Like most gifted athletes, Ben Walkerden has played a variety of sports, such as football, basketball, tennis, little athletics, and hockey. After spending many weekends travelling with his family watching his older brother, Scott, mountain bike riding, Ben thought that spectating was boring. He had heard about an upcoming race in Upper Beaconsfield and decided that he wanted to “Give it a crack and have a go”. So, without any training Ben competed in the criterium; finishing in the middle of the pack. From that point, Ben was hooked on mountain bike riding and his parents, Ian and Maria, bought him his first mountain bike.

Ben has been a member of Red Hill Riders Mountain Bike Club since 2012 and is coached by Jarrod Zdrzalka. He trains 2-3 hour days. His training regime consists of riding road, cyclocross and mountain bike along with gym and core strength training.

In 2013 Ben stood on the podium in many events including runner up in the Victoria Schools Championships and runner up in the Victorian Enduro Series with his riding partner Felix Smalley. Ben has also been competitive on the Road Bike winning club races at Carnegie Caulfield Cycling Club, Sandown and Glenvale events, which has progressed him through the lower grades to now ride very competitively in B Grade with an aim to hit the heights of the elite A Grade.

2014 has been a very good year for Ben. He competed in the U17’s National Series which consisted of 3 rounds before the National Championships.

This is how Ben placed:

Round 1 – 18 January National Series in Adelaide – third place in the Cross Country. After enduring the heat of the hottest 46.2 degree day in Adelaide the day before, Ben knew the racing was going to be tough on the Eagle Park Course.

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Round 2 – 8 February in Mt Buller – first place. This is Ben’s most favourite moment in mountain bike riding. Mt Buller is one of Ben’s favourite mountain bike courses so for him to take the win and the National Series Leaders Jersey was a very special moment.

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Round 3 – 22 February in Echuca/Moama – seventh place. Ben crashed his bike after an opponent collided with him, leaving Ben to finish the round on a broken bike; his worst moment. Although a disappointing race Ben still maintained second place overall in the National Series which was an amazing achievement.

On 8 March, 2014, Ben competed in the U17’s XCO National Championships in Bright. The length of the course was 6 km with at least 600 metres of steep climbing, and the race consisted of three laps. Having ranked third in group positions after the National Series, Ben had a good start on this demanding and technical course, pushing out good lap times to finish 4th overall. A fabulous achievement!

Also, at the National Championships, Ben competed in the XCE Short Course Eliminator; this is a fast and furious race over a 1 km course, 4 riders at a time race off, the top 2 then go forward to the next round, until the final 4 riders race for the finals. Ben had a great race and placed third overall. An amazing weekend at the National Championships.

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This weekend Ben is competing at the Victorian Enduro Series Round 1 in the You Yangs. This is an open men’s event. Ben will race for 6 hours with his race partner, hoping to come away with a podium position.

Ben gets his inspiration from watching the elite cyclists on both the road and mountain bike and aspires to become Australian National Champion which will lead to representing Australia internationally at World Champs, Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

As with all junior sport, it takes a commitment from parents to buy equipment and gear, take their children to each event and training sessions. Ben’s parents are his proudest supporters, with Ian the main chauffer and Maria getting the food and drink station supplies ready. Mountain Bikes don’t come cheap and Ben is looking for sponsorship. A bike company would be ideal!

If you would like to see your company being promoted by Ben on his next podium presentation, contact us and we’ll put you in contact with Ben.

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