Sunday, 5 July 2015

Welsh Gravity Enduro Series, Cwmcarn, 21st June 2015

Robyn's in the crib!

It’s been a busy June, I was competing in the Woodhall Spa Triathlon over the 13th and 14th and then cruising up to Wales for the third round of the Welsh GravityEnduro Series. Yep, I'm Sporty Spice!

This has really turned out to be a fantastic collection of races so far with many fresh faces coming to the fore. It's a fantastic building block to the National UK Gravity Series and Charlie puts on a great show with some awesome stages!  So far we have ridden Bike Park Wales and Afan, now for the third round we're at the trail centre of Cwmcarn in South Wales. It’s enough to want to make you leave the beaches of the South West!

What was going to be particularly exciting were where each of the timed stages would come out live so you could tell how well you were doing throughout the race. I think there are pros and cons for this. You used to be able to out-psyche your opponents knowing you had done well or by keeping a positive demeanour despite knowing that you may not have had a great time on the previous stage.

Charlie was running a three stage race this time around incorporating parts of the Cafall trail and the Pedalhounds downhill with the final stage taking in the Y Mynydd (The Mountain) downhill trail. The climbs were more challenging here than in previous rounds, we are talking an hour transition and this is something I am more used to with Steve Parr's UK Gravity Series, it means your downhill skills are tested whilst being fatigued. I was literally hanging on to my Burgtec bars hurtling down the Y Mynydd! I will definitely be visiting here again for some more riding in the near future.

I had a great dusty day with no mishaps and took home the second place in Elite.  It’s great to see the women's field growing and how quickly we are all progressing! I will see you all at Grizedale next weekend.


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

British Downhill Series, Round 3 - Llangollen, 30th & 31st May 2015


Tom Newrick: We arrived at the venue early on Friday morning and set up the tents, even at that hour there were some murmurings about the course and the track-walk proved it to be true, it was steep, very, very steep!  

I knew then that it was going to be a struggle on the track. Headed up for my first practice run on Saturday morning and came off twice, each further run I was still coming off my bike and my body was starting to hurt.

Come Sunday morning I headed back up for my first practice run and landed really hard after being catapulted over the bars.  Being completely battered and bruised I could not justify racing on the course and sadly pulled out of the event.

Lee here: I fully understand the position Tom Newrick had been placed in, the course was very controversial, although it's a UCi sanctioned event and needs to challenge riders, this track may have exceeded the limit. I mean it says a lot when the pro riders are in agreement with how punishing the course was. I don't blame Tom for pulling out of the event at all as he could have had a serious injury.

This now leads me to what happened with the team's Tom Nelson.

Nelly made the ultimate mistake of not signing on in the morning before his practise runs, that is his own mistake and he knows it was wrong (and hopefully he's learned from it and won't do it again!).  I fully understand and appreciate his mother's anger after the event, and indeed must admit to being pretty angry with the carry on myself.

My question was in regards to how Nelly managed to have four practice runs without being pulled up by the start line commissaire in regards to not signing on.

The commissaire notes the rider numbers down however he can't check those against the start sheet until the Saturday evening as this is when the timing company collate the sign on sheets and produce the seeding list.  Nelly had tried to sign on at the end of the day however by this time the commissaires had left the venue.  One of the arguments was that some other riders had got late entries however those riders signed on before the commissaires had left.  Nelly however was too late and Si Paton was sadly placed in an unfortunate position, he could only say no, the BDS are sanctioned UCi events and his hands are tied to that, so unfortunately Nelly was unable to race.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Welsh Gravity Enduro - Afan, 24th May 2015

The great Afan Forest offered us all some technical climbing between stages for the second round of the Welsh Gravity Enduro Series with the first big climb up to stage one. I was lucky to have ridden the stages the day before although most the lines were fairly straight forward with being on existing trails. 

