Gravity Enduro comes to town - Jackie Shapel

Gravity_enduro1
gravity_enduro2
gravity_enduro3
gravity_enduro4
gravity_enduro5

Almost 140 riders came out to Fox Creek this weekend to race the first Australian National Gravity Series round to be held in SA.

And boy did we deliver. All that awesome weather we had on order; check. A whole bunch of trails that didn’t favour any particular rider (except maybe that guy who’s been world champ a couple times); check. A smoothly run race that didn’t run over time,

check.and.maaaaaaate!

Apparently there was a reasonable story of overcoming adversity for Inside Line MTB Club to hold the race this weekend, not that many of the riders would have known that. After a pretty relaxed race briefing and the most casual start to a race I’ve ever experienced the field set off up the hill to tackle stage 1.

 

Middle Earth is one of the newer climbs at Fox Creek and connects the upper and lower trail networks for those who are more inclined (see what i did there) to pedal up hill. It snakes is way up the valley and provided a beautiful backdrop for the riders heading to the stage start.

I chose to sneak up by myself so I didn’t have to pretend talking was a piece of cake and also to calm my nerves about crash avoidance. After crashing out in the first round of this series all I wanted to do this race was survive and have a good time. I got both of these things and a so much more.

Stage 1 and 2 were vastly different. The first being tight with some pinchy climbs and a real suss looking skinny bridge at the end, the second was one of the older DH tracks, Fox Steep. Both were challenging in their own right and the final sprint to the line on Steep made for some pretty good pain faces.

Once riders put their lungs back in place it was onto loop two, which included Stage 3 and 4 and another tap up Middle Earth to get there.

 

The start of Stage 3 had such a stunning backdrop, the Lone Gum made way for an almost endless vista of rolling hills. As for the stage, a steep rutteted fire road was your introduction to a freshly cut off camber native trail that curled across the hill face.

Elite rider and 2nd place finisher for the weekend Simon Buzacott possibly had the best description when telling Troy Brosnan what the stage might look like. In typical Buzz fashion, seeing Troy looking past the start gate, he sidled up with “See the start there, well the rest of the track is NOTHING LIKE THAT”.

Buzz spoke the truth. The fast fire road start, which had claimed a few riders the previous day with Kangaroo crossings, morphed into steep blind chutes and flat steep turns. Riding it in practise the day before it seemed a bit of an odd choice to use this trail, but racing it made far more sense. Holding your line and momentum was key to success here.

Throughout the day there were conversations about things, and also nothing. I think that it something that really appeals to me about this kind of racing. I talked to loads of people throughout the day which made it all the more enjoyable. Debriefing after each stage with the few people that finished before you was always pretty fun too.

 

The final stage of the day was Green Smoothie, a long sweeping track with a pinchy climb in the middle that could make or break your run. Hanging by the gate there were a few nerves, which were lightened when VIC rider Ryan De La Rue pedalled past the gate and checked his timing chip like a pro. Halfway down was the first time since my crash I hadn’t felt scared, recognising this I gave it all I had to hopefully come away with a fast time.

I did, and it was thankfully enough to hold off pinners Genevieve McKew and Rosie Barnes and take out 1st place.

 

The goal for the weekend was to stay safe, to get the win at my home track was such a bonus. It also gave me a lot more drive to keep improving given there was only 34 seconds between first and third place.

Possibly the best part of this weekend were the new friendships formed, and the chance to see old friends again. Three of the 140 riders were my NSW contingent, Kath, Gen and Jay. These guys were possibly the most energetic, enthusiastic people around and great company for a race like this.

A massive thanks goes to everyone who supports me to keep doing my thing, especially Jo at Liv Australia, all the crew at  Giant Cycling World Adelaide, Giant Bicycles, 4Shaw, Adidas Eyewear, Torq Australia, KASK and Selle SMP.

Also big thanks to my coach Ev James for getting me back into the pointy end of the field.

Buy our products