Navy made a strong showing at the Australian Defence Force National Cycling Carnival in Canberra in October, winning events on the first day.
Road events consisted of an individual time trial, a criterium and a road race.
The time trial, comprising eight laps of a 2.1km loop at Stromlo Forest Park, was won by Chief Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Mark Astley. He beat Lieutenant Colonel Neil Stanton second and Wing Commander Paul Connor.
In the criterium, with an average speed of more than 44 kilometres per hour, the men’s A grade was decided in a bunch sprint. Wing Commander Connor won in a close finish from Chief Petty Officer Astley and Lieutenant Colonel Stanton, who were all separated by less than a metre.
Chief Petty Officer Astley and Lieutenant Colonel Stanton continued their form at the Canberra Uriarra Homestead by winning the road race and the overall road champion respectively.
A new event, the interservice tricyclathon, was introduced to the carnival, with each service invited to enter teams of four in a relay style event consisting of one road cyclist, two MTB XC riders and one gravity rider to provide an action-packed race with one winner. It was won by Army.
Navy performed well in the gravity events at the world cup downhill track at Mt Stromlo, which included downhill, gravity enduro and Dutchy’s Memorial Ride.
The annual ride for Chief Petty Officer Aviation Technician Aircraft Kane ‘Dutchy’ Vandenberg was particularly special, with the Chief’s ashes delivered by a Seahawk helicopter from 816 Squadron to his memorial atop Mt Stromlo.
Chief Petty Officer Vandenberg died after losing control of his bike and hitting a rock at Mt Stromlo during the 2013 carnival. He was laid to rest by family and friends, led by wife Margaret, with his ashes scattered along the Tall Trees trail.
Leading Seaman Electronic Technician John Cadan, Leading Seaman Clearance Diver Mark Hayward and Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Jordan McColl finished first, second and third respectively in the young guns class.
Leading Seaman Cadan and Leading Seaman Hayward also finished first and third outright respectively.
Leading Seaman Cadan said there were some quick riders in the field.
“I’m absolutely stoked to take the class and overall win for Downhill Mountain Bike,” he said.
The gravity enduro race was a cumulative timed event held over two tracks designed to challenge the riders with their gravity riding skills and their personal and bike endurance.
Leading Seaman Hayward set a cracking pace throughout the day with his collective times over the two tracks placing first in the young guns and third outright.
Able Seaman McColl kept the pressure on in the same class and finished third.
Cross country mountain bike events included the cross country Olympic (XCO) and shorter cross country criterion (XCC) formats.
Stromlo Forest Park was again the venue, with the XCO featuring a torturous climb up the eastern face followed by an exhilarating descent down the famous skyline and luge legs.
Leading Seaman Young fought tirelessly for almost two hours to secure third place while Chief Petty Officer Astley dominated the elite men’s field to be crowned the XCO champion.
As a first-time competitor, Chief Petty Officer Astley said he sat on the lead group for a while to see what the pace was like.
“I felt comfortable and when we hit the first fire road I hit out hard and got a gap,” he said.
The XCC was battled out in the spectator-friendly four cross arena at Stromlo Forest Park. Chief Petty Officer Astley again dominated the elite men in a display of power and bike handling skills. Leading Seaman Young also gave a display of speed and persistence and held on to secure third in the elite female category.
In addition to taking part in velodrome for the first time, a cyclocross (CX) track was set up inside and around the velodrome track.
The race was a challenge for most, as they raced for more than half an hour through the grass, over obstacles and down and back up the dirt wall.
Navy finished strongly, with Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Justin Bailey second in elite male.
Australian Defence Force Cycling President, Lieutenant Commander Andrew Willett said the carnival honed riders’ skills through competition and professional coaching.