Monday, 12 October 2015

UK Gravity Enduro - Dyfi, 19th & 20th September 2015

It's the Dyfi race weekend, HUZZAH!

It's Robyn here, I completed the big Dyfi loop on the Saturday prior to completing the seeding.  Having got myself back onto flat pedals for a couple of rides prior to the weekend I was feeling a lot more at home with the bike. From the start you could see for miles, it was a great grassy track with natural jumps over rocks as you descended which give you the opportunity to just let it all hang out on the bike and have fun.  I really enjoyed the slalom style section at the bottom and clocked in one of the better times of the season on my Orange Five.  Couldn't fault my bike set up at all, the Manitou Revox rear suspension came into its own element on the big rock jumps, so smooth and supple.

The stages throughout the races varied from freshly cut steep mud to rocky trail centre affairs. The Michelin Wild Rock R2 enduro tyres really are absolutely incredible on the rocks and roll really nicely, I haven’t had a flat running tubeless on these all season.  Later in the day I few off the bike moments as fatigue set in and was pleased to complete stage five completely clean after a long 5 hours out on the bike!  I came in 19th courtesy of my off the bike moments, I'm happy with that though as the whole weekend has been fantastic.

Dyfi hosted a superb finale to the UKGE series2015. It was a great opportunity to race against a fantastic set of rides. The food from The BillyCan was delicious – lentil soup is perfect before heading up to seed. Steve, Charlie, Liz, Chris and all their workers have put so much into these events and I’m already excited about the return to gravity enduro racing next season. Before I finish my year I have one more Welsh Gravity to complete and then I will start thinking about the 2016 season.

Robyn x

British Downhill Series Final - Antur Stiniog, 19th & 20th September 2015

Here we go, the BDS finals with the gruesome twosome, the two Toms.... 

Nelly, off you go:  Me and the family got the venue quite late and darkness had already fallen so the track walk was left until the morning thankfully I remembered most of the course from the last time I was here and the morning's walk confirmed that it hadn't changed by much.  I will be the first to admit that my practising was quite sketchy at times, with that said my bike's supple suspension was perfectly dialled in which was being used to my advantages.

Newrick... Nelly was already up the course when we arrived at 9am, I had some extra kip on the journey over as it was a long haul!  Frank shipped over a larger FTW triangle for me as I've had a sudden growth spurt, it now fits like a dream however that morning I didn't have my head screwed on and needed a lot of encouragement to get my finger out.  Once I was up there with my mates it was awesome, the track ran sweet after my first run nerves were out of the way.

Overnight the weather changed.......

Nelly: Race day was a cold and wet one, I was doing my best grunge impression with a lumberjack shirt to stay warm, I guess Kurt Cobain would have approved!  My seeding was OK I guess, I had a fair few sketchy moments on the wet rocks and there was a tonne of room for improvement.

Newrick: I got one practise run in down the now super slick track on Sunday morning, my seeding run was a nightmare, it was so slow with less than five metres of visibility at the top of the hill through the thick fog followed by pouring rain further down.  My race run was more of the same, hit one of the rock sections fairly full-on and just scared myself, zero grip, from there on I took it easy and crossed the line with an OK time, just nothing to write home about.  Overall it was a good weekend hanging with my mates, I can't fault the bike, it was running sweet all weekend, just Mother Nature not being on my side.  Winter's coming and I'll see you all on the Hamsterley trails, looking forwards to 2016.

Nelly:  I went back up for my race run and as Tom was saying the weather became progressively worse as the day went on.  Likewise I took a steady run just aiming to pin the lines I had practised and cross the line.  Came home with a 14th place which isn't too shabby considering.  Now we're looking ahead to 2016.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

UK Gravity Enduro - Ae Forest, 29th to 30th August 2015

The UK Gravity Enduro at Ae Forrest was a Bank Holiday bonanza of riding, it was a total barn stormer with mammoth thigh-busting pedal-to-the-metal sections in between! Round four had everything!

Arriving early on the Thursday meant that I had plenty of opportunity to ride the course before seeding on Saturday. It also demonstrated to me the amount of work that goes into this kind of event, a LOT, big thanks as always to everyone who makes these events happen – they've all been rad!

Now, the stages:

Number 1 was a typical trail centre type course with built up berms and jumps leading into a gnarly freshly cut section which twisted back on itself a couple of times before hitting a tight right hander and then plummeting down a steep descent into the finish. My Manitou suspension really soaked this up and the track was pure delight to ride, you picked up some good speed and really felt it on your face when swooshing around the corners, brilliant!

2 came along with fresh thick mud, roots and a sneaky few bumps and lumps which caught out the unwary, including myself, which wasn't very pretty I admit!  You then flew out onto the fire road for a fairly long sprint until reaching the red trail centre section and then hitting it in reverse. This meant a fair bit of pedalling which tested everyone's fitness. I could see the rider in front of me down here but just couldn’t quite catch the speedy Sally Evame!

Number 3 was a blinder, wow, this is the stage everyone had been talking about. Should I ride it again? I practiced this stage once and once only from the top to the bottom it required skills, flare and guts taking you down through steep muddy twisting switchbacks.  Once I had unclipped I found it impossible to get back into my pedals and fell awkwardly into a massive bush just past a lovely photographer who was shouting messages of encouragement to me, whoops!

