Blue Skies and mellow temperatures greeted riders as they rolled into the the Goat farm mountain bike park for the WA gravity Enduro round 4/MTBA national, last Sunday the 14th of June. An early morning buzz set in across the race paddock as the sun crested Greenmount hill; warming bodies and signalling the start of a big day ahead. The added fanfare of a national level event added to the heightened energy as riders raced away from the race briefing, keen to be one of the first few to the start line and into the thick of it.
As with other WAGE events, rider numbers were split between a couple of stages for the start of the day to stagger the field and help reduce congestion. The elite category and Juniors were set of in numeric order (stages 1 through to 5), meaning a rather physical start to the day for the premier categories with a vicious 30 second flat track sprint. Riders were rewarded after the physicality of the stage start with one of the radder and more technical sections of weekend; a series of rock steps coined the “rock pyramid” by its builders Phil and Jimmy. Unfortunately the good vibes of the morning reached a stall point not too long after the race start.
“trail one is closed, Rider 100 is down in the rocks.”
As a bike rider, the risks of our sport are understood and considered every time that we get on a bike. When we go racing, the level of risk inevitably increases as we test ourselves in the progressive arena that is the race track. The trail takes on an added dimension when the challenge of ultimate speed is set and whilst there are many motivations that draw us towards racing a bike, one of the greatest is the sense of fulfillment found when testing ourselves against the brutal honesty of three distinct ingredients; the trail, a bike and the clock.
Sometimes in our quest to test our limits we push a little too hard and get caught out. As it turns out rider 100 on Sunday was Glen; our main man here at Speedlite cycles. He had been going for the A-line through the rock pyramid but came up a little short of the safe landing zone, his front wheel catching the front side of a rock sending him over the bars and headfirst into trouble. As I type this late in the week following the race he is in good spirits, now out of hospital and on the mend. He’s the man, and it will be the best thing to see him back up to speed and out there crushing it again soon.
With Glen receiving medical attention on stage one, the trail remained closed for some time and in the end the decision was made to remove it from the race. This decision made by WAGE was a contentious one, with many of the riders listing it as their favourite during practice. I personally loved the stage and believe it was a classic example of what Enduro racing can be in Western Australia, yet at the same time I think WAGE should be commended for standing by a tough call for what they believed to be in the best interest of all riders.
Now down to four rather short stages; racing was a tight and fast paced affair; taking on the feel of four downhill races being run back to back. Whilst relatively short they were some of the best runs ever put together at the Goat farm, with many ‘choice cuts’ of the hill being pieced together by Phil and his crew of trail building magicians. Some highlights included a series of fresh cut grassy turns, a brand new set of tech rocks below the famous A-klien, a steep chute down the wall of the quarry into a wooden step up on the far side and countless good sections of classic trails from the past.
In the end, a man from the Famous Panozzo family; Victoria’s Chris Panozzo, took out the fastest and the Elite win, with a time of 9.05. Second fastest was local junior Sam Rubery with a time of 9.14, while Jaclyn Shapel took top spot in Elite Women. As for our mates at Speedlites; Miik was back to his “primetime” self in 6th in elite, Paul stomped on into 14th, Josh kept it smooth for 15th, Walshy has some misadventures into 16th, Grigsy rode solidly into 24th, and I was happy to slot into 4th. In Sport Brandon was on for a podium spot until a bad stage saw him down to 20th , Jeff Drury held it together for 42nd while Sam, in his second ever Enduro came home in 60th. Michael Kirklaan finished in 6th in Masters, with Shaun Rowlett just behind in 9th and Matt Lyon slotting into 16th.
Following the racing, Wage put on a great showing with all the riders and spectators kicking back in the beer tent whilst enjoying some tasty Brazilian hot dogs and treats from the folks at Comida do sul, who had brought their food truck up onto the hillside especially. It was a fitting end to a ripper day, as high tales of the day’s adventures were shared over beers. A massive thanks to the event organisers for the good times, and to medics and friends who helped look after Glen and get him safely off the hill.
Until the next one, cheers!