Thursday, 20 October 2011

British Downhill Series - Caersws Finals, 9th October 2011

Originally this was set to be Fort William but due to adverse weather conditions it got changed to Caersws last minute, a bit of a drive but then so was Fort William. Angela and Steve decided to live the high life and stayed in a hotel for the weekend, sometimes having somewhere to stay that’s comfy can make all the difference on a race weekend! No raggedy tents for these two!

Both of the riders got together for an early start on Saturday. The last Caersws-course experience that Angie had was about 3 years ago where it chucked it down all weekend and their tent got flooded! Then with doing the 2nd practice run of the day on a Mr Big (must find a photo of the Mr Bigs…) she went over the bars on a jump and broke her wrist. Ahhhh those happy days!!
(Blimey, here's a blast from the past, the old Mr Big 'ST10' bikes, they were built in the back of a garage under the railway line in Newcastle by the living legend that is Tom Barker!)

Before walking the track Nick wasn’t so enthusiastic about the venue as it has been a series of really short courses with not much too them. Both of them were chuffed that a new track was being used, it looked great with some big jumps, a smattering of technical bits and nice drifty corners. They quickly got back down to get ready for the uplifts.
Exactly how amazing were the uplifts?! Angela got seven runs in, Nick (riding with Steve) got in nine… then there’s a rumour that someone else managed17 runs, bloody hell, well done to the BDS boys for that!
The track was bone dry and dusty starting off with a berm into a road gap followed by some tight switch backs which lead into a few fast bus stops and through a tunnel. With the daylight suddenly hitting your eyes again you’re hitting a wild loose corner with stumps at warp factor 60 followed another road gap with a terribly harsh landing (the one that Angie broke my wrist on all those years ago, but thankfully not this time!), over a big tabletop, a roosty left hander followed by some nice big roots and step down into the field finish! All over in less than 2 mins by the top dogs. Both of the team’s riders were on form and making it all too easy!

(How steep?! Angela hits the off camber with aplomb. Photo courtesy of Iain McConnell)

Angie pulled in a 2m24s with her seeding run, reminding herself to pedal more in the race run however that little theory went completely out of the window when someone up above decided to chuck several bucket loads of water from the sky all over the hillside! Full-On-Wet! Nick got to the top of the track for his seeding run just as the monsoon hit and wasn’t prepared for a soaked course on dry-condition tyres! He set off hoping that not much had changed….. he doesn’t ask for much! Rivers were running down the track forming big pools of water on the flatter sections. Incredibly difficult to keep control of the bike with the course’s corners being washed out quite literally. He came off after hitting a nasty compression in the tree section, straight back on through the sketchiest sections of the course, hitting the step-down and across the finish line…..soaked!
Both riders were soon up and running again with Maxxis ‘Wet Scream’ mud tyres fitted. The rain didn’t let up but Nick had a quick wander up the course to see what the damage was. There was no time for either rider to practice, mind you having said that everyone was in the same boat, so we can’t grumble too much!
(Strike a pose, the team's very own super model getting papped in the stump-field! Photo courtesy of Foto-4-u)

Angie was sat at the top waiting for her race run with 60mph gusts of wind mixed with rain, testing her ‘rip n roll’ goggles to the max! A pedal stroke out of the gate later she was off, straight over the step down and into the sharp corner, so chuffed she was using Wet Screams as that corner was as slidey as hell. She got down most of the track until the last big rooty off camber section in the trees, her bike gave way underneath her, hitting the deck and sliding down to the bottom berm all very comedy-routine (think of the waterslide sequence in ‘The Goonies’ with added mud and swearing then you’ll get the general idea!). Ellie was coming down and she let her past, then jumping straight back the bike Angie tried to make some time up. Her time was almost a full minute slower than the seeding however when conditions are like this and you smile like she was smiling you knew she was happy regardless. She’d still beaten all the non-Elite girls….. Ka-Boom!
Nick had delays with his race run as riders were taken off the course and sections of the track were being rebuilt, he was also warned about a corner near the top of the track which had become particularly bad. Once he set off for his race run he tried to settle into things however he hit a slimey root on one of the top corners that sent him off his line and he knew it was the end of his race run. With that in mind he enjoyed the course more determined to finish it with big drifts in the corners and styling it up off the jumps and the table top. What he didn’t get with a result he was certainly trying to make up with in style!
(Nick airborne in practise before the rains hit. Photo courtesy of Chris Ratford)

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