Friday, 27 December 2013

Hibernation? Hell no....

Whilst others were recovering indoors from the chocolate overload the day before Angie grabbed two of her mates Helen Gaskell and Lucy Bell for a run up Scafell Pike in the Lake District, you can join them here:

Whilst in the middle of the festivities....

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas regardless to the rather inclement weather which certainly did its best to dampen everything here in Europe.

Almost set to go for 2014, just tying up the final sponsors and fettling with the new team strip design, it's looking sharp!

Keep your eyes on the various bike websites and cycling magazines for the first of the team's press releases in early January.

Until then, have a great New Year and we'll see you on the other side.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Northern Downhill Series season closer, Chopwell Woods, 17th November 2013

After what was an awesome event at Kidland just a few weeks beforehand, it would have been rude not to have raced Northern Downhill's next event at Chopwell Woods.  Let's face it, it's only a couple of miles from home and it's not often you're able to get a nice lie in before jumping on the race bikes! 

There hasn't been an event at Chopwell for many years so it was quite exciting to be back there again.  Following on from the previous events it was a one day format with practice until lunch and then two race runs in the afternoon.  Carl got a cracking number of riders signed up, well into the 120+ marks which was great to see at this time of year.  Hats off to you sir....

The track they were using was the Powerline which is fairly straight forward with some berms to start off with, down into a section littered with nice and shiny roots, a few more more singletrack turns which took a fair bit of pedalling and then across some jumps.  All pretty easy stuff which is a good job as Steve was on his hardtail after his enduro bike wasn't all it was cracked up to be (ahem!).  All in though it was a simple and fun track to race on, when combined with the laid back vibe of the event it all added up to a belter of a day.  Oh and muggins here had forgotten her full face helmet so had to borrow one, just wait till you see the photo....

Photo copyright of Mick Stephenson

There was a great bunch of people there who we don't normally get to race with, one being my lovely brother James so it was cool to do a few runs together.  It's great galloping behind him with his balls out riding style and then there's mad Gary Mac, well what can I say?  The guy's a hairy legend!  Steve was buzzing as he got to race with Andrew 'Weedkiller' Weeding for the first time in a long while too.  You guys need to come out to the other races a lot more you know, no excuses!

Practice was soon done and dusted (more like mud-covered) with about five runs each, the race runs soon came around... Steve managed to grab the hot seat just ahead of Phil Grimes who was looking right fast all day... my first run was a tad on the slow side, after Steve told me that I looked like I was dawdling I took the aggression out on my second run knocking four seconds off my time, awesome! :) 

The weapons meet again... L-R: Sarah Newman, Helen Gaskell and Angie Coates...

Steve maintained his top spot, hardtail style!  He was a bit coy afterwards, it's not in his nature to shout about it but I knew he was buzzing!! 

Photo copyright of Paul Mears

It was a great race day all round and here's hoping it's on again next season, we'll certainly be at all of new ND(H)uro races next year. 

Let's not forget a great effort and a big pat on the back to Carl from the NDH and Scott Mears for holding the event in honour of Eileen Joyce Gibbons whose family will be giving a percentage from the race to a charity of their choice.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

A big Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends in the United States, now go and get stuck straight in!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Northern Downhill in enduro mode, the ND(H)uro at Kidland, 20th October 2013

One word for this race..... AMAZEBALLS!!!!!!!!!

Oh my god, where do I start here?  Well, I hadn't been to Kidland since 2010 when Steve and I did one of the Northern Downhill races there, I remember it being a total shocker thinking that I just couldn't ride anymore!  So when I heard that Carl Davison was running his first Enduro event at Kidland I must admit to being a wee bit nervous, and that was before I knew he was planning on running them down the downhill tracks.  Oh my!  For those not in the know, Kidland...... is.... STEEP!

