Last weekend I headed to Bright for the first ever Bright MTB Festival. With events including XC point to Point, Chainless DH, Enduro DH, Slopestyle, Eliminator XC, DH, pump track challenge, 16í BMX race and a 3hr race there was certainly something for everyone. There were all sorts of people entered for the weekend, from 13 year old shreders to current XC Eliminator World Champion Paul Van Der Ploeg and former Best Trick winner at Crankworx Benny Phillips. With a young family it was going to be hard to take the whole weekend off for myself so I took the family and we made a 3 day weekend of it and met up with some friends from Melbourne. We do enjoy taking the back roads, especially when you get to see some old Aussie buildings.
Bright is such a great town. It has a river running through it, tall hills surrounding it and has that adventure town feel to it (it is at the base of a couple of major ski resort). It also has great food too which is a bonus if your better half is a bit of a foodie.
We rented a house for the weekend which was an accredited Cycle Friendly Business, probably due to the bike/ski storage room they had which was great.
I had entered in the Enduro DH for the weekend and headed up to the hill late Friday arvo for a practice run. There was a bit of a delay for the shuttle and I spent most of that time in the queue just chatting to the guys around me. I have only done one other Enduro event before at Stromlo so I set myself and the bike up for something similar to that. Once I finally started making my way up the hill I should have got an idea that it could be a fair bit different from the previous event. The steepness of the hill had me in awe. Most pine forests that Iíve ridden in before were reasonably flat, not this one. Unload up the top and check out the view, not too bad.
Time to give this thing a run and it was nothing like had expected. It was very steep and loose and I ended up crashing 20m down the road. The steepness was certainly testing my riding ability, we have similar sections back home but not as long. The thing I struggled with the most were the tight 120deg corners. I had another crash on one of these but after settling down I rolled down the rest of the course which was similar but not quite as steep. By the time I got to the bottom I was buzzing. That was way out of my comfort zone and I had the blood coming out of my leg to prove it (yeah I know, its not that bad but I don't normally crash so its a novelty for me).
Just because it was out of my comfort zone doesn't mean I didn't like it, I've always commented that our local trails are not very technical so it was great to ride something that really was. The shuttles had stopped running so myself and one of the guys that I was talking to in the shuttle queue went for a bit of an explore on some of the lower trails which was a lot of fun. After chatting to him a bit more we worked out that I actually taught him in a TAFE class about 8 years ago, I knew he looked a bit familiar.
I left the race center and caught up with my mate who we were staying with. He had brought his bike but was not doing any events so we headed to the other side of the hill for a short spin around the Bakers Lane trails which were the total opposite to the Enduro trail I had just ridden.
That was about all the riding time we had for the day and headed back to our accommodation for dinner, and no trip to Bright is complete without a visit to Salt Rock (& the Brewery of course).
I had the night to think about what I had to do differently to get down the hill properly, and the end result was to lock up the rear wheel to be able to flick the bike around. Doing this is a no no at my local, mainly because its not needed plus is not very good for the trails. By the time I got to the top for my final practice run on race morning I was ready to give it a good go. The plan worked and I was able to skid my way around the tight corners and managed much better than the previous day (I never said it looked pretty).
I even had some fun getting some big drifts on around some of the off camber corners. So all went well, until the last 10m when I clipped a peddle at the top of a roll down and went over the bars and landed down the bottom. Probably one of my biggest crashes ever but I was able get up straight away and ride off, despite the crash I was pretty happy with how the run went.
I caught up with my local Wagga crew plus some other randoms who were nearby and then headed up the hill for my first run. The top of the hill is also the launch site for the Parragliders and they had a competition going on as well, so while we waited for our start, many of the riders watched the guys jump off the steep hill and start climbing up up and away.
I then went down the trail a bit and watched a few of the U17ís start there run.
This is one of the guys from Wagga about to run off the track and ruin his run. He made up for it in the second run by taking the win by over 30 secs.
Soon enough I was on the start ramp being counted down to start my run. I was a bit all over the place up the top but stayed upright. All was going well until I went off track half way down, by the time I climber back up to the track and let about 4 riders past I had lost about 45 secs (not that I had any chance for the win). Completed the run by taking it easy through the final roll down and finished an enjoyable run, I was a bit annoyed that I didnít get a clean run but I still had one more run to do.
My mate who was staying with us had ridden out to the event center to ride some of the trails that were not being used for the race. He had already done a good hour so we went and got some lunch from the food van. I can tell you that it was almost certainly the first time Iíve seen Tofu Burgers at a MTB event, but they were selling pretty well.
After lunch I decided to join my mate for another explore of the other trails. I had one more race run to do but I figured I was here with some great tails available so why not. We ended up climbing/pushing halfway up the hill on what I believe was the bottom section of last yearís Enduro course. I might have used up a bit of energy but it was totally worth it.
Our group was called to line up for the shuttle and once we reached the top it was clear that something was going on as nobody had started their second run yet. I ended up sitting behind the Parragliding area chatting to some guys that I met on an earlier shuttle while waiting for things to start moving.
My final run started ok but my upper body was feeling very tired from a combination of only having 120mm travel, a few crashes and me not really having the endurance for this kind of riding. It was a slow run but a successful run, as I had no crashes and no off track excursions. My time was actually slower than the one I set in the morning when I went off the track, but I wasn't there to set the world on fire with my times so I wasn't disappointed. A large crowd had gather towards the bottom of the course and were making a hell of a noise, it was a great atmosphere to ride through, something that you don't get in the marathons that I have previously done.
One of the great things about this event was that all of the event centers were basically either in town or just on the edge. After my last run I rode back to the slopestyle event which was going on just down the road from our place where my family was watching the action. After explaining to my 3 year old why I wasn't jumping we took in some of the action.
This is another young guy from my home town who pulled off his first ever back flip. He said he wasn't sure if he was going to do it or not but the MC found out and told the whole crowd that he was about to try it, he didn't disappoint.
We had to leave the slopestyle before the main action started but we could hear the crowd from our place, especially when the double back flip was landed after 4 attempts.
Back home there was no better way to cap off a great weekend of riding with a beer from the local brewery that even has a MTBer on the label.
Next morning we finished off with a picnic by the river while kayakers took on the small rapids in the middle of town.
It was a great weekend of MTBing and the event was a success. As it was the first year there was always going to a few glitches, but considering the size of the event the small company running the show they did really well. It was a great chance for me to test my skills on new challenges and I now know what to expect for next time. I've got scars to remind me for another few days as well.
Next year is going to be huge.
This is a nice video that I found that captures the whole event really well.
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Thread: Bright MTB Festival (Aus)
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