November was all about going back to our roots and supporting the Hunter Mountain Bike Association. With everything happening here at Drift Bikes it is hard to be at every club race but to show our support of local club racing we wanted to get behind the final race of the year and quite literally blow the doors off it.
First we needed a name and not just XC Final Series Round 2014. That simply could not cut it. Originally we were going to call it the Killingworth Kamikaze and we actually did for a very short period of time until Shaun Joyce, aka Joycey Joyce said, “you mean KILLIKAZE” and so the name was born…
Way back when I was a cub scout and Adam Freeman carried a walkman with him everywhere, we would race out at the local club venue, just beyond the freeway, at Killingworth. Contrary to popular belief there is no “s” in Killingworth.
Most local old school mountain bikers cut their teeth (and their John Tomac Kenda’s) on the Killingworth trails. Many would remember the glory days of these trails that were so smooth you could race a 26” Hardtail and think you were flying.
Many of the tracks at Killingworth have been staples of the HMBA cross country diet for years up until the club switched to Awaba as the primary local racing venue. Lack of use, flooding, bushfires and many, many motorbikes have seen a lot of the Killingworth tracks degrade to a point where they were not really all that fun to ride, so naturally part of our plan to help the club host an event at this location was to factor in the rejuvenation of these trails.
Enter Synergy Trails!!! As part of our proposal to the club we wanted to guarantee that the trails would be up to scratch. As timing would have it we had just formed an alliance with Synergy Trails and in support of the race Adrian from Synergy agreed to rejuvenate the course to not only be rideable but smooth out the rain effected areas to increase the flow and fun of the proposed course.
The course that Adam Freeman (Freemo) had conjured up was a combination of all of Killingworth’s greatest hits including Goat Track, The Rainforest, Twin Trees, Get On Dougo, Doll Revolution, Nevegal Corner, Hot Space, Wasp Loop, Innuendo and of course, Creek Track! There was only once small problem, it had to cross over itself in order to not cut off access or flow of the main trails that Freemo wanted to use. This was a hurdle but one that turned out to be the jewel in the Killikaze crown. We hurdled the hurdle with a scaffolded flyover! This allowed a 10.7km loop complete with fli-goo-goo’s, whoop de whoop there it iz’s and many many more controversial (yet amazing) sections of trail and this was all without using any of the east side trails (next year baby!)
Over the last month we began looping up the course on various wolfpack rides and before long it began to develop its flow, albeit a few scrappy sections. A course walk with Synergy soon had us at ease that this would all be taken care of in the lead up to the event. Synergy Trails ended up putting their entire team on the course for two full days and come race day, the track was lightning fast. Along with the entry and exit of the flyover section being widened to accommodate the flow of riders into and out of the creek. I actually went out early one morning to put in my “fair share” which by the time the trail crew got there looked like the aftermath of two rabbits having a dig off. They got stuck into it whilst I showed Trenton Day and Cam Ivory around the course and by the time I came back they had made the place over like Paul Hogan’s plastic surgery.
A special mention goes out to Rick Kehoe who is not only a long term member of the club but also a part of the Synergy Team. Rick sourced the equipment and erected the flyover prior to raceday, which was the final step in the course coming together.
The biggest surprise of the whole weekend goes to the Arthur family who helped arrange the grading of the road into Killingworth just before the day of the race. The earthworks were that good you could have driven your dads Calais in without so much as a scrape! This was an unbelievable gesture and testament to the spirit of those within the HMBA.
Fast forward to raceday and without beating it up the place was packed! I haven’t seen the carpark as stacked in over 10 years. And the vibe was awesome.
There were so many old faces but with much younger looking bikes! The coolest thing is there were also a lot of people who hadn’t raced before, and that was the best possible thing that could have happened. Club racing is the ultimate entry point to racing with low cost, local access and a “shorty get low” pressure vibe that makes the butterflies on your first race day seem like a feather tickle.
I must make special mention to HMBA Club member Dean Coslick who not only turned up on the Saturday wolfpack ride to tape the course but was also front and centre at 6am on raceday to insure that the tape was perfect for the race as well as marking out the kids course all before 7am! I couldn’t believe he was even out of bed after seeing him crash over the bars whilst carrying marker poles out to the flyover creek on Saturday morning, smashing his phone and luckily escaping serious injury!
