Monday, 24 June 2013

The Swaledale Marathon Fell Race, 9th June 2013

I’m writing this after getting back from a mint evening ride at Hamsterley in the glorious balmy sunshine!!  For some reason my legs feel flippin' mint after feeling absolutely dead last week after the Swaledale.  Here's how it went.....

On the 9th June it was Swaledale's fell race day, when I was younger, maybe 12, maybe 13 years old or there abouts I used to come to the fell races with my parents and help out at the checkpoints.  I always remember the Swaledale as being a nice summer race and promised myself that one day I would sit on the other side of the fence and race it myself.  It seems a shame with the year my Dad quits racing that I picked up my trainers to compete in this one, it used to be one of his favourites.  

So anyway, I entered back in January and then focused my attentions on the Allendale challenge race in March (which can be read here: The Allendale Challenge) after that I kind of stopped running. I mean with the weather improving and the evenings becoming lighter my bike started getting more use again.  It wasn’t until a few weeks before the race that I remembered and then thought "Oh shit, I need to start running!".  I’d left it too late though, if I started training my legs would be probably worse during the race than if I didn’t train at all therefore I didn’t bother, merely doing a four-mile run with Steve’s mum the week before as a warm up. 

I arrived at the village hall at Low Fremington (which is near Reeth) in North Yorkshire on the Saturday morning, got myself checked in and was happy with my race number ‘510’ (the mountain bike lot will guess why!).  

The racing started at 9.30am and off I went, it started with a bloody big hill climb, it was relentless and my heart rate was off the hook!  It was also the hottest day ever, with no clouds to be seen Mary (Steve’s Mum) had smothered me in sun tan lotion.  

There were about 12 checkpoints altogether, it seemed to take forever to get through them all.  I only had one bottle of juice and had drunk it by the first checkpoint but I knew I would be able to re-fill there.  I re-filled my bottle at every checkpoint however once I hit the Gunnerside one later in the race I thought it would be a good idea add some salt to my intake as I had been getting cramp in my calves during the last few miles and knew I needed salt in the system to get rid of it.  Maybe I had put in a bit too much though, with just four miles to go until the next checkpoint I was stuck with salty water which tasted disgusting!  Gutted!!

Anyway, I cracked on and eventually got some fresh stuff, the last checkpoint was in view, I had just one more climb to go and then a descent the rest of the way.  I seemed to get a second wind (stop that tittering at the back!) and overtook about seven people, three of them were the girls that I had been passing and being passed by from all day.  No way in hell were they passing me again, I just ran through the pain and kept going!  

It was coming close to the five-hour mark and I really didn’t want to go past that so turned my music up and got my head down!  I came into the finish where there were loads of people waving and cheering me on, the sun was still boiling and I was sweating so much!  I got 4hours 59mins!!  Get in there!!  Considering I'd had no training for this event I was buzzing!

Gonna train like a weapon next year and smash it out with faster time I reckon.  I’m down this neck of the woods again next weekend for the ‘ArdRock Enduro’ Can’t wait!! 

Cheers you guys,

Angie xx

Monday, 3 June 2013

British Downhill Series Round 3, Innerleithen 1st & 2nd June 2013

A lightning quick update coming at y'all, Nick here....

Was looking forward to this weekend, there was an awesome turn out of the international teams who were using the BDS Innerleithen event as a warm-up for the World Cup at Fort Bill next weekend.  Even better, we were all blessed with gorgeous warm and dry weather ......well it's about bloody time!

As usual at any given national event there was a lot of queuing to be had, it wasn't so bad with the nice weather mind you (yes, I am pandering to the stereotypical British thing and discussing the weather!) there was plenty of good social chit-chat going on.  Big props going out to Pete Williams who marked the course out, it was a blinder!  The track was super fast with quite a few tricky sections where a lot of riders were getting caught out.  There were some serious crashes and lots of red flags throughout the whole weekend, top stuff I tell ya!

On the Saturday I managed to squeeze in five runs which left me a little disappointed, I didn't feel I had learned my lines.  Come Sunday I squeezed in two further practise runs before qualification, the track was a lot slippier due to the amount of churned up dust.  Innerleithen is the type of track that is better when it's slightly damp and everything's 'held down' so to speak. I reckon I was praising the good weather too much now!  Throughout the weekend my runs were steady, I didn't click with any lines as such, feeling it more important to keep smooth and keep the momentum going!  My bike is the bomb I can tell you that right now!

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

Went back up the hill for my seeding run and relaxed in the Scottish sun!  There was a delay due to a number of red flags, other riders were hitting the dirt left, right and centre.  I set off out of the start-gate hooked the quary jump and into the trees, it then gets a bit tighter.  Had a near-death experience with a tree; there is a slight left hander over some roots, my front wheel drifted as I hit them which saw my bar and hand smashing into the tree resulting in an explosion of wood chippings and a few whoops from the spectators!  As soon as I realised my finger was still attached I was off!  The rest of the run was pretty much bang on the buck, I took a low line over the fire road which slowed me down and I made mental notes to change it in the later runs.

Gave the bike a quick once over when I got back to the pits, she was ready to rock 'n roll! There must have been more crashes, getting back to the top of the hill took an age, an hour and a half delay I reckon it was.  This wasn't good mentally or physically with all the standing around. 

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

Anyway back to business, my race run went well, getting a bit wild through trying to smash out a fast run. My heart stopped beating briefly near the bottom of the course, hitting the bomb hole jump and taking off all dodgy, drifting to the right in the air then landing in the loose boulders and shit!  Getting really loose manageing to hold it together was amazed and relieved to make it out of the next corner alive!  The Boxxers and the X-fusion shock did their magic taking the big hits and helping me gain traction back.  After that it was straight back on the gas for the fire road and the finish line

I improved on my seeding run but was pissed off with my result due to the lack of practice on the course I didnt develop a flow which is definately needed at Innerleithen.  We need Tom Barker back on his motorbike and all the tow ropes, them were the days!

