Australian Gravity Enduro Series
by: joshua lester
This was the first year we had a genuine australia wide enduro series. I competed in five of six rounds covering the best part of 15000k's or 9400miles in the car or on a plane with my partner and 2yr old in tow. We made mini four or five day vacations of most race weekends which i somehow still manage to still convince my fam are great getaways for all of us!
Round 1 was my local. An hour from home. But the race organizers decided to skip all the cool local trails and clubs and run the race twice, on the same track in a horse ranch. It was at best a goat track. I had been off the bike for nearly 8 weeks with a knee injury so decided to cram in some practice two days before at a local dh trail. A couple runs in and the skills are lagging but the confidence is high leading to a huge endo off a decent size double. So the knee is super sore and swollen and the bike is busted. I managed to borrow some parts and get it together for the next day which was offical practice. The course itself was mostly flat until the last 800m when it went all but off the side of a cliff. Another days practice under my belt and sections i was walking down the first couple runs were now great fun. Id spent alot of energy getting up to race speed but decided one last run was still necessary. Yep, last run of the day and i hook the rear deraileur cable on a log ripping it off the bike and me over the bars. The race itself was almost a non event. I could barely bend my knee and all but rolled the course for 8th on the day in masters.
Round 2 was in the alpine region of victoria, about 1000k's in the car from home. We get down there a day before the race which was a seven stage two day event. It had been rainig all week so practice is impossible. So seven amazing stages all in hero mud and each run blind. It would be the most fun id have riding in a lifetime of riding. A huge crash on the first stage put me way back but by the end id take'n third. The place was almost irrelevant, we dont often ride mud out of respect for the local trailbuilders so going moto fro a weekend was just awesome.
Round 3 we missed which was in south austraila. About 2500ks from home. A couple mates who made it said it was super sick.
Round 4. The hills of western australia. Lucky for me my partner has fam over there so the 5hr flight had the bonus of race'n and introducing our 2yr daughter to fam she hadn't met. The local trail surface was known as pea gravel and that exactly what it felt like, riding on frozen peas. One day of racing with 6 stages and by far the best run, best vibe most awesome race id ever competed in. and ive raced moto, tri's, track, cx - you name if its got two wheels ive had a go. To top it off theres a beer tent and pulled pork for everyone at days end all on them. I rode out of my comfort zone the whole day and took second by less than 3sec over 25min of timed stages.
Round 5. Canberra. Our nations capital. I was lucky enough to pick up a grassroots Banshee ride leading up to the event and Clo had said mayb ei should wait until after this round to get on the new bike, which i shrugged off. If only id listened! and adding to the excitemnet of racing on a bike id finally got together the day before practice, i spent half of my practice time on the mostly gnarly piece of dh that wasnt even n the race. 5thh on the day and 10sec off the lead wasnt so bad?
Last round. Cairns, far north queensland. We flew up on thursday to get in some practice on friday for the two day 6 stage event. When we left home it was 11c. When we got off the plane it was 35c and 90% humidity. I managed to get in two of the six runs we were racing on the day before. It was a two day race with six stages. This event also had the steepest climbs as transitions which meant it also had some of the most tech timied sections id ever ridden. Some sections you rolled down and you didnt know if you would stop unless you hit something, like a tree. Two brutal days of heat and humidity and steep trails. Stage one was the biggest push up, yep push up, these climbs were way to steep to ride and im sitting on the gate and the guy goes, so what do you think of this stage. I reply, a bunch of guys told me it was the only one that didnt need recon, its just wide open fire trail. The marshal started pissing himself, turns out it was the most tech and the fastest stage of the event. I lost 20sec to my main rival for the series. Five races, about 150 guys in my class over the series and it had come down to just two of us and id lost 20sec on stage one. 20sec had seperated the top 10 at the other rounds. So i just pinned the next five and somehow manage to claw my way back into. Stage six, the last for the round and the last for the series. Im was 2sec in front. It was easy riding when i was behind on time but know im in front, should i keep the flow and ride like i had the last four stages. Sure. Two turns in and i hit the deck. No big deal, jump back on, nerves are now laying on the dirt and i just ride. Ride to the line through and over the most awesome trail in a rain forest you could imagine and cross the line totally spent. Id won the race and then the series by 5sec.