Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Northern Downhill Series, Rnd 4 - Alwinton

Here's what Nick had to say, I'll add a footnote at the bottom:

I was excited to be back on this track because last time it was really challenging and the conditions didn't help at all. This time around there had been some alterations to the course from rider feedback, and thankfully the weather forecast was a damn sight better.

First uplift came around, tryin' to remember the best way to hit the tricky rock and the drops at the top and just couldn't get it clear in my head so put some foot work in to check it out and watch what other riders were doing. The majority were hitting the 'chicken run' but this added at least 10 seconds, it was completely out of the question. I hauled it, hitting the rocky section and the drop first time and then straight on down over a small step into an off-camber left, it was a real struggle to control the speed into it. All through Saturday was much the same, pretty damned sketchy but made it through each time, so I was happy. The NDH Series organiser, Carl, told me there were four racing in my Expert category, there was a real low turn out due to the rider reports and feedback from the last event, this course is full-bore hardcore and it scared a lot of riders. As the day progressed it was apparent that two of my category hadn't turned up and that James Scott was a late entry, I was looking forward to racing with James as he's a bloody fast rider. Unfortunately he crashed out in the morning injuring his hand and so had to pull out, damn!

Photo courtesy of Rich Easton, http://www.photo-moto.co.uk/

Come Sunday the course was pretty rutted and slippy, spike tyres were a must! I was really chuffed and sticking to my lines consistently, kept my flow, really cool. Decided to do 2 or 3 practise runs on Sunday. On my first run I hit the most difficult part of the track with aplomb although slipped into a faster line that I hadn't noticed before, bonus! Pushing wide to the right I found a really smooth and fast line into the next corner, it opened it all up which was absolutely bang on. Tried it all out on the second run and nailed it again, fast as hell, real happy.

When I went up for my first practise run I was more nervous then I would have been at any other race, it was crazy! This was because although wasn't any competition in my category, I knew I had to finish to get the result and this course is quite insane. Thought I would take it 'nice and steady' you know but once I was on the track, I was absolutely loving it! I was standing 3rd overall and only 5 seconds off, pushed a little harder and knocked a further 2 seconds off that time with the final race run.

Photo courtesy of Rich Easton, http://www.photo-moto.co.uk/

It was a really good weekend, and there's a lot of interest in the bike. Frank's made a top notch product.

Top weekend for Nick there. The Alwinton course begs the question as to why British riders won't push themsleves to do the harder courses, we need up and coming racers to follow in the footsteps of the Peaty, the Athertons, Lewis Buchanan, Ruaridh Cunningham, Danny Hart et al. These are the type of courses that we need. Could we be seeing an British National Downhill Series event at Alwinton in 2011? Time will tell.

On another note it was great to see one of the old Development Team riders competing again as a privateer, Marc Purkiss, he pulled off the third place in the Masters category - well done Marc! It's nice to know I have so many old and new riders keeping it hardcore out there!

Monday, 16 August 2010

SDA round 4 - Ae Forest, 15th August 2010

Set off from home on the Friday and it was absolutely chucking it down with rain (can you spot a trend for the racing this year yet?!) thankfully being kept nice and dry in the van with classic KISS rocking out from the stereo system. Amazingly it wasn't raining by the time we arrived and I got myself up the track for a look, no major changes to report on just little bits snipped here and there.

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.

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

I came off on the lower off-camber section, slipped into a lower line which I didn't want and I was carrying a little too much speed to get back up as a result I washed out. Got straight back on, just sitting on the bike felt a bit odd, transpired I'd bent my seat big time. I channelled the 'Tom-Barker-Book-of-Fixing-Bikes' and used brute strength to straighten it out, got to the bottom of the course and then decided to put the GoPro camera on and film a run or two. (Footage to follow).

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.

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

I went up for the 2nd run and was feeling really good, unfortunately again I didnt have the best start but everything else was pretty good. When I crossed the line I thought the run was a lot quicker than my first one, unfortunately I only knocked 3 seconds off, I felt it should have been more.

One thing I definately need to start improving is with my sprinting as there were about 100 yards across the fire road which had an incline, I know I can kick in more speed with some more training. Hamsterley Forest here I come!

British Downhill Series Round 4, Moelfre Hall, Wales - 9th August 2010

This is the Moelfre low down coming at ya!

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!

Moelfre's track was pretty much kept to normal, a few new jumps at the top and a section that took you over parts of the four cross track to keep it 'fresh', it was all damn fast even in the wet. Saturday's practice went well, managed to get all my lines down fairly quick. Had to change to cut spikes after a heavy down pour which kinda caught me out on one of the first off camber grassy corners - resulting in me sliding on my ass. Managed to score my mate's GoPro camera to film some runs, dead chuffed, although completely useless with technology I'll get some videos up shortly!

Race day arrived bringing much better weather with it and the 'dry' tyres were back on the bike. The track was loads quicker, complete blast. Thought I'd go up top a little earlier with my seeding run, just to chill out which turned into a big mistake as one of the Masters Category riders had hurt himself pretty badly and the ambulance 'copter (the third of the weekend so far!) was called in. There were probably a good 100 riders waiting at the top of the hill and after about an hour or so Peaty was brought up to tell us all that the seeding runs were cancelled!! Sooooooooooooo..... probably the most random thing happened with all 100-odd riders enjoying a mini mega-avalanche down the uplift road, absolutely fantastic fun!

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

Nick's Alwinton NDH Spill!

I managed to track down the camera guy who caught, literally as you'll see, Nick crashing arse over tit at the Alwinton round of the Northern Downhill Series. Step forward Sam Parker with his brilliant footage!! Glad you survived being smacked around by Nick Sam!

A much higher resolution video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrnykWW-QXU