By Tim Butler – Workboot free adventures
HMBA International DHI Riders
The Hunter Mountain Bike Alliance is one of the most active MTB Clubs in Australia with a cracker of a downhill home track just outside of Newcastle at the Awaba MTB Park.
As an active club member, Tim Butler is sharing his recent trip to Lourdes, France where he accompanied his son Patrick Butler and two more club riders – incidently two of the most successful downhillers in Australia: Graeme Mudd and Jack Moir.
This season we have three riders in the club riding for Factory Teams in the UCI World Cup DHI events.
- Graeme Mudd, Trek Factory Team
- Jack Moir, Intense Factory Team
- Pat Butler, Bergamont Hayes Factory team
Since Pat is only sixteen, being his dad, I will be travelling most the circuit with the boys, so I thought I would keep you up to date with the results and the ups and downs of our boys throughout the season.
Round #1 Lourdes France
Thursday Track walk
Waking up in the morning and looking up at the mountains to see a layer of snow had rested of top over night, was a chilling way to start. It was all good by the time we headed up the top around lunchtime, the track had a bit of moisture in it looked really different to what was on TV last year, some sections were so much steeper. There were a couple of new sections that had basically just been run over by a Brush Cutter. The boys went down in their teams, I went down with Pat and his team.
Pats opinion of the track: “Pritty sick, a good track, nice tekkie sections, can’t wait to ride it.”
Muddies opinion: “ Track looks sick, a lot faster and wide open than I imagined it would be, which is a good thing, I hate racing at 15km/h. There are some fun looking jumps and gnarly French senders. Keen to get into it. The top is a mixture of technical fine line stuff. It really looks important to nail the fast sections to hold that speed. There is a bit of a turning point half way down where the track steepens up, the drops get bigger and you really going to have to let things go.”
Jacks opinion: “The track is super fast and rough with a few more loamy sections that are going to cut in nicely. It has been raining a bit lately as well, so all the rocks and roots are going to be greasy for morning practice.
Sun Shining and a mint day for practice. Pat and Jack are on brand new rigs, Jacks bike certinately stood out. Pat being in ranked in the top 10 of juniors, he got to practice in group A with all the elite. The boys really enjoyed the track. Pat followed Eddie on the first run, so he was able to get the right speed for the jumps, because there were some pretty big ones. Jack and Muddie looked comfortable sorting out their lines. The Shuttle up was a cable driven train, the boys called the “Death Train”. If anything went wrong it would be certain death. Tommy, Pats mechanic soon found out that Pat was a rim destroyer like I had warned him, with his rear wheel looking very second hand by the end of practice.
Another perfect morning, Pat had to get up early for his practice before qualifying. I’ve never seen him more agreeable to get out of bed. He had a get top 20 out of 57 of the worlds best Junior riders. He managed to get a couple of practice runs in, and was really happy with the track and the bike. Tommy whacked on a new rear wheel for him and we headed to the top. With a quick warm up he headed to the start line and I watch him leave the gate. I was a very nerve racking and long train ride back to the bottom. Luckily I had a good friend, Anne-Marie Ludekens at the bottom, so she texted me when he had crossed the line. He finished in 12th, which is an awesome result.
Next It was Jack and Muddies runs, the top 80 qualify. They televised Jacks run all the way down on the big screen, Pat and I were in awe of the smoothness of his riding, he came down in 13th, just 5 seconds off the lead. He said he was really happy with his time because he normally doesn’t qualify well, so hopefully he’ll do a lot better tomorrow.
Muddies run was next we didn’t get to see any of his run, just watched cross the line. He looked disappointed. He came in 67th, 15 seconds off the pace. talking to him afterwards he said he had massive arm pump at the top, so he had to take all the easy lines the rest of the way down. “I think I just went out too hard at the start.” Still he qualified so that is all that matters, and hopefully tomorrow he’ll sort out the arm pump issue.
Up early again to a partly cloudy day, nice and warm, well warmer than the other mornings anyway. Pats Final was in the morning. With a few practice runs in thrown in he was feeling confident. He said the track was so rough now with big holes forming everywhere, it was sick. We went up early before his start time to get a relaxed warm up. The top was tee shirt weather and quite pleasant. I watch him start them made my way to the bottom. Got the text he made it to the bottom, major relief. He said he had a really good run, with just one little mistake but really happy.
He came down 3:11.779 which put him in 9th. Great result for his first World Cup.
Next came Jack and Muddies turn. They had practice straight after the juniors final. There was talk of bad weather coming in the afternoon, everyone was hoping it wasn’t going to eventuate. Had a chat to Jack just before he went up, he was looking relaxed as always and confident. Muddies was the first of them to come down, after not having a good qualifying run the day before. He hammered his wheel in the first turn breaking a couple of spokes, which made his bike feel like it had a flat tyre all the way down, it just wasn’t his weekend. He still came down in 56th with a time of 3:07.737, only 14 seconds off the pace. Hopefully thats all his bad luck used up and the rest of the season will go well.
Just before Jacks run I was quite comfortable in a tee shirt, then all of a sudden it got cold, and I mean freezing cold, It started to sprinkle. it was foggy at the top as jack left the gate, It was good having the big screen down the bottom, we got to see most of Jacks run. He looked very smooth and composed. He came down in 14th is a spectactular slide into the fence, with a time of 2:58.066. After that the heavens really opened up.
All in all it was a great weekend, I learnt a lot more, Pat and Jack were happy with there results and head back to Australia for a few weeks before heading to Fort William in Scotland for the next World Cup Round. Muddy heads back to the UK with the team.
Photos: Tim Butler