Grafton riders on high
MOUNTAIN bike riders Jai Brown and Max Rose flew the flag for South Grafton High School at the recent Australian Interschools MTB Championships in Thredbo.
More than 300 students from 50 schools across the nation contested the 15th annual interschool event in the Snowy Mountains.
Despite having to deal with some radically different climatic and topographic conditions to what they are accustomed to, Brown and Rose shone during the three-event format, which comprised the mountain bike disciplines of downhill, dual compressor and cross-country racing.
"It was an amazing weekend of racing," said 13-year-old Brown, who travelled more than 13 hours to get to the alpine village of Thredbo.
Both boys made the most of the weekend, undertaking a pre-event downhill clinic with World Cup downhillers Jared Rando and Ben Corey.
The aim was to develop riders' skills to allow them to confidently attack the 3km steep and rocky path from the top of Thredbo to the village.
"It was amazing to get tips from world-class riders and see how fast they ride," Rose said.
"In the clinic they showed us better line choices, where to pedal and how to corner.
"Afterwards I felt a lot more confident and was faster."
This was reflected in his final result, with Rose placing 18th in a field of 35 in the Year 7and 8 Division and Brown 32nd.
"Riding with Jared Rando was a huge help," Brown said.
"It made the downhill event less daunting, and I didn't have any crashes."
Both boys also contested the dual compressor event in wet and muddy conditions, ahead of the final 8km cross-country sprint race.
Although challenging, the pair mastered the slippery and demanding conditions on the cross-country course, with Rose an impressive ninth, while Brown finished 18th.
"It was a really hard track and more difficult than home because there are more hills here," Rose said.
"It was hard, but fun."
In the overall King of the Mountain competition, which combines results from all three MTB disciplines, Rose finished 12th and Brown 25th.
Both were thrilled and vowed to return for another interschool tilt.
"I think the best part of the championships was the downhill event, as it's not every day you get to go on a chairlift to the top of the country and do so many runs in a day," Rose said.
Brown echoed the sentiments of his Year 8 riding partner.
"It was well worth the trip for the downhill alone, as you don't get to do down-hilling much in Grafton," he said.
"I am hoping we can go back next year and really improve on our performance."
In other mountain bike news, 12 riders from the Grafton MTB Club will head south this weekend to contest the Mont 24-hour race in Canberra's Kowan Forrest.
The event requires mountain bike teams to keep riding for a gruelling 24 hours.