If you would like to know more about the work they do please see their website: http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk
Now, on with the racing, here's Nick....
The Hamsterley Forest track has a good mixture in it, it's largely tree covered starting with a series of tight sections through the pine trees and then out over a drop into a swooping berms before hitting a rock garden to catch out the unwary. This is followed by a neat table top and a flat out sprint to the kicker jump that catapults you across the fire road crossing. Another rock garden keeps you on your toes and you're into the tight lines through the dark woods of the middle section, it's a tight squeeze in there!
Another road gap looms, hit it flat out and it's straight into the best section through a series of big rock gardens, the FTW frame was made for this type of course, it was just soaking it all up. Down over some off camber rocks you're spat back out into a flat out shoot which became progressively faster as practice progressed. After this it was the infamous S-bend into the drop towards the finish line.
Practice was great, the track was dry as a bone and the uplifts which were being run by the northern downhill guys ran like clock work, perfect!
The next day though was a different story, yeah you must have guessed it, it decided to rain all day! Having said that, the track still stayed pretty much the same, some roots and rocks got slippier but nothing to worry about, I kept the bike set up as per the previous day.
Photo by Richard Easton
My first race run was pretty much a steady one with a few slips and swears towards the end which meant I was a few seconds off the pace! It did however open up more lines to me so I made mental notes and was confident of what I needed to pull out of the bag with the race run.
I gave it absolute hell for leather on the race run and caught someone up at the road crossing, unfortunately it's damned tight in there and he couldn't hear me shouting at him, in the end I took my chance stook my elbows out and barged past. It was a top run and I was gutted, I knocked 4 seconds off my previous time and it will remain as a 'What if?' I finished in fourth place and it was a great weekend for a great cause.Tweet