A huge thanks to the team's boss Lee for getting the new jerseys up to Inners with a direct delivery via Linda at The Stanes, the new tops are awesome!

Photo copyright of Ian Linton, and yes, we do know Nick looks about 12 years old!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

At last, the new 2013 racing strips are all set....

Been working hard with Brian from The Cycle Jersey to get the team's 2013 racing strips sorted, sadly we had a few delays and a completely incompetent courier company to deal with but we got there in the end......

From the template....

To the finished garments.....

And not forgetting some rather funky road jerseys which will soon be winging their way over to Frank Wadelton in the States.....

In order to get them done in a rush I missed the cut off point to have the team's funky sun-burst d-logo effect added to the panels, rest assured it will be back next year!

Please step forward the team's 2013 sponsors to take a bow:

Saturday, 1 June 2013

UK Gravity Enduro Rnd 3, Hamsterley Forest, 25th & 26th May 2013

Hey everyone, it's Angie here, let's get y'all up to speed......

After a wet and cold start across the first two rounds it was great to see that Steve Parr had ordered in the sunshine for Round 3 of the UK Gravity Enduro Series at Hamsterley Forest, County Durham, well done that man!

Hamsterley is our local stomping ground being only 30 minutes away.  It is the first place where I learned how to ride and indeed how to crash a bike..... back in 2005 on the back of an Intense M1, hardcore!  Even now I still love the place, there’s something there for everyone; cross-country trails, downhill track, dirt jumps a-plenty and one of the country's best 4-cross courses.

Steve and I were aiming to get some practice in on Friday afternoon but due to a few mechanical issues with Steve’s bike we never got out, it was actually chucking it down as well…it’s grim up North!  I was actually pretty happy that it was raining though, some of the tracks at Hamsterley get seriously loose in the dry, it’s like riding on marbles.  Fun to ride in general but scary as hell to race on.

(Photo copyright of Doc Ward)

Saturday morning dawned and after a good sleep we got to Hamsterley early to practice the five stages and allow enough rest time before seeding in the afternoon.  We started off by smashing Stage 4, called 'Special K/Brain Freeze', it's pretty trail centre-esque, with it's, dare I say, forged trails but it's also really fun to ride with a steep and sharp up hill sprint in the middle.  I remember last year when T-Mo overtook me up there, like a goddamn express train, she's so powerful! 

Stage 1, the 'Beehives', was next, this one has long been my favourite secret track in the forest.  A secret no longer after a National Enduro event has flung its way down the hill.  It starts off with some mint off camber rooties, awesome in the wet, and then into a pedally tight n'twisty section.  It flows really well and is a total hoot to ride. 

You need to head across the river for Stage 2's aptly named 'Route 666', by this time it was getting on for late morning and the sun definitely had his hat on, ooopht, sweaty!!  Stage 2 starts off being really flippin' pedally alongside a wall before dropping down into the rut-strewn tree cover.  There had been a new wooded loamy section cut in which I was loving however Steve couldn’t get his wide bars through easily and he was getting a bit sweary, hahaha!  Next up was Stage 5, the 'Transmission' route.  (Please don’t ask why we practiced in such a random order!).  The 'Transmission' is the longest, fastest and most Strava’d stage out of them all, it's an all out modern trail centre track.  You should be able to find it easily on YouTube if you fancy a look.

Seeding runs started about 3pm, the girls were up first, it’s always interesting to see where people are going to place. Steve was nervous too and didn’t feel like he was on it, possible down to clipping his bars in practise.  He placed 3rd in Masters though and I was 4th in the Elite so both of us went home feeling pretty happy. 

We got some practice in on Stage 3 before we left, this was the downhill stage taking in the old NPS track, a great track starting off at the top of the 4-cross with a tricky rocky and rooty left hander in the middle.  (Lee here: that ain't the old NPS track, the original old-school NPS track no longer exists due to forestry cutting *sad face*).

(Photo copyright of Doc Ward)

Sunday was another hottie, I'm not complaining at all though, not after all the winter snows we had during the so-called spring!  The girls were off at 9.30am and Steve at 10am so we were up with the larks again.

I would say that my stages went well, a few messed up lines and a couple of stalls but nothing serious until Stage 5, same track as seeding.  I felt like I was going way faster but went into a corner on 'Nitrous' too hot and rode off the back of the berm. Absolutely gutted!!  I still finished 1 second faster than seeding so it was a shame that I crashed with a "what might have been..." looming over in my head.  Steve had good runs but felt like he could have gone a bit quicker on some sections, he changed his tyres between seeding and race run which was probably a bad choice in hindsight!  They may have been grippier but it looked like they slowed him down a tad.  This reflects what I was saying earlier, Hamsterley Forest is an awesome place to ride, yet its looks can be deceptive, you gotta know the type of trails you're gonna be riding to get the best of it all with good tyre choice.

We had to wait a few hours, impatiently I add, for overall times and positions.  Steve did mint with a 5th place, he could have done better as I said but he can't grumble with a category that big.  I came away with 4th in the Elite category and I must say I was flippin' buzzing!  I’m normally down the pack at this level but felt really happy to put in some respectable times this weekend.  Big thanks to Helen Gaskell’s tyre choice advice I reckon!

All in all a mint weekend, can’t wait to ride my bike again.  Summer is here at last .......touch wood!!

Angie xx