Stage one was the first of three pedal-like-a-demon stages it was great fun and ended with three small jumps however it was here where I was caught up by the rider behind me as I wasn't pedalling hard enough and my cold wasn't helping! So with a little bit of course marking tape wrapped around my bars (don't ask!) I crossed the line with the aim of getting my times up on the following stages.

Stage two was downhill from the finish area of Stage one which was a pleasant surprise enabling my legs to have a well deserved break. This stage had a freshly cut muddy section put in the top which linked to the main trail and this was followed by a track strewn with rocks, it was basically balls-out with a few short climbs which meant you could not loose your momentum or you'd stall. I had a clean ride down here, my Orange Five quite literally ploughed through the rocks and I made good time, very happy with that.

Stage three was the longest stage that I have ever ridden, to get to it you had a 45 minute climb back up the technical ascent. As soon as I got to the top I was set off straight away to complete the stage, the route was another pedal-fest down an undulating rocky track and I was grateful for my tubeless Michelin Wild Rock R2, no punctures for me and I took the third in Elite, hoorah!

My next races are Cwmcarn and Grizedale in June, bring it on!


You can follow The Development’s shenanigans on the team’s Facebook page: The Development Racing.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Scottish Downhill Series - Glencoe 23rd - 24th May 2015

The Scottish Downhill juggernaut rolled into Glencoe, a course I've done well on in the past and I was hungry for it.  Set off from home on Friday afternoon and arrived at dinner time, got everything sorted out and heading up for a track walk.  The course had hardly changed from previous events with the exception of resurfacing at the bottom while up top was boggy in places and I was hoping it would dry out before practice got underway.

Saturday morning and I woke up in an oven with the sun's rays beating down on my tent, sorted my kit, signed on, fitted my number board and with a cooked breakfast in my stomach I headed up to the gondola for the first runs.

The first few were good, got all my lines dialled in and my FTW was on rails feeling perfectly at home on the rough terrain, it caused me no problems all day.  Towards the end of practice I came to the most challenging part of the track and although pushing myself I was keeping the bike at a controlled pace when all of a sudden my front wheel washed out underneath me and I flipped off the bike smashing my knee up off a sharp rock.  Although I was wearing knee pads I couldn’t stand and had to sit trackside for a while.

The pain didn't subside so I cruised down to the car park to get it checked out, my knee had swollen up like a tennis ball and I had minimal movement in my leg. Absolutely gutted that this had happened, not only was I unable to race the next day but having gone to the A&E that evening I was advised that it would need time to heal and therefore I am not allowed to race the World Cup at Fort William, I am feeling absolutely devastated.


Sunday, 31 May 2015

British Downhill Series Round 2 - Fort William, 16th - 17th May 2015

*Ding Ding* Round 2

Nelly: Fort Bill here we come!  Newrick and his dad had left home at 4am on the Friday morning to make sure he had decent time on the track and I wasn't far behind with my crew. This weekend was going to be turned up a few notches as not only were there international riders competing at the event with the World Cup being here in just a few weeks' time, the adverse weather was also closing in fast.  It was going to be a bumpy ride.

Come Friday evening I was buzzing for race day because let's face it, Frank Wadelton's downhill bikes are simply made for this course, they rail!  Had a chat with my co-pilot Tom Newrick and he'd had an awesome day on the hill despite a puncture earlier on, our practise runs weren't in sync so we didn't get any joint runs in sadly.

Saturday morning Nick turned up and with him the wind and pouring rain, it wasn't looking good.  There was a lot of uncertainty about the gondola running and a lot of riders were holding fire in hope that they would open.  Mother Nature had won this one and sure enough the call was made; it was going to be an old-school style 30-minute push-up to the top of the lower section with the event being run from there.  

As Nick was saying, there's not a lot to practise on that section of track, they'd built up the motorway jumps ready for the World Cup and you had to either go fast and clear the lot or take it cautiously losing time.  The track although short was still fun to ride, some riders were grumbling though and I could see both sides of the coin, it wasn't a good day for the BDS management.