Stage 4 came along and proved to be another absolutely epic stage; tight trees, mud galore, few steep drops before flying out onto a nice flowy trail lined some great cheering spectators, it was time to get a bit of stylish air time on my Orange Five!

Finally stage 5, the seeding run and the final run took place on the Sunday and what a mint trail it was!  It had everything, steep loose rocks, rock gardens, fresh cut loam and a great arena to finish into.

Each climb took at least 50 minutes totalling up to a long day on Sunday, five hours on the bike! This took a lot of guts, however we all fuelled by the great encouragement from fellow riders and all of the spectators, it's an amazing atmosphere.

Many thanks to everyone who encouraged me and cheered me on through the rounds, I ended the weekend further down the field that I would have liked after the mud got the better of me, still had an awesome weekend though.

See you all on the hills,

Robyn x

Monday, 10 August 2015

UK Gravity Enduro - Hamsterley Forest, 1st & 2nd August 2015

Hurrah, it's my summer holiday and race time all at once

Heading up to the North-East is always a pure delight and having raced at Hamsterley earlier in the year I knew what I was letting myself in for. It's a mint place to ride catering for both families and professional riders with its plethora of graded trails, you won't be stuck for ideas with advice from the forest's friendly bikers to guide you on your way.

The event, with its 20km loop taking in five stages plus the extra seeding time added from Saturday, had some people thinking it was too short however I disagreed. The transition times were tight and a shorter loop really levels the playing field for the riders who could only make it there for the weekend.  Having said that though, I was lucky with having a bit more time to spare, a plus side of being a teacher, and got some good practice in on the Friday which meant I could have a couple of warm-ups on the seeding runs. 

Seeding and Stage 5 - Despite its deceptively gentle appearance it's a long trail that demanded hard pedalling to ensure that you put in a decent time. There was a freshly cut section at the bottom of the trail that I hit too hard and came off my Five, thankfully I didn't lose too much time. Speaking of times, fair play going out to Elliott Heap who put down the fastest time of the day whilst still in the junior category, wowzers! 

During Gravity Enduro events riders seem to favour one or two of the trails over the others and for me these were Stages 3 and 4 which were slap bang next to the Descend Hamsterley Bike Park, the full-bore downhill side of the forest!  Here, it normally costs 5 quid to ride and you can book on the uplift system too, it's a really rad day out with friend and I recommend going!

Anyway, back to the racing, both of these stages really challenged my riding where you needed to be really switched on and focussed in order to rail the best lines, keeping up the pace.  Despite all of my stages going smoothly I wasn't up to a full-on race pace due to the onset of fatigue and this was reflected in my times, onwards and upwards to the next event.


Will Olson 1975 - 2015

Edit by Lee: The weekend was over shadowed as news came through that a fellow mountain bike brethren had passed away following a tragic accident during the Enduro World Series at Crested Butte in the 'States. Through respect to the rider and his family the event was cancelled and in honour of his memory his number 139 has been removed.  Lee and all of the team's riders hearts go out to Will Olson's family, a fund has been set up in his memory if you wish to donate: The Will Olson Memorial Fund.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

2015 National Championship - Llangollen, 18th & 19th July 2015

After the disaster that was the deluged Fort William I was excited to be back out on the bike again as I haven't been riding lately with my little 'un taking up all the 'daddy-time'.  First and foremost I need to do a big shout-out to Paul '#DoASkid' Stoddart for the lifts there and back, you ROCK fella!

The 'Champs this year were at Llangollen where the venue suits me to a T with its super steep terrain, however despite it being dry I was feeling hesitant as it may not have been the best choice to get back into the swing of things!  With that said my FTW beast of a machine failed to disappoint being perfectly at home here on the Welsh hillside handling like a dream. My Hayes brakes and Michelin tyres were all working superbly in the dusty conditions and where other people were having issues they didn't make me #DoASkid once!  (See what I did there, see?! ....I'll get my coat!).

Due to the extremely dry conditions the track was changing with every run, this was by no means a complaint as I was having tons of fun. Think I bust out about seven runs on Saturday becoming more confident with each one. 

Mother Nature strikes back, I was woken up over night to the sound of heavy rain coming down and my heart dropped at the thought of re-learning the track again.  It wasn't so bad in the morning, the track was back to being bone dry however some lines had been completely blown out.  I planned to take some new routes in my seeding run, it was risky but there was little else I could do.

My seeding run went alright, I was consistent and smooth but backed off on the new lines that I was trying out through lack of practising them earlier. I finished mid-pack and knew that there were some seconds to grab on my race run in the tank.

My race run could not have gone better; I hit everything with a little more gas and where I felt myself drifting the bike's handling saved my ass, Frank Wadelton, you are a genius!

I came over the line finishing in15th which I was overjoyed with considering the severe lack of riding time this year. My fitness has come on in leaps and bounds thanks to CrossFit Jacana in Durham.  I also want to the say a big "Thank You" to Lee and the team's sponsors for their support with putting an awesome ride together.

See y'all on the next hill punks!