Tuesday, 20 May 2014

A very sad day....

Hello everyone, it’s Ellen here.  With a very heavy heart I must announce that I am leaving The Development Racing Team due to changes in my personal circumstances that will not allow me to fully concentrate on my racing.  I will of course be at the sidelines shouting the team’s riders on at a few of the races.  Obviously I’m absolutely gutted to having had to make this decision.

I’ve been blown away by the FTW Industries frame and would like to say a massive “Thank You” to Frank Wadelton for letting me get out there on it.  Lee has been amazing with his support, not just with me but with the whole team.  I however cannot give it 100 percent and that will not be fair on the other riders who achieve some amazing results.

With sadness I must bid a farewell. Many thanks going out to the team, to the team’s sponsors for their support and Lee’s belief in all of his riders and keeping the team going.


Friday, 9 May 2014

Into the rugged North... the Alwinton Enduro, May 4th 2014

(Photo copyright of Geoff at Backpacking in Britain)
Whilst Angie's away with the Team Berghaus crew in sunny Spain the Seagull’s here with the Alwinton NDH Enduro run down, let’s do this!
Last weekend saw the second round of the NDH Enduro Series at Alwinton forest, for those of you who didnt race it last year this is probably the meanest most testing Enduro race in the UK, putting it bluntly you go there to hug trees and get bruises!
(Photo copyright of Paul Mears)
Alwinton’s tracks are notoriously steep, fast, rooty and all out naughty, absolutely perfect for my trusty Orange Five! There’s not a lot of pedalling involved which is what makes life great. With its wild nature it’s insanely fun to ride and incredibly hard to race on as the majority found out, myself included!
(Photo copyright of Victoria Dawe)
The tracks were in awesome condition, still fairly wet from the previous week’s rain but that just made for good entertainment. Just about everyone on the hill seemed to be smiling even though the majority of us spent a lot of time on our arses!!
This was probably one of the best races i’ve done in over two years, there were 3 race tracks in total (all dirtily technical) and due to the nature of them it was damn hard to get clean runs, I tip my hat to the few that managed it.

(Photo copyright of Paul Mears)
It certainly felt like I was riding fast yet couldn’t quite keep it together and kept humping trees hahaha! Luckily for me that was the only order of the day as most people took a tumble or two, I finished in second place which I was very chuffed with, flat pedals for medals at Alwinton I tell ya! 
Mega apologies to Orange Mountain Bikes for not wearing a team jersey on the podium, I think the previous bloodied arm photos explain why and me not wanting to look like an extra from ‘The Walking Dead’ up on the step!

(Photo copyright of Paul Mears)
All in all it was a great weekend and a massive thanks goes out to the NDH crew for making these kinda races take place. In my opinion the no-frills approach along with Carl Davison’s track building skills gives way to some of the best racing in the country, well done again bro’!

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Monday, 5 May 2014

Man Down, taking the hits on the Dunkeld hillside, Scottish Downhill Series, 27th April 2014

(Photo copyright of David Mould)

Nick's back in the crib....  Sadly this was going to prove to be a weekend that Zak and me would rather forget about though....

On the way up there we should have taken the dark skies as a bad omen, it was raining cats and dogs, once at the venue the main camping field looked like a huge pit of Nutella and the foreboding doom of what the course was going to look like started to set in. This was gonna be fun.

After Zak hit the podium at the Penshaw weekender I knew that I too had to redeem myself after what happened at Innerleithen.  I mean I was totally buzzing about the course, I've raced here before and Dunkeld's amazing, rock strewn, steep and definitely separates the wheat from the chaff.  You and your bike are pounded left, right and centre with none of that pedalling like Chris Hoy shit, no sirree!

(Photo copyright of William MacDonald)

Tyre choice was crucial, I opted for some Michelin Grip'R Descent tyres during the morning's practise to see how they handled.  The SDA guys had changed the top section, as Zak was saying it was less of a hassle and we were both a little disappointed.  That said there were still plenty of rocks to catch out the unwary and further down, everything still covered in the brown slop, were tons of stumps and roots.  The tyres handled damned well, good mud clearing and they kept the bike moving, come mid-day though with more rain pouring down I switched over to my Michelin Dig'R tyres instead, everything was getting really cut up and these gave me the edge.  The only bright thing about this weekend were our Ride 100% iTrack gloves which were standing out like beacons in the gloomy conditions and as grippy as hell in the wet, love them!

(Photo copyright of Louis Arnold)

Reckon we both got about five runs in, not too bad considering the poor uplifts however to be fair still not enough on a course like this one.  Zak was totally flooring it, he was pinning all his lines, a pure purple blur! Both of our bikes were running so sweet, utterly stoked with that. Later on in the day it was drying out and things were getting faster, all was going good.

