Sunday, 28 October 2012

Northern Downhill Series, Kielder Forest, 20th-21st October 2012

Thought I would get you all the low down on the Northern Downhill's Kielder weekender, here we go....

As some of you may be aware I came into this season after losing my mojo and in between my injuries and crashing out I was pretty cut up with my results this year.  Therefore I was determined to pull out all of the stops with the Northern Champs at Kielder Forest, it would have to be the place to redeem myself.

As has been the story throughout most of the race weekends this year it absolutely chucked it down on the Friday and Saturday!  This was also a new track and not fully bedded in, I knew straight off that we were all in for a sloppy one!  Unfortunately due to wrangling with the good old Forestry Commission the very top of the track was not going to be used for the race, it still left a three and a half minute course though and it certainly wasn't shabby!  The NDH boys pulled out the stops with the amazing RedBull Rampage-style start ramp which rolled you off a high drop straight into the first shoot, excellent! 

The top section was the biggest, gnarliest rock garden I've seen so far in the UK, this would be a real test my TF Tuned tweaked suspension and X-Fusion shock.  The rock garden was incredibly physically demanding and caused a lot of riders a lot of issues, so much so a load of riders pulled out of racing altogether!  I must add here that I have nothing but respect for Carl Davison and the Northern Downhill boys who put these courses together, it's not the first time they've had riders pull out due to so-called 'extreme' sections, however how are riders to progress in this sport if they are not being challenged by this terrain? 

We did say it was muddy! Photo by Richard Easton

The track crossed into the woods which were quite dark with a lot of tricky roots to negotiate. The main trick at the bottom was keep your speed up and keep pedalling otherwise you got bogged down in the mud which became worse as the weekend progressed.

My first race run went half-decently with a few errors and one big stop in the slop which took a lot of effort to get going afterwards.  I finished in third place with my first run, because of this I knew other people were struggling with the course's worsening conditions and I was keen on trying to go faster then the other two riders on my final run.  From the start of the second run I was being thrown all over the place, it was really hard going, I did however stay steady, no stops, no stalls, just took it all as it came, the course was a complete mess of mud, roots and rocks.  No-one bettered the times of their previous runs and I remained in third place, more importantly however I was the Northern Champion for 2012!

Photo by Stewart Dickson

The course conditions were damned tough, the combination of an unbedded in new track and the weather playing havoc! The bike however worked like a dream, I am over the moon with the X-Fusion shock, it came into its own, combined with the TF Tuned forks the whole suspension set up was incredibly supple across the weekend, couldn't fault it.

I would like to say a massive 'Thank You' to everyone who has supported me through the year:

Firstly and foremost Frank Wadelton for supporting me with his brilliant FB10 frames, the guy is a legend, a Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee and an all round lovely bloke, thank you so much Frank.

Then up in no particular order:

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