Like the previous Borderline Events' Escape to Gisburn it was a one day event so practice was first thing in the morning with the racing kicking off from 1pm.  There were three tracks, two of them were on the Alwinton downhill tracks and the third was the Kidland downhill track with a slight detour around the steepest bit, phew!  And the best bit?  It had rained solidly all night long so the courses were a grease-fest, lovely and muddy, tyre choice was crucial, I managed to get away with running Maxxis High Rollers, I didn't have any mud specific tyres to hand.

We all made the first pedal up, none of us really knew what to expect so took it easy to start with, all the tracks were pretty similar to be fair, steep and rooty with tight corners.  It felt absolutely mint to be sliding around in the mud with the back end slipping out on roots. The last time I rode my bike tripod-style with my tummy on the seat was at the Megavalanche in the snow and oh my god we were having so much fun here. Full on belly laughs the whole way down.  As we got to the bottom we didn't even need to say anything we just looked at each other with huge grins on our faces, our eyes on stalks and knew we were all loving it. 

For me track three was the best, it was more ridden in and just rode so smoothly, I couldn't wait to race it.  Steve's Yeti was sadly still in bits so he was on his Cotic hardtail again and although everyone was taking the piss out of him for riding a hardtail 29er at Kidland he didn't do too bad and came 8th in the Master category.  I took a 3rd with Helen and Sarah taking the top two steps. 

The Weapons; Sarah Newman, Helen Gaskell and Angie Coates

I really cant wait to ride there again, it's given me a huge amount of motivation to ride steeper and more technical tracks, I can't wait to get the FTW downhill beasty built up to hit some more of it!

See you on the next hill punks,


Monday, 25 November 2013

Borderline Events Enduro - Escape to Gisburn, 29th September 2013

Hey guys and gals, it's Angie here again, there's been no time to sit still, 'busy bunny' are my middle names. We've got some amazing news but I can't divulge just yet so keep sitting tight, exciting times are a'coming, I am itching to tell you all however!  Anyway, for now go and grab your cup of coffee and some biscuits here's my report from the Borderline Events, Escape to Gisburn enduro...

After a week of riding around the absolutely drop dead gorgeous West Highlands of Scotland both me and Steve's legs were feeling pretty done in however but we couldn't resist another race so drove all the way from Wick at the top of Scotland to get to Gisburn in North Yorkshire for Mike Marsden's first ever Enduro.  Although I had ridden at Gisburn before Steve had never been and there were some new tracks being built so we thought why the hell not!

The week before in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, absolutely amazing scenery...

It was only a single day event which was pretty cool however we used our time wisely and managed to get a bit of practice in on the Saturday where we met up with the local legend Euan Bruce to show us the tracks.  Steve opted for his hardtail after the bearings on his Yeti blew up, despite stripping it all down in the car park he gave up all hope, so racing on the hardtail it was to be! Hardcore, you know the score!

This Enduro was made up of three stages and they were all fairly pedally but well thought out, it was all pretty good fun, Mike Marsden had done his homework!  Track one was tight and twisty through the trees and over shiny roots, yes, those glossy little buggers that are only there to catch out the unwary. Thankfully I kept it pinned and showed the boys how it's done, there's also something very soothing about the smell of a pine forest, but I best not get all hippy dippy on you all!  

Photo copyright of Lisa Hollifield

Track 2 had a fresh sweet bit cut in which I absolutely loved, it was pretty much a straight line to the fireroad over some jumps and roots, you had to stay on the gas to get through the fast rolling section.  It was here where I had my buddy Peter Tiplady in my sights and made it my mission to chase him down, he got ass-whipped, good times.  Soon afterwards I was feeling the pain of pushing up up a super steep climb, this was rewarded with the awesome trail down through the woods to the finish line. That climb though was a lung buster, I was almost sick at the end of the track, talk about breathing fire!!!  Poor Steve got a puncture on the first whoopy bit of the trail which screwed up his potential podium position, he totally kicked ass on track one taking the first position so understandably he was feeling gutted.  

Photo copyright of Nick Moor

Track 3 was admittedly bit of a slog, which in the same breath was great for Steve on his hardtail who shot off at warp factor 90, I just found it really hard on my legs I suppose it was the previous week in the Highlands coming back to haunt me.  I got cadence going and kept it steady but oh boy I was absolutely knackered when crossing that finish line, I just lay in the grass gasping for breath!

