At the end of qualifying few of the riders had successfully completed each of the five sections and after only a half-hour break the top four, Chris Bayles, Kyle Middleton, Kevin Zarcynski and Neil Price, were invited back into the arena to do the course again; in reverse. And so began, quite literally, a race to the wall.
Appearing in the X Trial Australian Championship since its inception, the notorious Sevens section (curiously placed last in the order of obstacles to be ridden by course designer, the evil Mr Price), had never been successfully completed in reverse over the four years the event has been staged. Well, the fans in Perth could not possibly have imagined a better finish to the event when 2017 and 2018 XTrial champion Kyle Middleton and home-grown hero Neil Price went toe to toe and tyre to tyre on this final section.
Neil went first. During qualifying and riding it in the other direction (the easy way), the Sevens spat Neil and his Beta onto the floor like a cowboy spits tobacco cud and, in doing so quite likely fractured his ankle. But Price rode back onto the Sevens like a man possessed and charged hard right up until he hit ‰Û÷that wall‰Ûª. Neil twisted the throttle until the Beta screamed, dropped the clutch and launched his vertical assault, but it was to no avail. Down he went.
Literally chewing their skin off their knucklebones, the Perth crowd knew what this meant. If Kyle could do what no rider has done before, the W.A. round of the championship was his!
And he did. The Perkins Group of Companies brought the X Trial Australian Championship to HBF Stadium on a freezing night in July 2019, and they could not possibly have backed a hotter event. When Kyle launched up and over a virtually impassable obstruction the crowd went bonkers. The W.A. round was over, and Kyle had achieved a trifecta of wins: 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Limping like a wounded soldier but smiling like a five-year old with a double scoop soft-serve Neil Price was stoked with second, pushing the Taswegian Chris Bayles one step further down the podium to third. But it is not over yet.
Next Saturday the riders take their cache of points to Wollongong and do it all again. One slip and Kyle‰Ûªs lead could be on its ear. Can the Tassie devil claw his way to the top? Will Neil even be able to ride given he currently struggling to walk? In a week we will know.