I was really looking forward to this race event as I had been here a few times as a youngster and really enjoyed the course, it seems to have been off the main map for a while. It was quite a sodden track due to the previous week's heavy rainfall, it was pretty messed up at the top. The lower sections weren't too bad though due to the tree cover keeping the rain off, a schizo course!
Due to the state of the track I decided to put full mud spike tyres on. From the start you hit a few table tops, where I kept it nice n' low, these were followed by some relatively smooth corners the last of which spat you out into two tricky root-strewn off cambers. These improved over the weekend as a rut developed in them which made it easy to rail through. The track continued across a fire road and into an open section with a few bus stops, drops and jumps, this bit was the worst part in terms of mud and throughout the weekend it got thicker and thicker. The track then went back into the woods through pine needle covered tight, twisty and root-strewn sections between the trees.
Photo copyright of Ian Britton
The track's conditions were steadily improving until the mother of storms hit full on. The torrential downpours saw quite a few riders going back down in the uplift vehicles but the rest of us who were man-enough went down the track! It was as slippy as hell in the tree-lined sections, those glistening roots were there to catch everyone out and I must admit to laughing and whooping a fair few times as well! The rain was actually assisting the course conditions further down, helping to thin out the aforementioned thick mud sections, you could now hit this with aplomb, and splatter the spectators in the process, bonus!
Saturday practice went pretty damn well without any drama. The bike was working sweet and in particular the Hayes brakes were performing greatly considering the amount of gloop being thrown up which was leaving other riders with problems. I was also blessed with the awesome damping adjustment on the X-Fusion shock, got the bike really dialled in for the continually changing course conditions.
The track remained sodden all through Sunday so I kept the set-up the same, I took my early run nice and steady and lost a load of time in the open section where the mud had returned to its superglue-like consistency and I didn't want to waste all my energy. I knew that for seeding this was gonna be a killer sprint.
The only regret I had was not walking the track closer to my race run as the bottom section had dried up a lot and I would have benefited from a cut spike or even a dry tyre. My race run was flawless, I had nailed the sprinting sections, the bike was hammering it, it was all a perfect run. Came into the third final corner way too fast, clipped the big root on the entry and ended up getting too friendly with a large tree after my front wheel washed out! Totally frustrated as the rest of the run was absolutely bang on. The GoPro footage will be on its way soon.Tweet