Photo copyright of Nick Moor

Steve got held up on the fire road after a dude in front got in his way which wasn't great but all in all we had fun and will definitely be doing another one of Marsden's races, well done that man!

I took home the 3rd place here, Steve placed 1st on track 1 and 3 but unfortunately the puncture on track 2 let him down. That's racing for you though.

We're both looking forward to the 2014 Borderline Events.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Enduro report; No Fuss Events, Tour De Ben, Fort William, 21st September 2013

Angie's here and taking over the crib - how you all doing out there peeps?

Steve and I lost our virginity to the Tour De Ben last year, it's run by the fantastic people at No Fuss Events, for anyone who hasn't attended one of their weekenders they are extremely well organised and always a whole load of relaxed fun.  However 'relaxed' was not the name of the game for this year's race, far from it, I felt like I was being chased by a pack of howling wolves hot on my tail!!

The all important riders' meeting

We rocked up to Fort William on the Friday and got all signed in, it suddenly feels very real when you are handed your number board and dibber!  After a good night's sleep in the van we woke up early raring to go, the start of the race was really utterly genius; everyone lines up at the end of the town and then a group of bagpipers lead you through the cobbled street before the whistle goes and you all fight your way past each other up the first hill climb, exactly how cool is that?!

The first stage was the best, a steep rock-strewn track over drainage ditches down to Kinlochleven, I had my tyres pumped up super hard which lead to me hitting some of the turns speedway style.  This cued a huge smile on my face after the 'whoop'-filled run and a quick "Hello" to my mate Gary Mac's parents and his 'wor lass' at the bottom!

The next stage started from a wee wooden bridge and was 80% uphill, a total lung and thigh buster! I won't talk about this stage as I don't remember much of it apart from the heavy panting and that's not very lady-like!  Not long afterwards we hit the river crossing, thankfully it wasn't that deep it marked the halfway point with 35km done and another 35km to go, bring it on!   This also marked the start of Stage 3 AKA the 'hike a bike' section which took me about an hour of flipping hard work and a lot of swearing!  I got cramp in my thighs here the same as last year, jinxed I tell you, jinxed, but pushed through it, I knew I was in need of some salt intake to combat it.

The steely eyed determination....

I met up with Helen and Sarah at the Laraig bothy where the marshalls were serving burgers and sausage sarnies, I didn't have the stomach for any of that so pushed some peanuts in my mouth and kept on going, I really needed the salt.  I didn't see the Gruesome Twosome after this, thought they would have caught up but later I heard that they were having a snooze track side!  From this point Steve started having a bit of an epic, his legs were cramping up big time and he was practically having to crawl bits, it's a bit of a shame since the first half was going really well for him.  Poor blighter.

Steve (and Helen) getting set to get on it....

The last stage was part of the Witches' Trails and by this time I was knackered but knew that I was so close to home and that the track that lay before me was a heap of flat out laughs!  I overtook a few people down here, it was a man-made trail centre type track but pretty steep with some sweet swooping sections, awesome fun.

After this I pushed hard on the pedals all the way to the end, and thank feck for that!!  Most of the time I was riding I was hating it and asking myself why the hell I was doing it but as soon as crossing the finish line I was so happy, buzzing ear to ear and simply can't wait to do it all again next year. That's what it's all about!

I cycled into the town and Steve met me with a big hug! I got 4th out of 14 girls so was pretty happy with that. 

See y'all at the next one!


Flying about hither and thither....

Greetings to everyone out there in t'interweb land, it has been a very busy few weeks sorting the team out for 2014, we've expanded to six riders!  Haven't had a team this big since the 90's, it's gonna be full on rock 'n roll.  There's a press release coming up very soon so watch this space.

In the meantime..... back to the blogging.....

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Under the shadow of the mighty Aonach Mòr.... Scottish Downhill Series, Fort William, 8th September.

