Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Monday, 18 October 2010
BOOM, BOOM, POW! British Downhill Series Finals at Caersws!!!
We arrived late on Friday it was pitch black, that's the damned winter coming in! Obviously didn't walk the track, just set up camp and went to bed. Up early on the Saturday and went for a wander up the course and it was the first time in ages that a big jacket was needed it was 2 degrees, brrrrr. The track was pretty simillar to last year minus the trees which made the track feel so much faster and appear a lot steeper. The only thing that I wasnt a fan of was the field finish, it was a lot longer then normal not to mention flatter, which come to race day I just knew was going to be agony!
The great thing about this place is althought the track isnt the longest on the calender the uplifts are really quick where you can squeeze extra runs in if you want or just chill out a bit more. On my first practice run right from the start ramp was a small kicker then a wee drop off. The idea was to huck the lot!!! A bit daunting hitting it first time as you can't see where you're landing on the steep slope leading bang into a left hander with a small berm.
On the Sunday I put in two practice runs before the quali's. My qualifying run went pretty well, knew there wasnt a lot more I could make on the top of the track, however the bottom section was where I lost some time. I really 'felt' the end sprint and could have done with a slightly bigger chainring if I'm honest, was spinning out way too early and could have achieved more drive with a 40 tooth. Mental note made for next time.
I was pretty hyped for my race run, the track was dry, there was no wind and I was ready. Drifted a fair bit at the top of the course, over cooked some corners which I knew cost me enough seconds. Pushed harder at the bottom but the mistakes at the top cost me too much time, bugger!
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Can you imagine my surprise when it was actually DRY on the Saturday, I kid you not, wow! I can do further and say that the course was mega dusty in places too but that would be bragging! Took it steady on Saturday, just building my speed up and putting full runs together. Couldn't fault the uplifts, absolutely spot on, and although not as big a turn out as a National, this weekend was organised really well. Full compliments are going to Carl Davison for putting such a good race series together. It's really great to see a full downhill series back in the North to continue where both the NEMBA and NAMBS series of old left off, so well done Carl, hats off.
Rain over Saturday/Sunday night meant all of the exposed roots, of which there were plenty, were now as greasy as hell making things more difficult.
Obviously I knew that the other guys were gonna be pushing harder on the second runs. however I thought I could make up a few more seconds on the track. Had a great start and everything was going good until about half way down. Going round one of the fast loose corners my front wheel washed out on a root and sent me toward a tree I went over the bars. Absolutely gutted and knew I couldn't make this time up, it was sooooooooooooooooo close damnit.
Once at the bottom I was desperate to see the race's overall results, unfortunately the computer timing screen had crashed so no-one knew the overall results, argh! After a seeming eternity everything was back up and running, Liam Little beat me at the line on the second run which put me in second place. However, I got my own back as I took the Northern Downhill Series overall Expert Category Series Winner title, my first overall title win in the Experts, rock on. The beers were on me!
Woke up on Saturday morning to be greeted by lashing rain, it wasnt a huge surprise mind you and I was pretty much ready for it with a fresh pair of Maxxis 'Minion' tyres strapped on. Couldn't see the point of running a full bore set of mud tyres on this track, the Minions offered a plentiful amount of grip in the wet. Granted that there was one small section in the woods which was muddy in parts with some tricky roots to throw into the mix, no problem at all for the FB10, skipped and danced all the way through it. It's very unusual for me to be puncture free up at the Fort, one full weekend with no flats, hell yeah, suspension totally dialled in, felt a bit smug when seeing other riders come down air-less! That said, I still see this bike as an 'experiment' in a way, I want Frank to get the best feedback possible, as it stands, and yes I'm biased, I can't see how it can really be improved, it's bang-on. Can't help but feel that the combination of the front and rear Rock Shox suspension really compliments the frame as well. It's just awesome, it totally blew me away at Fort William. Bike set up is absolutely perfect, no faults with anything all weekend.
Saturday's practice went really well, squeezed in five or six runs, could have done more but didnt want to wear myself out. Come race day and I decided to put two practice runs in and kept it steady. I was absolutely belting it on the race run at the top and nailed all my lines. Let myself down on the bottom sections though as that's where the top fitness comes into play and I know I'm not at my peak this season as mentioned in previous blogs. Let it be said that I have already started rectifying this for 2011!
The bike was completely unreal up there and cant wait to go play on that course again next year. Really chuffed with the brake set up as well, no arm pump all weekend of which I'm pleased about.
I've finished the Scottish Downhill Series in 11th Overall for 2010. That's OK, I know where my weaknesses are and the winter's training has already started. Gonna get a new road bike sorted soon too, whether I dabble in cyclocross over winter however remains to be seen!
Full race report of the SDA Final at Fort William can be found on Descent World: http://www.descent-world.co.uk/2010/09/16/fort-william-sda-rd5-2010/
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Monday, 16 August 2010
Practice came, blue skies above and pretty warm, the track was more or less bone dry with only a few damp patches in the tree sections, the bike was running really well. There was this one tricky line that a lot of people were struggling with; just after the step-up was a left hander that went across the grass and into a step-down. With the first couple of runs I was hitting it flat out and getting a little sideways, not getting the correct speed to clear the step down. As the day progressed the grass was thankfully getting cut up a lot more making it grippier.
When race day came I had enough time to squeeze in two practice runs which I kept steady and clean. When it came to race run number 1 I was feeling quite good although didn't get the start I was hoping for. The beginning went staight into a rocky chute and I managed to find every one of those damn rocks! Hit the step-up that I was talking about earlier at full pelt and on landing I kept the speed up into the grassy left hander that was giving me problems on the Saturday. Was a little over confident here going sideways all the way to the step down which seriously killed my speed, I nearly didn't make it up the jump. Got to the bottom knowing I had time I could make up. I was standing 9th after run one.
