Getting Dusty and Wild in Bright; Round 1 MTBA Gravity Enduro Series

Feb 19, 2016 at 3:05
by Jackie Schapel  
Located 3-ish hours north east of Melbourne, Victoria in the heart of the alpine region, Bright is a beautiful little place and a mecca for cyclists, runners and the odd paraglider.

It also recently played host to the first round of the National Gravity Enduro Series for 2016. There aren’t too many places where you can roll off into a long, dusty, rutted out descent alongside other humans running of the mountain and sailing into the air, but this is what awaits you at the Mystic MTB Park in Bright.

Dave West giving some scale to the top of the trails his shoulders are pretty big so those mountains behind him are decent.
  Welcome to the Launch Pad, Bright with Dave West giving some scale to the top of the trails. His shoulders are pretty big so those mountains behind him are decent.

Mountains for days, streams full of fish, a lovely little community and a Brewery with 12 odd different boutique Beers gives a pretty apt description of the town of Bright.

A nice place to sit and enjoy the sun or start a MTB race from. Photo TV
  A nice place to sit and enjoy the sun, or start a MTB race from.

Ride straight down or fly right on out. Bright is a destination for thrill seekers of all types.
  Ride straight down, or fly right on out. Bright is a destination for thrill seekers of all types. Photo: EMS Facebook.

Pros and amateurs alike came out to play, most notably big names like Jared Graves, Curtis Keene and Cedric Gracia. Graves and Keene had spent the last few weeks making their way down from QLD and racing along the way, after a punishing weekend racing the National DH round at Thredbo some slightly less brutal trails were welcome.

Curtis playing king of the kids These groms were lucky enough to be able to have some time with Curtis Jared and Ryan from Specialized. The future of MTB is looking good in bright
  Curtis playing king of the kids! These groms were lucky enough to be able to have some time with Curtis, Jared and Ryan from Specialized. The future of MTB is looking good in bright!

Gracia was in town to host some ride camps via Santa Cruz and Lusty Industries. It was a unique and rare opportunity to spend a day learning from one of the best on some of Australia’s more techy trails. Two little local pinners were about as excited as you could get without bursting, and a promising thing to see for the future of riding here. Gracia proved he is king of the kids big and small, and what a character he is and why he is looked up to by so many.

Cedric giving a descripion of how wide the trails are those trees are tight
  Cedric clearly giving a description of how wide the gaps are, those trees are tight!

The hill was open to shuttles on the Thursday and Friday; it was hot, dusty and steep. All the characteristics that Bright has become well know for.

Blue Mountains rider Blake Neilson s mullet was too big to fit in the cab so the tray it is for him
  Blue Mountains rider Blake Neilson's mullet was too big to fit in the cab, so the tray it is for him

The shuttle road itself is a logging track so apart from opening up to a view that went on for kilometers, it also kept you pretty alert with the steep drop just off the edge. Nevertheless the lure of being driven up before having to suffer the climb a couple of times on race day was too much to pass up.

Taking photos for PInkBike and EMS at Bright
  Chris Panozzo on his way to a tidy third place.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Dave West laying down some power.

Word on the hill was that Graves and Keene were out to see just how many laps they could get in, and many a rider saw both guys sprinting into the start of World Cup DH like men possessed.

The race would be over five stages, with two longer steep and technical stages leaving from the peak and three on the lower hill requiring more pedaling fitness and stamina. As is generally the way in Australia, a mountain bike race can turn into a dance of torrential rain and/or extreme heat. This time was no different and by 4pm on Friday afternoon riders were informed that the park would be closed entirely due to a Total Fire Ban. This is a pretty common occurrence, just unfortunately timed. Ian Harwood from EMS Australia (the event company hosting the race) handled the hiccup as best he could and sent everyone who was interested up to the next highest hill, Falls Creek to get some riding in.