Oh summer please come back, you weren't meant to leave us all so suddenly, what is this deluge of water from the skies that we're all caught up in?! 

First thing's first, my new FTW Industries Odysseus is built and ready to rock, quite literally across this weekend.  Excited?  Much!  Time to give the new ride a shake down.

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

All kitted up I grabbed the gondola and took the steady ascent to the start gate, 1,221 metres further up the mountain, my plan was more or less straight forward; first few runs taking it easy and just cruising down, scoping the course out as I went.  As expected the track was pretty cut up after all the abuse it had seen through the season, and with that said, the bike was riding smoother than one of Ella Fitzgerald's songs!  

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

Fort William in a nutshell is brutal, flat out and rough, it separates the wheat from the chaff. The wooded section was an eye-opener, some damned slippy roots in there to catch out the unwary and a million lines to choose from.  It was largely a case of point and shoot towards the big drop at the end which was causing a lot of issues for people resulting in a bottle neck. This made practice tough going, out of my six runs I only managed to hit it twice as there was always someone in the way.  Here's an idea guys..... stand back and let riders on the course past instead of standing in the middle of the track! With that section out of the way it became easier, I say this loosely, it's a big pedal fest, totally flat out up the big wall ride followed by the infamous Hazard Hoofer which was a gap jump over a stream. From there you take the death grip onto your bars, slam down onto the jump strewn motorway section and pedal like a demon possessed to the finish line. 

Practice was simply awesome fun, the new bike was amazing to ride, Frank's moved the pivot point and beefed it all up resulting in a totally solid as plush as you like no flex back end, totally confidence inspiring!  A little while later a red flag popped up whilst a rider was being scraped off the track so me and my mates took the Red Route down to the bottom which was great fun too.  All in all practice went very well with no real drama.

Come Sunday we decided to head up on the early gondola lifts which gave us a clear view of the track below, we were watching an old friend who just got back into racing again, Zac Hubery, and previous World Champ Danny Hart.  Shame I couldn't keep up with Danny long enough to steal some sneaky lines though, damn!

Photo copyright of Ian Porter

Back at the pits I got the bike primed up for my race runs, the new Goodridge hydraulic hose was worth its weight in gold, Hayes Prime Pro brakes are a great at the best of times but once you add these babies into the equation you're totally dialled in.  Grabbed another gondola and chilled out for a bit, soon in the start gate with the 15 seconds being called and then hearing the dreaded "RED FLAG!" over the radio, it's total head fuck when that happens, you lose your mental preparation.  After a slight delay I was off out the gate and it was me against the mighty Aonach Mor!  The top section was clean and so damned fast, got into the woods hit the drop, lost control and got up, close and personal with a tree trunk, balls!  I was soon back on the gas and sprinting down the mountainside, the bike was quite literally swallowing all of the jumps, I was loving it.

Second run was a simple case of making no cock ups!  Out of the gate and going hell for leather, not bad going, berm, rocks, platform, berm, rocks, berm, berm, rocks, hit the top of one of the faster corners too hard, brake, brake, brake, stayed on, phew....lost speed, bugger!  Literally screaming at myself "GET ON IT!", straight into the woods, stayed smooth off the big drop and took a new line which although a little slower gave me more control.  Carried on pushing, 'bam-bam-bam', the bike was ploughing through everything in its wake, hit the motorway my thighs were screaming with lactic acid build up, I had to keep sprinting, struggling through the pain and clearing the jumps, down the final drops and across the finish line to pure relief.  That course is pure punishment, no two ways about it.

