Race Report: New Zealand DH Nationals #2

Feb 26, 2019
by The Perfect Line  


We're here at the second round of the 2019 MTBNZ Downhill National Cup series - hosted by Gravity Canterbury at the Christchurch Adventure Park.

It's been months of sunshine, moondust & brake bumps, but of course a few days out from the race tropical cyclone(hurricane) Oma forms off the coast of Australia and it's headed our way too - Murphy's law. Luckily in the last hour, it steers clear, but in doing so draws a cold wet front from Antartica taking the country from a balmy 25~ to an expected wet & chilly 9 degrees. To put things in perspective 50cm of fresh powder is forecast to fall at Mt Hutt only an hours drive away - that's more than any ski area in the Northern Hemisphere this weekend!

Everyone's well prepared though, we all know the weather changes like the flick of the switch on these islands, so the forecast didn't hold back 115 frothing racers ready to tackle, the now infamous, 'GC' track for its third race in three weeks following on from the NZ Open and Phoenix Continental EWS.

Coming into the weekend North Islanders, Charlie Makea and Kate Weatherly, are at the top of the Men & Women's Elite standings respectively, after winning the first round at Dome Valley, Auckland. Can the locals spice things up?

 This should be interesting - Todd
"This should be interesting" - Todd

Agata handles the rego
Yaz keeping the bikes running
Agata & Rose handle the rego - While Yaz keeps the bikes running smoothly

Rain jackets were today s clothing of choice
Rain jackets were a wise choice

Sweeper Pinky chats with the OG of NZ Downhill sponsorship, Andrew of Rockstar Clothing

The horse Cam Cole is back and racing after 3 years
Riders head up for their first practice laps

Surprinsly calm for practice and everyone's pumped to get racing

Simon Read laying it over with a serious lack of tyre contact
Simon Read laying it over with a serious lack of tyre contact on the first turn

George winding up the throttle

George finding his stride again after a long time off the bike with injuries.
George winding up the throttle!

Guy Gibbs a now honorary local of Christchurch
Guy Gibbs an honorary local gliding over the roots!

Sam Blenkinsop looking hungry for the win in practice
Blenkinsop on the practice attack!

Finn Hawkesby-Browne is fast local ready to take that U19 1 plate
Finn Hawkesby-Browne - 3rd at the last round, the Cantabrian wasn't settling for less than first this time

Kate Weatherly smashing out laps

Boaz Billy the two park rats show us their skills
Boaz & Billy the two park rats (AKA CAP trail crew) show us their skills

Dropping the front wheel in
Oliver Elkington Dropping the front wheel in

Family trains with the Burgess clan
Party trains for the Burgess clan

This corner claimed 15 riders in 15 minutes Finn was almost one of them.
This corner claimed 15 riders in 15 minutes - Finn Parsons was almost one of them.

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust

Guy Gibbs slicing through the dust in practice
Guy Gibbs slicing through the dust in practice


Young guns getting jump laps in the park during lunch.
No lack of engery - jump laps during lunch break

A gloomy day in Christchurch
And then the weather....


Where did summer go
Where did summer go?

Team tandem finding shelter anyway possible
Team tandem finding shelter anyway possible

Young guns up first.

From dusty to uber slippery in 30 minutes

Local Matthew Fairbrother takes the U15 by 5.8sec
Local Matthew Fairbrother takes the U15 by 5.8sec

A glimpse of sunshine between the rain
A glimpse of sunshine between the rain

Ethan Burgess showing some speed with a 4th in Open Men
Ethan Burgess showing some speed with a 4th in Open Men

Clear googles, fender & jacket. Check.

It was a hard battle to hold that highline
It was a hard battle to hold that highline

Huge shout out to the all the volunteers - marshals event organisers timing course taping - enduring the rain all. The event wouldn t be here without you
Huge shout out to all the volunteers enduring the rain & cold. The event wouldn't happen without you!

Amber battling the muddy whoops
Amber battling the muddy whoops

Guy Johnston claiming the win U21 - 4 15.4
Guy Johnston claiming the win U21 - 4:15.4

And just like the that the dust was back
And just like the that the dust was back!

