Cairns 2017 UCI World Champs Working Bee

Hooray!! UCI World Cup starts this weekend!

I love the UCI World Cup events – in particular, the DH. It is my favourite annual race.

Much to the delight of Southern Hemisphere riders, Cairns has been included on the DH and XC schedule for the last couple of years.

For me, that has meant an annual pilgrimage to Cairns for the big event.

This year the World Champs round will be in Cairns, which means local tracks need prepping early.

So this post is a review of the last two UCI World Cup events – and an invitation to join the Cairns 2017 UCI World Champs Working Bee Team!

Great memories of the last 2 Cairns UCI World Cup Events

Last year I went to the Cairns UCI World Cup with mates and it was an all social affair.

Last year I posted about what a great event the 2016 event was and what blast it was catching up with old friends, making new ones and soaking up the World Cup vibes – here’s a few mates I managed to catch up with…

 

UCI DH World Cup

Above: Me and Ratboy (Josh Bryceland) – Peatty’s Team Mate/Mentee and British DH Champ and World Cup Racer. He has been on the UCI World Cup podium 9 times. He is also well known for his mad riding and hard partying ways. It was great I got to catch up with Josh last year as it ended up being his last year racing the Pro circuit and he retired soon after this photo was taken.

 

 

UCI DH World Cup

Above:  Me and Julien Absalon – the most winningest (and considered the best) Elite Men’s Cross Country (MTB) rider in the world …ever!! Too many accolades to list here…Woohoo!!

 

UCI DH World Cup

Above: Me and Troy Brosnan. Brosnan was Junior DH World Champ for 2010 and 2011. He won the overall junior world cup in 2010 & 2011 and Aussie DH Champion in 2011 & Oceania Junior Continental Champion 2011. In 2012 he went Elite, with a third overall in the DH World Cup (2014) and won the Fort William third round. He also won the DH World Champs bronze in 2014 and third overall for the 2015 and 2016 DH World Cup series. He is Australian National DH Champ for 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016 (*Phew!*).

 

Last year’s UCI World Cup in Cairns

For me, last year was a total contrast to 2015. I worked the 2015 Cairns event, which was epic given that it rained non-stop a week prior to race day.

This turned all the tracks into slick and slippery death-defying shoots covered in thick gluggy toothpaste!

Boy did everyone work hard that round!!! Ahhhh the memories!!!

UCI DH World Cup

(See Instagram @Bicycles_Create_Change for more past UCI DH World Cup pics).

Remember Cairns UCI World Cup 2015- aka ‘Rumble in the Puddles’?

If you need to refresh your memory of how epic the 2015 UCI DH Cairns round was – check out this 2’32” Badass mashup video…

…and yes…that is me in the opening sequence!!

 

But this year will be a little different. I’ll be watching remotely as I won’t be making the trek to Cairns this year for the big event (*sniff*).

2017 UCI MTB World Cup Calendar

Redbull’s Official MTB website has the follow details outlined for the current 2017 UCI World Cup Calendar schedule:

There are six rounds each for XCO and DH – and the World Cup 2017 is starting this weekend – woohoo!!

The World Championship heads to Australia and Cairns at the end of the World Cup season with a full program of XCO, XCE and DH racing on show.

I can’t wait!!!

The UCI is expected to confirm the calendar in late June and the dates will be subject to change until then so don’t go booking trips to the events until then! Scroll down for all the downhill (DHI) and cross country (XCO) rounds.

  • April 29-30: (DHI) Lourdes, France
  • May 20-21: (XCO) Nové Mesto, Czech Republic
  • May 27-28: (XCO) Albstadt, Germany
  • June 3-4: (DHI) Fort William, Scotland
  • June 10-11: (DHI) Leogang, Austria
  • July 1-2 (XCO/DHI) Vallnord, Andorra
  • July 8-9: (XCO/DHI) Lenzerheide, Switzerland
  • August 5-6: (XCO/DHI) Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada
  • August 26-27: (XCO/DHI) Val di Sole, Italy
  • September 5-10: (XCO/DHI) UCI World Championships, Cairns, Australia

Cairns MTB World Cup Working Bee Shout-out

As a member of Cairns MTB Club, I received this shout-out invitation for World Cup working bee helpers. So if you are keen to be part of the action and for anyone in the area… here are the details as sent to me FYI:

With the UCI MTB World Championships just around the corne, there is a way you can be involved now. The Cairns MTB Club has been asked to construct a new spectator/media trail in the “Vines” section of the Downhill track. We have been offered an incentive to get it done ASAP and we want to pass some of that incentive on to the people that help build the trail.
We need are people to help out on regular Saturday/Sunday morning working bees from 7:30am-10:30 am, for about six – eight weeks beginning on the 10th of June.
We do have a budget to meet so the quicker we can get it done, the less we spend on it, giving the club more funds to put back into trail maintenance and development. The job is to create a 1.5m wide riding/walking trail in “Vines” area running alongside the downhill track. There will be a lot of shovel and mattock digging involved.

