Glenbrook’s Luke Brame will travel to Europe on May 17 for the first time as part of the junior Australian Mountain Bike team, but sightseeing is not on his agenda.
The talented 16-year-old Mountain Bike Australia junior development squad member will join more experienced national team members to compete in Cross Country Olympic (XCO) events at two UCI World Cup Junior Series rounds in the Czech Republic and Germany.
The tight schedule allows six days for the St Columba’s High School student to acclimatise and train before the three-day first round at Nove Mesto na Morave before the focus shifts to Albstadt for the second round from May 23-25.
“To qualify I had to be ranked in the top six juniors in Australia,” Brame said.
“I was able to do that by finishing fourth in the U19s cross country race at the National Championships in Bright [Victoria] in early March.”
In a field of more than 30 mountain bikers, Brame completed the hilly four-lap, 6km circuit XCO course at Bright in 1:21:57.3, finishing less than half a minute behind older national team member Felix Smalley and almost a minute in front of fifth-placegetter Guy Frail.
The difference between his first and last lap times was only 61.5 seconds, demonstrating growing levels of endurance.
Brame said he feels like he has been riding mountain bikes forever.
“But my first race was when I was 13 for the Western Sydney Mountain Bike Club.
“I really enjoyed it and so I decided to stick with it.
“The Blue Mountains is a great place to train with lots of good places to ride at like the Woodford to Glenbrook fire trail, Knapsack Park and Yarramundi.
“I do a lot of riding — at least 1.5 hours every day and longer on weekends.
“I feel compared to when I first started I’m fitter, I have more endurance and I’m a lot better technically, like balancing while riding over rocks or up and down steep hills.”
Brame knows the level of competition in Europe will be fierce, but is looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s going to be tough because it is away from home and there will be close to 120 riders competing for their countries.
“But we have a good team and the Australian Institute of Sport is taking a coach and a [bike] mechanic with us.
“It will be great being in the team environment at this level and I’m hoping to get a lot out of the experience — I’ve never raced in a junior world cup series before.”
Brame was also named by Mountain Bike Australia as a first reserve for Australia’s team that will compete at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Hafjell, Norway in September.