Finn on his way to first U19

Finn Hawkesby-Browne crosses the line to 1st U19 with a two second lead.
Finn Hawkesby-Browne crosses the line to 1st U19 with a two-second lead - hopefully securing himself a place on the worlds team

Tuhoto-Ariki holding it up for 2nd in U19
Tuhoto-Ariki Pene 2nd place U19

Finn Parsons 3rd U19 - 16.9 back from local Finn Hawkesby-Browne
Finn Parsons 3rd U19 - 16.9sec back from local Finn Hawkesby-Browne


Kathy Morris rounded out the Elite Women s podium in 3rd
Kathy Morris rounded out the Elite Women's podium in 3rd

Agata Bulska - Full time structural engineer Gravity Canterbury club president MTBNZ general executive - between organsing this event somehow still finds time for 2nd in Elite Women.
Agata Bulska - Full-time structural engineer, Gravity Canterbury club president, MTBNZ general executive, and between organising this event somehow finds time for 2nd in Elite Women.

Kate Weatherly backs up her first round result with another win
Kate Weatherly secures another win - 04:30.1

Cam Cole back on the race horse for the first time in 3 years - 8th 21.3sec
Cam Cole back on the horse for the first time in 3 years - slots into 8th Elite

Billy Meaclem scrubbing his way 12th after an OTB

Simon Read hanging it over the back for 5th
Charlie Makea hanging it over the back for 5th

Blenki keeping it low over the final booter for 4th place - 5.18sec back
Blenki keeping it low over the final booter for 4th place - 5.18sec back

Boaz hungry after his win 2 weeks at the NZOpen on the same track albeit quite different conditions come race run.
Boaz hungry after his win at NZOpen on the same track - albeit in quite different conditions.

He crosses the line to 3rd place +3sec

Great to see George Brannigan looking confident & fast on the bike after a long time off with injuries - but not quite fast enough for the win - 2nd +2.9sec

Guy Gibbs dominating seeding race with clear confidence in the treacherous conditions - in Guys words I rode it like an ordinary day in Wales.
Guy Gibbs dominating seeding & race with clear confidence in the treacherous conditions - in Guys words "I rode it like an ordinary day in Wales.", legend!


Matt Walker sidelined for this race after just recovering from a broken foot. Who's your favorite kiwi for the upcoming World Cup season?


Elite Women
1. Kate Weatherly 4:30.01
2. Agata Bulska 5:08.7 +38.6
3. Kathy Morris 5:22.2 +52.1


Elite Men
1. Guy Gibbs 3:25.1
2. George Brannigan 3:27.9 +2.9
3. Boaz Hebblethwaite 3:28.9 +3.0
4. Sam Blenkinsop 3:30.2 +5.2
5. Simon Read 3:337.0 +12.0



The overall will be decided this Saturday at Cardrona Bike Park, not the planned location but thankfully their team stepped up after a wildfire closed the original venue of Nelson. Kate Weatherly has all but received the trophy, while the Men's is open to Charlie Makea or George Brannigan as the rules state you need to have raced all three rounds to take the title.

Full race results at MTBNZ

Photography & Words by: The Perfect Line


43 Comments

  • + 14
 Kate Weatherly once again taking away a win form the womens podium.

It's like the men competing against a guy who is openly doping with no consequence.

This is why we need an intergender category - as this is not a way to entice biological women into the sport!

