Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The 'Ard Rock Enduro comes to Swaledale, 30th June 2013

After first hearing about the 'Ard Rock Enduro via the modern wonder that is social media a load of my mates sent over texts urging me to enter...  that's peer pressure in action right there!

I had ridden bits of the North Yorkshire Dales before but had never come away too impressed, seemingly it was always a fire road central with little fun to be had on the way back down.   And while I'm on this subject let me just quickly stand on a soapbox... let's understand the difference between the North Yorkshire Dales and the North Yorkshire Moors, there's a BIG difference but the amount of people who think it's the same place just grinds at me... Grrrrr!!!

Now back to the race report; Saturday was pretty relaxed really, got there about 10.30am and met up with Helen and Sarah, the sun was shining and the weather was sweet!  Got hold of a route map and off we went for practice.  Hill climb numero uno took us up onto the top of Fremington Edge and along to stage one.  We didn't really know what to expect as none of us had ever ridden these tracks before, all we had been told was don't give it full licks as it's loose with a couple of drops.  The track was pretty rad with some loose flat corners and some steep chutes, it really reminded me a bit of the Megavalanche in places.  Pretty crazy lines though as the taping up of the track was a bit hit 'n miss.

(Photo copyright of Mick Kirkman)

Oh my days, the next climb was epic and then it all came flooding back to me, this was the start of the Swaledale Marathon Fell Race a couple of weeks before.  Steep, steep and loose and on and on and on, unrelenting with sweat pouring down from my forehead and into my eyeballs!  Next up was Stage 2, a similar kind of track but with some added uphill pedally bits in for good measure, my thighs!

Back to the bottom of the valley yet again with quick spin by the river to Langthwaite where we thankfully fuelled up in the pub in between stages. Slurp slurp!  Soon wished that I had a cyclocross bike for the next 1.5hr climb that just went on forever!  Stage 3 was darned long, it was still all pretty loose and as fast as you like through the quarries. 

(Photo copyright of Digital Swaledale)

There was a road climb up the other side of the valley and on to a fire road back toward the last Stage 4.  This was totally mint, fast, grassy and just drifting from field to field, ripping over dry stone walls! It was a blinder of a track and I never got to do a so-called  'old school' back in the day so this was my chance. Absolutely LOVED it!

That was the practice over!

Race day came and the weather was how shall I say it?  Blowin' a frickin' hoolie!  The top of Stage 3 was just insane, on the climb up you could look out and see people pedalling up the hill but moving backwards, the head wind was just bonkers!   As I picked up my bike for the start line the wind just took it out my hands!  Honestly mental!

(Photo copyright of Mick Kirkman)

All my stages were pretty average really.  Had a good Stage 4 I would say but made silly little mistakes on the other ones.  Because of the relaxed start, as in that there was no seeding of riders, it did mean that you ended catching people up and some sections had no space to over take which was really frustrating.  I know that Sarah had her Stage 1 time pretty much ruined by some riders who wouldn't move, common courtesy costs nothing.  So frustrating.

(Photo copyright of Mick Kirkman)

Anyway not to be negative, it was a damn good and indeed hard event with the killer climbs and rad downhills!  Great atmosphere, well done to Pro Ride Guides for organising it with the Dales Bike Centre.

(Photo copyright of Mick Kirkman)

It'll be a race I won't be forgetting in a while and neither will my buns of steel!

See y'all on the next one!

Angie x x 

Northern Downhill Series, Ramsgill, 23rd June 2013

Stepping back in time a bit here with the next two blog updates, there's been a lot going on behind the scenes and all will be revealed in good time.  Anyway here's Nick with the low down from Ramsgill.....

Ramsgill in North Yorkshire has been the home to some amazing races back in the days of the NAMBS (Edit from Lee: and back even further in the days of NEMBA, gosh I'm old!).  The track this weekend was built up by the Cycopath Cycles boys, they have a few tracks across the Yorkshire way which look pretty damned good to hit up later in the year.

The format of the weekend was two days and two race runs on each day on two different courses.  Saturday was the easier course which was aimed at getting younger people involved in the sport.  

The day started with a push-up to the top checking the track as I went.  As I said the track was pretty simple with a number of fast flowing corners followed by a short rock garden and a couple of jumps.  It was a good day on the slope, the bike was handling flawlessly and I didn't need to touch the set up much at all.  At the end of practice I'd managed to work out a line towards the finish, quite a sketchy one actually... it involved trying to make a big S-bend, which was all off camber, into a straight line and which left me drifting like a maniac towards the timing gear, erk!

(Photo copyright of Robert Dickson)

Both of Saturday's race runs went exceptionally well with me being able to shave sometime off on my second run to take the win.  My first podium of the year along with my first win of the year, oh happy days!

Sunday morning soon hit and with it came a new track.  This was much longer, starting with some open sweeping corners into a massive road jump before dropping down into the woods and then joining on to the previous day's track.  To make it a little more exciting it had rained really heavily so everything was gonna be slick.  I was confident that the bike would be fine set up the way it was already and kept the Maxxis 'High Roller' tyres on hoping for the best. 

(Photo copyright of Noah Collins)

Throughout the morning I was laughing my tits off, as the track was quickly drying out I had loads of fun getting seriously sideways motorcross stylee.  So glad I had the X-Fusion shock and TF Tuned tweaked Boxxers on as the first time hitting the road gap I wanted to make sure I cleared everything so put a few extra cheeky cranks in, pretty soon found out this was too much and shot passed the landing zone Henry Cavill style!

(Photo copyright of Robert Dickson)

As with the previous day it was a pretty chilled out atmosphere (which I have to add is rare these days) and I just banged out a load of runs in preparation for racing. 

My first race run was reasonably steady to put a time in I was second just behind SPS (Steve Peat Syndicate) rider Jimmy.  On the next run I just thought 'Sod it, let's get wild!'., a tad too wild however as on one of the open corners my back wheel drifted out and I nearly did a 180 which lost me a heap of time, bollocks!  I got my head back down and pushed on hard shaving a half second off which was good but obviously I coulda done without my backside sliding away earlier on!  Either way I made the second step of the podium.  Top weekend racing by all accounts, I really miss the laid back atmosphere of racing as we used to have and it was good to see it back at Ramsgill.

(Photo copyright of Noah Collins)

Massive thanks to everyone who has helped out, the Northern Downhill Series is going from strength to strength.

Now I need to sleep, 13 hour days are bloody hard going!