[PI=13166856 size=h align=c]Gracia making the most of the Fire Ban and boosting up at Falls Creek.PI]

The fire ban also meant the race would be contracted somewhat. Saturdays Prologue was cancelled and Stage 3 was removed from the schedule.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Much bunting, more trees

What would have normally been a pretty casual Friday eve turned into a ‘race’ to get that last look at the trails before Sunday. It also inevitably created a pretty good excuse to rehydrate at the Bright Brewery that night without too many ramifications.

Party on Wayne.

Race Day.
EMS had scheduled shuttles from 6am to allow for those who didn’t get the opportunity to practice on Saturday. That’s a pretty Queensland time to start activities but for anyone else in the country it’s bloody early. That aside the troop carriers were full and the trails were out for a beating.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Panozzo and Graves rolling out of race HQ.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  LoicThe Ashgrove Cycles riders had a good weekend all round.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Cairns native Berend Boer staying low.

After the briefing and a nice announcement that there would be oranges and icey poles scattered around the course riders were sent off in pairs from Bright Brewery. Four hours was the timeframe to complete the four stages, in any order riders wished and whilst it didn’t sound like much, riding at 1pm up an exposed fire road in the heat was going to sap much needed energy for the descents.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Keene keeping it tidy in the forrest.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Ryan De La Rue getting another race under the belt after a massive injury last year, just outside the top ten which out a scrape was good enough for him this weekend.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge

The rest of the Elite Men’s field were no slouches either. As much is it’s important to recognize Graves, Keene and Gracia, locals Chris Panozzo, Graeme Mudd, Ben Cory and Kaine Cannon were just some of the riders that were out to throw down a challenge.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Graves looking fast, so fast he's blurry. Still enough detail to see he can open pretty much any jar you give him.

The Elite women’s field just managed to fill a podium, which will hopefully improve for future rounds. Enduro and DH rider Philippa Rostan was going to be a strong challenge for Jaclyn Schapel and Dora Bettridge.

After a days racing the top ten men where only separated by 1:40secs, pretty close for near on 18 minutes of racing. Panozzo, Mudd and Cory took 3rd, 4th and 5th place respectively behind eventual winner Jared Graves with Curtis Keene just off the pace in second. Eliminator World Champ and local Paul Van Der Ploeg also proved he’s no slouch in a full face slotting into tenth place.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Paul Van Der Ploeg. Put a full face on him and he'll wallop the field.

More shots from Santa Cruz Enduro Challenge
  Baxter Maiwald charging hard.

ELITE MEN
1. Jared Graves 17:45.2
2. Curtis Keene 18:16.7
3. Chris Panozzo 18:25.6
4. Graeme Mudd 18:28.4
5. Ben Cory 18:58.9

Elite Men s Podium Mudd Keene Graves Panozzo and Cory.
  Elite Men's Podium; Mudd, Keene, Graves, Panozzo and Cory.

Philippa took the win comfortably in Elite Women from Jaclyn Schapel with Dora rolling in for third.

ELITE WOMEN
1. Philippa Rostan 24:41.5
2. Jaclyn Schapel 25:17.5
3. Dora Bettridge 49:49.0

The junior categories were hotly contested and with some times that will be sure to keep the pros on notice.

U19
1. Ben Mcilroy 19:50.9
2. Tom Snowdon 19:52.8
3. Loic Fery 19:52.9

U17
1. Harrison Dobrowolski 14:36.9
2. Mickele Tulipano 15:50.7
3. Matt Car 16:09.2

So with the rest of the series announced it will be May before the riders meet again in Adelaide.

To view full results from the weekend visit www.emsaustralia.net.au


MENTIONS: @JacSchapel / @mountainbiker-finn




5 Comments

  • 5 0
 That's not a picture of Loic...
  • 1 0
 Ahaha that's true! I didn't even realise until you commented
  • 4 0
 Well done Loic Fery
  • 3 0
 That's not a picture of Bora Bettridge either...
  • 1 0
 It looks more like Cedric's telling a dirty joke.

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