It's Wales, it rains a lot in Wales you know, oh yes, and when we got down there on the Friday, guess what? Yes, you guessed it, it was roasting hot sunshine.... aye quite, was it hell, it was bucketing down with rain, oh joy!
An official decision was made to open up a line at the top of the course where people had been crashing on a huck, personally I found it a bit annoying as this just made a straight line and took a good feature from the course. My race run went well considering lack of practise in the drying conditions. Made a big mistake when coming up to the road crossing where I slipped and clipped a pedal, however managed to sort things out before hitting the compression which would have ended in disaster! Although my run was relatively clean, the minor mistakes I made all added up which certainly cost me time.
Next up is the SDA's Round 4 at Ae Forest, hoping for dry weather and some good video footage, watch this space.
Friday, 6 August 2010
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Usually I am not very impressed with Ae Forest, mainly because it's always wet. Walking up the track I didn't think it was going to be much better, however the lads ain't half done a lot of work from the last time I was up there. Come Saturday it had been raining (quelle surprise!) however the track was actually great fun to ride. Up at the start it had a new long straight that traversed across the hill into a tight right where the track soon joined the older one and then down into the woods. A good choice of lines, all of which were full of nice and slippy off camber roots. The track opened up into a section resembling a BMX track so I felt at home there, however at the end of this section was a right hand hip jump which I had been struggling with for a while as I cant hip to the right for toffee! Damn it!
It felt bizarre, what with it being a race weekend and managing to get loads of runs in, I must have hit about nine in total but could have easily done more!! Virtually unheard of anywhere else, excellent!
Come Sunday it was a little wetter (to put it politely!) which wasn't good, there were literally little rivers running down sections of the track, cue: lots of muddy spray! My qualifying run went 'OK', just the one mistake where I slipped off the track. Having said that I felt pretty much on it for my race run.
Thursday, 15 July 2010
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Saturday practice went really well, the FTW was skipping nicely through the rocks and I found that the back-end seemed to track loads better than the Orange 224 I used to ride. This definitely helped with having the slippiest roots in the world to contend with. Had clean and tidy runs all day and tried to work on some lines but the track conditions were changing quite a lot, all in though I felt happy with my riding.
Saturday night the heavens opened and on the uplift for the first practice come Sunday you could see deep puddles on track. Me and the the guys I was riding with decided to hang back and let the first uplift of about 40 riders get down to clear the puddles and make some nice ruts, let them do the work, ahem! Didn't get off to a good start mind you, got a bit carried away and did an over-the-bars on one of top rock sections, didn't hurt but still felt like a numpty!
It thankfully stop raining for the race runs which was great. Had a pretty good run apart from through the rock garden where I lost my pedals and struggled to get my feet back on as my cranks kept hitting rocks and roots. Cruised down after that and was ecstatic to see that I was in the Hot Seat when I crossed the line. By the end of the racing I was knocked down to around 7th, still happy with that considering the mistakes, and the 'company' I was in.
Coming up for the second runs I knew the track would be quicker as it had dried up loads. Rode the top section the fastest I had all weekend so was really confident, came to a section which had some off camber roots and a rock slab into a few boggy drops. Unfortunately grabbed too much brake and washed out on the roots, went down the boggy drops with my crotch in the back wheel (sooooooo glad I didn't have mud spikes on, can just about picture a castration by mud tyre!!!!!!) and as a result finished slower then my first run.
All that done, mud splattered and washed down, I got my first Expert podium of the year and it only took two outings on the new stead! *Impressed* "
Full race report can be found on Descent World: http://www.descent-world.co.uk/2010/07/12/northern-downhill-rd-3-kidlandlee-alwinton/
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Overall the new bike felt absolutely awesome, the size is perfect for me, really good to throw about, the suspension is just so smooth, thank you so much to the guys at Rock Shox!
On race day I was just getting ready to go up for my qualifying run and unfortunately saw some kid hit the deck really hard off the final drops, he had to get airlifted out. It was a bit of a head-fuck and delayed the qualifying somewhat. My run wasnt anything to shout about, I took it too cautiously.
I knew that this had to be stepped up come the race run and along the (relatively) flat top straight I was nowhere near as fast as I had, or should have, been. Really tried to hammer it down the rest of the track, it felt good, probably rode the rest of the course the best I had all weekend, however lost too much time up top.
Race run aside, overall the bike feels absolutely great and I'm looking forward to getting it out for the next race, it really suits my riding, thanks so much Frank.
Monday, 21 June 2010
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Monday, 14 June 2010
I knew before arriving that the track was not going to be the same as the iXS cup track, but I enjoy most of the tracks up at Innerleithen so was absolutely fine with that. The SDA boys chose the "Cresta" run for this weekend's racing, there are no major challenges nor much choice of line, it's just really rapid through the tight trees and great fun.
The track was mostly rock solid however it was really greasy at the top, particularly on the rooty corners. Saturday's practice went down with no real drama, just took a few runs to try get a fast line in and out of the first corner which was a slippery root monster!
When leaving to go up for my race run my pedal felt weird and looking down it was hanging off. Luckily I whipped the ones off my hardtail straight on, somehow the bearings inside exploded on my right pedal, argh!
It had been raining a fair bit between practice and the race runs, being concerned about the top section expecting the roots to be really slippy I took the start with caution. Once on the track it felt fine so pressed on harder, unfortunately I had let my guard down and washed out on a root. Scrambled back on the bike feeling a little unsettled, making a few more silly little mistakes, I came over the line in 11th with a 3m54s
Well moving on, the new bike should be built up and ready the next NPS at Llangollen if Parcel Force ever get it here (useless @~*%s!) bring on the new era and RIP to the old rig.