The Reward

For every working bee (3 hours long) you can attend and do productive work you will receive a gift voucher to use at the bike shop of your choice.
 You can put it towards that new something you have wanted or you can donate the money back to the club to help fund the Black snake rebuild and extension. The Gift Vouchers will be handed out at the end, once the work is completed and has been approved by National Parks. All workers will need to “sign in” with their details at each working bee so we can keep accurate records of attendance and hours worked.
If this is something you are interested in getting involved with, please email Club President Craig at President@cairnsmtb.com with your expression of interest.

Reminder

The first Working Bee will be held on Sunday 10th of June and then every Saturday and Sunday morning until the job is done.

NZ Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture

For my first post for 2017, I am keen to revisit one of the main reasons why I started this blog – which was as an adjunct to my PhD bicycle research and to help disseminate interesting academic research on bikes and cycling. So I am super excited about the research presented in this post, as this paper couldn’t be more perfect in paying homage to this blog’s humble research beginnings and considering  my fantastic 11-day mountain bike trip to Rotorua NZ is now coming to and end. I love the ideas of the first post for 2017 being research based on riding in New Zealand (and written by a top chick too!).

Although this blog has presented two other academic articles (by the same NZ academic) focused on a specific NZ bike rage incident (one from a sociological/biker perspective, the other from a videography analysis/micro-sociological point of view) – this is the first thesis and the first relating to downhill in NZ.

Such particular research is VERY hard to find in academic publications- so finding this paper made me very happy!!

I have been very keen to share this post for quite a while and now is the perfect time!

(I’m also excited as I have now found out how to attach the PDF document so that you can download a copy directly if wanted (see end of post).

 

Background on Scarlett Hagen and the NZ Downhill research

This research is Scarlett Hagen’s 2013 Masters of Physical Education thesis which investigates the Downhill MTB subculture in NZ. What a great topic to choose! I was stoked when I found this thesis last year as there is so few mountain bike specific research circulating.

I was drawn to this study for a number of reasons. Primarily because Scarlett is a former Junior Downhill Mountain Bike World Champion (2004). I much prefer academic research being undertaken by those who are embedded and who are participant researchers as opposed to external academics coming in and studying a demographic with little lived experience of the phenomenon being explored. The discussion is far more rich in detail and insights. Secondly, it is expanding an area that is sorely overlooked and misunderstood (DH), both in academia and the public spheres. It is written by an athlete-turned-researcher, features 3 top female athletes among the participants,  it is incredibly well written and engaging to read, is supported by sound and thorough methodology and academic analysis, and is a truly valuable addition to extending understanding about the DH culture and lifestyle. In so many ways this research is setting precedence and breaking stereotypes – as well as being a cracking good read!

Last year the Southland Times ran an article on Scarlett which reported that her Master thesis “was the first time the sport was the subject of a master’s thesis and earned her the highest grade possible (A+) and an almost $100,000 scholarship over three years to complete at PhD – work that is now underway. She is studying the sociology and psychology behind mountain biking and she hopes will contribute to understanding of the motivations and requirements of  mountain biking tourists and contribute to understanding of the trails for performance athletes.” It also gave some more details on Scarlett’s background and her business BikeSchool.

At this stage of my own PhD (coming up to my Early Candidature Milestone), it is very inspiring and motivating to read such a well written and reasoned study where bicycles create change.

Scarlett Hagen
Source: Eye of Glass.com @ pinkbike
Scarlett Hagen
Source: MTB news

Research Participants

The five NZ downhill research participants for this study were:  Amy Laird, Cameron Cole, Gabby Moolloy, Lauren Campbell and Wyn Masters.

Thesis Overview

Taken from the first paragraph in the Abstract, here is the overview in the author’s own words:

The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand
Source: The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand by Scarlett Hagen (2013) MPhEd.

 

Some key takeaways

The paper begins with a discussion about subculture and the different views and definitions of what a subculture is. It applies post-modernist subcultural theory to the NZ downhill experience. The reasoning for downhill being an ‘extreme sport subculture’ is supported convincingly with demographic links and evidence based on age, ethnicity, location, gender and environment. It also outlines four main extreme sport experiences and builds a detailed case about the impact and identitifcation of subcultural experiences, quality of life and life stages.

I highly recommend having a read over the Introduction as there are some really convincing parallels drawn that all riders will be able to identify with. There will certainly be some recognisable commonalities regarding aspects of style and aesthetics like clothing, technology, music and language choices.

This whole document is well worth a read.

