How Jack Moir went from the Watagans to the Swiss Alps riding his bike

HE learned to ride mountain bikes fast in the Watagans at age 12, but these days Jack Moir spends more time tearing down tracks in the Swiss Alps.

Moir, 25, of Yarrawonga Park, is a professional downhill mountain bike racer.

For the past five years he's been contracted to the Intense Factory Racing team, of the USA.

"This year I was in a team with two American guys, but I've been in teams with Spanish riders and people from all over the world," Moir said.

The carbon fibre mountain bikes ridden by each of the three team members cost about $14,000, and Moir has four.

He competes on the elite Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Cup circuit.

There's normally seven races in the World Cup season, followed by a one-off World Championship.

"We race mainly through the Alps in Europe - in France and Switzeralnd - and also in Canada, America and South Africa," Moir said.

"We went to some cool sports last year. We went to Croatia, and we're going to Portugal for the first round next year."

Moir recently returned to Lake Macquarie after competing in the season-ending UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in Canada where he placed 18th.

Jack Moir wears Ossur’s CTi Knee Braces while riding his motorbike. Video: Matt Staggs

He's now enjoying some down time before stepping up his preparations for the opening race of the UCI World Cup next March.

Downhill mountain bike racing doesn't have the same profile in Australian as it does in Europe and the USA. So there are misconceptions about the sport.

Some Aussies are surprised to learn, for instance, that it's a pedal-powered bike - not a motorbike - that's involved.

And riders don't all race down a track together - BMX style - they ride one at a time, and race against the clock.

"Probably the biggest [misconception] is that you don't really have to be fit because it's all down hill," Moir laughed.

"But it is extremely physical. Hanging onto a bike down super-steep, rocky, rooty tracks - sometimes with sprints in between - it's super physical," he said.

And dangerous.

"I've had a bunch of shoulder injuries," he said.

"I've broken my scapula and I've broken my right collarbone five times but had seven or eight surgeries on it."

After one operation in Spain, Moir contracted a bone infection which kept him out of the sport for 18 months.

It's a credit to Moir's resilience, then, that he has been able to get back on the bike after so many painful falls.

So what's it like to race a mountain bike down a World Cup track?

"Most of them take around 4-and-a-half minutes. When you're racing and you have a really good run, you can't remember any of it," Moir said.

"It goes pretty fast."

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