Defying Gravity (and Technology)
“Always have a manual backup”. That’s the modern race timers’ mantra, as technology is – well, it’s technology. And we KNOW what happens when we put all our eggs in the technology basket.
So it proved at Mt Borah, NSW, for the inaugural Vertical Horizons Gravity Enduro, a 3-race, downhill/enduro MTB format with a General Classification that consisted of what was essentially, 3 time trials.
With one race on the Saturday afternoon, after practice runs, and 2 races on Sunday, each rider’s NET time for each race went towards their GC results. So, remote start line 6 km and 500m vertically away, and a finish line.
Saturday’s event went perfectly, but Sunday saw the network refusing to co-operate, leaving me with no ‘real time’ start. Plan B was already in place as the manual backup, involving a very strict sequence of starters, each on 1 minute intervals. The catch was, I needed to know exactly who was starting when, and with a shuttle service ferrying riders to the top of the mountain, and the inevitable mishaps which occur during MTB downhill racing, the communication between start line and timing desk had to be clear and continual.
Fortunately, the organisers were all over it, and each run was timed just right – the GC was calculated and the winners declared, and everyone went home happy.
As for the venue itself – the views were spectacular, the dust thick and plentiful, and the area’s reputation as the para-sailing capital of Australia was reinforced by the constant stream of gliders coming in to land next to the finish area.
This event has a big future, and already attracted some big-name riders into the Elite category, including National Under-23 MTB XC champion Emily Parkes – who lives fairly locally.
Full stage and GC results are available here.