Tuesday, 31 May 2011

British Downhill Series, Rnd 3 - Glencoe 29/05/2011 .....oh boy!!

As we dive head first into June with the glorious hot sunshine, the clear skies, the ice creams, shorts and t'shirts, picnics in the park, walks with the dogs along the beaches, the pub gardens, the water pistol fights, everything that summer brings, everything we all look forward to. .....And here we are in Glencoe, let's all start again shall we?!

..."...It's a twister Aunty Em!..."...

Mud, rain, snow, mud, rain, winds, hail, mud, mud, rain, snow, rain, mud, holding-on-for-dear-life-on-the-chairlifts, mud, more strong winds, airborne-easy-ups, more rain, more snow... rain, rain, winds, gale force winds, flying-tables, more rain...... I think you get the drift now.....
Glencoe is a hard enough track, adding everything Mother Nature was throwing at it made it downright impossible! Needless to say the event was cancelled, which no one likes to happen however when you're swinging around on a chairlift in gale force winds whilst being belted by lashing rain and holding on for dear life, matters need to be taken into hand. Angie was totally rocking (literally!) the top and bottom parts of the course, however struggled a tad with the middle bits, it was a tough nut to crack. Really hard hitting with ruts appearing continuously through the day, each run being totally different, although as you can see with the photo below she takes it all in her stride! :)

(Angie deals with the mud and the spray with aplomb! Photo courtesy of Scott MacPherson)

Nick was up there Friday evening and it was as windy as hell, even just walking up the track he was blown over a few times. Come Saturday morning it was just downright miserable weather. Getting the chairlifts in the howling wind with the rain cutting into your face is not a great idea. Further up the hill it changed to snow and hail, this is supposed to be the end of May! Simply put; Mother Nature was seriously pissed off this weekend!

(Did we mention the gloop? Here's Nick taking it all on! Photo courtesy of Jamie Rodda)

Although the top of the track is nice and flowing it gets steeper and steeper like a roller coaster, it's a brutal course in normal conditions. Nick managed 4 practise runs thankfully unscathed, but had to pop up to Fort William for more waterproofs. There was a lot of talk in the pits as to whether the racing would go ahead due to the weather conditions worsening.

(Nick in a very brief sunshine interlude! Photo courtesy of Scott MacPherson)

Sunday morning arrived and we all hoped it would die down, sadly it wasn't the case, it was progressively worse. Nick had never been as frightened as on that chairlift, hail hammering his face and the chair swinging like a banshee in the gale force winds, nearly hitting the pylon supports, absolutely terrifying. Once at the top he stayed in the hut for the winds to calm down and taking his chance headed off. An amazingly fully clean run, he was really happy with it. Once at the bottom though it was pandemonium. Easy-Ups were being blown away, a table flew past only stopping after going through a car's windscreen. With the winds hitting over 80mph it was decided to close the hill and cancel the event. As Angie put it "Complete 'Game Over', now for Fort William, can't wait!"

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Alpine Bikes Winter Series - Innerleithen, 3rd April 2011

(Photo courtesy of Keith Valentine/Phunkt http://www.phunkt.com/)

Friday, 20 May 2011

IXS MacAvalanche - Glencoe, 30th April 2011

Angela Coates: The IXS Glencoe MacAvalanche was truly epic, we had one hell of a great time up there! Had to take our bikes to the top of the mountain via two chairlifts and then push a futher 250 metres through the snowline leaving them all lined up. After that it was a walk back down the rugged mountainside!


The race brief was at 1pm after that we all got a helicopter to the top, it wasn't a Chinook unfortunately but a smaller one fitting 5 passengers in, I managed to bag the front seat and it was ace! The racing kicked off at 3.30 that afternoon and we had to run 100 metres up a steep bit of the hillside to the bikes. Once away the first part of the course was all snow covered, it was old and slushy, real hard to ride through and everyone was crashing all over the place.

Further down I rode over one guy (so sorry!) and crashed just after so decided to run with the bike, this was a bit faster until I got onto the dry ground. All the way down the track was kind of marked out with poles although it was really hard to see. I seemed to be in a massive panic the whole way down as it was pure pandemonium, which probably didn't help as I was trying to get past people and then someone else would crash right in front of you... total carnage all over!!

