Monday, 29 April 2013

Into The Woods..... Scottish Downhill Series Round 1, Innerleithen, 21st April 2013

Sorry to keep y'all waiting out there, I'm so outta practise with the team blog shizzle, it's Nick here.....

First race of the year, so I was pretty excited, neither Chris nor me attended the first round of the British Downhill Series the week before as it was held at Combe Sydenham which is a very long way to travel for what is in effect a flat as a pancake pootle through their woods!  A controversial comment there, I know!  So this weekend was the first opportunity to gauge myself against the other riders.

This was the first round of the SDA's at Innerleithen which is a superb venue with some great tracks.  Got to the pits really late in the evening and didn't have time to walk the track.  In hindsight, after the first practise run on Saturday morning, I wish I had taken a torch and gone up the mountainside as there were so many lines to choose from. 

Photo copyright of Paul Mears

I am waiting for my new Team-Issue FTW Industries 'FB10' downhill frame to arrive from the 'States before fitting all of the new kit so sent my Boxxer forks off to the guys at TF Tuned for some TLC.  As usual they came back working as sweet as a nut, thank you so much guys, you rule!   The bike was running damned good and the course's conditions were only a tad moist which made for a nice change as of late.  Track wise, well it had a bit of everything to put me and the bike through its paces.  Some real nice tight technical sections, some big jumps and some flat out sprints.

Photo copyright of the awesome Ian Linton

Unfortunately due to the good old Post Office being so incredibly efficient (quite!) I was unable to collect my new DFender mud guard which would have been a great advantage however my 100% goggles and laminated tear offs did a great job of keeping the cack out of my eyes!

Photo copyright of Steve Wyper

My last practice run was going well, I was riding fast and hitting most of my lines bang-on.  Coming into the last jump section near the bottom of the track there were a load of spectators indicating for me to slow down, which I did, one of the trackside marshalls told me to carry on so I started to pick my speed back up.  Due to being out of sync with the track I hit the first jump awry, usually I was hitting it perfectly lined up and flat out.  It went all to hell on landing and my head took the hard brunt of it, very grateful to my Urge lid for protecting my youthful looks!  I was feeling pretty dazed so left it at that for the day.

Photo copyright of Steve Wyper

Race day hit and there had been a bit of rain over night so the track was a little slicker.  In the morning's practice session I was a little more cautious, pulled back a fair bit, but I guess that's understandable though.  Having said that I was feeling darned good for race runs.  On the first run I washed out across one of the fire roads which costing me a little time, that really hacked me off as I was on it.   Took that annoyance into my second run and really tried to nail it, shaved off 6 seconds, that's not too shabby but I was off the pace.  The crash in practise gave my confidence a hit.

Next up is the first round of the Northern Downhill Series at Kidland, I will be on it!

Friday, 19 April 2013

North-West Mountain Bike Series, Farmer John's, Stockport, Round 1, 31st March 2013

Ay up you lot, it's Chris here...

It was Saturday afternoon when we set off, myself and old school racer Simon Russell.  We were supposed to get there for 7pm, that didn't happen though.  To cut a long story short we arrived at 1am. After driving through the wee village and into the farm were to be greeted by a big 'No Fire's' sign and would you belive it, a fire blazing away right ahead of us!  Rogues, I tell you, rogues!  We both took a few rums and went off to kip.

It was an early morning kick-off, walking the track it was typical 'Farmer Johns' style with shit loads of sprinting but all in it was a pretty cool course.  Looked a fair bit faster towards the bottom where the track appeared to look like it was made of ice!  'Cool Runnings' stylee right there I reckon!

Signed on early and off we went, plenty of runs was the order of the day as I couldn't make it down for the Saturday practice.  First run, donning the number 8 on the Giant Reign complete with busted cranks and single ply tyres from the last XC ride, I'm so damned hardcore y'see!  I'll be FTW Industries 'FB10' mounted shortly, mark my words!

Out of the second corner, nice.. over the first jump, maybe a little too whipped out, landing on a few off track rocks and.... "Pshhhhhhhh......" the tyre popped after the valve snapped off!  I finished the run nonetheless, and yeah, as I'd guessed earlier, it was pure 'Cool Runnings' style with the ice-dirt and a flat rear.  Good fun though, you can't beat a bit of driftage!

Photo copyright of Isac Paddock

Only managed two full practice runs in.  I had also managed to forget my knee pads , so I borrowed some off an up and coming rider, Ed Hixon.  Cheers for the loan Ed, however next time buy a larger pair will ya...haha!