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

This was my last race before I tie the knot in October.  I want to take some time here to thank all of the team's sponsors without which I would not be able to do all of this.  First and foremost to Frank for the amazing frames, Dave Keningale for the awesome team strip design, Sun-Ringle wheels, Silverfish, The Hive, Decade Europe, Hayes brakes, Goodridge hose, Burgtec pedals and bars, Powa Products Dfender mud guards, Urge helmets, Thomson stems and posts, SDG saddles. RockShox forks, Oury grips, Ride 100 Percent goggles, the fantastic support from Berghaus outdoorwear and last but by no means least the guys at TF Tuned for their technical support throughout the season.  Oh, and that Lee Walker geezer doesn't do a bad job either ;)


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

UK Gravity Enduro Round 5 - Dyfi, 18th August 2013

Steve and I first raced at Dyfi last year for the final round of the UK Gravity Enduro!   The track compared to the rest of the rounds with it being pretty damn fast and loose, sick!  We liked it so much that we headed back down there in February for Steve's 30th Birthday Bash. But, sshhh!

We rocked into the venue on Thursday evening and it didn't half piss it down all through the night.  Met up with Helen Gaskell and Sarah Newman who had brought along Helen's little sister Bex Baroana who turned out to be the secret missile of the weekend!  I have to say that one of my favourite bits of the weekend was following Bex down Stage 3 and hoping to god I wasn't going to follow her over the side of the cliff!  One word for Bex: 'Loose'!

We all rode together on the Friday to practice the stages and my legs just felt dead, I had changed my whole group set to Shimano which meant I was pushing a harder gear, good for the long term though I must admit!

Practice went well, some of the stages were brand new and we sectioned some of the lines which seemed to be getting a bit blown out from the rain. Steve Parr and his merry men fixed it all up for race day though, hats off to those guys.

On Saturday we took it easy and just practiced Stage 5 which was also the qualification track.  It was really grim during the quali's though, incessant rain and windy.  I didn't seed that well, I didn't really have the best of tyre choice considering the course conditions to be honest.  The track consisted of a lot of flat grassy turns.  Steve seeded OK but again similar issue with tyres.  

Photo copyright of Doc Ward

Here's Steve with a run down: qualifying was on the crazy side especially due to our tyre choices. The track was super wet and down a field so you can imagine the battle on a worn out daft tyre... nonetheless I scrapped my way to the bottom a little sideways.  Think I qualified somewhere in the top 15, further back than I would have liked as this kinda track usually suits my riding. .....

(Angie) Race day came around and Steve felt he had his work cut out, originally his aim for the weekend was a top 10 but after qualifying he knew he would be happy with a finish in the top 25.  It would be hard though as much as we both love riding at Dyfi, we both knew that the race pace was gonna be off the map!

Stage 1 was cancelled for us due to some dude breaking his hip or something along those lines, poor bugger!  Wishing him well.  This kinda played in Steve's favour because that particular stage a had a pretty big pedally section and like me his legs were knackered!

This was also Steve's first time using the new Thomson dropper seatpost and he was getting some envious stares from other riders, ha!

Sunday is an early start for the girls, we're always off first but it does mean we get to watch everyone finishing which is cool.  My first three stages were OK however on Stage 4 my chain came off, then after hearing a 'Pppppssssttt....' noise and thinking it to be a flat tyre I stopped, got out all my puncture repair kit stuff and then realised it was just water hitting the hot disk brake rotors!  Looking back I can laugh about it but at that point in time I was fuming! Gggrrr!  

Photo copyright of Doc Ward

Still on Stage 4 I trucked on and came into a fast left hand berm, it was here that the bike stopped dead and I went face first mouth open into the biggest puddle ever. I kid you not it was huge.  (Think of those old Thelwell horse cartoons and you're not far off!)  My goggles filled up with water and I couldn't do anything but jump back on my bike with twisted bars and laugh manically the rest of the way down!

Copyright of Thelwell

(Steve:) I was super happy with the rest of the event, everything was going well and I managed to keep smooth solid runs throughout three of the stages.  I finally found myself at the top of the final stage, soaking wet through with the rain, willing myself to stay on the bike and finish off what could have been prefect day... hahahahhaha, spoke too soon, It wasn't to be.  I was all over the place, drifting uncontrollably everywhere and stacked it twice, once into the only tree on the track and the other towards the bottom, slap bang on the floor!!  Shit happens eh!  It's funny really and I still laugh my arse off thinking about it.  I need to crash more, it keeps ya honest, only joking but I loved it!  

