Loving the learning curve: Aus Gravity Enduro Series Round 1

Gen McKew takes riding to the next level ripping down the track leaving daylight in her wake.

Gen McKew takes riding to the next level ripping down the track leaving daylight in her wake.

Ride up the hill at any old speed with your mates. Session techo bits so you can ride them nice and fast. Ride up the hill some more times. Shred back down. Froth, froth, froth.

This is how I described my first experience of gravity enduro after Rocky Trail’s Del Rio round in March last year. Skip forward a year, or more specifically to Glenworth Valley last Sunday, and Rocky Trail hosted the first round of the Australian Gravity Enduro Series.

Dan McMunn raised the bar in the men's race. I'd love to spend some time watching these guys ride too.

Dan McMunn raised the bar in the men’s race. I’d love to spend some time watching these guys ride too.

The discipline is growing in popularity and riders are developing a keener sense of what equipment choices and riding habits make a good enduro racer (one who podiums in almost every discipline of biking available apparently, ahem, Jared Graves).

Me, I’ve done nothing about learning to ride to the format, except continue to ride my blinged out hardtail on tracks better suited to a bike with six inches of travel. Fun, yes. Fast, that depends on who you’re riding with.

It's so fun, at an event like this one, to session trails with someone who has a similar attitude to you. Rosie nails it.

It’s so fun to session trails with someone who has a similar attitude to you. Rosie nails it.

After a quick phone call with a friend on Friday night who was heading up from Canberra for the Glenworth race (Rosie ‘best person to share the event with’ Barnes), I borrowed my partner’s sweet new Camber Evo and entered this round on an impulse.

Saturday, I set the bike up and practiced jumping some shadows and gutters to get a feel for how it moves. Sunday, I found out how it handled steep, narrow, rocky trails on the first practice run. Cue good times and a couple more. I enjoyed every minute on board and love the learning curve that comes with big bigness and frothing frothness all ’round.

The Specialized Camber Evo Expert. Capable, smooth, fast and so, so fun. I hope I get to borrow this again one day soon.

The Specialized Camber Evo Expert. Capable, smooth, fast and so, so fun. I hope I get to borrow this again and learn to really push it to it’s limits.

The track was like an XC track up top, with some old school downhill at the bottom. I managed to drop the chain on the first run, and came much closer to a clean run on the second one. I felt quicker and more comfortable with every attempt, which is an addictive way to feel about a trail and a bike. And the reason this discipline is so much fun.

Rosie (L) and Katherine O'Shea (R) compared notes about riding trails like this in XC World Cups during their Euro days. Was great to catch up in such a relaxed, fun environment.

Rosie (L) and Katherine O’Shea (R) compared notes about riding trails like this in XC and XCM World Cups during their Euro days. It was great to catch up in such a relaxed, fun environment.

Unlike the Del Rio round, this one involved shuttles to the top. The nice surprise that came with this was sitting, waiting for timed runs, with a crew of like-minded ladies – women who love really pushing what they can do, skills wise, on a bike.

If this sounds like you, quit hesitating and come riding. There’s always B-lines. And when there aren’t, there are your feet. And when you hold it together, you’ll feel super stoked and can start worrying about overly-competitive things instead.

Personally, I came to the event looking forward to being challenged by the track, and I left wanting to ride trails like that one all weekend. The next round pretty much offers just that: nine timed trails, over two days, in Bright. I’m not sure whether I can pull that off logistically, but if you find that you can, it sounds like it will be an epic couple of days.

Giddy up!

Giddy up!

Thanks to Rocky Trail and Alpine Gravity for pulling some great races together to kick off the inaugural series. Follow this link for results and more information. Or check out this link for some great interviews with a range of women from the last NSW Enduro round at Ourimbah.

'Til next time...

‘Til next time…

Images: Outer Image Collective (on bikes), Kath Bicknell (off bikes), Ray Lacis (threesome). Thanks guys!

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