One of my favourite sections is the 30-page discussion section titled ‘Downhill Devotion’. It covers some very pertinent and interesting features of Downhill culture which brought back many happy memories working with Downhill teams. Some aspects that particularly made me smile were:

  • competition vs leisure aspects (pg 107)
  • the role of ‘flow’ when riding (pg 110)
  • initiation and inclusion  (pg 104)
  • authenticity within the downhill subculture (pg 83 & 108)
  • personality traits of downhillers (down to how they walk  pg 109)
  • the role of reputation (pg 117)
  • some insights into the link between gender and drinking in DH (pg 119)
  • the element of addiction and the psychological impacts of DH (p121)

The whole paper is very deserving of the A+ mark it received. If you are a mountain bike rider of any sort, you can pretty much start reading anywhere and find something of value and interest.

I am still going back a rereading sections.  I found the whole project incredibly well structured and engaging to read –  have a look and find out what part resonates with you!

 

Final notes and comments

Having worked at World Cup events and being married to a top mechanic for elite UCI Downhill & Crankworx riders, I was very happy to see a mention and acknowledgement by the author to the input that mechanics (among others) had during her formative riding years. Such support crews are very often forgotten and under-appreciated.

It is also great to see women being so prominently featured in this downhill study.

Great also to see mountain bikers moving into various spaces to promote and encourage understanding about different styles and formats of mountain biking – an area I am keen to contribute to in some way this year as well.

So hats of to Scarlett for producing such rigorous, high-quality, impactful, trailblazing research. I hope her work helps increase support, interest and attention for DH, NZ and mountain biking.

 

Get the thesis here:

The Downhill Mountain Bike Subculture in New Zealand by Scarlett Hagen (2013) MPhEd

Scarlett Hagen
Source: stuff.co.nz
Scarlett Hagen
Source: Bowen House
Scarlett Hagen
Source: Descent World.co.uk

Jill Kintner – Queen of Crankworx 2016

A massive congratulations to Jill Kintner – Queen of Crankworx World Tour!! I’ve been watching all her runs and rides this year and was very impressed watching her come back after some issues and injuries that ended in a 4th place overall last year. But this year she has been on fire! Smashing the competition and ripping at events like the dual salmon, BMX, downhill and her list of her achievements goes on and on … Awesome!!

Aside from loving riding and training hard, I really appreciate that Jill is also a consummate artist and actively integrates her artwork into her routine – an inspiration for being a well balanced, kick-ass role model for us up and comers!!

Jill Kintner – Queen of Crankworx 2016

Jill’s story is inspirational as it really exemplifies how diverse riders and their skills can be. Not only does Jill embody this, but she is also unusual in that she is not only an exceptional gifted and hard working rider. She has been very successful in a wide range of events and disciplines in riding – not just good at one – but in her case two, three, four and more!

Her story is great as it clearly shows that riding bikes can make positive change in your life. Obviously biking is not just for health, transport and happiness, but also, for a few select people with the opportunity and dedication like Jill, can also be an avenue to forge a career. With this comes travel, sponsors and exposure. However, all of that must be earned –  which Jill certainly has. I hope she is stoked and reaping the rewards of all her hard work over the Crankworx season this year!

People ride bikes at all kinds of level of confidence, skill and intensity. I am a big fan of her dedication, skill and tenacity for making it happen. It was great to se her husband Bryn (Cairns born and bred not less!) and her mates out in full support mode – including mocking up a photo of ‘Jill for Queen’ Posters – GOLD!

So, congrats on this year’s season Jill – your an inspiration!! Now I’m off to practice my pump track skills!!

Source: Bike mag Anthony Smith
Source: Bike mag Anthony Smith

 

Bike tourism in Peru

By Mauricio Gonzalez – Guest Blogger

 

3 Opportunities to get on a bike to be part of the ‘real’ tourism in Peru

Bicycles mean more than a means of transport, they are also a serious sport, a hobby and now this post will talk about a how bicycles represent a unique way to know the word to conduct tourism.

Bicycles represent an inexpensive business investment and an affordable alternative for those who are looking to see the world.  That said, the use of bicycles in tourism is a worthy business opportunity.

Some people may opt for going to luxurious hotels surrounded by expensive details in a comfortable room, eating five-star food, resting and forgetting about all their problems. However, there is a different market for those who are looking for adventures, and want to be surrounded by nature and visit wonderful places off the beaten track that seem to be taken from someone with a lot of imagination’s dream.

These adventures are more affordable and exciting that we may think. For instance, if you go to Peru to see the Andes and Machu Picchu, there are tours where you can live a real life adventure and see singularly spectacular landscapes that otherwise would be impossible to view from a car. And let’s face it, riding a bicycle through these indomitable roads is just fun enough in itself and will help anyone forget any problem they might have.

Sacred rides

One such venture, called Sacred Rides, is where you can find rides according to any budget and skill level. This business is focused on people who are looking for extreme adventures, places that will get the adrenaline flowing and interacting with the beautiful and wild natural surrounds.

Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides
Source: Sacred Rides

Cycle Peru

For those who are looking for a comfortable ride, complete with a tour guide, through ancient cities and for those who want to participate in community activities, there are options that cater for these tourists on bikes as well.  In this case, Cycle Peru would be an interesting option. Just because the trip is calmer, doesn’t mean you will miss out on any of the fun – and this outfit will provide a very authentic opportunity to get to know the true Peru.

Gravity Peru

If you are in Peru and are a real adrenaline junkie, then Gravity Peru is the business for you – they will not muck you around! If you want a serious time on a bike and maybe some more dangerous adventures, they will have have exactly what you need. See the video below.

In conclusion, maybe the best part of traveling to South America are the stunning landscapes and the experiences that you will never forget. So what better way to fully appreciate such an experience than by grabbing a bicycle – leave the car at home and get off the tour bus – you will be surprised by all the things you may be missing out on by not being a tourist on a bicycle. Have a good trip!

 

Mauricio Gonzalez is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of South America’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 20th June to 2nd July.

Sad news of Stevie Smith’s death

I’m interrupting Gabriel’s guest post fortnight to express my disbelief and sorrow at hearing that Canadian Downhiller Stevie Smith has died.

It still has not quite sunk in and I can’t really believe it yet.  We just saw him in Cairns and it is such tragic news to hear – and so soon after saying goodbye to two other biking greats, Kelly McGarry and Dave Mirra in February. I got the call early from a mate in the industry, and according to reports, Stevie died yesterday riding his Enduro motorbike.  It was amazing reading the comments and posts in response to his passing, such touching stories.

His passing is very sad news indeed. He was only 26 and had proved himself to be a brilliant downhiller – who had much more to give – being a formidable competitor and all-round nice guy. His results spoke to his dedication and love of the sport.  Stevies 2013 season really put him on the radar when he won the DH World Cups in Leogang, Austria, Hafjell, Norway, and Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada – and ultimately he went on to win that series. Smith had been getting over a string of injuries, which he seemed to have gotten over as he recorded an impressive second place result for the first 2016 World Cup round in Lourdes, France.

I still can’t quite get my head around the idea that I only saw him two weeks ago in Cairns for the UCI World Cup and was chatting with the DavVinci Team about how confident and exciting this season was looking for them. My heart goes out to his family, girlfriend, the Da Vinci team, close friends and fans.

Stevie Smith Legacy Fund has been established to collect donations to go towards a Tiann Smith initiative, that supports talented up-and-coming young athletes. For those in Nanaimo, B.C. you can attend a farewell event for Stevie Smith’s which will be held May 21 at 1 p.m. at the Vancouver Island Convention Centre.

I will certainly not be the only one who will miss seeing Stevie on the UCI DH circuit.

 Farewell Canadian Chainsaw.

Ride, Ride, ride while you can.

Source: Pink Bike - Stevie @ UCI MTB World Cup, MT St Anne, Quebec Canada
Source: Pink Bike – Stevie @ UCI MTB World Cup, MT St Anne, Quebec Canada

UCI World Cup – Round 2 Cairns 2016

Yesterday I returned from another awesome trip to Cairns for a UCI World Cup round. This time, it was the UCI World Cup – Round 2 Cairns 2016 and it has been 2 years since the last time this event has been in Australia. Of course, we took our bikes with us on our ‘family holiday’ (Mum = me, Dad = husband, and ‘the kids’ = our bikes) and we rode Atherton Tablelands and surrounds with different mates each time – great to be out on old familiar trails and see what has changed.

Incredible racing

Last time we went to this event, it was wet, muddy and extremely hard work for all – but this, time the weather was beautiful, the track was primo and the racing was incredibly exciting. As usual, the racing format was Downhill on Saturday and Cross-Country on Sunday. Because I was not the World Cup working this time, I got to catch up with a heap of my beloved crew,  chat to teams and riders, and cheer on the side lines until I lost my voice (which didn’t take very long).

Both days racing was thrilling for different reasons. The Downhill was exciting because we had four Aussies in the top 10, with Sik Mik (3rd) and Brosnan (2nd) absolutely killing it – the top 3 within the same second! The crowd on the side lines created a super festive atmosphere and I haven’t had such a rocking great time track-side for a while.

If you want to get a taste of how fast and breathtaking the downhill track was, check out Sik Mik’s race run here.

Me and my bikie besties

One of the highlights for me was definitely the social accessibility of the event. Aside from meeting Bruni and Gwin for a long chat (no photos as it was ‘serious’ business),  I got my tourist on and went on a ‘search and photograph’ mission – the end result is below. I got to catch up with some old superstar mates from Enduro, XC and DH as well as meeting some a slew of new riders!! Sweet!! Happy days!!