I'm all about Kate shredding with everyone else, but as we saw in the UCI ( ( www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/commentators-clash-over-controversial-first-transgender-world-champion/news-story/ba61a67990321e7cc8529962323f2d0b) ) a lot of the girls train their whole life to get to this point to have it taken away,
  • + 2
 Also to be upfront - I have trans friends, and even they think this is taking the piss. I can't begin to understand what a tricky situation it is for kate - but it's just not fair!
  • + 6
 Yeah mate, our top women don't race anymore because of this. It's rediculous.
  • - 19
flag Boardlife69 (Feb 27, 2019 at 5:28) (Below Threshold)
 Trans is a mental illness. Why is the western world encouraging and awarding mental illness?
  • - 13
flag Boardlife69 (Feb 27, 2019 at 6:52) (Below Threshold)
 Ohhh, I spoke a truth that is not P.C. Please, when you down vote me, use your feelings, not your brain nor any logic. Feelings are the new truth. I feel like superman, watch me flyyyyyy! Wait, why is this not working? My feelings tell me I am superman therefore it must work but it does not work and I cannot fly. I wonder why?
  • + 5
 @Boardlife69: Better get your brain checked!
  • - 7
flag Boardlife69 (Feb 27, 2019 at 9:06) (Below Threshold)
 @likehell: Thats what I say, everyday, to the rest of the world. But I would settle for people just using their brains, for once. Thats the first step.
  • + 1
 So, categories should be 'Penis racer' or 'Vagina racer' This way, it's unmistakable and trans-gender people can still race, however may find themselves in a more 'reasonable' class. I'm all for bridging the gap, but winning by 39 seconds, with 14 seconds between 2nd and 3rd..... cmon.
  • - 3
 Kate Weatherly is a biological woman. We're all biological. Unless you are a robot. Robots should have their own catagory.

Anyways, For those concerned about inclusion in sport. you might want to read this well timed article;
metro.co.uk/2019/02/27/being-trans-doesnt-give-you-an-advantage-in-sport-but-fear-of-discrimination-keeps-us-from-playing-8750386

Also as a woman, having a particularly dominant person in a race series for whatever reason inspires me to work harder not quit over some nonsense about biologicals whatever they are...
  • + 1
 @slinky1: No she's mentally a woman and biologically a Male at birth who has taken a huge amount of time and effort to take the steps to externally be recognized as the woman she is on the inside.

Unfortunately that still doesn't equal a level playing field.

From cycling, to weightlifting, to AFLW here in Australia, this is death of fair womens sport as we know it.

This would be fixed with an inter gender class.
  • + 4
 Kate is hero for sticking with her dream in the face of adversity. Luckily real sports scientists exist who can tell us what is fair and not fair.
  • - 2
 @dirtdish: I wouldn't say she's a hero, as I feel that term gets thrown around a lot. However I would say that she's someone who's in a tricky situation and is a great role model for being open to discussing a tricky situation - As even she says that she's not in favor of all cases of transgender people competing where it isn't fair.

Where do we draw the line? Because if the science isn't on the side of an athlete then it's seems unfair on them not being able to compete at all.

www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/sport/2018/sep/10/hannah-mouncey-hits-out-at-afl-as-she-withdraws-from-aflw-draft
  • + 2
 That title of that article is opinion and no science in the article supports that claim. The article it references does not claim this either. Nor does the paper it references

Infact the transgender subjects had higher testosterone levals than the female controls.

The fact that “Hormone treatments and blockers lower strength speed and endurance” , it does not imply that this is to or below that of female subjects .

“Although ranges were wide, estradiol levels in transgender women were, on average, approximately intermediate between the female and male control values. Total testosterone for transgender women was an average 1.17 nmol/L, closer to female (0.79 nmol/L) than male (16.39 nmol/L) values”.

The statement. “In other words, all alleged advantages people claim trans women have, are quickly depleted as they lose the strength, speed and endurance they had when their bodies were fuelled by testosterone “ is also opinion, not backed by paper it references.
  • + 2
 No disrespect to Kate. Seems like a nice person and I believe has the right to enjoy sport like each of us. But does competing against “females” impinge their rights to fair competition??
But in my opinion her shoulders look more Gee Atherton than Rachael. And Rachael has big shoulders compared to her competition . It seems her hormone treatment hasnt prevented muscle development to “male” levals or reduced her shoulders to “female “ levals.
www.newzealandlgbtiawards.com/uploads/8/0/9/4/80943778/tcf5825.jpg
  • + 2
 @gcrider: I am a small female rider and having seen Kate at CAP, I can tell you that she actually has quite a small figure and is looking more like a skinny woman than a muscly one... Any skinnier and I would say she'd look frail.... Besides, taking hormones can have huge side effects physically, emotionally and psychologically, which would be anything but beneficial to her training and racing....
  • - 1
 @cbonnet: Even if that is detrimental to her training and riding, she still smashed the field by 39 seconds.