First run came round, gently does it as I'm not really sure where I'm going!  It wasn't too bad a run with the single-ply tyres folding on all the corners, super drifty!  The icey lower sections had received a bit of attention, not only from a few pick axes and shovels but seemed to have gained a rather large crowd, I wonder why?!  Popped over the line to finish with a fifth place. Not bad. Hike back up o'the top and have a catch up on some much needed rest.  In the spirit of Kimi Räikkönen I fell asleep, to be woken by Simon after his second run, oops!

Photo copyright of Richard Kemp

A sleepy second run it was then!  Confident I could do well, out of the blocks I flew. Second bloody corner again and my chain jammed, absolutely gutted. that was the end of my run really.  I stay chilled out and rolled in ten seconds back from my first run, seventh place in the Experts, a pretty good day's racing nonetheless.  

As always it's a good atmosphere down at FJ's and pretty cool to get away from all the snow for a day of sun!  Still a pretty damned cold wind mind but hey, this is the UK man!  


Sunday, 7 April 2013

Step back in time to the Haglofs Open5 Series Round 5, Threshfield, Yorkshire, 3rd March 2013

Angie here m'loves.....

So there I was, sat one evening looking at dates and planning the year ahead when Jenni came across the Haglofs Open 5 series.....  

We were pretty excited straight away, it was new and we were inexperienced in this type of thing but thought it sounded fun and that we would have time to get fit for it.  We entered the Yorkshire Dales event which started at Threshfield, only 2 hours from home.

A few weeks passed and race day came, Jenni rocked up at my house at 6.30am(!!) and we made our way over through all the twisty weaving little roads.  As we drove into the car park it was full of lycra clad athletes limbering up.  It didn’t make us feel nervous at all!!!  Yeah right!

Got ourselves to registration and figured out the format of the race.  We were given 2 maps, each covering different areas, one was the mountain bike route and the other the run route.  Each route has checkpoints laid out across the mapped area, some points are worth more than others and the aim of the game is to collect as many points as possible within the 5 hours.

Before the start we sat and planned which routes to take, however as you leave the start line you are given a list of checkpoints that are not getting used which means you have to quickly adjust your route on the fly.  We decided to start the run first and covered approximately 12 miles collecting all but  two checkpoints.  Girls done good!! 

We ran into the transition area, quickly changed shoes and got our helmets on.  Away we went off up a big climb onto the moors, trying to remember to keep drinking as my legs were cramping up.  It probably didn’t help that I was on a borrowed bike that was too big for me either.  Time was ticking and we had two hours left after getting slightly lost at one point, made it back to base with 10 mins to spare, phew!  No time penalty for us!

It was such a relief that it was over, we both lay on the grass catching our breath and relaxing after a five-hour relentless race, our first adventure race complete and with massive grins on our faces!

It turns out we got a 4th place in the female pairs category.  How cool is that!  We’ve definitely been bitten by the bug and are hungry for more, it’s such a great concept and the not to mention the scenery was amazing! 

See you next time….

It's not all about biking.... The Allendale Challenge, 6th April 2013

The Development prides itself that it's not just about biking, as mentioned in earlier 'introducing' blogs the team participate in a broad cross section of outdoor sports, fell running, snowboarding, rock climbing, all sorts.  Angie, as those who read this blog regularly will know, is a very keen fell runner..... and here's the Allendale Challenge run down for you all.....

The Allendale Challenge amongst fell runners and walkers is infamous for the covering some of the finest peat bogs in the North Pennines.  2013 hosted the 24th event, of which my Dad has raced 23 of them, this year was a bit sad with the fact that he’s decided to quit racing.  As you can imagine after 27 years fell running he could do with changing the bearings!

This year I did more training than before, getting involved with adventure races and running more often during the week over the last few months so was looking forward to it.  Ellen Tipple (Chris Foster of The Development Racing’s girlfriend) was competing again this year, I was approx. 20mins behind her last year.  Jenni Campbell from Berghaus was doing it for her first time.  Helen Gaskell, Sarah Newman and her sister Amy were planning on walking it.  My brother James was also having a crack at it having not walked that far for over 14 years.  It was quite exciting having a lot of people there. Steve was team support for the day cycling around to the checkpoints and keeping us going.  My mum, Aunty and cousins were also supporting us driving around to certain checkpoints to cheer us all on!

