The 2012 edition of the Specialized Asia Pacific Challenge took place this past weekend just outside of Bandung, Indonesia. Bandung is about a 5 hour drive through tortuous, insane traffic from Jakarta and is home to a flowy, berm filled downhill track that just so happens to turn to ice when wet. The city itself is nearly indescribable, with millions of scooters flooding the narrow streets that can take hours to navigate. Two hours to get the 20km from the hotel to the track was not uncommon, but at least it was entertaining. A few big name world cup racers made the trek this year including Dan Atherton, Marc Beaumont, Brendan Fairclough and Mitch Ropelato.
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Being that this is South East Asia during the wet season, moisture was a given eventually. Friday practice was sunny and warm until a sudden rainstorm turned the track into a skating rink.
Brendan summed up the slippery track perfectly in a tweet after he rinsed the mud off of himself. “Ever ridden down a Icy bobsled track with soap blocks on your tires??? Nope!! Well we just did and and all ate shit. #jamaicanbobsledteam”. Little did he know, that was only a preview of what race day would bring! Sunday faded from blue skies to black clouds and eventually, torrential rains just in time for Elite finals. The honest to goodness Monsoon dropped buckets of rain onto the track and basically turned it into a gigantic bobsled track, complete with ice. Sections were flooded and the entire pit area, which was filled with dozens of team and support tents as well as racers and fans, was turned into a muddy quagmire. I have never in my life seen rain that hard before, especially for that long. And I live on the North Shore. It was heavier than Champery and for about three times as long.
Dan Atherton managed to keep the rubber side down when it counted and put his enduro pedalling skills to good use to take home top honours for Atherton racing. Marc Beaumont made it a clean sweep for the team in second, and Mitch Ropelato was third. Fairclough went down in the pedalling section and was off of the podium.
All of the invited racers are now off to Bali to surf and tan, all the while being treated like kings thanks to the boys at United Bikes, the Specialized distributor in Jakarta. What happens in Bali stays in Bali, but you may want to stay tuned to the brendog_1 twitter stream for a laugh or two as the World Cup slides into the off season.
Words & Photos: Fraser Britton