THE GREAT ES­CAPE

Australian Mountain Bike - - Gravity Check - WORDS: CHRIS PANOZZO PHOTO: DAMIAN BREACH

By the time you read this, the first World Cup Down­hill will have been run and won, and (rain with­stand­ing) it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to think that a big wheeled bike would power onto the podium. I feel bad for say­ing this, but the in­trigue sur­round­ing such a tech­no­log­i­cal shift has been great for both fans and rid­ers. Con­sumer in­ter­est in moun­tain bik­ing is on the rise, with live race feeds now de­liv­ered into our homes or sweaty palms any­where in the world (save for the fre­quent RedBull TV hic­cup). In turn, the pop­u­lar­ity is grow­ing to an ex­tent where we are see­ing in­ter­est from out­side the tra­di­tional flan­nel-wear­ing base we have come to know. The for­mula is sim­ple and makes for cap­ti­vat­ing view­ing - each rider us­ing ev­ery skill and trick they pos­sess to tame some of the hard­est ter­rain on the planet, while seem­ingly de­fy­ing physics with the pace they can reach. All of that is done know­ing there’s a mas­sive risk of be­ing ejected into the strato­sphere should he or she wan­der more than a cen­time­tre off it. It’s great to watch and this is what World Cup bike rac­ing has al­ways been about. It’s been more than seven months since we wit­nessed a live World Cup round though, and it’s be­com­ing pretty tir­ing drag­ging out a years’ worth of so­cial me­dia posts from just seven or eight World Cups. Don’t worry, I’m not about to bore you with a grandpa ar­ti­cle about so­cial me­dia, or a piece on why we need more races, or how it’s hard to keep an au­di­ence’s at­ten­tion when you are only show­ing one event ev­ery third or fourth week­end. Life in­side the World Cup cir­cus can some­times be like a bub­ble, with all pos­si­ble dis­trac­tions put to one side and the big­ger pic­tures of life pu­ton hold in the pur­suit to be the fastest rider on the planet. This time of year, it’s al­ways good to re­flect on life out­side the bub­ble, given that to­day as I write, it’s An­zac Day. I re­cently read an ar­ti­cle by Mat Ox­ley, of Mo­tor­Sport On­line fame, on the In­ter­na­tional Six Day Tri­als, a mo­tor­bike en­duro dat­ing back to the early 1900s. It’s fa­mous for the chal­leng­ing routes and supreme tests it places on both rider and ma­chine. It can be some­what hard to break out of the bub­ble of rac­ing for those that live and breathe it, but as you will read be­low in an ex­cerpt from that orig­i­nal ar­ti­cle, some es­capes are harder than oth­ers. Ox­ley wrote: “There’s prob­a­bly never been a time when global events in­ter­rupted the sport more rudely than they did in Au­gust 1939, when many of the world’s best rid­ers were con­test­ing the

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