Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Feeling the Urge....

Nick's spill up at the Scottish Champs in Fort William totalled his helmet, cue Urge UK distributors Decade dashing to the rescue with a new one..... and a very nice one it is indeed, I think you'll all agree!  A big THANK YOU going out to the lads for their help.

Scottish Downhill Championships, Fort William 14th & 15th July

Whilst Angie was getting set to blast down some French mountainsides in preparation for the Alpes d'Huez Megavalanche event, Nick took the trip up to Fort Billy for the Scottish Downhill Champs.....

Fort William, let me hear ya, I'm BACK!  This time for the Scottish Champs.  I am absolutely in love with this track, like most people, because it's as tough and as mean as hell, no let up at any point. Unfortunately I was full of man-flu (Lee: ahhh, he's going for the sympathy won't work!!) but wasn't going to let that put a downer on things.

Saturday morning came with the scent of frying bacon in the air and the sun was kind of shining whilst the rest of the country was still being flooded out!  I was eager to get up the hill and put the FTW through its paces again, that bike is simply MADE for this course, mark my words!  I took my usual plan-of-action for Fort Bill cruising the first run down to get warmed up and spy some lines as not a lot changes on the track, apart from different routes through the woods.  I was expecting the course to be a little beat up from the previous World Cup there as well. 

Nick in practise, photo copyright of Ian Linton

My run through the open top section was good, it's nice and flowing although I paid particular care on some of the dust strewn corners, I didn't want to wash out again!. Hit the beginning of the rocky section dead on, the bike was soaking it all up, thought 'Sod It' and got some more cranks into it to pick the speed up even more, the bike could take it easily.  Unfortunately I couldn't though, took a spill and gashed my knee, that was clever of me wasn't it!?  Jumped back on and a bit further down there were a load of riders stood about checking out the second of two drops.  I scrubbed a little speed off here and took off as I normally would, my front wheel landed in the only soft patch on the track behind a rock which catapulted me over the bars landing on my head hard!  You know those old Tom & Jerry/Roadrunner cartoons when one of them gets whacked.....well this time it was me seeing stars!  I thank god for my Urge lid, seriously, that was a big stack!  

Knee-sy does it!

I chilled out by the trackside for a little while to get myself back together, as well as my helmet my own mojo had taken a dent, it also allowed me to scope out that part of the track on foot and I noted a good few other riders having problems there.  Got back on the bike and carried on down the hill, when I got to the bottom I chilled out with some mates for a while till I felt back up to 100%. 

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

The new 'motorway' section at the bottom of the course that was built up for the World Cup was absolutely AMAZING!  Where, in the past, the sprint along the motorway was an utter killer, now we have the new massive table-top jumps to help you to carry speed, it's so much better.  I did six runs on Saturday and really felt it the next day as the track was rough as hell, this was also apparent from the number of punctures and broken wheels I was witnessing, although thankfully not my own Sun-Ringles.....Thank you! *Touch wood*

Come race day the combination of my man flu (Lee: that excuse is still not gonna work!) and the number of runs on Saturday had me feeling pretty shattered. So I just put a single practice run in to refresh my memory and to keep check on where the track was getting cut up.

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

First run was plain sailing taking into consideration the slight downpour of rain, which actually had a more positive effect on the track, the tyres' grip increased as the rain packed the dust down nicely.  Went a bit squirrelly and nearly over shot a corner in the bottom section, made mental notes not to do that again on the following run, pulled it back in and got on with it.  Not too bad going.  Second run came and I pushed myself through the rest of the top corners, nice, smooth and fast, did I tell you that I love this course?!  Further down I nearly over shot the same bloody corner as before, got my head screwed straight back on and hauled it. Took ten seconds off my first run time and was told that I finished in the top ten of the Experts category, not bad for a man-flu ridden bugger eh?!

British Downhill Series, Glencoe 8th July 2012

Here's Nicklaus with the Glencoe British Downhill Series weekend run down:

I was back up at Glencoe for the BDS, and back from my holiday where I may have overdone the free food and drink *pats tummy*.  Can you believe it, it wasn't raining....unlike the rest of the UK which was being flooded!  The track was looking pretty dry compared to my last visit and was also taped out a little differently which opened up a lot of sections. I was also debuting the new Development team jerseys, and I have to say they do look bloody good, yes, I know, such modesty!

Come practice on Saturday I was really stoked to ride in the dry.  My first run didn't go quite to plan, my rear shock blew up through the rock garden and I had to take the walk of shame to the chair lift station and took the trip back down to the pits.  A quick dash back to the car I soon had my old shock fitted to the bike so I hadn't missed too much practice time, phew!  

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

As I progressed through my first main run I began to notice that although the track was much dryer then normal it didn't have a massive amount of grip.  However the bike was riding great and the new Boxxer fork upgrade from the guys at TF Tuned were working awesomely, taking all the huge impacts with a plomb.  It was apparent where the toughest parts of the track were as there were a lot of riders stopped at the side trying to scout the best line. The two steep and rocky shoots where causing the most trouble, lots of crashing, lots of punctures, lots of damaged bikes!  I found my bike was more than capable of doing its job and tracking well through the sections, this is one of Frank Wadelton's legacy's....he knows his shit when it comes to frame designing and building!  Glencoe is very steep, very rough and very fast, I had 100% trust in my Sun-Ringle wheels and Hayes Primes brakes, no dings, no buckling, no fading, no arm-pump, everything was working flawlessly.

Practice went pretty well, stoked with the bike's handling.  Come race day my qualifying run went well, made a couple of mistakes but nothing out of the ordinary and knew where I could improve. 

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

I was really motivated for the race run, feeling good and the bike was riding perfectly. I set out of the start gate spinning it, took a chunk out of the ground with my Burgtecs, get in!  Blitzed along on the top section and hit the the more difficult parts of the track bang on. Came into a right hander half-way down where my front wheel washed out on some loose rocks and I hit the deck, Couldn't lose the time and I knew I was pinning it, jumped straight back on galloping the FTW down the hill like a demon possessed determined to make up the lost time.  When I got to the open section near the bottom before the big ski jump, a spectator was shouting "Rider!" at me so I pulled to the side as I thought with my crash the next rider had caught me.  As the rider got closer he was telling me to keep going, turns out I had passed him further up and he had caught me up after my crash, bloody spectators, god!  I got back on the track and sprinted through the finish line.  I was really hacked off by the incident, by pulling over for no reason lost me some considerable time.  Taking the crash into consideration and the pulling over for no reason I still got 20th place, however it's left me with a big 'What might have been', sure, it's all part and parcel of racing.  I was just so gutted, I loved the course, the bike was handling it so amazingly well and I was gunning for the podium.  Gutted!