April 19th, 2022
Ryan Gilchrist

Ryan Gilchrist Takes On Cannonball With His Pirelli Scorpion Rubber

Cannonball is undoubtedly the biggest MTB festival in Australia so whenever I get the opportunity to visit the alpine village to froth over bikes with like-minded shredders for a week, I make it a top priority to get there. My plan was to race 3 of the 5 events then do a late-night drive to Canberra then catch the ferry over to Tasmania for nationals. You’ll find out later on in this article that things rarely go to plan at Cannonball.


My first day was a full day of practice on the hill. My goal was to get a solid grasp of the tracks without destroying my body because it was going to be a very very long week. My strategy was to record as much GoPro footage as possible and do a lot of my track study off the bike. The conditions were loose and dusty and it would stay that way for the rest of the week. 


Tyre choice was highly important because I needed to match the dusty loose conditions, rough rocks and hardpacked bike park corners with a tyre that had sufficient grip and also rolled fast enough. My initial thought was to bring in the big guns and run the prototype #0 downhill tyres front and back. My thinking behind this was that Thredbo is incredibly rocky and getting flats was absolutely not an option. The Pirelli prototype downhill tyres have a criminally thick sidewall and are very difficult to damage. In the end, I actually decided to run my enduro tyres. Pirelli scorpion Enduro S 2.4 hardwall upfront and Pirelli scorpion Enduro R 2.4 hardwall in the rear. Although these tyres aren’t as heavy and strong as the downhill tyres I decided that rolling resistance would play a huge role in deciding the results of the more pedally events and I had a bit of help against the rocks running Tannus armour front and back. Tyre pressures I opted for throughout the whole week were 23, 25 front and back respectively. This was enough to keep me above the rocks and have plenty of traction in the corners. 


Day 1 of racing would be the all-mountain assault. In previous Cannonballs, this had been my best event. It had the perfect mix of pumping, cornering and brutal pedal fest to satisfy my psychotic race track desires. It used to run from the top of the Gunbarrel chair all the way into the village for a total race run of ~10 mins. That was subject to change this year with the race beginning at the top of the new sidewinder trail, cutting out a lot of the highly pedally traverses at the top for a total race time of ~6 mins. It was going to be an awesome event. My Racing-run didn’t feel like anything special. My focus for the run was pumping everywhere, dodging rocks to find the smooth line and sprinting as hard as an I could in the pedal sections. I stayed in my comfort zone, didn’t blow up any corners, no stalls and no near misses. I came into the finish arena knowing I did a good run but had no idea the time would be that quick. I took the win by 5.482 seconds with a 6.31.664. Completely unexpected, I claimed my first ever novelty check and stood on the podium with Luke Meier Smith and Tim Eaton. Stoked.