The push-up was knackering after a few rides though, I reckon Newrick had the best idea; get a couple of runs in and then go ride the cross-country route to keep his legs moving! Nick got a few runs in and then headed back to his hotel.  Regardless to the course conditions I was happy with my riding and had it all nicely nailed down.

Race day Sunday arrived with no change in the weather and with just one race run it was going to be all or nothing, I had to keep it pinned..... which sadly I didn't. Mother Nature got the best of me here and I crossed the line in 17th place, not the top ten that I was aiming for.

Newrick: I was one of the riders getting fed up with the pushing to the top, it certainly wasn't helping my mood and I was shattered.  My race run was lousy after nearly crashing on the first pointless rut and that was my only shot at it done and dusted, or should I say mud splattered, I took the 25th place in the youths.  

Nick: Fuelled by a massive Full English breakfast I plodded up the hill with everyone else and got a couple of runs in.  One of the main issues was catching people up on the track which made taking the motorway jumps at full pelt sketchy, took it easier with the later runs just to make sure I knew what I was doing come the racing.

The start was catching people out, it was pretty tricky and a lot of riders were coming off, thankfully I stayed on my bike but only just and got the power back on!  The course from there to the motorway jumps is uneventful, under normal conditions with a the full course being used this section is mentally demanding after you've been assaulted by the top of the course.  With this weekend's format it was just, well....!  I got to the motorway which was the only really challenging bit where I hit the hip jump and drifted off my line on landing and although I cleared the step down my landing there wasn't too hot, came in far too fast and to brake hard otherwise I would have hooked up on the next jump and been another victim heading to the local A&E. Mid-way in the Masters with a 17th for me.

Next up are Robyn's Welsh enduro assault at Afan, Jamie's ballet training with the Scottish Downhill Series at Glencoe and then the big bad BDS at Llangollen.

You can follow The Development's shenanigans on the team's Facebook page: The Development Racing.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

UK Gravity Enduro Season Opener - Triscombe, May 9th-10th 2015

I was delighted when The Daddy, Steve Parr, announced that for 2015 one of the venues for the UKGE was going to be Triscombe, a mere fifty-minute drive from where I live!  This area is an understated biking gem hidden deep in the South-West of England where you can ride as hard as you like, I love it there and if you can’t find it I will happily show you around one day!

Living in the South-West I am blessed with great areas to ride my Orange Five.  Bike Park Wales, Afan or anywhere in Breacon Beacons are all within two hours, however I'm normally found at the Haldon Forest Park where I can ride straight from my work door and be there in 45 minutes, awesome!  If that doesn't tick your boxes the stunning scenery of Dartmoor or Exmoor surely will especially with their great surfer's coastlines thrown in for a good measure!  A lot of the people I ride with rave about how sensational Scotland is however my area is proof that you can always find great trails to ride with like minded people, and this is true wherever you are, the fact the UKGE came to Triscombe is proof of this.

I arrived ready to practice the race course and transitions on the Friday, the weather was fairly bleak with fine rain and low lying cloud. Stage one and two both had freshly cut sections which, although were a riders paradise whilst the racing was underway, were as sticky as hell in practise!  Both of these routes were going to see a lot of traffic with being raced upon across the whole weekend and I liked everything about these stages, tight, twisting turns, jumps and berms!  I rode the transitions over to stages three and four, the stage three transition was the longest at 45 minutes and was a breeze compared to the hour plus transition over at Afan!  The route here took you along a beautiful ridge where you were rewarded with sweeping views over the distant Taunton and despite the hard pedalling these stages were great fun with plenty of airtime to be had off all the jumps.

Race Day Saturday, despite being so close to home I was slightly less organised with food for this event than I normally am, I didn’t panic though as I knew the awesome Billy Can Catering team would be on site.  And sure enough a little while later I was patting my tummy after a huge bowl of their creamy porridge laced with some cheeky chocolate buttons, I was now set up for the day, bring it on!

