initially we were a bit disappointed when about two weeks ago the gravity girls clinic got cancelled due to a snowstorm. in hindsight that was a stroke of luck: our canberra friends al and tash convinced us to reschedule the trip and come up for the cannonball festival instead and that was one of the best tips we ever received.
cannonball is apparently the biggest mountain bike (is there any other way to ride a bike?) festival in the country with over 800 entries into five different competitions. nat and i registered for the flow race and spent a bit of time learning the track. the thredbo crew have really perfected that trail, in particular the top section, where a series of really awkward corners were replaced with fantastic berms, and the bottom section, where they added the most fun wiggly and fast berm collection ever.
the other great aspect of cannonball is the presence and accessibility of what could be termed gravity royalty: some of the fastest downhill and enduro racers in the world compete here as well and walk around the pits just like us normal mortals.
yes, that is nat with luca shaw and kyle strait. if you know the names you are probably at least a tiny bit envious and if you don’t … well too bad. 🙂
nat now has almost twenty signatures on her helmet, including the entire santa cruz syndicate and pretty much all the fast aussie gravity girls. that is one special helmet.
the guys were also available to sign posters: here kye a’hearn, sister sian and tegan molloy.
did i mention that the syndicate boys were in town as well? nat also collected signatures for emma, our host here in thredbo, macey, her friend who now rides nat’s old commencal supreme and another mountain biking friend (as a surprise).
nat and i were not entirely sure if the few days’ practice we had was a benefit in the sense that we really got to know the trail or a challenge insofar as after almost a year off the bike and without much exercise our legs felt a bit worse for wear. that said it is strange how a race run always seems to mobilise reserves one didn’t know one had.
that’s a bunch of rowdy under 13 girls making their way down the access road towards the start. nat had a great time with the other girls, reconnected with old friends and made some new.
nat and macey (on nat’s old commencal) on the way up. there is nothing like a fun chat with your competitors at the start ….
… other than of course the post-race banter where the jumps get bigger and the berms get taller.
nat says she is really proud how she rode. the race run was definitely her fastest down the mountain, mostly due to the fact that she really focussed on pushing herself as much as she could and dared. that’s 11:45:13 minutes of full concentration, trying to stay off the brakes, railing all those berms, carrying the momentum and hitting the pedals wherever possible.
the ‘looking stylish’ part in the zimtstern jersey she got from oma comes naturally to her.
nat came sixth in her class which is a fantastic achievement but more importantly she had a lot of fun and an amazing time. almost as amazing a time as i had spending the week riding with her: how many dads would love to have a riding buddy like i do! until of course in the not too distant future she’ll leave me in her dust, but isn’t that exactly how it should be?
btw remember i mentioned i met this very nice gentleman from south africa? i met him again: he needed a five millimetre allen key to readjust the brakes on his bike and found the guy with the biggest backpack on the entire mountain, correctly assuming there would be the right tool somewhere in there.
can I still use the allen key now or should I put it in a glass box?
my race run didn’t go too badly either. after the sprint out of the start gate my legs told me in no uncertain terms that i was not to call on them for any further abuse. unfortunately there were another ten minutes of punishment ahead. on the second part of the track my mate al started to reel me in which made me push harder (sorry legs) to make sure he would not catch me and him ride even faster to ensure he would. i could just hold off his challenge and ended up in fourteenth (out of forty-three) with a time of just over ten minutes while al ended up in a fantastic sixth place. we agreed we are the perfect tag team and will do this again next time.
and we’ll be back for the next cannonball. if not before.