Photo copyright of Doc Ward

So that was our last UK Gravity Enduro of the season.  Helen Gaskell took the win for the Elite women with Sarah in 2nd.  For the season overall Steve finished up 9th and I was in 6th, not too shabby, we're both chuffed with that.

Next race is the infamous Tour De Ben!

Durty Events, the Aviemore Triathlon, 11th August 2013

.....Looking back, I remember standing at the side of the loch on that Sunday morning thinking "Who the hell's crazy idea was this?" and then I realised..... it was mine!!......

It all started with a conversation at work over lunch when a few of us decided we might give the Aviemore Triathlon a go.  We are all fairly sporty in some way or another from Donna who is massively into Cross-Fit to my good friend Helen who practically has 2 wheels attached to her and proved to be somewhat of an underdog when it came to the swim.  If there was one place to do your first ever Triathlon why not travel 5 hours to beautiful Aviemore and do it properly!  Oh yes!

L-R Dan, Donna, Jenni, Helen and Angie... all set!

We road tripped it up there on Friday night and arrived at the lodge fairly late after a 5hr drive but still managed to watch ‘Dirty Dancing’ on VHS, which was a great start to the weekend in my book!

.... "Nobody puts Baby in a corner"....

Saturday morning we grabbed our wet suits and made our way to the Badaguish Outdoor Centre race venue at the foot of the Cairngorms.  Since none of us bar Jenni had ever swam properly in open water, or for that matter in a wet suit, we thought it best to dip our toes first.  For some reason I hadn’t thought about the fact that it would be so dark when I put my head in the water, I was used to the clear blue chlorinated water of swimming pools so that was a shock to the system.

The X-Men!


The bike course had been marked out and the eager beavers that we are wanted to suss it out see what we had to contend with the next day.  I’d decided to take my hardtail and hoped I had made the right choice.  Donna at heart is a roadie and was braving it on a borrowed mountain bike.  We rode the 14km course and most of it was fire-road however there was a sweet bit of technical and rooty singletrack through the woods where I hoped I would be able to make up time on my race run.

The early morning Sunday start soon came around, the weather was good and we were all raring to go. We lined our bikes up at the edge of the loch and stepped into our wetsuits, suddenly it all felt very 'real' as I looked around to see lots of uber-serious athletes, some who were obviously in it for the win! It was at this point where the old nerves started to kick in for us all and there were lots of toilet trips, which is pretty annoying when you're wearing a full wetsuit I must add!

The swim was a deep water start which meant that you had to swim out till you couldn’t touch the bottom.  The whistle went and there was a whole lot of splashing, I lost sight of Helen, Jenni and Dan, in fact I lost sight of everything whilst I fought to take my steamed-up goggles off, flapping around like a seal.  Maybe it was a bad idea to start at the very front when you can’t swim for shit!  

You can't deny the scenery.....

Half a mile through the water later my feet touched the bed of the loch, up I stood and quickly scrambled over to my bike feeling unbalanced and delirious, peeling my Speedo wetsuit off and grabbing my helmet.  I could hear Donna next to me getting changed as well but the others were long gone.  This was my only chance to pull any time back and I started to pass a good few riders.  

Photo copyright of Peter Diender

Only a 6k run left and then it was all over, yes, six more kilometers left, oh my legs!  Some how I managed to get lost with another girl near the end and lost a load of time, later it turned out that Jenni did this as well, the route obviously needed better sign posting!

C'mon Angie.......

I crossed the line, utterly spent, cheered on by my buddies at the finish!  The swim had to be the hardest but we were all buzzing and can’t wait to do another one!  The results came out and Helen ‘underdog’ Gaskell totally smashed it taking a podium with her 3rd place position! 

Well done to Helen for her first Triathlon, so happy for her!  

The results within category’s are below:

Helen 3rd out of 32
Jenni  6th out of 32
Angela  11th out of 32
Donna 21st out of 32
Dan 23rd out of 34

All over, still smiling!