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HURTLING down a hill at up to 100km/h isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time — but hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Albury man Mark Riddell quickly became hooked after giving a gravity bike a go.
Now he even believes the thrill-seeking sport could become a tourism asset on the Border.
Gravity biking has been around for at least 20 years.
A custom-made bike frame — typically a BMX, without pedals — is used to race down the bottom of a track, with racers using their own body weight, steering skills and bike weight to reach high speeds.
Riddell was looking for his next thrill when he stumbled across gravity sports.
Classic luge and street luge weren’t really his style, but gravity biking definitely looked like something he could have a crack at.
So the experienced motorcycle and car builder set about creating a “g-bike” from his own design, ready for this year’s competition in Peak Hill, Dubbo, which was held in October.
“It was brilliant, really awesome fun,” he said.
His bike is emblazoned with a fitting quote from the father of gravity, Sir Isaac Newton: “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not for the madness of people.”
Riddell said: “I thought that was quite appropriate given we’re throwing ourselves down a hill without much thought for stopping at the end.
“Actually, it was quite a short track and was over fairly quickly, so you don’t have too much time to think about it, which is probably not a bad thing.
“There are quite strict safety regulations that you have to comply with, so you do need to wear full motorcycle leathers, gloves, boots and a helmet.”
Riddell, who has been involved in motorcycle racing for several years, said what struck him about gravity sports was the peace.
“You only have gravity on your side, you’re out in the bush and with no engine noise constantly going in the background, it’s quite a good experience,” he said.
He plans on racing again at the Bomb the Snowies event in the Snowy Mountains in February and in Townsville.
Considering competitions can attract up to 20,000 people, a Border one is perhaps not an idea to be sniffed at.
Riddell’s already had a look at Huon Hill and thought parts would be brilliant for races.
“There isn’t an event in Victoria so to have one here would be great,” he said.