Robdog the puppet master. Image: Stine Baska
“Livin in Bathurst ain’t easy, the women are kinda greasy” was kind of the working slave tune Hendo and myself were singing as we laid out the haybails early Wednesday morning. Fresh from one night's rest in "Hotel el Robbo” - now housing about 12 skaters per square inch of inner-west terrace house, we found ourselves already on the road to Bathurst on the Tuesday. Why?
Not totally sure, maybe it was to settle in and relax a little before the second week of dawn missions, or perhaps it was to do ASRA an internal favour by getting up at the crack of dawn on Wednesday to lay hay bales, just the three of us (Robbo, Hendo & myself) to give the rest of the crew a break. All I know is that it was farkin cold (wind chill was 1.5 degrees @ midday) and the country town folk were surprisingly unfriendly. No time to dwell on the coldness or the shitty people, we kept our minds on hay bales and dodging cars that travel far and wide to drive dangerously around the Mt Panorama circuit. I lost count of cars that did multiple hot laps with their passengers iphone out recording themselves ‘living the dream’. Mildly depressing - we felt better after a quick chat to Newton's Nation organiser Ben Perry and him lending us his adult sized pogo stick...oh the dangerous knee bruising fun that thing produced over the weekend.
With all task done super early in the week, the three-man crack team decided to grab a brutal Chinese massage. Hendo, now safe from leeches, found himself trying not to weep whilst getting his spine realigned by a manhandling elbow prominent Chinese gentleman by the name of Carl. Who am I kidding, we were all weeping a little. Moving right along...the race. Day One: You may have remembered that last Newtons way back in 2010 everyone got plenty of runs via the race-to-qualify format that ASRA battled to push through to break the standard timed qualifying mould. Well everyone was pretty stoked to see it back at a World Cup race again. Luckily we had not one but two IGSA officials on hand to oversee an already smooth running operation and cruise the track taking photos and updating their facebook statuses. Day One on the startline you get to hear the riders line up and remember just how steep the track is. I skated Newtons back in 2010 and it still looks as steep as it did almost two years later.
“This track is gnarly, all downhill event roads should be like this.... you can quote me on that” - Alex Tounge.
Thanks Alex, I will.
Alex Tounge (dot com) super solid all weekend. Image: Cat Sweeny
So with riders quietly shitting themselves on the startline, first practice was underway. Riders knew they weren’t getting many runs so even the first run down the hills were fast! It's mind boggling how much the level of riding has improved over the years across the whole field. In 2009 many, MANY people crashed and required an ambulance. In 2010 a handful of ambulances were needed. This year everyone was holding their own, and even the groms were ripping. Christoph Batt had the fastest time all weekend...out of any discipline! Batt backed it up by taking out the Top Ten Shootout, which is probably the most exciting way to do timed runs ever. Everyone's eyes were glued to the monitor waiting for the next rider to dethrone the previous one and take hold of the $1,000 giant cheque.
Day Two: Maintaining the ASRA sleeping pattern of pre-sunrise wake up, awesome plunger coffee, and on track to see the sun rise on top of the mountain. This morning we had low level clouds below us and sunrise on top. Blackwood was in inversion bliss and almost couldn’t function for a few moments. The rest of the day was pretty standard issue. Qualifying trees and repechage tree. Everyone going super hard and racing just inches away from each other. Last Newtons if you got out in front and didn’t crash you were golden. This year it was a Conrod Straight drafting game, which saw a tonne of close finishes and a few big name upsets. ASRA now working like a well oiled machine, got all the racing done with time to spare. Time for freeriding!
Kam Kite rules the Dipper. Image: Cat Sweeny
Final Day: Holy hell the end of two weeks of slugging it out every day was coming to the end and we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We kicked it into overdrive and smashed through practice and racing. At about 11am I remember Bugs coming over to myself and Haggy and saying “So.... we’re almost done racing” What? Not even lunchtime and we’ve done a day of racing? FREE RIDING BETWEEN HEATS!
We spent most of the next few hours rounding up people that wanted to freeride to stretch the day out and fill the gap to the finals. Towards the end it was really hard to find anyone at the top of the hill that wanted to skate anymore. The final rounds of the race tree played out perfectly (for some). For spectators it was super-tight exciting racing, in perfect conditions, with great coverage from the student OV crew, and live on Youtube with Striker commentating with his old co-host, Blackwood. Good times for all. Mischo, the man on the mission, rode hard and smart and won it at the end of the day. After a few more freerides and denial of the trikes any more tracktime, the event wrapped up super early and ahead of schedule. In time for a powernap, dinner and some wicked drunken pogostick action before the Castrol tower after-party.
Leading into Keira I thought we were going to die helping ASRA do two events back to back, but in hindsight it wasn’t too bad. Maybe my mind has blocked all the memories of feeling like crap living on four hours of sleep a night...but hey, we set the bar friggin high for the rest of the world to follow and so we should. Why should races be poorly organised and shitty? The riding has matured, the industry has matured and the scene has exploded. There is no excuse. Every part of the Bathurst race from council, to track managers, to it's residences was unnecessarily difficult at all times, but ASRA still pulled off the second best (behind Keira) event in Australia. It's time to put on only wicked rad events from here on in.
To the ASRA crew, you guys are the best in the world and finally after years of effort everyone else around the world now knows that without a hint of doubt. The volunteers, track marshals, resident liaisons...these events just don’t happen without solid people like you. And finally, to the riders and competitors thanks for taking the time off work, travelling from far and wide to make these events the farkin greatest in the world.
Add a Comment