Thursday, 21 August 2014

Nemesis...... Scottish Downhill Series, Innerleithen, 17th August 2014

"Well after not racing since breaking my wrist I have realised that today was a shower of shit!" - Nick Turner, Innerleithen SDA 2014

Nick: Tom and me were back up at Innerleithen for the fourth round of the Scottish Downhill Series, we both had scores to settle with Plora Rig!  This was supposed to have been my comeback race after breaking my wrist earlier in the year and indeed with becoming a new dad, with that now in hindsight.... ha!

It was my first race using the Stan's No Tubes systems and my new Michelin Wild Rock R2’s on the Sun A.D.D. PRO 27.5 wheels .....yes I know the tyres are being marketed for enduro racing, but trust me, they are amazing for downhill!  As you can now tell, I’ve turned to the dark side of the force with the 27.5 set up.

Home grown team pits or bust!

The track walk was eye opening, the course left little to be desired.  Out of all the routes they could have used they chose the one with complete lack of flow and a tonne of flat sections. As I got to grips with it over the weekend it became marginally better, but not by much.  What did you think Tom?

Tom: Racing at Innerleithen never goes to plan for me having had a run of bad luck up there in the past, crashing, getting flats and catching people up.  Have to back Nick up with what he’s just said, the SDA came up with some strange ideas in regards to the course’s design, just no flow.

A brief respite from the pedal fest...

The weather thankfully held together on both practice and race days with just overcast drizzle to contend with, the forecasted rain thankfully held off.

Nick: Track conditions remained pretty consistent and I was feeling confident on the course as the day progressed however like many other riders I was also trying to follow older sections of track and ducking under tapes, it took a while to put the course together in my head.

Tom: But ducking under the tape was kinda fun though, I had a few moments of wondering where I was going in practice…. Where’d the tape go? ....Oh!

I was following Nick on some of my runs and he was picking up a fair whack of speed as the day progressed, it wasn’t long before we were both catching people up which is both a blessing and a curse.  Both of our FTW bikes were totally on it, couldn’t fault anything, my Michelin’s were simply railing, all was good.

Nick: I got one full run in on Sunday morning, scoping the changes in the course, hitting about I’d say 80% of my lines and my confidence was back.

First race run started well hitting the tricky sections up top faster then in practice when all of a sudden I ran out of a corner and punched a tree with the hand I broke. Thought I was in trouble right there but carried on, however I had wasted quite a bit of time worrying about my wrist and was unable to make it up, completely off the pace.

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

Tom: My first race run wasn't going too badly, hit the top section full on and started to get into my stride however overcooked things on the off camber roots further down which lost me a bit of time.  I was disappointed but that’s downhill racing for you, my concentration then switched straight to my second run.

Nick: My second race run was make or break, a bad pun considering, I know!
Out of the gate I went hell for leather, bouncing over the off camber roots one footed into the first corner, Rudolf Nureyev I was not!  In my head I was trying to calm myself down and get back into a flow, which is hard when the voice in your head is screaming “CALM THE HELL DOWN!” and keeping your concentration away from the job in hand!  I made a fatal mistake and ran out of track again, had to pull over to the side and let the next rider past as I didn't want to mess up their run too.

I have never felt so disappointed with a race result/performance. Particularly after feeling so good on the bike in practice, it was almost a psychological problem when it came to the race runs.  Gutted, no two ways about it.  I need a coffee, back over to Tom….

Tom: I was back up in the start gate and ready for my second shot hoping this one would be better.  It wasn’t to be, came off on the off camber roots, jumped straight back on the bike wasting no time, despite the crash I was going quicker this time made some little mistakes further down the course but I felt good.  Crossed that finish line in tenth place which although could have been better I was happy with considering.

Photo copyright of Ian Linton

Our next race is Fort William where we’re both sure the bikes will come into their own.  I’m heading back to Keswick and getting out in the Cumbrian Mountains.  Nick wants to do a shout out, Nick?

Nick: Aye, Innerleithen completely kicked my ass, come Fort William I will be back up to full fitness with a huge thanks to Crossfit Jacana in Durham which have had me blowing out my ass three to four days a week since my wrist was fixed. Their head coach has been a massive help with rehab from my injury, a big thanks going out to them.

See you all on the Aonach Mor.

Punk ain't dead!

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