My seeding run was clean and I felt good on the bike taking the steep freshly cut section in my stride, with hindsight though I should have pushed harder on the flat section to make more time. The second run on Saturday went really well too, well until the end when I lost concentration and caught my handlebars on a tree seeing my catapulting skywards and, thankfully, landing softly in a large bush. I've only just got all the blasted ticks off my body!

Race day Sunday, I was pleased with my first two runs which went fairly smoothly, I got some mint air-time off some great little jumps and really enjoyed my riding. No dropped chains this time thanks to the Rideworks enduro chainguide which I am race-testing for them. 

Ooooh, shiny!

I was absolutely flying on stage three when I clipped another tree with my wide bars and lost a load of time trying to re-align my cockpit. Struggling, I cruised down the fourth stage not wanting to push it with wonky steering and feeling absolutely gutted with that carry on.  I finished the weekend taking 13th place in the Elite women category.

Wonky bars aside it was a wonderful event and I for one am grateful to the amount of hard work being put in behind the scenes to stage them.  It is a hard kick in the privates then, as some of you are aware, when learning that so many bikes were stolen by professional bike thieves that evening, it really beggars belief and I hope that they're caught sooner rather than later.  Maybe we could crowd-fund some replacements for the riders, just an idea?

It was lovely to see so many friendly faces from last season and, especially as a PE teacher, it is great to see so many young people coming into the sport, I was really impressed with Tyde D'Souza and Martha Gill.

A big shout out to Steve Parr for hosting such an awesome event and again to sing the praises of the little guys like The Billy Can Catering and the other unsung heroes behind the scenes who help to make the events what they are.  Well done guys, see you all at the next round.


You can follow The Development Racing Team’s shenanigans on their Facebook page here: The Development Racing Team

Borderline Events - English Downhill Championship, Hamsterley Forest, 10th May 2015

Nick: Although Hamsterley Forest's my local riding spot I hadn't been there for a fair while and was looking forward to seeing how the track chosen by the Borderline Events posse flowed, quite literally at first as it turned out. 

It's a fairly short course by today's standards however it's physically demanding with no time to rest between sections, you take one big breath at the start gate and then it's a full on hammering until you cross the finish line.  Guess Danny Hart was at home with the weather that morning as it was absolutely pouring down, I was being kept warm and dry under my Berghaus coat so there was no grumbling from me mind! 

'Tommy Gun' Newrick arrived early Saturday morning and walked the new section of the track, he was at home from the word go as he practically lives on these courses!  Tom's had the new Manitou Revox shock fitted to his FTW, no bedding in required he was straight off ripping the course up with his mates.  

Both of us got more than enough runs in, the course is a game of two halves, keep the cadence up down the top section and then keep it loose across the technical sections down below.  It's a hard course to make up time due to its short length even if you merely clipped a pedal that would be the end of any winning run there and then.  Both of us were running Sun-Ringle's 650b A.D.D. Pro wheels for a bit of advantage over the rocks, power to the dark side of the force.

As Saturday progressed the track was drying out nicely making it a claggy in places I was building up pace and starting to blitz my lines.  Tom was absolutely nailing the course down, six runs in and he was on fire!

Come Sunday morning I squeezed in three steady runs and chilled out 'til race time.  Tom was a purple and red blur as he shot past me whilst I spectated on his first race run, I later learned he accidentally unclipped from his pedals before the table top and couldn't clip back in, unlucky.  I stalled near the finish on my first run and turned the air blue as it had all gone perfectly up until that point.  Hit my second run full on but just couldn't make up the time and took the fourteenth place in the Masters.

Tom had a little embarrassment through the new section on his second run when his foot slipped off the pedal, that said he still crossed the finish line in a respectable 7th place in the youths.

Next up, the big bad Fort Bill with the British Downhill Series.

You can follow The Development Racing Team's shenanigans on their Facebook page here: The Development Racing Team