Another first in Australian history as we take on two National Cross Country (XCO) Rounds in a handcycle.
The journey started on the 27th January 2017 at 4:30am as I left home from Coffs Harbour and arrived at Armidale about 7.30am.
After some breakfast we went to the New England Armidale trails and started to check out the venue. I was immediately welcomed and met the crew from Mountain Bike Australia – they couldn’t do enough for us and were extremely helpful.
The support riders from Hunter Mountain Bike Association, Andrew and Tony, where there along with Paul from New England MTB Club as support.
At first, there were some hesitations and concerns by the New England MTB club about the track and my hand-cycle, but Bob from MTBA put them straight. “Hank will sort it, just let him go on with it”.
The day was reserved for running through the trails and nutting out any pinch points which the handcycle might struggle through. So, we took off and rode through the same trails which all participants would content on both days, minus the insane rock garden!
As with a lot of ‘first-times’, I managed to bloody the trails on the first run-through. I was going down hill through some berms and was picking up speed when my front left wheel dug in the the soft shoulder. I ended up on my right side with gravel rash on the right shoulder, right forearm and right hip. You might say I had the full day of it, but all was OK. The boys flipped me back up and we kept going to finish off the trial run. I also managed to smash my ankle which came up with a ‘nice’ swelling later.
On Saturday my window for riding was 9.30 to 10.30 – we did it in plenty of time. The trails were great and challenging. We rode through Kermit, Trail Head, Revelations, Full Cognition and Rams Head.
We have been asked to participate in as many events as I can fit in and find the time and budget for. If I can’t find my own support riders MTBA offered to assist in finding suitable riders. I am already lining up some other events!
The banner prepared with Hunter MTB Club was great and looked well hanging at the side of the starting point. It’s fantastic to get the recognition and exposure for adaptive riders on a national level.
All in all, it was the best time I’ve had for a long time. The cheers and support I got from the other riders was fantastic. Lots of people were intrigued by the achievement and many asked questions about hand-cycles and adaptive mountain biking in general.
A lot of the success comes down to the equipment that allows me to tackle the off-road terrain. My Greenspeed Magnum is a tough little machine and with 20×2 inch Maxxis BMX tyres it went great. On our trial run we broke a valve stem and had a flat, but with the help from support riders, we fixed the mechanicals and got on with it.
I have now been allocated a ranking and points by MTBA with two shiny medallions to show for our efforts. Hopefully we can build on the numbers of adaptive riders around the country so that the competition grows stronger and more exciting.