After the amount of snow that had fallen the week before the organisers had to change the original route and divert some of the 9ft Snow drifts across the moors by Black Hill, this reduced the route somewhat from 25 miles to 23 miles.  The event was full with 860 competitors, made up with probably 70% walkers and the rest runners.  Jenni, Ellen and I set off at 10am as runners after the walkers who went off at 8am.  

The day was so hot compared to the conditions lately, it was a proper bluebird day, not a cloud to be seen in the sky.  Straight off the start line, up a steep track onto the moors to checkpoint one at the chimneys, we were doing OK at 10-minute miles.  When you’re doing a long distance run it’s hard to try and hold yourself back a little to conserve your energy, it’s easy to just run fast at the start but then suffer later on. I usually find I get my breathing into a rhythm and like you would stick to the same cadence on your bike you do a similar thing whilst running. 

Jenni and I stuck together the whole way and tried to keep Ellen in view but she’s like a whippet and kept getting ahead.  It was good to have something to aim for though.  As we approached the halfway mark onto the top of Killhope Law at 673 metres we were knee high in snow making it real hard work and at the same time trying to pass walkers in snow gully’s.  It was a shame that I couldn’t stop to just take in the view at the top but I didn’t really want to stop at all so we just cracked on.

Sunk a few gels, juice and cashew nuts that Jenni, luckily for me, had with her as I started to get cramp in my legs.  Not great when you’ve still got 9 miles to go.  Finally Steve told us there was only 3 miles left so it was like a home-run time.  Me and Jenni just pumped up the volume on the iPod and got our heads down, I looked up at one point to see Jenni waist deep in a bog trying to clamber out!  Oops! – nice to have a test dummy infront, hehe!

Towards the finish was a mile of steep, steep singletrack road which is exactly what you don’t want when you’ve just run 22 miles.  Jenni was flying down the road and overtook some bloke, I didn’t want to finish with a guy inbetween us both so I sprinted the last 400 metres overtaking him!  Yussah!  We both finished with a time of 4hrs 32mins just 7mins behind Ellen so times were close!

It was a great event and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!

Thanks to Steve, Mam and support team!

Getting back up to 100% and feeling the Urge......

May I have a round of applause for Decade Europe please, they have deemed The Development worthy of the awesome support with both Urge helmets and 100% goggles, we are incredibly grateful.....

This kit is certainly going to be put to the test with the inclement British weather, bring it on!

UK Gravity Enduro Round 1, Afan Forest, Wales, 24th March 2013

Enduro Blog, Angie reporting on Afan right here, right now, let's do this....

Gravity-led Enduro is getting increasingly more popular in the UK and with the first round of the series boasting 25 women it’s definitely becoming very popular with the female of the species which I applaud.  Afan was raced a couple of years ago however I didn't attend and as thus didn’t know quite what to expect but had heard it was going to be the more pedally of the rounds.  Oh well that’s great, seeing as how I hadn’t put much fitness training time in, in the weeks leading up to it.  The North East weather has been pretty crap of late with snow drifts, to say the least!

Steve and I travelled down in the new campervan all freshly kitted out and aren’t I glad Steve decided to fit a heater to it!  We made our way down late on Thursday night and decided to sleep en route. The winds were pretty strong and heavy snow was forecast.  We pulled over in a scary lorry park and woke up to pwitty snowwwww!  Trucked on to Afan where we met up with Helen Gaskell and Sarah Newman. Thankfully there wasn’t any snow in South West Wales instead it had decided to piss it down for 3 days straight making the tracks a bit sticky.  Gah!

Friday’s plan is always to get a taste of some of the stages, which then gives you Saturday to practice any fiddly bits and familiarise ourselves a bit more.  We smashed 4 out of the 5 stages.  Stage 1 was the furthest away and apparently a no-brainer so we left that one.  Stages 2, 3 and 5 were all fairly similar; trail centre hard pack with undulating climbs.  Most definitely NOT my favourite cup of Earl Grey!! Stage 4 was definitely more milky with a splash of sugar…definitely my fave!  It had been freshly cut in the woods but, because of the rain, had turned to a gloop fest, the mud was up past my hub in some places.  Great stuff!

(Photo copyright of MnD Photography)

Friday night was great fun in the camper; Helen, Sarah, Steve and I played Gran Turismo on the play station with the heater on!  Best bit of the weekend by far!!  Haha – Oh and Sarah gave a boxer a nice upper cut! Respect!