Towards the middle of the run it was a pure pedal fest, the downhill bike wasn't great for this but I tried my hardest to get through the soft flat ground. A bit of gradient came and then there were huge big bogs to deal with, each of them trying to swallow you up. I was trying to watch where other people were going and to not follow them if they were crashing, hahaha! It was just absolutely crazy, and so much fun!

I crossed the finish line in 2nd place, just behind Orange Bike’s Hannah Barnes, hoorah! Took me just over 17 minutes and it was probably the hardest race I have ever done. It wasn't the technical terrain, just the length of the track and trying to pedal a downhill bike across bog land which was such incredibly hard work.

I think I'd do it again but more than likely on a shorter travel bike. I had a look at the DH track whilst I was at Glencoe as well, some of the new bits look mega. Should be a good race!! Just hope the weather holds out!
I’m absolutely stoked! :)

SDA 2 - Fort William, 15th May 2011

The SDA returned to Fort William for round 2. The SDAs are always well run and have a really good laid back atmosphere, so we were all really looking forward to this weekend. It’s a great track, up there with the best in the world, flat out all the way down and obviously the gondola lifts to the top! In traditional fashion it rained on and off once we crossed the border into Scotland, but hey that’s what makes it what it is! Thankfully the rain doesn’t tend to make the track too bad, Maxxis Minion tyres were the ruler of the day!

Once Saturday practice kicked off Nick gave his FTW a once-over to ensure everything was tight and headed up the hill. Angie followed soon after. Things started off nice and steady to get used to the track, getting a feel for it. Both of the team’s riders were feeling comfortable and stopped at the section where it goes into the woods checking out the drop into it. There were some changes to the course here, where last year it went straight on had now been altered with a turn to the left. Nick over-cooked it and washed out on his front wheel ending with a pretty nasty crash, must have been a six foot drop onto his head! That sure ain’t good! He doubled over badly winding himself and was taken down in the ambulance thinking he’d done some serious damage. Thankfully it was confirmed to be just bad bruising. This is a MASSIVE thumbs up to Urge Helmets as his lid effectively saved him, from past experience other helmets would have been smashed to bits with that!

(Photo courtesy of Karen Brumwell)

Nick took an hour’s lie down with some pain killers and then, although feeling rough as hell, went back up the hill armed with the team’s GoPro camera. He kept a good pace and managed a full run although as you can tell from the video once he got to the top it started to rain heavily. Visibility was down due to all the debris and mud being flown up from the tyres, that said it was still a good run.

Angie was on form all the way through Saturday’s practice and was nailing the course. She was on fire. I would really like to sort Angie out with an FB10 frame as soon as possible, can only imagine what she will be like on a lighter downhill steed. This is the biggest course in the country and she was taking it in her stride.

(Photo courtesy of Ian Linton, http://ianlinton.com/)

Nick woke up on Sunday morning feeling like he’d been hit by a truck! He dosed up on pain killers and went up the hill to get some more runs in. The weather forecast of high winds meant it was only going to be a one run race, which to be fair Nick was relieved about because of his pain. Going up in the gondola the wind was playing havoc and his bike was being blown sideways on the back of the gondola until Dickie, his dad, squeezed his arm through the top window to hold onto it! Fort William is a fully open-to-the-elements course, there is no respite.

Once at the top the racing had been stopped due to two serious accidents on the course, this took over an hour and as a result it was confirmed racing would be one run only.

(Photo courtesy of Ian Linton, http://ianlinton.com/)

Although he was focused he was in a lot of pain with his ribs. Nick’s run at the top was very fluid, he was nailing it and feeling confident, disaster struck just before the deer gate on the moor. He clipped a pedal on a rock and went arse over tit. He stayed clean for the rest of the run however the crash took too much time and he finished in 12th place, still a good result considering.


SDA 2 - Nick Turner, Fort William 15/05/2011 from The Development Racing Team on Vimeo.

Angie was a complete other story, she was amazing, pretty much a flawless weekend. Angie thrives on courses like this, she’s had some fantastic training from her brother James.

