ryan was spotted pulling a huge Nac which resembled a dog relieving himself on a Fire Hydrant.
From there the riders bombed down a section of the ridge adjacent to the downhill track where they were faced with an array of line choices before eventually hitting the never ending switchbacks of "Overlocker". Then a little more relaxing decent to the bottom via "Valley Trail" and "Valley Road" before rejoining the downhill track for a sprint to the Finish. Once again, Genevieve & Troy took out the stage.
Stage 3..... Well... Such a mixed range of emotions at the finish line of the Stage, mainly relief they got through it, accompanied with a grin from ear to ear and the odd expletive. the Stage used pretty much the 1st half of the parks notorious downhill track with a few line changes that threw up some surprises. This stage offered some of the roughest terrain of the entire event, it also offered the most mud of all the trails. Goggles were being removed mid stage as people just could not see anything out of them.
The sky also opened up briefly during this stage, adding to the adventure. There were some flats, some rear mechs copping a pounding, and for one unlucky fellow, a shattered head tube on his Carbon frame. No surprises here as Troy & Genevieve kept the trend going and both put in the fastest times for this stage.
Finally, a stage comes along where some of the more XC oriented guys stood a chance to regain some time. Starting on the very pedally "Tunnel Vision" and moving on to the old 4X track before dropping, and I do mean dropping, in to the rarely raced on "Hills Hoist". The 2nd half of this trail is where it got tricky, very narrow, very tight single track perched on the edge of a pretty steep hillside. Probably a good thing it's so surrounded by trees as it prevents you from looking out and actually realizing what you're coming down. Popping back out right near the bottom of the downhill track, Sighs of relief were heard way back at the event village. Unfortunately for the competitors though, they had to climb back up the fire road to sign out for the day. Genevieve once again put in the fastest time for the Girls, and Andy Clarke managed to regain a bit of the time he lost to Troy at Stage 1 and took out the honors for the lads.
Troy Brosnan ended up taking the overall Elite Men win for the day, in what was an epic battle all day with Clarke. Genevieve McKew took the trophy home for the Elite Women after a complete whitewash.
Andrew Clarke now sits on top of the Elite Men's points table whilst Anna Puckridge has taken the lead in the Elite Women's after 2 consistent podium appearances.
Once again, the format proved successful. What a contrast it was to the Craigburn farm round though, No sun in sight and plenty of Mud. It's what it's all about though.
Thanks to Mitcham Cycle Centre & Lapierre bikes, as well as all of the other sponsors. More info can be found at www.gravityendurosa.com.au
Results can be found here: http://gravityendurosa.com.au/2013-rd2-eagle-mtb-park/
Words by Kyle Stevens from http://www.gravityendurosa.com.au
Photo's by Kane Naaraat for the photo's. More can be found here http://www.kaneophoto.com.au