Saturday morning the plan was to practice a few of the stages again.  Because they were all very similar, it was hard to remember which features were on which stage.  Just as we were setting off I noticed my bike was missing an important bolt out the linkage.  I thought it was game over as it’s not just a standard bolt that you could get anywhere, it was a Trek special.  Panic stations, absolute PANIC STATIONS!!!  Anyhooo, it wasn't so bad…. T.Mo came to the rescue, she had been planning to race an XC National but because of the snow epidemic in the rest of the country she couldn’t make it and decided to race the Enduro instead, luckily, luckily, VERY luckily she brought with her a spare bike and let me borrow the bolt out of it. Hugely appreciative to her! Phew!

The qualifying run went OK with me but it really did feel like a 7 minute XC sprint.  I couldn’t get my head around how I was meant to race it again after all the other stages tomorrow. Steve wasn’t a happy chappy either, he hadn’t given 100% and realised his tyre choice wasn’t the best.  A lightning quick Formula One tyre change into some lighter, slicker numbers, pump up the volume, less grip, more roll! Get in!

(Photo copyright of JT Media UK)

Race day was much drier, no rain at all.  Pretty lucky really but the temperature was right the way down and we all found it pretty hard to keep the little digits warm.  

Stage 1 to Windy Point was like they’d said, way out west in the wind, taking about 50 mins to get there.  My gears weren’t working at all, Mr Frosty had seen to that but Helen fixed them up for me!  Cheers H. 

Stage 2 was pedally with an infamous rocky technical climb.  I got overtaken by The Dixanator here.  

Stage 3 was not how neither Steve or I had remembered it.  During practice it felt fun and flowy, racing it was slightly different; more like a gruelling, lung burning torturous spin fest.  I struggled on this one with fitness and the Newmanator caught me up here, it would have cost us both time if I had pulled over so instead we had a mint time shredding rubber down the bottom of the stage!! Buzzing.  

(Photo copyright of MnD Photography)

Stage 4, I knew I could claw back a little bit of time if I kept off the brakes and tried to just let momentum pull me through.  I dabbed once in the mud custard and it ended up being my best stage time wise. 

Stage 5 was the same as seeding finishing on the Bryn Bettws 4-Cross track.  I went a few seconds slower on here but I was super glad it was over to be honest!

I waited on Steve as he had set off an hour later than me.  The look on his face as he finished said it all, poor mite! Haha.  I think our fitness was down and our bikes were a bit overkill, I seriously need to change my tyre choice. 2.35 super tacky High Rollers were not the tyre of choice that weekend. We still had a good time and it was great to be back on the bikes with our mates.  Can’t wait to race Innerleithen in a few weeks.  

Over and Out

Angie and Steve xx

High Terrain Events Round 3, Grizedale Duathlon, 10th March 2013

Hi Lee.. here's the Grizedale Duathlon blog right here:

Round 3 of the High Terrain Duathlon Series was at Grizedale in the Lake District.  Having raced rounds 1 & 2 at Whinlatter and Kielder it felt like we were old hand at it.

(Photo copyright of Reuben Tabner)

Again Steve and I had running partners, Steve teamed up into a male team with Chris Dunn and I teamed up with Jenni Campbell both from Team Berghaus. The night before we stayed at Chris’s family cottage in Burrow-in-Furness, it was a bit of a relief to know that we didn’t have to get up super early for a wintery drive across to the Lakes!

(Photo copyright of Reuben Tabner)

This round was the same format as before, run, bike, run, the two running sections were the same at 6.5km and the bike compromised of 24km taking in “The North Face” trail.  This is a trail that’s been around for long time now when trail centres were just starting to get popular, it feels quite dated these days though with too much fire road and trail care neglect.  Anyway, we set about getting our kit ready and went through registration, this is the time when you start getting nervous.  I think for me it’s with the smells, 'Deep Heat' wafting through the crowds and the smell of heavily used toilets from all the nervous bodies.  Not to mention lycra clad bodies over spilling and making my stomach churn.

(Photo copyright of Reuben Tabner)

Steve was armed with his 29'er and I had my overkill Trek Remedy, not to worry though, she knows how to dig deep!!  Jenni and Chris were chomping at the bit, their times against each other are pretty damn close and this race proved just that!

The gun went off at 10am and by 10.37am Chris came running into the transition area, 35 seconds later Jenni came hurtling through, throwing the dibber over my neck and screaming at me to go, go, GO!  I went off as fast I could and left those two to embrace the minus zero temperatures while I battled out the 24km of singletrack and fire road! 