(Photo courtesy of Barry Primrose)

Staying right on the ball and nailing all of her lines bang on, crossing the line in second place just behind Rachel Atherton. Absolutely stoked, celebrations all round. WELL DONE ANGIE!!!!

(Photo courtesy of Ian Linton, http://ianlinton.com/)

Northern Downhill Series - Round 1, Alwinton, 24th April 2011

Nick Turner: The first round of the Northern Downhill Series kicked off at the now infamous Alwinton course, you want steep? You got it! This has to be one of my favourite courses of all time, it’s absolutely RAD. Last year people didn’t do race runs or even practice as the track was seen to be too steep and gnarly!

There had been some changes at the top which made it more rider friendly! However it was still steep and technical and so….. much….. fun……, it suits the FTW FB10 bike perfectly. The forecast was sunny skies all weekend and the organizers planned an uplift day for the Friday as well, unfortunately due to work constraints I couldn’t go. When it came to Saturday practice the course was more or less dry, the wet and slippy bits only hither and thither.

Practice was blisteringly good, a few sketchy moments granted, mind you most people were in the same boat. I only had one crash which was on my last run and it was because I was getting far too carried away, hit a lower corner with way too much speed and just washed out resulting in a big high-side down the hill to some rapturous cheering from the spectators! Excellent!

(Photographer currently unknown)

Rain?! Nooooooo…..!!! Six o’clock that evening and the heaven’s opened, did it rain? Oh yes! Was it heavy? Oh yes….. !! It went on for a good four hours and we all knew the track would be even tougher the next day. The morning thankfully dawned with clear blues skies, phew. Walked up the track, just to scope it out and leaning towards running cut down spiked mud tyres as there were quite a lot of exposed roots coming through. It was gonna be a fun day!

Managed three runs before the racing started, the first was quite wet and muddy but still riding well. Between the second and third runs the course was drying out again and becoming a damn sight quicker. I was really positive for my race run as the bike was amazing on this course. Overall it went pretty well just a few little mistakes that, collectively, probably cost me a few seconds.

I came down in 3rd place, was one second off second and 9 seconds from first. That fired up my determined further to go quicker and ensure a podium place. From the start I hit a root which stalled me into the first corner, I made up this time further down, I was railing it and crossed the line keeping my third place position, excellent!

Overall the weekend was awesome, really happy with the result and this is the kind of course where the FTW bike comes into its own.

SDA 1: Ae Forest 17th April 2011

The team mechanic, also known as Nick’s dad Dickie, very kindly packed the van and went up on the Friday morning so I could jump in the car and meet him there when I was finished with work later that day. It’s all about the organisation here you see!

Nick takes over: Ae Forest’s track was fairly similar to the previous ones with the exception that a new section had been cut in towards the bottom which was fairly loose and greasy, great fun to ride. As seems to be par the course with racing at Ae Forest, the track was generally dry where the soggy bits in the tree sections dried out over the weekend.

(Photo courtesy of Ian Linton, http://ianlinton.com/)

Saturday was kept fairly steady, no real issues just getting held up quite often by riders in front on the track. The bike was feeling really good, the only change I made was swapping the tyres to Maxxis Minions. These proved to work really well especially on the new loose sections. Can I add that we had the sun shining all weekend, shorts, t’shirts and shades, excellent! Now, back to the racing…..!

Only managed one practice run on Sunday morning which admittedly wasn’t the best. That said I was relaxed and feeling good for my race run.

(Photo courtesy of Ian Linton, http://ianlinton.com/)

From the start everything went well, hitting most of my lines bang on. After the rock garden I was beginning to blow out in the corners, I put it down to the root infested track getting slippy with all the riding. It soon dawned on me that the front tyre was deflating, a blasted ‘snakebite’ puncture and as a result my time wasn’t brilliant coming in at 16th in Expert.

BDS 2 – Moelfre Hall, Wales, 10th April 2011

Just some photos of Angie from Laurence Crossman-Emms at the moment pending the write up :)

BDS 1: Nant-Gwrtheyrn, North Wales 20th March 2011

The first round of the year was in North Wales at a pretty cool venue finishing by the sea shore! The track was great fun up the top, real tight, steep, rocky and rooty, suiting both Nick and Angie’s riding styles perfectly. The bottom was pretty flat with a few drops and jumps, it was rather pedally and quite tiring. This was also Angie’s first race in the national Elite category, she took it all in her stride however.

