2013 has been a huge year for Gravity Enduro in Queensland with the format really taking off, and riders supporting the races with great numbers in the first year. After 3 races earlier in the year at Mt Joyce and Garapine trail centres, Race Director Ian Harwood of Event Management Solutions Australia was looking for a bit more diversity in trails to round out the year. “Head West” they said (well one guy did).
So it was out to Toowoomba about 1.5 hours west of Brisbane and hometown of perhaps the most diverse Mountain Biker in recent history and Gravity Enduro Specialist, Jared Graves. Jubilee Park, more commonly known for its Downhill Track, has grown into a significant trail network of over 20 km at the hands of dedicated volunteers from the Toowoomba Mountain Bike Club. Jared was good enough to give up a morning to ride the trails with us and fine tune course selection, adding a few tougher sections to show us how it is done at Enduro World Series level (or at least closer to it).
The following weeks, included a blitz by the club trail care team, building new sections, and with the help of Pete Wilson from Trailworx, repairing a lot of flood damaged trails, making sure that come race day, there was some great riding on offer. Rain in the lead up to the event, whilst of some concern to organisers, held off on race weekend with Hero dirt on offer.
Saturday afternoon saw a new concept launched with Riders completing the Prologue event. Held on the fast and flowing Rolla Cat (stage 4), the outcome of the Prologue, whilst not contributing towards the overall time, would decide the running order for the Championship race the following day. U/17 men set off first, with young pinner Isaac Makelainen setting a 3:10. A time that would see him in the hot seat for much of the afternoon, and only just outside the Elite Top Ten at the end of the day.
Consecutive categories of riders would try to better Isaac’s time, but it was only when the Elite men starting to come through the stage, did we see the best time of the day start to tumble. Local Rider Jock Farrington, shook things up with a 3:02, follow by Isaac Denny being the first to break the 3 minute barrier. Aiden Lefman who has dominated this format of riding was just beaten to 2nd place by Lindsay Klein, Toowoomba local and training partner to Jared in the early days. With times of 2:56 and 2:55 respectively. The crowd then waited for Graves to register at timing control, with a large crowd around the SRAM live timing screen, as it flashed up a super quick time of 2:40, showing that whilst it may be the off season, Jared was keen to show his home town what he can do.
With presentations for the Prologue held at the local watering hole, there were a few sore looking heads as some riders, chose to do some last minute carbo loading. With the threat of Thunderstorms and Hail looming, the 180 riders began the long climb up to the start of stage 1. Working their way across the hill, Graves continued to give everyone a lesson in Enduro racing, putting time into the rest of the field on all stages.
Lower categories were held up for some time while fast Masters rider Randal Huntington was attended to by medical staff after a high speed introduction to the local fauna. He will be OK but the same cannot be said for his IPhone, and he is thanking the built in back protector in his hydration pack. As nearly the entire Masters field was affected by this on Stage 1 they were awarded the same time as the race leader for that stage. The delay meant that as the last rider finishing on Stage1, the Elites were on their way back up the hill to start the 5th and final stage of the day.
At the end of the Day it was Jared Graves the clear winner in Elite Men with an overall time of 22:26 followed by Lindsay Klein with a 24:07 and Aiden Lefmann rounding out the top 3 Elite men with a 24:48.
In the Elite Women’s race, Sarsha Huntington was taken out before the start of the race to tend to a broken husband. In a tighter race then the men’s field, at the end of the day it was Kylie Maduna 29:57 who took the win, over Erin Stocklasa 31:19 and Anna Beck 32:37
Words: Event Management Solutions Australia | Photos: Rod Hickey