We have talked about doing this road trip since we stopped competing and filming on the national Downhill Mountain Bike Circuit over 4 years ago.
The original concept was to shut our stores and pray that our awesome customers would take pity on us and understand our week long disappearance whilst the entire staff went and rode their quiver of bikes from Canberra to falls creek and everywhere in between.
Well, we kind of achieved that, we shut one store for 2 days and managed to take all but 1 of our full time staff away with us. Right here I have to say a huge thanks to Pete Koh, our Maitland store manager who stayed behind to man the Maitland fort and be on standby to take over the reigns in case we never came back.
And this trip made it hard to come back... not because we don’t love working in our shop, but because we got 8 days of perfect weather, doing nothing but ride bikes with all the guys who make Drift Bikes possible, eating breakfast at 11am, going out for another ride on a different bike after breakfast, staying up late, watching youtube till our eyes dried up and drinking just one more beer, all because we didn’t have to get up, it was just freaking awesome.
So, if you want to know if there was a theme song, there was. And how this became our road trip theme song we may never know but it sure is catchy and we were able to relate in that we were Champin with a Boyz every day... see video below.
First stop – Canberra National DH Round
Well I hope the MTBA have insured the success with their series sponsor REAL INSURANCE because the turnout for the National DH Round at MT Stromlo was a pretty sad affair. There simply wasn’t the usual vibe we are used to at National Rounds and if the Victorian State DH series is anything to go by, with over 400 competitors at their state champs, MTBA have a long way to go to resurrect the National DH Series. But just because there wasn’t a circus, didn’t mean we couldn’t clown around (dad joke). One of our longest serving Drift Bikes athletes Adam “Smito” Smithson jagged the week off work and arrived just in time for a few handshakes and after we listened to a few “back in the day” stories to set the mood we kitted up in the ridiculously hot weather, spared a thought for the guys in full dh kit and went out on a lap of the Stromlo xc led by Canberra local and certified bush tracker Ben “Moshy” Morrison.
The Stromlo trails had just copped a bit of rain in the days prior to our arrival which made for awesome traction, but the trails themselves were quite harsh. We battled through it but didn’t really notice how bad the conditions were until the following day at Majura Pines, but we’ll get to that a little later... We rode most of the trails from last years 24 hour before eventually succumbing to the heat.
Oh geez it was hot. With Stromlo still recovering from the fires the whole mountain is relatively exposed to the elements whilst the trees grow back, and when that element is the sun, you get burnt. In the haste to get out on the bikes we had missed the slip slop slap routine and subsequently got fried. Not quite as bad as Ash and Aaron who arrived at Stromlo just in time to watch the DH Finals. They had spent the entire day at Belconnen Skatepark and both of them looked more red than Ron Howards hair.
Despite the lack of numbers there was still a good turnout in the elite field, enough to include the likes of Troy Brosnan and Sam Hill, which as always are phenomenal to watch. What was awesome was seeing both those riders finish first and second respectively and both of them riding for Specialized. Our own local boy Rick Boyer pumping it for 4th, showing he still has what it takes to mix it with the pro’s on home soil. After the race it was obvious to see that Sam Hill is on the comeback trail after his injury heavy season last year. Catching up with him you couldn’t help but notice how down he was about coming second to Troy, especially after experiencing a mechanical in the final pedally part of the course. But the margin was only 2 seconds off and on such a short course is pretty impressive, given that troy will be the one of the hottest tickets on tour next season. I for one am looking forward to Sam’s comeback season that’s for sure.
Heading out of Stromlo we caught up with Jared Rando, whom you may all know from his international Downhill Stardom or his regular contributions to AMB Magazine. He gave us the hot tip for dinner and we arranged to catch up with him later on that night.
Our motel, would you believe it was half a motel, and half a bottle shop. Well, once inside the bottle shop it felt that way, but I think the motel was bigger. A few frosty tops later and we were in a maxi taxi to the suburban bar in Dixon. This is apparently where Mel Gibson got in a fight with Russell Crowe but they played it down by saying it was Joel Edgarton and the guy from packed to the rafters so it didn’t make the news. We caught up with Rando and made plans to ride Majura Pines the following morning.
In the morning we swapped beer for caffeine and Smito had already started the man challenges with a push up contest with Wade in the carpark. Aaron looked on in confusion. Not because he’s a lesser man, but because Adam ended up being the only one doing push ups. There were probably girls nearby. I have to admit I didn’t actually see this happen this is merely my interpretation from the photos.
The coffee was good and made us see sharks coming out of the walls. The girl did say she would put in a little something for an extra dollar but I didn’t know what this meant, until I saw the shark that is.
We arrived at Majura, late, and for this, we are truly sorry James. Rando on the other hand still thinks that he lives in southern California so he couldn’t care if we turned up at lunch. After kitting up Rando got very upset that I was riding a 29’er but I simply said “you know what they say about big wheels”... “huge helmet?” Rando asked and we left it at that.
Majura Pines spelt out big time why we were all feeling so average at Stromlo. Majura has this incredible flow to it and has traction in spades, given that the dirt is so tacky, made up of years of rotted pine needles that seem to always have a damp underbelly. We snaked in and out of the trees for a good hour before climbing to the far back section of the pine forest that offered a solid amount of gradual descent and linked up turns. Rando was and always has been super smooth the whole ride and sitting on his wheel you can see what a career of riding bikes can do to your skills, they were through the roof with control.
We whizzed back to Rando’s after touching through about half of hat Majura had to offer as Wade was experiencing what is now known as “Wade Fade” poor little fella hadn’t crept any endura into his system and was waiting on a breaky that just never came. By the time we were all showered up back at Rando’s it was Midday and it was time to head down to the local takeaway to start the day.
Two scallops with the lops of flavour and some chicken salt chips and the diet was definitely starting tomorrow. Wade Fade was officially fixed and we were on the road to Mt Buller.
Stay Tuned for part 2.....
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So much grip due to the grub pin layout. Great option when you factor in the price, quality and construction. Only negative would be the thickness in comparison to the more expensive pedals on offer at drift, the price negates this negative though.