Urban Downhill riders go hard or go home

Headshot of Liam Croy
Liam CroyAlbany Advertiser
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Albany Urban Downhill race director Paul Fage.
Camera IconAlbany Urban Downhill race director Paul Fage. Credit: Laurie Benson, Albany Advertiser

Anyone who signs up for Albany’s Urban Downhill has a daring streak, but that will not get all of them to the finish line.

Nearly 2km of fast, furious and at times frightening racing will take riders from the Desert Mounted Corps Memorial to a bustling Stirling Terrace.

Race director Paul Fage said it was likely some competitors would fail to finish on Sunday, while others might fail to start.

“There will be people who won’t start. They’ll look at it and go home,” Mr Fage said.

“There will be people who hit it and it will be beyond their ability and they’ll come unstuck.

“It’s pretty rough and ready.”

He said where Saturday’s XCM race was based on endurance and athletic ability, the Urban Downhill came down to a combination of skills and courage.

“It’s more or less what we call free-ride mountain bike, so it’s not so much endurance as it is skill-based,” Mr Fage said.

“You don’t necessarily have to be a top athlete but you do need to have skills.

“It’s a cross between racing and freestyle.”

Open rider Nathan Devenport.
Camera IconOpen rider Nathan Devenport. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The obstacles on the course, from bluegum logs to sea containers, provide some action-packed vantage points for spectators.

Mr Fage said he liked that the Albany event gave downhill riders the exposure they deserved.

“The ambulance guys were out with us at one of these races and they said ‘why don’t you guys advertise this? People would love to come out and watch it,’” Mr Fage said.

“The Urban Downhill brings what these guys do in the bush into the streets. I haven’t seen too many spectators walk away without a smile on their face.

“Everybody loves to see risking their lives and coming within a whisker of crashing.”

For the first time in three years, the Urban Downhill will finish on Stirling Terrace rather than Lawley Park.

Although the change cre-ated more work for the event team, Mr Fage said it made for a much better atmosphere.

“Stirling Terrace is really vibrant. We had a really good vibe back in 2015 when we were down there and I’m glad we’re back there,” he said.

“It’s a harder built because we have to close roads and it’s a longer track. but it’s just way better exposure and I think all of the pictures and everything will be more spectacular.”

Open rider Tim Harman.
Camera IconOpen rider Tim Harman. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

A highlight for the riders is the service they have with the local RSL at the memorial before the race starts.

The Albany RSL sub-branch takes the opportunity to speak to a group of young people about the memorial and Albany’s war history.

“The RSL always does a speech. To me, that’s important,” Mr Fage siad.

“It’s probably a 10-minute briefing on the monument and what happened when the boys left from Albany.

“Everyone just goes quiet and then they get into it.”

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