The second round of the MTBA National Gravity Enduro Series headed to South Australia to the Fox Creek MTB park. This is one of Adelaide’s biggest trail networks with a mix of cross country, flow and downhill trails that also happen to make for a pretty challenging enduro course.
Some recent heavy rain followed by sun had the trails primed for practice. The locals were considerate enough to leave some of the hero dirt out on the turns from their scoping the weekend before so that the interstate contingent could have their fair share.
The entire elite field for the men was stacked, given there was a gap in the DH World Cup calendar it also meant that Troy Brosnan and Connor Fearon would be jousting for podium rights. What the elite women’s field lacked in quantity (a total of four for the race, come on ladies – get amongst it!) it made up for with quality. Philipa Rostan had got the win in Round 1 in Bright; Shelly Flood had recovered from injury to be a real threat for the top step and Jackie Schapel and Lyndsay McAlpine had both had strong results in their recent local races.PRACTICE
The usual suspects were out in force on Friday. Series contenders Chris Panozzo, Kaine Cannan and Ben Cory were all out to get familiar with the stages, with locals Simon Buzzacott and Dave West fine-tuning their hometown runs. You might have done that track hundreds of times before, but when it’s riding sweet and your mates are out its pretty easy to get excited and keep practicing.
Riders were able to complete a mix of riding to each stage on the far side of the park and shuttling the downhill runs, a definite advantage when it came to keeping fresh for Sunday.PROLOGUE
To keep things interesting the local club hosting the race, Inside Line MTB Club, held an entirely separate Prologue on Saturday afternoon. This would count as a seeding run for Sunday and determine the starting order up the hill. The interesting bit entailed some pinchy climbs and some tight turns, pretty fun on an XC bike, a little harder to scale on a trail rig with 760mm bars.
As the Prologue wasn’t compulsory some riders chose to save their legs for Sunday, and cop a fair amount of ribbing from those that did compete. For the record young goes fast, real fast with Sam Walsh taking out the quickest time for the day. One to watch for the future right there.RACE DAY
The main event was split into six stages. Taking in the full scope of the park they ranged from off camber goat tracks, to flow style trails and then back to the downhill side of the mountain with some features to catch riders out.
To add to the level of difficulty would be a storm due to hit around lunchtime, given that the final stage had a wooden bridge that was sketchy as hell when it was wet riders set out to beat the rain and the wind.
Stage One was Lone Gum, a mix of fast fire roads and off camber goat tracks. Drop a wheel here and you could loose a bunch of time and possibly the race.
Ant Logic was to follow, one of the two ‘flow trails’ riders would compete on. What makes for a fun flow trail tends to make a pretty challenging track to race. The more pedaling the better here, so fitness was definitely going to be an advantage. Chris Panozzo had some bad luck here with a flat tire that all but ended his chances for a win.
Up third was Dirty Little Secrets, yep come to Adelaide, there are heaps of churches, bars and trails with pretty weird names. Here riders could see the impending wall weather coming towards them, nothing like an extra incentive to get the job done.
Heading over to the three DH style tracks it was the halfway point of the day and time to switch tactics. Even though these tracks come off the same hill-face, they all had different features. Jumps, wall rides and drops all came into play.
The final stage of the day; Fox Steep was a favourite with all, until you got to the last straight which was a flat out sprint for a km. The majority of riders came into the final timing post gnawing on their stems, showing that the game plan here was to leave everything out on the track.
As was to be expected Connor and Troy were going to be the hot tip for first and second. Troy rolled in quite early but had to wait for Connor to finish up to know who got the top step. Connor ended up with the win but the top five weren’t too far behind.
Buzzacott and Hewetson tied for third with Buzzacott winning on a count back. This is the second time this has happened to the Adelaide rider who might need to drawn on his roadie background for some shoving across the line. Aussie MTB legend Steve Marsh showed that his ‘conservative’ riding is still fast enough to show those born in the 90’s what’s up and Ben Cory not too far behind him.
The women had a really close race with the top three finishing within 15 seconds of each other with Shelly and Philipa taking turns for stage wins throughout. Its good to see Shelly Flood come through with second after experiencing a mechanical, and a welcome result to come away from the race with both limbs ready and able to hold a beer and a pie.
The juniors weren’t too shabby either, all posting competitive times compared to the Elite Men. The series now head to Western Australia in June to battle it out at the newly sculpted Three Chillies Farm.Results:Elite Men
1. Connor Fearon 18:04
2. Troy Brosnan 18:16
3. Simon Buzzacott 18:44 (leading tie on a count back)
4. Shannon Hewetson 18:44
5. Kaine Cannon 18:51
6. Steve Marsh 18:57
7. Ben Cory 18:59
8. Dave West 19:02
9. Ben Forbes 19:04 (leading tie on a count back)
10. Michael Vanos 19:04Elite Women
1. Philipa Rostan 21:58
2. Shelly Flood 22:07
3. Jackie Schapel 22:13
4. Lyndsay McAlpine 28:54Under 19 Men
1. Benjamin McIlroy 19:10
2. Jarrod Murphy 19:56
3. Jon Gatt 20:35Under 17 Men
1. Harrison Dobrowolski 19:46
2. Sam Walsh 19:53
3 Luke Bradley 22:19
Full results including stage times available at mtba.asn.au
Photos by Kane Naraat.