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State Round 1 2017 Albany Race Report

The 2017 season has come around fast,  perhaps not fast enough for some keen to get back out and test their training (or lack thereof) over the summer months.

For the start of the 2017 season Albany took over the state round for yet another year and there was another good turnout with some 115 riders gathering at the top of Mount Clarence. Most noticeably there was just shy of 20 riders competing in U17s. It was great to see some possible future champs in the division and also a few new faces young, old, male and female in the competition. Also noticeable was a few missing club regulars who were hitting the trails in NZ (it doesn’t count if it isn’t on Strava boys!). Special mention goes to Kose “Rambo” Michielson for his awesome effort in the Trans NZ Enduro, oh wait that isn’t DH so it doesn’t count Rambo!

The 2017 season also sees a few noteworthy changes to the race rules with Single Crown bikes now allowed to enter the previous “DH only” categories. This raises a few interesting questions, who would go in DH and who would chose to stay with the Single Crown pinners? Even more importantly, would we see one of the bloody 29ers work their way in somewhere? Surely not!?!?! (Mr Kanters I’m looking in your direction).

(Pic courtesy Suzanne Halsall)

Saturday’s practice had plenty of riders shedding their goggles due to some humidity combining with the habitual Albany drizzle. In turn plenty of riders were on their toes early testing the traction, which ranged from sticky in sections to loose as a goose in others. This kept the Ambos busy with plenty of spills to attend to, especially in the chute at the end of the track which took many victims, healing vibes to you all!

On race day there was still the customary Albany cloud hanging around but the heavens were kind today and no rain was seen for the entire day. Qualifying saw a number of thrills & spills with the action heating up, we even noticed a second Ambo present. Were the local medics trying to tell us something??? This didn’t deter the competitors with qualifying producing some impressive efforts. U17 pinner Charlie Howard put down a 1:26.324 which would have him sitting mid pack in Elite qualifying and U19 Yuliang Seow put down a similar time with a 1:26.215.

(Pic courtesy Maree Lim)

Both Elite Women & Elite Men were looking a little different at the top, the Women’s had an international flavour with European Redz Betz showing the boys how it’s done by throwing down a commanding time of 1:38.754 putting her near 10 seconds clear of her nearest rival. Elite Men saw Benjamin Halsall sitting 1st with a 1:24.109 closely followed by Aaron “Legless” Leagas on 1:24.707.

Young gun Jake de Klerk was just a little too “in the zone” for his qualy run and he shot out the start gate before Al gave him the ok to go. This resulted in his return to the gate for a second take at qualifying and this time he was following his old man Paul de Klerk. Paul managed a very tidy 1:28.484 which placed him atop of Vets by the end of qualifying. More alarming for the Paul was the fact Jake was a close 4 seconds behind. Looks like someone is getting close to pipping the old man!!

As the riders made their way back up Mount Clarence for the final you could get a sense of things heating up with riders eagerly checking each other’s times to see where they sat, we even received a request from old mate Tim Beck for a live Facebook stream of the Sport category (video is your job Beck, get off Facebook!!!).

(Pic courtesy Maree Lim)

First out of the gate was the young guns in U13 with 1st place going to Hamish Wilkes with a 1:42.617 followed closely by Nathan Garbin & Daniel Roughton, U15 was run & won with a couple familiar surnames popping up. Gus Kyme took 1st with a 1:32.496 with Thomas Rubery 2nd & Riley Wakeling 3rd. Next up was the Junior Women won by Caelin Stuart with an impressive 1:53.566.

With U17 hotly contested there was some fierce times being put down and we witnessed Jaxon Sawyer take 1st with an outstanding 1:25.664 closely followed by Charlie Howard 2nd & Lachlan Wilkes 3rd.

Magdalena Bazan was top of the Sport Women’s with a 1:56.340 followed by Danielle Payne 2nd & Jane Devenport 3rd. Tim Harman maintained his top spot from qualifying to take 1st in Men’s Sport with 1:32.648, Brett Aurisch in 2nd with Mitchell Poett in 3rd.

