MOUNT Joy trials rider Chris Bayles claimed fifth place in the Australian Trials Championships at Bendigo at the weekend.
Bayles is on placement at Gunnedah, in northern New South Wales, as part of his agriculture studies at Geelong's Marcus Oldham College and faced a 1000-kilometre drive each way to compete at the two-day event.
NSW rider Kyle Middleton won the championship, losing only 45 points over the weekend's 60 sections.
"Kyle was in a class of his own, beating Tim Coleman (98 points) and Neil Price (114 points)," Bayles said.
"I finished on 140 points, just 20 behind fourth and 26 off the podium - I'm ranked number five in Australia and I'm chuffed about that.
"I find the technical sections the most challenging and need to concentrate more there - that's where I'd have lost most of my points, that and silly mistakes like not revving enough to get up big rocks.
"But I really like the sheer pace of the big boulders where you have plenty of run-up and use big revs."
Bayles has just returned from overseas where he was a minder for the Australian trials team - someone who helps to catch a bike and prevent it from falling on a rider who slips on the more dangerous sections, and brings tools and water as required.
"The idea was to have a look at competition at the top level with an idea of doing well at the nationals and putting my name down for a ride next year," Bayles said.
"The international level is one grade above the top Australian level and what those riders can do is absolutely, ridiculously stupid. We had trouble even walking on some of the rocks there, it was that slippery, but the top international riders were getting plenty of traction everywhere on their bikes. It was a good eye-opener and makes you think about your own technique."
Other Tasmanians competing at the event were Neil Berne, Peter Bayles, Peter Lockhart, Nigel Munday, Ian Pickering, Ken Hopkins and Brendan Smith.firstname.lastname@example.org