With the kids race run done and won, it was time for the A graders to line up and get ready to thrown down for 4 solid laps. The killikaze lap is considerably longer than your regular xc loop (most courses hover around the 6-7km mark) so we dropped the A grade number of laps down to 4 to take the overall distance to 42.8km
Completely embracing the idea of throwing down was Specialized rider Cam Ivory whose first two laps both went under the 30 minute barrier! Cam went on to take the win over Focus rider,Chris Aitken with Stefan Merriman, the miniature madman taking 3rd amongst a quality field. The rest of A Grade was still hard fought with all but two of the 15 riders making the distance. What was also awesome to see was two women starting the A Grade women’s race made up of 3 laps. Taking the win was Nicole Sutton, who despite the heat was still able to smile in her photo! It must have been the nostalgia high!
The B Grade race was set to 3 laps and took off as the A graders came through from their first lap. The pace was on from the start with Adam Smithson taking the lead at the end of Lap 1 and holding on through to the finish. Drift Girls Deb Carlin and Su Pretto duked it out in the Women’s B Grade event with Su taking the win but Deb Carlin winning the most consistent ride of the day with two laps only separated by 2 seconds!!! Awesome effort! To Keith Bruce who dusted it up on the first lap, that’s nothing 24 ice cold VB’s wont fix and we wish you a speedy recovery. I have to admit I was a little worried when the St Johns guy asked me for a shifter, definitely not a surgical instrument, by most bike shop standards…
What was awesome to see was the stack of riders, 65 in total, who entered C grade with the challenge of two laps. More often than not C Grade will be the biggest field but in this case it was more than 3 times the size of the nearest field being b grade who had 21 riders. As with all self graded club races there is always one person who brings their own sandbags. For the Killikaze this person was Graeme Mudd, who took out C Grade on an all mountain bike. Punishment for this crime means that Graeme will be forced ride a 26” hardtail at the next club XC along with fitting a pannier rack to carry two bags of sand around with him. That and go up a grade, or two to A Grade! One One was a racehorse… A big congrats to David Bowden who fought back over Drift Junior Chris Clark to take out second place in C Grade.
D Grade also had a solid showing with 19 riders and Derek Mayo taking out the win but what was awesome to see was a lone female rider Carina Chew who signed up to race D Grade women completing her lap in an hour and 27 minutes. Well done Carina on an awesome effort!
With the day finishing in some pretty serious heat it was a pretty quick exodus for many of the riders although a few stuck around to brave the very hot and dusty final round of the club downhill series. The club also put on an all mountain category to allow open face helmets to be used. This was an awesome idea and no doubt boosted the overall numbers.
Drift Bikes is honoured to have been able to support local club racing and the Hunter Mountain Bike Association. Our biggest satisfaction aside from seeing the event host 125 riders is to see the resurrection of a true gem of the Newcastle mountain biking scene, being the Killingworth trails. We are confident that our newly formed alliance with Synergy Trails and a goal to make next years Killikaze even bigger again will see even more of Killingworth opened up and mountain biking go into the 10 tooth cog and crank to another level yet again.
Massive thanks to the club for doing what they do all year and special thanks also go out to the timing crew, Tim Butler for sorting the toilet, Club President Mark Welsh for greenlighting the event, Bill Freeman and Stuart McNaughton for helping with timing and Anthony Lloyd Jones for being a total boss and deconstructing the flyover whilst I looked on like a 5 year old at the zoo.
We promise that next year’s event will have the following: Coffee, Music and miniature pony rides and no one will be allowed to use the excuse that their friend poured them too many red wines the night before or that it was looking to be a hot day. That is just crap and you should be ashamed of yourselves, you know who you are Stuart, Chris, Nick and Andy.
Stay tuned for next year’s race date and we hope to see you all at Test the Best this weekend!
Check out results below and be sure to check out all the awesome images from our man Justin Jefferson from Slika Images who gave up his Sunday to make everyday guys and girls look like pro’s! (Ladies, pro is short for Professional)