The came Sunday the course had changed so much it was a total onslaught, being so hard to hit my lines the only thing I could do was lay off the brakes and let the bike do all the work. It wasn't pretty but I was doing well on my first race run considering .....until the last section that was.  This was where I bounced down into the wrong line and tried to hit the main rut round the corner compressing my front wheel way down and down I went hitting the floor! My run was over, got straight back up but I was unable to hold the bars and redeem myself with a second run, I'd smashed my hand up badly and it was then a case of "Hello hospital!" and some x-rays!

There were no two ways about about it, Zak was on a belter all through Saturday and Sunday morning, that guy's got balls! 

(Photo copyright of Malcolm Porter)

He was super excited on Sunday morning but as with me it didn't pan out.  He was a quarter of the way in on his last practise run and after coming off hard in one of the steep shoots knocked himself unconscious, he was clean out for the count and stretchered off the course. Worrying times, but hey we're North-East lads, we're made of strong stuff you know and he was soon back up and walking about although still dazed.  He didn't get to race, poor blighter.

All in and despite of the accidents, Dunkeld's an awesome race venue and very worthy of being on the circuit, it was still a great weekend riding a great track.

Both of us know that the pressure is on now though.....

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Development Domination, The Sanctuary Bikes Penshaw Bike Fest, 14th April 2014

Hey guys and gals, I see that Zak's already broken his blogging virginity and now it's my turn!  I'm Ellen Tipple, one of The Development's glamourous new recruits getting to grips with downhill racing and all the thrills, spills and podiums that may come along the way, so "Hi There!".

The Sanctuary Bikes' Penshaw Bike Fest was my first race of the year, I was absolutely buzzing to be letting rip on my new FTW Industries bike and getting out there with my girlies alongside Zak and Coco-Bean.  The whole vibe of the event was dead chilled and friendly, just what I was after for my first race.  

(Photo copyright of Liam Moss, thankfully it was a National Trust sanctioned event!)

Unfortunately me breaking-in my FTW Industries animal this weekend wasn't to be as I was still waiting on a vital part to arrive and was absolutely gutted that I couldn't have a bounce on it yet, so for this race I got on it with my trusty enduro bike instead.

The Penshaw track was nice and dry, really fast all the way down, although maybe a little too fast for me when I had a sketchy moment nearly getting up, close and personal to a tree near the bottom of the course in practise!  Anyway I was straight back up to the top, soon sharing giggles with Angie and Jenny whilst admiring the view from the queue for the start gate, then ready to pick up the speed a little and learn the track a bit more. 

(Photo copyright of Jay Kellett)

My race run was at 12.30 and I decided to stay at the top by the start gate to cheer on Zak and the 'Bean for their race runs.  It felt like a lifetime for our own races to come around especially when the pre-race jitters kicked in, erk!  Finally, after what seemed like an age (but was probably just 5 minutes!) it was the women's turn to show the lads how to do it!  Our friend Jenny Campbell soon shot out of the gate and totally nailed the top section, especially admirable as she was on a hardtail, hardcore you know the score!  Not long afterwards it was my turn and I was very conscious that Angie would soon be following behind me, and of who is a much faster tree frog than me!  

(Photo copyright of Ron Angus)

I tried my hardest to get my lines and make the most out of the pedally sections hoping I didn't get overtaken... The top half was going really well, totally in the zone hitting all my lines, then near the end my back wheel kept washing out, it was a disaster, a bloody puncture!!  I made it across the line with lots of cheers from the spectators, thanks guys, and although disappointed at what had happened I was sitting in second place after Angie had crossed the line!  Hell yes!  Bring on the second race runs!  

After a big saving grace for the Coco-Bean with the new inner tube I went back up to the top for my second shot at the cherry.  This run went alright, not as fast on the top sections as before, I cross the line a second or two quicker than earlier, guess I lost my confidence a little.  All in all though I was pleased with my race times and the new experiences learned which will build my confidence for the coming races.

It was such a lovely venue and I saw so many good friends there, it was amazing to have my two girlies alongside me on the podium, Angie on the top step and Jenny in third place.  

Angie takes the win followed by Ellen and then Jenny in third, what an awesome weekend!

Zak roosted home to get first place in the junior men's as well, a total Development domination!  

(Photo copyright of Ron Angus)

Zak takes the top step in the junior men's, hell yes!

Absolutely buzzing, can't wait to get my purple downhill beasty built up and ragged down the hillside at my next race now!    

El x

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