(Angela Coates at Nant-G, photo courtesy of Iain Mcconell, www.turniptowers.co.uk)

Weather was good for practice on Saturday, the track was still a little wet mind and probably aided the grip if I’m honest. The day went really well with Nick managing to squeeze in about 8 runs with no real dramas.

It soon became very obvious during practice that both riders’ winter training regimes were definitely paying off, they were both looking good, fast as hell.

Unfortunately through the night the rain came, you all saw it coming didn’t you?! It was a bit of a sticking point whether to change the tyres, especially with quite a few people swapping things over. Nick figured with all the rocks and roots there would be little point.

Nick made two more practice runs on Sunday morning which went really well and if anything the rain made the track quicker by getting rid of the thick mud. The seeding runs had to be called off due quite a serious accident involving one of the Juniors (hoping for a speedy recovery). So there was quite a wait between morning practice and the race runs. Nick’s race run didn’t go to plan, he was making some silly mistakes which he hadn’t done all weekend, and as a result was off the pace. Nick added that his practice run was far better than his race run.

Angie was soon off, hitting all her lines perfectly until the bottom jump where she crashed of all places. C’est la vie, as they say, and she had a right old pearler of a bruise on her leg as a souvenir of the weekend! She was happy to break through placing 7th in the Elite however.

Northern Downhill Series, Kielder Forest Mass Start, March 6th 2011

Nick Turner: ….This race was gonna be something else having not done a mass start before. The format was practice with qualification on the Saturday followed by racing on the Sunday. The track descends over 450 metres with a (knackering) 60 metre climb in the middle. I thought I would take it like a man rocking the Spooky ‘Bandwagon’ and be the ‘Hardtail Hero’ for the day!!

Walked up the track with my bike along with a few others on Saturday morning where we were all under the impression that it would be a typical trail centre type course. This was soon proved to be not the case, it was quite technical and looked like it was going to be really hard to pedal in places. The top looked amazing; the start begins quite wide and then narrows right down over a jump, opening wide again onto quite a loose 4x4 track followed by singletrack and then into the uphill section.

My first practice run on the Spooky was completely wild, it was so rough, I can’t emphasise that enough! Needed to check that I still had my teeth in place when I got to the bottom! I had (the expected) struggle in the uphill section due to the rocks, which saw my bike skipping all over the place. It was a relief being back onto the downhill sections and finally over the fun table-tops at the bottom. Squeezed in another run and left it at that, if I did any more I would be too cream-crackered the following day.

The seeding runs were in four groups of 20 riders, I was on the second back row and tactically lined myself up with a good gap to get through ahead. Unfortunately my gap was slammed shut and I knew my strength would be on the top downhill section. Jumped straight into the flow of things and started to pass people, having to take the looser and rougher lines as people were sticking to the smoother sections. Disappointedly I got stuck behind three riders at the singletrack section and couldn’t pass, then, when it came to the uphill section, I then started to get passed, argh!! Although the Spooky hardtail was great on the downhill bits, with the short geometry it isn’t the best for XC type riding however I gave it everything. Kept pushing when I got to the downhill sections again. However this part of the course was much flatter and quite bumpy so pedaling was tough as the bike was skipping again.

I have never, ever, been so relieved to finish a run, I can tell you! I have never felt so exhausted, thankfully though I qualified 12th for the final.

On the Sunday I took it easy in the morning making sure not to burn myself out for my race. The race category was much bigger with nearly 40 riders. I was however on the 3rd row to start which helped a lot. Had a really good start and passed 2 riders and as people were slowing down for the jump I continued pushing and went two-abreast with another rider, hardcore. Soon overtaking a few more people put me into about 4th place. Admittedly I was feeling smug at this point as most of these riders were on full suspension bikes where I was passing them on a little hardtail! Smugness now put aside…. When we hit the singletrack I was being held up by a rider in front, once at the uphill section he let me through, however I was now being caught up and being overtaken by other riders which was frustrating. I just kept pushing and pushing, it was so hard to control my breathing and was a relief when I got back on the lower downhill section! Got straight back into the flow and made up time. Just before the jumps near the end one rider was catching me up and I was determined not to let him pass. He got close at the top of the bottom section but then I floored it as I knew it was nearly over.

