I’m always excited to have the opportunity to race interstate, but I legitimately struggle to sleep in the lead up to a race in Bright: steep, technical, loamy tracks; awesome town, huge river, what more could you want? (I’ve included longer descriptions of how the days went, but if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to read stuff I’ve put together some 35 word summaries for ya! (Helmet Cam footage, pictures of trees and full stage run-downs are below)
Friday (35 word summary): Rode shuttles with some fellas from Adelaide in the Giant van, super muddy. I got to practice most stages but didn’t have time to get familiar, was a rad time crashing my brains out everywhere.
Friday: After arriving in Bright late the night before, it was time to get up and do some shuttles in an attempt to remember the stages we’d be racing in the coming days (although shuttling isn’t really the spirit of enduro we had two massive days ahead so I was going to do anything I could to save energy!) I was lucky enough to snag a spot in the Giant van, riding with Adelaide guys Craig Yates, Craig Felix, Chris Dimbill and Simon Buzzacott; I even got to do a run or two with 2001 Junior World Champ and all round top bloke Ben Cory which was pretty sick! We managed to get 1-2 runs in on each of the nine stages, although I couldn’t really remember anything apart from the first 3 turns in each stage come Saturday Morning… Saturday (35 word summary) :Rode tight stages 1-3, lots of mistakes, rode good on stage four, ended up getting too keen on the last stage, crashed and lost heaps of time, 9th overall at the end of the day
Saturday: I was pretty damn excited to race the night before so I didn’t really sleep much, but still woke up feeling fresh and keen to ride. Once I got to the track I joined Buzz on the liaison up, climbing 780m of elevation in just less than 10km, we arrived about 20 minutes before the start so we had to wait around a bit, but it was good to talk smack with everyone and chill out before we begun. Sunday: Sunday was a much better day of racing even though it was super muddy, I took the stuff I learnt from Saturday and applied it, making fewer mistakes and pretty much having way more fun on my bike! I came into Sunday knowing that I had a fair bit of time to make up, but I also knew that I could lose a lot of time if I rode like a chump again. I managed to find my flow and a decent intensity to ride at without making mistakes and was able to get up to 8th overall against a pretty stacked field.
Sunday (35 word summary): Sick day riding steep loamy gnar in the mud, managed to get down to 8th, each stage was about 10x more fun than Saturday’s and I had the best burger ever from the food van. Overall Weekend Summary: Bright was incredible; although I didn’t race how I should have I learnt so much about how you have to race this new format. I definitely need to slow down a bit and stop trying to ride like I’m in a downhill race. My mistakes cost me a lot of time through riding too hard on tracks I wasn’t familiar with. The stages were pretty awesome but I wish they were longer; a few of the stages could have been easily linked like stages 2 & 3 were on Sunday. This would allow riders to get settled into the run and would require proper fitness as opposed to each stage just being a short sprint. Although it was good to have flying finishes I do believe the race could have been run a lot better with the SPORTident timing system as opposed to the old transponder system that caused delays between just about every stage, allowing riders to get cold and ultimately ruining the flow of the whole event. Definitely an amazing place to ride and stay, I can’t wait to get back to Bright!
Although the track had a whole bunch of rad stages and a good variety of just about everything, I left this race kind of disappointed with how it was run. When I go to an enduro race I’m excited to get a lot of bike time in without waiting for shuttles, but each stage had nearly an hour of waiting due to the timing system. This meant that it took nearly 6 hours to get around 20km of actual riding in, and although it was a rad 20kms, it kind of sucks when you travel interstate to wait around for half the day.
As previously stated, I also think that a few of the stages should have been linked into larger stages, I still felt fresh at the end of most stages which wasn’t great, as enduro is supposed to combine the fitness demands of cross country with the technical skills needed for downhill, in reality a few of the stages were just flat, short downhill races.
I believe that if a few of the stages were linked and the SPORTident system was utilized these problems would have been minimized and the race would have been much better. My 2 cents.
Truth is although these issues did impact the quality of the weekend, it was still an amazing place to ride and race. I’d definitely go there again and I’d highly recommend heading to Bright to race one of the Alpine Gravity Enduro races.
Liam Renaut Edit of the Event
Saturday Stages & Helmet Cams
Stage 1: Stage one was a short stage with lots of awkward and tight turns, I rode super tight in my race run and made a lot of mistakes, although it didn’t set me too far back time wise it sort of set the tone for the rest of the day. I felt although stages 1 and 2 should have been linked into just 1 longer stage as it wasn’t ‘real enduro’ with minimal pedalling and a track featuring length and style similar to a short downhill track.
Stage 2: Stage two consisted of a real awkward top section (for me anyway) that had a series of traverses along the side of the hill with narrow flat turns in between each one. After the top stage it got awesome, lots of steep techy turns linked by off camber, rooty sections in between. There were a few short uphills (bus stops if you will) that caught me out but overall it was a super fun stage, again it was super short at a time of 1:39 which sucked as minimal fitness was involved, but it was still a good stage.
Stage 3: I can’t really remember stage 3 at all but I think it was pretty good haha.
Stage 4: Stage 4 was one of the stages I didn’t practice the day before, and ironically it was my best stage on Saturday. The track was a bit more wide open and longer (3:00) than the previous stages and it was awesome to finally get some flow going and having an opportunity to get some proper pedalling done was sweet. Although I didn’t know where I was going I felt a lot more comfortable than I did on the previous stages, with only one major mistake at a surprise right angle fire road turn I was pretty happy with my run and was a lot closer to the top guys than in stages 1 2 & 3.
Stage 5: Coming into the last stage of the day after a lot of waiting around my legs were feeling anything but fresh, I was once again stoked to have a chance to pedal which is pretty strange for me coming from a downhill background. Although I felt really strong and fit throughout the whole thing I made a few mistakes coming into steep climbs which cost me a fair bit of time, I think this is just me adjusting to the new format, I need to stop racing like I’m on my downhill bike! I came across the line in a time of 6:07 which was frustrating, just knowing that I threw away a pretty good run by trying to hard suck a big bag of wieners. I rolled back to the car somewhat disappointed, but I was keen to get home, throw some compression gear on and recover for the next day!
Sunday Stages & Helmet Cams
Stage 1: This stage was awesome but my goggles were foggy as, so I couldn’t see anything until I ripped them off. It started with steep chutes and a few really tight turns which were pretty gnarly in the mud, and then it linked into stage 1 from Saturday before it crossed a fire road into wide open loam with cool natural compressions and jumps. I wasn’t super-fast through this stage by any means but it was one of the most fun stages of the weekend for me!
Stage 2: Thank god! They finally decided to join stages 2 and 3 together after complaints of the tracks being too short. This added a bit of a climb to the stage and gave us a stage that went for nearly 5 minutes. This was by far the best stage of the weekend, after you get through techy awkward stuff and the lactic acid is building up, you drop into the steepest, gnarliest mud chutes ever, so sick! I managed to pass the rider in front which got me pretty stoked and I could feel that I was making up time the whole way down, this stage was a much better race stage and incorporated a bit of everything, a great stage that tested rider fitness, focus and skills across the board, how every stage should have been.
Stage 3: This stage was another sick one, one crank out of the gate and you were in deep ruts, with a good variety of just about everything I was pretty stoked, it was super slick and real natural which was fun, more wide open than other stages as well. I felt like I blew a lot of time in the middle but I was still competitive so I was real happy!
(helmet cam dies half way through)