@gcrider has is right when he talks about impinging on the right to a fair competition.
  • + 2
 The field was two other riders!And Kate is considerably younger than Agatha who came second which is probably more relevant. The time gaps in women’s racing is always much greater than in the men’s.Take a look at the world cups.The top five men may have a spread of a few seconds but the women often have up to 30 seconds or more.Its a fact of life of having fewer of us competing at that high level and I honestly don’t think that Kate’s background is putting women off racing downhill.As for her having an advantage I’d be more inclined to trust the expertise of the sports doctors and administrators than a few mansplainers on pinkbike.
  • + 0
 Kate has gone through puberty as a man, he/she has plenty of time to develop muscle and bone structure as a man. Unless he/she had hormone blockers or got castrated before puberty kicked in, he/she will have a physical advantage...

And don't tell me men and women are equal physically.
  • + 2
 Ok so Kate develops as you say and then you take away testosterone (reduce it by a factor of 10-20) and if you know your physiology testosterone is necessary for both the development and maintainance of muscle mass So her muscle mass drops but her bone density and skeletal mass remain the same so she effectively has more mass to move around with less muscle. I’m not seeing an advantage here are you?Additionally her red cell count will drop meaning her oxygen transportation is less efficient.Not seeing much of an advantage here either.
  • - 2
 @Boardlife69: I'm with you! Unfortunately, there's no cure for mental illness... just padded rooms to help prevent self-inflicted injuries.
  • + 1
 @geerumm: Get lost man. It's idiots like you that make this sort of topic so hard to talk about.
  • - 2
 @Larkey1: I'm ready to talk about it with you... and despite our differing beliefs, I don't resort to name-calling. Maybe I have the IQ of an onion... maybe I'm a well educated person with a difference of opinion on the matter. Either way, let's get to know one another's perspective.
  • + 17
 Cam Cole back racing a DH bike... Awesome!!!
  • + 1
 What bike is he riding? Loved watching him on Yeti.
  • + 5
 Christchurch in the wet, oh dear ! Remember me some bad memories : greasiest dirt ever, no fum at all. Respect to all riders for racing in these conditions
  • + 2
 Haha so true. Christchurch is my home and we alternate between talcum powder and peanut butter with the occasional day of hero dirt inbetween!
  • + 7
 Love Guy's race day hoodie. Did not slow him down much.
  • + 4
 cool Kate Weatherly, I could easily win the women's class too as a man. Race with the men where you were just a year ago.... quit cherry picking wins from real women.
  • + 3
 Awesome work for Guy beating some of the big names. The full time riding job must be going well.
  • + 2
 whats with the new demo that where raced there? just seen it. Nice race btw.


www.pinkbike.com/photo/16907842
  • + 2
 Can someone explain what appears to be elastic bands running from the bar to the brake levers on Finn Parsons' bike?
  • + 2
 He enjoys the ever so gentle and soft sound of brake rub? Handicap?
  • + 4
 Broken leaver? Stops it moving forward?
  • + 0
 I might put money on Kate Weatherly to be overall women's champ in TAB if nobody complains about her/him destroying the women.
  • - 1
 I'll bet money that there will never be a woman who transforms into a man and then beats man at their respected sport. Not a sexist, just someone who is awake and been living on this planet since birth.
  • + 1
 *No gloves is so dope, f*ck em".................... *as rider's cold hand slides off wet grip*........
  • + 2
 What a great venue, enjoyed watching. Wheres OJ
  • + 2
 OJ got a girlfriend that is not into biking, however we had him on the day DJing!
  • + 1
 Gibbs you absolute pinner! Great result
  • + 2
 Yes Guyyy!!
  • + 1
 Whoops typo! Guy Johnston won U17 - 4:02.
  • + 1
 Oooooooohooo! It’s the beginning !!! Here comes tha Dub C!!

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