The 2021 AusCycling Gravity Enduro National Championships descended into the Illawarra Valley after two long years of roadblocks and rain, with competitors pulling off the highway to the steeps of GreenValleys Mountain Bike Park.
Competitors across all categories raced through five different stages, each offering different challenges from downhill-like rock gardens to fast and flowing berms and jumps, all within a hill with a little over 190 vertical metres.
Saturday brought with it intense sunshine as the Junior categories took to the hill in racing, with U13 through U19 boys and girls navigating their way through each of the five different courses.
The E-MTB Super Stage racing followed, with both the Mens and Womens categories tackling the long descent in the late afternoon sun. Traversing across the hill, competitors boosted up short pinch-climbs and descended down flowing and technical descents, all while racing against the clock.
It would be Josh Carlson who would take the lead in the Mens, with Indi Boer in the lead of the womens category ahead of Sunday's final five stages, and while Carlson held on to the men, Sarah Booth would claim the women.
In the Elites, times were tight as the men worked their way through the five stages, with Luke Meier-Smith staying strong and consistent to take the win, and the National Champion crown for the very first time.
Josh Arcus finished in second, with Kye A’hern taking third place.
We caught up with Meier-Smith to ask about his tactics during the hot day of racing.
“The hot day made it really physical, pretty stoked to be honest. I didn’t really keep an eye on the times during the day, I was just concentrating on each stage, but so stoked to take the win, really wasn’t expecting it. A couple of the top dogs had a few issues. But yeah, over the moon and super happy.”
In the womens, local shredder Leanna Curtis took the victory, with Ellie Smith in second and Zoe Cuthbert with bronze.
Having moved from being a BMX National Champion, to a second place in the last Gravity Enduro National Championships in 2019, Curtis was stoked to finally take the top step in the Nationals, taking home the Championship jersey.
“It was pretty up and down, I binned it in Stage 1 and tried to sort of relax a little bit for the rest. Definitely hurting for those climbs, they were pretty horrible.
Had two little crashes on stage 5 but still finished strong, so super stoked.”
You can find full results from all categories HERE
Thanks to the hosts GreenValleys Mountain Bike Park, Commissaires, Volunteers and our snapper Nick Waygood.