The first climb was painful after having been stood all morning in the cold, I overtook a couple of naughty faces on the technical climbs but was then overtaken by the same faces on the fire roads sprints!!  Grrr…can’t wait to get my new Team Issue FTW hardtail built up!!

The trails continued, heading down a long steep fire road to then be faced with an immediate climb straight back out the other side.  I was dying to finish, 1hr 47mins it took me to get around and it felt like a lifetime.  I screeched into the transition area throwing the dibber over Jenni’s head this time and yelling at her to GO! GO! GO!  - I later found out we positioned first out of every single competitor on the transition time, 11 seconds!!

(Photo copyright of Reuben Tabner)

Steve had been back about 20 mins, taking 1hr 27mins around the loop and feeling hopeful that he and Chris were going to place well.  Steve and I both agreeing that the bike bit wasn’t really our cup of tea but should be good training for the first Gravity Enduro down in Afan a couple of weeks after.

(Photo copyright of Reuben Tabner)

We waited anxiously for Chris to finish, he went just over a minute slower than his first time so pretty good with a sprint finish.  Jenni came through a little while after and only 2 mins slower than her first time, keeping close the 40 minute mark.  Chris and Steve had placed 2nd in the male teams and Jenni and I had won the women's teams.  We also placed 4th across all paired teams so pretty darned happy!

(Photo copyright of Reuben Tabner)

(Photo copyright of Reuben Tabner)

Next stop was the wee chip shore on the shores of Lake Windermere! …..and.... Relax!! Don’t do it…when you wanna go to it!! 

Angie and Steve

Borderline events, Innerleithen, 24th February 2013

Chris Foster takes over the crib: Well I arrived fashionably late at the venue (around midnight) to find something reminsent of an old NAMBS race.  A few fires and a few daft arses keeping the campsite awake.. for once not me though!  It would have been rude of me to ignore the atmosphere so a few rums were necked and I was off to bed.

Up for an early morning and a brisk track walk.  Quote of the weekend goes to newby racer Peter Woods for 'You could hang a hoodie from my nipples', it were a wee bit cold y'see! The track was simple, fast and a safe option considering the weather at this time of year, it was taped by Lewis Buchanan, and he sure knows his stuff, so yeah, Mike Marsden got himself a good track. 

Practice was kept to four runs for me, having not been on the bike for a while I wanted to stay fresh.  It was slow going at first but started to get there by the end of the day, the track was enjoyed by most and it was great to see a lot of first time racers there.  All seemed pretty stoked to being part of it, if not a bit nervous.  We had an early night and found the party folks from the previous evening must have learned their lesson as it had all thankfully quietened down.

After another cold night, up early (for me anyway) and out for a practise run, just the one as it's a long ride along that Inners road, especially in the bleedin' cold weather.  Got my race lines all sorted I had a wee walk up the bottom of the track for a little entertainment... only to find I would spend the next hour looking after a potential spinal injury, great!

Racing soon got underway and the times rolled in as most people stayed warm in their cars. The track was hard up top for my race run but grippy as can be, awesome... if only my riding was too!  Had a sketchy first run, trying too hard to put a good time in after so long off the bike took its toll and I hit the deck, not far from the end of the track. 

(Photo copyright of Ian Linton)

Second run came around quickly, as I spent the most of my time trying to sort a brake that failed on the first run.  Big thanks going out to Jamie Johnson for taking some time out to get that sorted for me,  Boshed on up the hill with my bruised arse and to make matter's worse I fell out of the uplift bus and bashed my arse again, bugger! 

(Photo copyright of Ian Linton)

The plan for run two was to take it easy, conserve energy and get all my lines sweetly dialled in, that was a conscious effort not to pedal aside from the start and finish straight.  At the top of the hill light was fading fast and we were blessed with snow, this made for some interesting possibilities on track.  I found it really good though and managed all that I wanted, absolutely class!  Well apart from the brake which I guess has to go back to Hope, It's new and just doesn't wanna work!  So yeah, steady as planned and not too bad a time considering.

(Photo copyright of Steve Wyper)

The race was won by Lewis Buchanan, with an awesome time, Jack Reading second followed closely by Adam Brayton and then Pete Williams who are both coming back from injury.  So good times for them two. Dave Wardell put in a stonking time in Masters, showing all the young lads how it should be done and indeed showing that the old school are still shining!