Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Chasing the mojo, Zak Holmes hits Borderline Events at Caersws with all guns blazing.

(Photo copyright of Chris Griffiths)

Caersws, my first race in Wales, the second race of the season and hopefully less of the technical nightmare that was Innerleithen. Let's get this Borderline Event underway.....

We travelled down on the Friday night, arriving after after three and a half hours on the road, although there'd been some scattered showers the weather seemed to be behaving itself and putting the tent up in the dark mustered all of our Bear Grylls skills!

I really shouldn't have tempted fate by mentioning the weather because by the time I had signed on and got everything ready the heavens had opened... brilliant!   Walked the course in the pouring rain and first impressions of top sections were good, really fast and flowy with the ground still compact and hard, thankfully the rain hadn't affected it.  The top consisted of tight, steep switchbacks which is my kind of riding and made me very excited to get on the bike.  Next up were the bus stops which had unfortunately been affected by the rain and looked very slippy, I was making mental notes as I went.  The course became muddier the further you ventured, although still technical you could see that the riding was going to be absolutely flat out and where riders needed to issue caution across the roots that had became extremely wet and slippy.  Once out of the bottom you were into a grass field to the finish line. Job done!

Practice runs got underway and I was on the first uplift.  My first run felt really good, the bike felt so sweet, the Michelin tyres were gripping well and coped easily with the constantly changing terrain giving me a further confidence boost.  Throughout the day the bike just kept getting better and better, I was loving the track and managed to get seven practice runs in.  No faults, hitting some good lines and absolutely railing my FTW Industries bike!

(Photo copyright of Chris Griffiths)

Race day arrived and it had rained heavily over night, everything was absolutely soaked! This amount of rain would have changed the track so I went straight up to get in some more practice runs in.  As expected the course was muddier and and a lot slippier, I was taking it full on speedway style through some of the corners!  Had to change some of my line choices, especially in the lower sections which had changed a fair bit and was catching lots of people out.  I struggled with grip in the muddier sections, especially across the roots so I decided to change my front tyre from a Michelin Wild Grip R to a Michelin Dig R which then worked amazingly well! I'm running the new MK4 Burgtec Penthouse pedals which shed mud so easily, Dave and the guys have worked hard on the new design still keeping their huge amount of grip and trademark looks.  Over the morning's practice I got in three runs and was happy with the change to the track and my new line choices.

(Photo copyright of Chris Griffiths)

Time now for my first race run!  After such a confident morning I over cooked some sections and experienced a few stop-start-stop-start moments in the switchbacks which lost me time however the rest of the track ran pretty smoothly and I finished with a 2m 16.517s which saw me sat in fourth place.  I wanted to do better though and decided to go all out on my second race run ... this didn't work out too well as a rather large crash slowed me right down, a total rider error with only myself to blame.  As a result of this I slipped down to sixth place and disappointed wasn't the word!

A good weekend overall, a top course despite the inclement weather and a learning curve for me.  The bike ran superbly with, thankfully, no technical issues this time around.  Next up is Penshaw, see you on the hill punks!

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