I could never have been happier to cross that finish line, my whole body had been abused and I couldn’t breathe! Having now lost my mass-start virginity and learned so much about how the format ‘works’ in regards to the types of bikes needed for these courses, I am looking into getting a small full suspension rig kitted out with view to doing some of the Megavalanche races.

Watch this space...

(photos and video to follow)

And now introducing…….. Angela Coates!

I would like to take the pleasure of introducing the glamorous Angela Coates to you all, the newest rider coming into The Development Mountain Bike Team fold.

A blindingly fast 26 year old whipper-snapper from the North East of England, she has already taken the Northern Downhill Champion title in 2010 which she aims to retain for 2011. Thanks to a little persuasion from her brother James and a briefly loaned Mr Big bike to get to grips with she was soon found to be wrapping herself around the trees at Hamsterley Forest, face it, it’s the only way to learn. As she says, “Although I spent my early days crashing my brains out I was completely addicted from the word go!”.

A birthday trip to Fort William in September 2007 came about where she was planning to just take photos of her brother and friends. When they arrived her brother pulled a Kona Stab downhill bike out of the boot of his car and said “There you go, you’re coming riding with us too!”….. She was left dumbstruck, “At last I had my own bike” …. “the last bike I had was when I was 10, it was pink and called ‘Blossom’, so this was a slight improvement!”
Angela continues, … “I was spoilt at Christmas that year as James bought me a full entry to the Hamsterley Winter Series, this is where I cut my teeth. Hamsterley is part of my local area so I got some good practice under my belt and came 3rd overall. I couldn’t believe I was sharing the podium with Helen Gaskell, I really couldn’t believe it!”

“After that I was pretty hooked and Descend Hamsterley sponsored me for a while, it is a brilliant training ground there and has pretty much everything for all disciplines of riding. All the time I was improving and a year later I was hooked up with Fox Racing and have now been with them for 3 years. Aaron does an amazing job in making sure I’m head to foot in Fox, I feel so proud! Big thanks to those guys.

I have moved into the Elite category for 2011, and am really happy with how the training has been going; it’s been stepped up, spending more time on my cross-country bike over the winter months. I’ve been hitting the weights and working on my upper body and have just sorted out a road bike to strengthen my legs and improve on my power. Which will help me immensely on the ‘motorway’ section at Fort William!

For 2011 I’m racing the British Downhill Series, Scottish Downhill Series, Northern Downhill Series and some other endurance type events. So far it has been going well, my times have improved since last year and I feel a lot fitter. I will be doing the World Cup at Fort William as part of Team GB. It's such an honour and I can’t wait! There's an immense feeling racing with the world’s fastest riders, totally unreal!

When I’m not working and racing, I work for Berghaus which is also really cool, over the winter months I do fell running and generally getting covered in muck! Last year I did a 28 mile event with my dad and we got the 2nd mixed team back, completely over the moon! (Although I had to go up the stairs on my bum the next day, ouch!)

I’ve been asked about my favourite rider and have to say it’s my brother James. It’s brilliant watching him rail turns and doing massive whips! He’s such an inspiration for me. Fave pro? Brendan Fairclough, man does he look cool on a bike or what?! Hmmm, fave female pro? Might get told off for not supporting a British rider here but Emmeline Ragot, so loose! And oh yeah, gotta love Sabrina Jonnier too for the sheer fact she wears flowers in her hair!.....”
This season she’ll be riding alongside Nick Turner and raising the bar at the British Downhill Series, Scottish Downhill Series, Northern Downhill Series and selected rounds of the Megavalanche, iXS Series and the penultimate UCi World Cup where she has been chosen to represent Team GB. You can’t get much better than that now can you? 


Monday, 16 May 2011

2011 Team Strip

Confirmed for 2011:

FTW Industries
GoPro HD Cameras
Royal Racing
Urge Helmets
EVS Armour
Hayes Brakes
Maxxis Tyres
Oury Grips