A couple weeks ago I took the opportunity to make the drive south to Canberra, nothing unusual, spend a lot of time there. What was different was my destination, Majura Pines mountain bike trails because the Australian 24HR Solo Nationals were on and because I have not actually spent anytime photographing here before. Weird I know, but with Stromlo MTB Park so close I could be excused for doing so until now that is.
I knew I would like the different conditions of tall pine trees and barren open ground covered in the red needles dropped by the trees. But like it this much I did not predict and helmet visors must be tipped in acknowledgement to the volunteers at Majura Pines Trail Alliance. Great trails with lots of variety and I still have not seen all of them, something I plan on remedying very soon. So quick note about the trails, the main area runs parallell to Majura Parkway and is fairly flat but in a non-gravity fed way is very flowy. With riders completing 30+ laps over 24hrs they would find little mistakes in lines would cost them time dearly. Then there is Mount Majura itself, the trails twist and wind up the slopes and the higher you go the steeper they get. Sensibly, CORC: Canberra Off-Road Cyclists who ran the event modified the original course reducing the climbs at both south and north ends of the loop, something all riders I’m sure appreciated.
Enough about the trails. For me I was there for the light opportunities that 24Hr racing provides and the trees. The trees. Love the trees. In the bright midday sun it created harsh splashes of light on trunks and as the day progressed long shadows sweeping across my compositions. Unfortunately, evening shooting was cut short as the sun set behind Mount Majura early casting one big shadow over the forests. Sunrise to the rescue. I knew this was the key time to shoot and so getting back up at 4.30am I found many support crew members grabbing quick naps between rider laps. Tough job and hats go off to these guys/girls. This brings me to another reason for attending the event. A good friend Jason Moxham has started up FiZO Cycling and Components providing bike servicing, fitting and supporting riders at races. They wanted some portraits of team riders pre-race and race images during, plus rider Rachel Cook needed images as she has just joined the team and luckily so, she took out the U23 category and national title, all in her first 24hr.
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So as I run thru the images for this post I cannot help but feel lucky to able to work with such great companies in this sport and meet so many wonderful riders along the way. One particular rider has decided to “pull the brakes” on 24Hour Solo racing. Brett Bellchambers announcing the 2017 national titles event was to be his last, something many hope he reconsiders, the trails won’t be the same without his zany spirit on the trails, singing and cracking jokes. If he doesn’t return its a well deserved end to a very long and popular ride he has had, all the best Brett.
Congratulations to Jason English for yet another title and to Kate Penglase taking the women’s title for 2017.