When Poppy Pollock arrived in Tasmania for the recent National Gravity Enduro Championships, she quickly realised living in Wollongong was a blessing and a curse.
A blessing because the region's outstanding mountain bike trails helped prepare her for the tricky terrain that formed the race course in Maydena.
But a curse because it did not prepare her for the bitterly cold and snowy conditions that greeted the athletes on arrival in Tasmania.
That weather would not stop Pollock, however, with the 14-year-old taking out the Australian title and winning the prestigious green and gold jersey.
"It was really intense," Pollock said. "I'm not used to the rain and that weather, it's pretty dry here in Wollongong. In Tasmania there was rain, snow, everything.
"I just had to tone my racing down, not push too hard. I had to make sure I stayed on track, was ready for anything and didn't do anything silly.
"I didn't think I was actually going to win, so I was happy and surprised when I did."
Pollock was joined at the competition by older sister Lillee, who finished sixth after a heavy crash.
The pair were competing in a relatively new form of mountain bike racing, the gravity discipline.
The event is all about descending, with only the time taken to ride down the mountain counting towards overall finishing position. Athletes are still required to ride back up the mountain within a set time frame.
Pollock said the competition favoured her riding style and she was able to make the most of her downhill skills.
"It was my first gravity nationals, I had raced in gravity races but this was different.
"I was able to push myself, there were sections I knew I had the ability but the others held back. I visualised my line and went for it.
"Training here in Wollongong helped me learn a lot. There's a lot of rock features here and there were lots in Tasmania as well. I was able to know how to ride the certain techniques to get down there fast."
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