National Mountain Bike Champs a huge success

The biggest event on the Australian mountain biking calendar hit the tracks at the University of New England on Friday for the National Championships.

Three days of fierce competition saw hundreds of riders take to the course and Armidale riders were among the medal winners from the opening day. 

Michael Harris, Holly Harris, Angus Apps and Andrew Whitehall formed a team to take out the relay event on Friday. 

The next day it was young biker Isabella Hosking who claimed gold in the under 17 women’s category. 

“I wasn't expecting to come first, that's for sure, because during the National Series there were two girls that always beat me,” she said. 

“I guess knowing the track as your home track was much better.

“[I have] definitely been working on some technical stuff so I had those down pat.

“I just tried to get a good start, stick to the girls and I felt really good during the race, overtook them, rode at my own pace and managed to win which I am really happy about.

“To have all your supporters there on the line when you finish was just amazing, I don't know to describe it.”

Holly Harris finished second to Olympian Rebecca McConnell in the elite women, Michael Harris placed second in the under 23 men to Tasmanian Alex Lack. 

It was the first time Armidale hosted the National Championships after holding two rounds of the National Series a year ago. 

New England Mountain Bikers president Peter Hosking said, starting with the exciting spectator race in a Cross Country Eliminator on Friday, the whole weekend was a success. 

“The Cross Country Eliminator went off very well. The atmosphere in among the campus was incredible,” he said.

“It took a lot of effort working with the university to get that to be successful, just because it affects so many different departments in the university and we are asking them to deviate around.

“We had good numbers, I think there were 80 or 90 riders in the end.”

The tracks at the university underwent major renovations two years ago and, with many of the nation’s competitive trails situated away from town centres. Hosking said competitors and spectators raved about the course’s locality.

“That venue was fantastic, we got a lot of positive feedback saying they really enjoyed that Friday night,” he said.

“I think it is definitely one of the best venues in Australia to hold high-level cross country mountain biking.”

While it was a hugely successful event, Hosking said the club will focus on hosting local events before considering throwing their hat in the ring for another National Championships. 

“I can't stress the support from everyone, we had a lot of volunteers out, a lot of people in the club doing their thing and it only worked because everyone stepped up and did their part,” he said. 

Hosking said the club would need time to recover now.

“We just have to be careful not to burn out the club and everyone else that helps.”