(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.....