Thursday, 14 June 2012

Scottish Downhill Series, Glencoe 20/05/2012

Nicklaus takes over again.....

Here's the scoop.

This was round 2 of the SDA up at Glencoe, close to Fort William where the weather had messed up the racing only a week earlier.  I am thankful to report that the weather outlook was much better for this weekend!

Photo courtesy and copyright of Ian Linton

I really like this track as it's steep, technical and scary, quite often people dont make it to race day! The track starts off fairly tame with a small amount of pedalling, then, like a rollercoaster, starts to get steeper with some fast switchback corners.  The steepness of the track continues to increase and it becomes rougher and rockier, it's important to keep your momentum whilst also controlling your speed.  Too fast and you'll crash, too slow and you'll crash, it's a fine line, lock your wheels up and you'll be having problems, you don't want to slam your body into these rocks that's for sure!  The new Hayes 'Prime' brakes were handling flawlessly, where some other systems would start to fade under the constant pressure the Prime's maintained their performance brilliantly.  

Photo courtesy and copyright of Ian Linton

The track continues down a couple of steep shoots then a very short straight that gives you about two seconds to sort yourself out until you drop into a really steep hairpin corner with a nasty compression at the bottom.  From here the speed really picks up, it's a case of holding on and staying off the brakes as you're merely the passenger.  There's no room for any mistakes, no matter how small, you'll be spat straight over the bars!  If you made it that far unscathed there was a tight hairpin into a massive booter-jump down the hill.  The jump was a bit daunting as it's completly blind and it wasnt until you took off that you could see where you needed to land....onto more rocks!  After this it was the last rocky straight towards the finish line.

Photo courtesy and copyright of Ian Linton

Although the new fork upgrades got a brief the weekend before this course would be the real test, along with running the new X-Fusion shock.  I was really happy with the performance of both particularly so as the track was rough as hell.

Nick's GoPro Footage from practise can be seen here: 

The weather improved across the weekend, when it came to the first race run I was really up for it.  Although having a clean run I knew I had to up the speed through some of the sections, this was confirmed when I saw the times.  My second run was much better and I finished in 9th place.  I was however a bit disappointed as there were a few people above me that I know I can beat.  Being back to full fitness I feel really good, the higher results should start coming in again and I'm moving forwards.

British Downhill Series, Fort William 13/05/2012

I'll pass you all back across to Nick here.....

Here's a bit of a low down from the weekend.

We rolled into Fort William for round two of the British Downhill Series.  Landed up there on Friday night after a long drive and the weather was, for a change, looking pretty damned good...well apart from the snow at the top of the mountain but hey, that means snowball fights, always a good thing!

I absolutely love Fort William, it is such a fun, fast, bone-shaking, scary-as-hell, balls-out awesome track!  Was a little disappointed that I didn't have time to fit my new X-Fusion shock due to being away with the day job and was kinda hoping my new FB10 frame would have landed.  The X-Fusion shock will be on for the next race.  The other addition was the upgraded forks courtesy of TF Tuned, they are amazing guys!  Got the new black stanchions fitted and had the fork converted to coils, it has made such an improvement to them.  Huge thanks going out to the TF tuned lads for their help, much appreciated. 

On the Saturday morning we were told the bad news that there was severe weather moving in so the schedule had been altered to accommodate for this. Therefore seeding was moved to the Saturday in case the event had to be called off on the Sunday. We were informed to make our seeding count. 

In a nutshell it meant a very limited practice time on a huge course which wasn't ideal for me as I was wishing to take practice steady taking into account my recent injury.  That said, I knew I would have to bang a few good runs out in the morning. 

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

Saturday morning came and the weather was pretty good with just the odd passing shower.  The top of the track was pretty sloppy though, especially if you got caught off line as they had just put a load of gravel down in places.  Further down the course instead of going through the woods it stayed out in the open with a few corners which had a couple of line choices, pretty damned speedy.  Generally much of the course was the same from previous years, apart from the 'motorway' which they had been resurfacing as well as removing a few of the jumps.  Bigger ones have been planned for the bottom 'motorway' section with the coming UCi World Cup event there, however with the old jumps now removed and everything a work-in-progress for the World Cup it was a flat out sprint which was difficult in the now soft ground.  Hitting the 'Tissot jump' at the end with enough speed was really tough going.  In addition to this there was a nasty hole developing due to people braking too hard, in my second run I managed to hit it which put a nice crack in my rim!  Damn it!

Here's some GoPro footage:

A decision was made that the seeding runs were now race runs as the severe adverse weather was starting to come in.  On my way up on the gondola the wind was picking up buffeting the cable car with rain.  Unfortunately I wasn't seeded as had missed the first BDS round, I set off on my run and was beginning to regret not putting tear-offs on my goggles as fairly quickly I couldn't see anything due to heavy rain.  In these conditions it really doesn't help that the top of the course is extremely open, I could feel the wind blowing me all over, there were a few times I got blown off line and on to the loose gravel which was pretty scary in some of the big rock-strewn corners.

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

Although some of the lines had become quite cut up generally the track was as it was in practice, to which I'm thankful.  Getting down onto the motorway section was a relief as you are in absolute agony from hanging on but you know you are near the end.  The hardest thing is that you know you have to pedal like hell from here on down, there's no way you can let up.  All in I had a good clean run, a little disappointed with losing some time being blown around all over up top, but I can't really complain.  

For the next round, the new X-Fusion shock will be fitted and the new wheels will be built, bring it on!

Scottish Downhill Series: Innerleithen 22/04/2012

Nick reports:

This was to be the first race of the year for me, and also the first time on the bike after snapping my collar bone, which was rather clever admittedly, quite!  Thankfully this weekend's racing was at Innerleithen so I knew what to expect course-wise.

It was raining steadily when we got there on the Friday, took a walk up the track and it wasn't too bad actually.  Sure there was a little bit of gloop and some fantastically slippy exposed roots but most of the terrain was hardpack, excellent.  I was also pleased to see that there were no big hucks or jumps that would put too much pressure on my just-healed shoulder, instead the vast majority of the track was pretty tight and twisty through the trees........ old school rules!

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

On Saturday I set off on my first practice run, had the bike pretty much set up as it would be in the dry although the course was quite sodden in parts.  More or less cruised down the top section to check various lines with the first few practise runs and quickly built up speed, felt pretty good.  The new Hayes brakes were handling everything with ease, a really good 'feel' at the lever with plenty of bite.  

Photo courtesy of Ian Linton

I managed to complete my first runs without any pain from my collar bone at all which was a relief, the worry was there.  From here on I progressively increased my speed, however since trying to tackle a tree a few weeks earlier my confidence had taken a knock and my mojo wasn't where it needed to be.  Being out of it for five weeks with no training was also having a knock on effect.

Saturday practice went well, no crashes, got into the flow of things and I was happy, course was great, the bike was handling everything with aplomb, just overcoming the confidence issues was taking a bit of time.  Come race day I pushed too hard, in hindsight I should have taken it easy, shot through some of my lines, stalled on others, my head was all over the shop with frustration on the run.

Photo courtesy of Barry Primrose

Overall my practice runs were far better then the race run.  Although disappointed with my result I was happy with how I rode in practice and now feel I will be back to full strength ready for Fort William.  

Hopefully I will have the new FB10 frame too.  

Onwards and upwards.

Let's Do This!

Here's the recipe.....

Take a new FTW Industries 'FB10' downhill frame.......

Add a slathering of parts......

Slap on some make up.......

And the result...... well you'll just have to wait for the Scottish Downhill Series event at Pitfichie on the 23rd & 24th June......!