Wednesday, 1 April 2015

SDA 2015 Series Opener - Innerleithen, 28th - 29th March

Jamie and Tom headed up to Innerleithen last weekend for the opening round of the Scottish Downhill Series, both riders are on a new team and riding new bikes, did it all play to their favour though?  Here's how they got on....

It was time for the first round of the Scottish Downhill Series at Innerleithen in the Tweed Valley.  Although it was exciting to get back into racing again I was feeling nervous having only received my new Development team-issue Frank The Welder bike a week before and indeed having only ridden it once prior.

Saturday, 7:30am and the rain was coming down so heavily that I was reluctant to even get out of bed, a cosy duvet is my best friend!   There’s a race weekend to be had though so I clambered out and got straight into my riding kit, had breakfast, grabbed the bike and then rode along the track to meet up with my mates.  The plan was to get the early uplift and be the first lot down the track. That first run down the course was immense and I was blown away by how well my FTW bike was eating up the rugged terrain, I was progressively gaining more confidence as the day went on and was in love with the track, it was running totally fluidly.

I was raring to go and start practising regardless to the rain.  I took my first run cautiously and cruised down hitting all my lines. The track was challenging and I had to stay 100% focused as it was easy to be caught out.  My second and third runs were much better where it felt like I was riding at a good pace and hitting my lines square on, perfect.  After my last run I was feeling happy and confident with my riding.

Race day

I got up and stuck on my kit for a practise run before the racing got under way, the track had changed a lot with more exposed roots to take into account.  It was just after the first greasy section where I was kicked off my line and hit a tree with the side of my hand, the pain went straight though my palm.  I cruised back down to the pits and got some ice on it to make sure I could try and get a race run in.

Back up and on the start line waiting for the beep.  Off I went on my first run, it was feeling fast and I was nailing my lines.  This was until about half way down when my hand suddenly became very painful, it was hard to hold onto the bars and made me slow down a little.  By the time I was hitting the bottom section of the track I was two-finger braking which was really sketchy however I managed to get a full run in.  Crossed the line with a decent time of 3m 18s, which put me into 8th position in the Juniors.  Due to the pain in my hand I reluctantly pulled out of the second run in case of further injury.

Like Jamie I decided to only do one practice run, saving myself for the races later in the day. I stayed fluid on the bike, the track was nice and sticky giving some good grip in the corners and the exposed roots were not as bad as I was expecting them to be.

My first race run went well; straight out of the gate and sprinting to the first right hander as fast as I could. It all went quickly without any mishap and I crossed the line in fourth place only to be knocked back into fifth by the next rider down and it was there that I remained.

My second run started almost as well, I pinned the technical section that everyone was struggling with and carried on down the track however mis-judged a corner and lost a load of time.  Got back on the bike and up to speed, the adrenaline had kicked in and I was trying too hard resulting in a second mishap on the lower steep corners resulting in a much slower time to my first run and I dropped down to the 13th place in the Youths.

Despite the outcome of this weekend it was a great experience of getting the new FTW bike up to race pace, all in it was good weekend and has set me in good stead for the BDS at Ae Forest.

Overall it was a 50/50 weekend for me, I was happy about coming 8th in a strong field of juniors but the ‘what could have been’ nagged somewhat.  There are however many positives to take away from this race and I am determined to get to the next race and push harder.

We would both like to thank Lee Walker at The Development Racing and Stewart Wood at We Love Mountains Ltd, and not forgetting the legend that is Frank The Welder, for all of their help in the off-season with getting our FTW bikes put together.

Onto the next race!

You can follow The Development's shenanigans on their Facebook here; The Development Racing Team

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