The Kooralbyn Mountain Bike Festival went down on the weekend after COVID led to rescheduling and the cancellation of the Slopestyle event. It was an epic weekend full of gravity-fed goodness with the enduro, downhill and a slopestyle jam session. Let’s take a look at what went down at the Black Snake Downhill at Kooralbyn….
By Mike Branch
Photography by Jess Chirizzi
The day was born under a cloud of fog as those that camped at the Kooralbyn Mountain Bike festival rolled out of their swags and searched for a hot coffee to awaken the downhill rider within. The foggy conditions meant the start of the race was pushed back by and hour and a half and race briefing was not until 8am for the Black Snake Downhill.
The trail was more rugged, rutted and natural since the last race out at the historic Black Snake Downhill track and the level of spice was lifted up a notch. The infamous chute was now more rock than dirt and provided an even more daunting task for many of the riders on track.
Approximately 60 riders strapped on a race plate for the race and with the best of two race run format, there was plenty of pushing the limits. The juniors were out in force and the vast majority of the U15 category and the U17 category had a good hard crack at the A-line chute, something many of the senior riders were shying away from – credit to the guts of the new generation.
The business end of the day saw Ehren Keidel taking the win over Cameron Allonby and Will Hynes in Elite Men; Elle De Nooyer again took the win in Elite Women over Sacha Mills and Catherine O’Niell. David Chelli took the win in the Expert Men, Adam Aitken won the Masters 1/2, Chris Bond won the Masters 3/4 Men and Ken Batt took the top step in the 50+ category.
The juniors racing saw Bergen O’Neill take the win in U19 over Jonathan Edwards and Blake Johnstone. Isaiah Kelso took the win in U17 Men with a time that would have seen him podium in the Elite Men category, fast and confident all day.
Oliver Colthup took the win in the U15 category and Bas Woodhill won the U13 Men’s category. The sport of downhill mountain biking is alive and well in our junior riders and the talent and skill that is emerging from the ranks is something that inspires confidence in the community in which we ride. The elite field better watch their backs with some of the super fast juniors coming through the ranks.
The Black Snake Downhill was another great event and another welcome addition to the downhill calendar. The track has evolved into a track where the top half is now best ridden on a downhill bike and the pedal-friendly bottom half doesn’t necessarily mean the trail bike will be the best bike for the day.
It was a great day of riding in some super loose conditions and a great way to end the first Kooralbyn Mountain Bike festival. There were some timing issues in the enduro and some shuttle issues for practice in the downhill, but running a race weekend in current times is fraught with challenges.
Overall it was a great weekend on the bike and we look forward to next year’s Kooralbyn Mountain Bike Festival. As always keep the brakes wide open and see you on the trails…..