A double-event weekend

I have been to Thredbo before a few times with a bike (and actually zero times without a bike), but I haven’t ridden the current Flow Trail (it has drastically changed in recent years) and I haven’t been there since the All-Mountain Trail opened. Yes, the DH track has changed, but it is mostly the same.

So - we got there a bit later than planned on Friday and got in a few runs of the Flow Trail to see what we were in for on Saturday. It was: A-much more fun than we remembered from before and, B-much more fun on a trail bike than a DH bike. We finished the day with one run down the All-Mountain Trail to see what it was like (answer, very good).
The Flow Trail is about 10 minutes (8 if you are winning Elite Men, 15 if you are pretty casual about it but don’t stop) of very bermy fun. There are a few smaller jumps, a couple of well marked gaps, some rocks; basically nothing that a moderately experienced rider can’t either handle or know to avoid. [And that is 10 minutes from the bottom of the initial fire trail descent off the chairlift - in actual fact you can now start the Flow (and All-Mountain) trails by riding behind the lift building and traversing across some rocky terrain before you descend to that old starting place. So maybe 15 minutes if you ride the full trail on offer.

Ten minutes of trying to go as fast as you can, on a trail you don’t know at all, on a day so windy that any jumping could be a disaster, makes for a pretty tiring effort. The format of the race was 10-3; as many runs as you want and best 2 count. We did two (a warm-up and first timed run) before discovering my number plate was the only one of the weekend with a dead RFID chip on it. No times for me yet.
Three more runs gave me to two consistent runs I was moderately happy with. And the knowledge that taking a few seconds off wasn’t going to win it for either of us meant it was time to turn to the DH.

So 3 runs down the DH track followed (that’s 8 runs for the day - not huge but decently big day with nearly 4500 metres descending). The first section has a couple of blind crests in it, but is the easiest section of the whole track. The second section, called Snakes & Ladders, is the only Double Black bit and easily the most intimidating of the track. It begins with a bad looking, but not too difficult rocky descent ending in a drop into a berm that I think is meant to be a filter feature - don’t like this bit? Don’t continue on as it only gets harder. On the trail bike this bit demands a bit of respect. On the DH bike you can be a bit more free with line selection.

Sunday morning we woke to some sore leg muscles. Despite the practice of up to 6 weeks at Whistler in one go in our recent past, one and a half days at Thredbo in “race” mode left us sore in odd spots. A Flow Trail warm up went well (I’m told it isn’t so much fun on the DH bike as the trail bike as that’s what she was on for the DH). We wanted to scope out some lines and we wanted to set down a timed seeding run but mostly we didn’t want to overdo it.
I found my energy levels were insufficient to really push the pace. I got a meter off line in Snakes & Ladders and had to make a radical course correction and then tried a new, straighter line through the trees only to lose the front tyre completely in the dusty dirt. These were things that wouldn’t have occurred if I was fresh.

I did another run to set my best time of the day - I screwed up the race run slightly, getting wedged up against a tree in the tight forest section and had to back up to get free. I’ve always struggled in that particular bit with the tight and technical turns. Maybe one day I’ll work out a better line through it - I’m sure there are a couple better lines in fact!

A big DH event (only ever done club level DH before) is a lot like a big track carnival. There is a lot of waiting and a lot of teens going very fast.

As much fun as it was, I would have been “better” at both events were I to do only one in a weekend.

It also made me realise which bits of my training were appropriate to this style of racing and which could use some improvements.

Might just have to down to Thredbo next summer for all the bigger events (the Cannonball weekend and the All-Mountain weekend are the other 2 I can think of immediately, but I think there might well be a third too).