Single Crown saw a smaller field than usual, we suspect this was due to the new rules being introduced but there were still some strong times. Bryn Westerberg claimed top spot to back up his qualy run with 1:33.223 followed by James Krahner 2nd & Wayne Roughton 3rd.

Next up was Male Vets, would Paul de Klerk hold onto his spot from qualy or would Kelvin Smith go that smidge faster required to take him out with his shiny new single crown? Kelvin was looking the goods and was doing his best “YOLO” run when he took a hard tumble coming out of a berm and decided to taste test the Albany gravel, to his credit he finished his run (minus some skin) but Paul followed up with a clean run (1:29.418) to take out Vets so he could test out the load bearing capabilities of the 1st podium come presentations. Shane Rosher claimed 2nd followed closely by Nathan Devenport in 3rd.

As the day was getting older so to it seemed were the riders with Masters Men followed by the new Super Masters Men (or Old Farts Class according to Al!). Chris Deeks took out first 1st in Masters with a 1:33.871 followed by Joshua Pearson 2nd and Vice President Ellis Moore proved you can still bag a medal whilst sitting on your backside (cause seats are made for sitting!) taking 3rd. After being earlier reprimanded for breaking the “Downhill code” by riding up the walk track Mark Rubery still had enough energy to secure 1st in Super Masters with a 1:32.230, Paul Fage was only a bee’s willy off with a 1:32.809 followed by Rory O’Connor in 3rd.

(Pic courtesy Maree Lim)

Now we were getting down to the business end of the day and it was time for the U19’s to show what they were made of. Unfortunately it turned out not to be for 1st place qualifier Yuliang Seow after Declan O’Connor claimed 1st with a scorching 1:23.887 followed by Seow with a close 2nd and Greg Stanley taking 3rd.

Next in line was Expert Men and there was plenty of trash talk coming from a few in the category as well as the crowd, heckles of “Sandbagger” and “Is that a 29er?” were heard many a time as they tried to put each other off their game. Now, I see it but I can’t believe it! Aaron Kanters jumps from 3rd in qualifying to take first spot and set the cat amongst the pigeons with not only a single crown but a damn 29er! What the??? Kanters putting down a tidy 1:28.734, closely followed by Andrew Hannig in 2nd & Ryan Douglas in 3rd.

After the shenanigans of Expert Men we see Redz Betz dominate the Elite Women category taking 1st in 1:39.305 followed by Natalie Pearson 2nd and Vilma FitzGerald 3rd, impressive after the spill she took in practice on Saturday.

(Pic courtesy Suzanne Halsall)

So comes the Category of the day and all eyes are on the Elite Men with questions aplenty, will Luke Ball continue his domination from 2016? Will we see a young gun emerge to take top spot or will we see local knowledge shine through to take the biscuits? Well it turns out Round 1 goes to local knowledge with Albanians Bobby Cooper in 1st with 1:22.508 and Benjamin Halsall 2nd with young gun Roly Kyme taking 3rd.

After the Elite categories were run and won there was still opportunity for some to redeem themselves with the top 30 run. Roly Kyme continued his impressive weekend taking out 1st spot with a 1:23.059, followed by U19 Yuliang Seow in 2nd with 1:25.484 and Samuel Buchanan taking 3rd with 1:26.656.

(Pic courtesy Suzanne Halsall)

Big thanks to all the volunteers for their help, Albany MTB Club Committee for putting on this round, Albany Roller Derby League for putting on the grub and Peel Districts MTB Committee for all their efforts. Thanks also to all the Albany MTB Sponsors and the Peel Districts MTB Sponsors, please take note of these businesses as they deserve your support and your business, without them the clubs would struggle to put on such awesome events!

Albany Sponsors – Impulse Cycles, Great Southern Motorcycles, Bobs Bikes, Passmore Cycles.

Peel Sponsors – Carine Cycles, Rock N Roll Mountain Biking, ONZA, Spank, FJC, Dusty Dynamics, WAMBA, Bike Bag Hire W.A.

Well done to all the winners & pinners, see you at State Round 2 to be held at Wellington Mill!!