After arriving early in Australia, Donny and I spent a week hanging out with the Athertons just north of Sydney. We had some free time to have a look around, so we spent a day checking out the city – an amazing place with so much to see.
Donny, a keen surfer in his free time, got three days surfing in and was buzzing off that. Some local guys told us about this dirt jump spot, so I borrowed Donny’s hardtail and spent the afternoon there with Dan and Rachel.
It was full of all sorts of technical lines and I had a lot of fun riding a double into a 270 degree berm with a step-up, double-out. I got a day’s downhill riding in with Dan and Gee at this small spot and it was clear the locals had put so much work in building jumps, north shore bridges, step-downs – you name it. They really had made a small hill into a rad little track, which was just what we needed before Canberra. It was good to ride with Dan and Gee, just for fun, because I never ride with them at home.
On Wednesday 27th August we left for Canberra and, after a four hour drive, we arrived early in the afternoon then walked the downhill track. They called it Mt Stromlo, but I would describe it as ‘small hill’ Stromlo. Straight out of the start you’re greeted by quite a few made-made obstacles, small jumps and log drops.
Then you head into the most technical section on the course – two steep rock sections back to back. That’s about the highlight as far as technical downhill goes, with the rest of the course made up of man-made berms and jumps. My favourite section (named triple treat) was a step-down out of a berm followed by a double into another double with a steep lip – you have to go quite high to clear the huge rock in the middle.
Overall the course was good fun; they’d done a good job with what they had to work with. What let it down was the 40 second sprint to the finish. With the course being so simple, it was the flat section that separated the riders and Minnaar proved that he really is the man when it comes to pedalling.
I had a mellow qualifying run but, looking back on it, I could have done with the extra points. Qualifying 19th certainly left me with a lot of work to do in the final. I managed to pick it up a little, going 6 seconds faster than qualifying, and ended up 12th. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but it would have been nice to have made the top ten. The course is very physical and I know I wasn’t as strong as I should have been. At least it gives me something to work for this winter, knowing that the 2009 World Championships are held at the same venue.