Just as our last issue was wrapping up Fox Suspension invited us down to Canberra for the weekend to document their Pre-World Championships tuning camp. The weekend was an opportunity for Fox to fly in two of their sponsored Jr DH racers, Aden Wyber and Phil Piazza, to fit their bikes with trick new parts and make sure that they’re all dialled in before they headed off to Canada to represent Australia. Fox being the serious players that they are in the suspension game have a host of World class riders on their books, including former Jr World Champion, Ben Cory. Another driving force behind the weekend was to have Ben tag along and spend a few days mentoring the new young guns. Ben couldn’t be a nicer guy if he tried and was more than happy to take the guys under his wing and relive some of his own World Championship experiences and learnings. Of course we weren’t going to miss the opportunity of being there to watch and so we loaded the van and headed on down to our nation’s capital. Mt Stromlo was chosen as the local for the first day of tuning as it was a track that the riders were familiar with plus the rock section up top would give the riders and engineers a good base to dial in settings. When we drove into the car park early the next morning the Fox guys had already set-up pits and were busy fitting brand new works and rear shocks to the boy’s bikes. On hand to head up the tech side of things for Fox was Ken Ballhause, a suspension guru in his own right. His Melbourne based company, Tekin, specialise in high end custom tuning and take care of a huge amount of Fox Australia’s Victorian after sales work. Greg Hamer, who heads up Fox Suspension’s Australian operations was busy giving the riders an outline of the weekends schedule and running them through the changes between last years range and the new stuff that was being bolted to their steeds. Ben Cory pulled into the car park not long after us and quickly became involved in the briefing. Once the boy’s bikes were all fitted out with the new parts and their suspension settings recorded, it was time to load the vans and head up the hill. We watched on as the guys warmed up by doing a few sections. They then pushed their bikes back up the hill and hit ‘em again, and again. Cory also had his bike on hand but spent far more time coaching the youngsters on their lines and techniques than he did actually riding.
After a few more ‘section’ runs Ken was eager to go over the bikes and check for, well, I’m not actually sure what mechanics like him check for, but whatever it was he did a lot of fiddling and he kept scribbling down numbers and settings on a near by note pad. During the downtime the riders re-fuelled on a couple of thousand dollars worth of Subway. Once everyone was stuffed it was time to hit the track again but this time for full runs. This was the first time we really got to witness the junior riders raw speed. Holy shit, those two are pinners! Cory wasn’t exactly there to shag spiders himself, but it was the juniors that stole the majority of our attention. After each run down the hill Ken would ask the riders questions and continue to fiddle with their set-ups. By the end of the day you could tell the guys were becoming really comfortable with their settings as they were hitting sections so fast yet their bikes were near totally silent. As the sun started to drop behind the mountains that skirt Canberra everyone decided to call it a day. Once back in the car park the boys youthful enthusiasm had far from worn tired. Aden was eying off a massive pile of sand that had been dumped near by and before he could even get the words out of his mouth, Phil was already on his bike and heading straight for it. The boys quickly found a way of sessioning the sand, which involved pedalling towards it at warp speed and arcing up a massive cuttie! The pair of them must have hit that damn thing a hundred times trying to out do one another. Each time digging in deeper, spraying more roost. It was sick to observe and made for some bangin’ sunset action shots to finish off the day. A plan was made for the next day to head out of town and ride one of Ben’s secret spots. It was about an hours drive and promised to be something really special. Cory hadn’t taken many people there since he built the old girl a few years back but he was eager to push the Jr’s and let them ride something really technical. When we arrived at the track the next morning it quickly became obvious that Ben had not been lying about how gnarly the track was. I can honestly say I’ve never seen a DH track that’s that steep and loose. It was damn near impossible to walk. In fact we slid most of the way clinging to trees and branches for dear life... The boys on the other hand were frothing! You could tell that they were challenged but they more than rose to the occasion. As Ben led the way the boys were in hot pursuit, styling it up for the cameras and having a blast at the same time. We spent the best part of 6 hours up on the track that day. The boy’s bikes continued to be fine-tuned by the Fox guys. It was pretty amazing to witness how pro their set-up is. It’s a real credit to Fox Australia that they offer that level of support to racers, especially the up and coming juniors. Rad. The weekend was a huge success and not only allowed the boys suspension to become insanely tuned ready for World Champs, but also gave them an enormous insight into the 2011 Fox product range. Having spent a few days feeding off of Ben Cory’s wisdom, getting some help with line choice, and hearing about some of his overseas stories and tips, I know the boys came away with a much more stable head on their shoulders. Keep an eye out for Aden and Phil, both of them are mental on a bike and have a huge future in the sport ahead of them. Words by JT