MTB: NIAS athletes earn finish on the Auscycling XCO National Series podium

This article originally appeared in the Northern Daily Leader and is shared with permission. 

Article written by Samantha Newsam.

Picture by Peter Hardin.

It was supposed to be about learning more about the art of racing and getting more experience racing on different trails.

But the recently-wrapped up Auscycling XCO (cross country) mountain biking national series turned into much more than that for Jock Barwick and Ben Shaw.

Both scaled the podium, with Shaw crowned the overall series champion for the under 15s boys

The two will be hoping for more podium honours this weekend, this time as team-mates.

Along with Lucas McDonald, they will ride together for Calrossy in the junior secondary division (Years 7/8) of the second annual Tamworth All-Schools Mountain Bike Event.

Hosted by Tamworth Mountain Bikers, the event will involve students from across the Northern Inland region, and incorporate races for riders from Kindergarten up to Year 12.

It will be a big weekend at the park with the club holding the second round of the Northern Inland Cross Country Series on the Sunday.

Barwick and Shaw will both do that as well.

Being their first time doing the full national series (they did one race last season), for both their results exceeded their expectations.

Stepping up from the under 13s last year, Shaw’s goal was to make the top five.

“I did lots of training so I was hoping to do well,” he said.

“But to be honest I didn’t think I’d be coming first and taking the gold a couple of the races.”

He won both races at the final round in Bendigo. It clinched the series gold for him after picking up bronze in the opening two races in Canberra, and then bronze and silver in the second round at Nerang.

Sitting third overall heading into Bendigo, the door to the overall honours was opened for Shaw by series leader Monty Mannion, who had won all four previous races, not competing.

But he still had to ride well.

After dropping his biggest rival Oliver Grande early in the first race, the win saw him close to within six points of Grande.

The second race was then pretty neck-and-neck between them for a lot of the race but Shaw eventually “busted him”, Barwick also going on to get past him and make it a Tamworth one-two.

In his last year in the 15s, he improved every round over the series.

After placing seventh overall for the Canberra round, he rose to fourth at Nerang before overcoming an early hiccup – he clipped the bars of another competitor at the start the race – to place third in the first race at Bendigo and earn his first podium finish.

“I was over the moon about it,” Barwick said of his series result.

It was a nice reward for all of the training and hours on the bike, particularly between the Nerang and Bendigo rounds.

“After [Nerang] I said to mum I really want to train hard and get on that podium,” he said.

His interest in mountain biking was sparked when he attended a birthday party at the mountain bike park. About seven or eight at the time, he didn’t know much about the sport, but started doing the Wednesday night twilight series “just for fun”.

But as invariably happens, he started doing more competitive races and it became a more serious pursuit.

Shaw’s story is much the same, the two starting their journeys around the same time.

They are good friends and regularly train together. Over the season they would be on their bikes four or five times a week, whether that be on the trails Barwick has set up at home or coming into the Tamworth track or just going for a ride on the road.

Both acknowledged it helps having the other to train with. They push each other.

“We do little challenges, like how many k’s you can do in a week,” Barwick said.