Sunday, 31 May 2015

British Downhill Series Round 2 - Fort William, 16th - 17th May 2015

*Ding Ding* Round 2

Nelly: Fort Bill here we come!  Newrick and his dad had left home at 4am on the Friday morning to make sure he had decent time on the track and I wasn't far behind with my crew. This weekend was going to be turned up a few notches as not only were there international riders competing at the event with the World Cup being here in just a few weeks' time, the adverse weather was also closing in fast.  It was going to be a bumpy ride.

Come Friday evening I was buzzing for race day because let's face it, Frank Wadelton's downhill bikes are simply made for this course, they rail!  Had a chat with my co-pilot Tom Newrick and he'd had an awesome day on the hill despite a puncture earlier on, our practise runs weren't in sync so we didn't get any joint runs in sadly.

Saturday morning Nick turned up and with him the wind and pouring rain, it wasn't looking good.  There was a lot of uncertainty about the gondola running and a lot of riders were holding fire in hope that they would open.  Mother Nature had won this one and sure enough the call was made; it was going to be an old-school style 30-minute push-up to the top of the lower section with the event being run from there.  

As Nick was saying, there's not a lot to practise on that section of track, they'd built up the motorway jumps ready for the World Cup and you had to either go fast and clear the lot or take it cautiously losing time.  The track although short was still fun to ride, some riders were grumbling though and I could see both sides of the coin, it wasn't a good day for the BDS management.

The push-up was knackering after a few rides though, I reckon Newrick had the best idea; get a couple of runs in and then go ride the cross-country route to keep his legs moving! Nick got a few runs in and then headed back to his hotel.  Regardless to the course conditions I was happy with my riding and had it all nicely nailed down.

Race day Sunday arrived with no change in the weather and with just one race run it was going to be all or nothing, I had to keep it pinned..... which sadly I didn't. Mother Nature got the best of me here and I crossed the line in 17th place, not the top ten that I was aiming for.

Newrick: I was one of the riders getting fed up with the pushing to the top, it certainly wasn't helping my mood and I was shattered.  My race run was lousy after nearly crashing on the first pointless rut and that was my only shot at it done and dusted, or should I say mud splattered, I took the 25th place in the youths.  

Nick: Fuelled by a massive Full English breakfast I plodded up the hill with everyone else and got a couple of runs in.  One of the main issues was catching people up on the track which made taking the motorway jumps at full pelt sketchy, took it easier with the later runs just to make sure I knew what I was doing come the racing.

The start was catching people out, it was pretty tricky and a lot of riders were coming off, thankfully I stayed on my bike but only just and got the power back on!  The course from there to the motorway jumps is uneventful, under normal conditions with a the full course being used this section is mentally demanding after you've been assaulted by the top of the course.  With this weekend's format it was just, well....!  I got to the motorway which was the only really challenging bit where I hit the hip jump and drifted off my line on landing and although I cleared the step down my landing there wasn't too hot, came in far too fast and to brake hard otherwise I would have hooked up on the next jump and been another victim heading to the local A&E. Mid-way in the Masters with a 17th for me.

Next up are Robyn's Welsh enduro assault at Afan, Jamie's ballet training with the Scottish Downhill Series at Glencoe and then the big bad BDS at Llangollen.

You can follow The Development's shenanigans on the team's Facebook page: The Development Racing.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

UK Gravity Enduro Season Opener - Triscombe, May 9th-10th 2015

I was delighted when The Daddy, Steve Parr, announced that for 2015 one of the venues for the UKGE was going to be Triscombe, a mere fifty-minute drive from where I live!  This area is an understated biking gem hidden deep in the South-West of England where you can ride as hard as you like, I love it there and if you can’t find it I will happily show you around one day!

Living in the South-West I am blessed with great areas to ride my Orange Five.  Bike Park Wales, Afan or anywhere in Breacon Beacons are all within two hours, however I'm normally found at the Haldon Forest Park where I can ride straight from my work door and be there in 45 minutes, awesome!  If that doesn't tick your boxes the stunning scenery of Dartmoor or Exmoor surely will especially with their great surfer's coastlines thrown in for a good measure!  A lot of the people I ride with rave about how sensational Scotland is however my area is proof that you can always find great trails to ride with like minded people, and this is true wherever you are, the fact the UKGE came to Triscombe is proof of this.

I arrived ready to practice the race course and transitions on the Friday, the weather was fairly bleak with fine rain and low lying cloud. Stage one and two both had freshly cut sections which, although were a riders paradise whilst the racing was underway, were as sticky as hell in practise!  Both of these routes were going to see a lot of traffic with being raced upon across the whole weekend and I liked everything about these stages, tight, twisting turns, jumps and berms!  I rode the transitions over to stages three and four, the stage three transition was the longest at 45 minutes and was a breeze compared to the hour plus transition over at Afan!  The route here took you along a beautiful ridge where you were rewarded with sweeping views over the distant Taunton and despite the hard pedalling these stages were great fun with plenty of airtime to be had off all the jumps.

Race Day Saturday, despite being so close to home I was slightly less organised with food for this event than I normally am, I didn’t panic though as I knew the awesome Billy Can Catering team would be on site.  And sure enough a little while later I was patting my tummy after a huge bowl of their creamy porridge laced with some cheeky chocolate buttons, I was now set up for the day, bring it on!

My seeding run was clean and I felt good on the bike taking the steep freshly cut section in my stride, with hindsight though I should have pushed harder on the flat section to make more time. The second run on Saturday went really well too, well until the end when I lost concentration and caught my handlebars on a tree seeing my catapulting skywards and, thankfully, landing softly in a large bush. I've only just got all the blasted ticks off my body!

Race day Sunday, I was pleased with my first two runs which went fairly smoothly, I got some mint air-time off some great little jumps and really enjoyed my riding. No dropped chains this time thanks to the Rideworks enduro chainguide which I am race-testing for them. 

Ooooh, shiny!

I was absolutely flying on stage three when I clipped another tree with my wide bars and lost a load of time trying to re-align my cockpit. Struggling, I cruised down the fourth stage not wanting to push it with wonky steering and feeling absolutely gutted with that carry on.  I finished the weekend taking 13th place in the Elite women category.

Wonky bars aside it was a wonderful event and I for one am grateful to the amount of hard work being put in behind the scenes to stage them.  It is a hard kick in the privates then, as some of you are aware, when learning that so many bikes were stolen by professional bike thieves that evening, it really beggars belief and I hope that they're caught sooner rather than later.  Maybe we could crowd-fund some replacements for the riders, just an idea?

It was lovely to see so many friendly faces from last season and, especially as a PE teacher, it is great to see so many young people coming into the sport, I was really impressed with Tyde D'Souza and Martha Gill.

A big shout out to Steve Parr for hosting such an awesome event and again to sing the praises of the little guys like The Billy Can Catering and the other unsung heroes behind the scenes who help to make the events what they are.  Well done guys, see you all at the next round.


You can follow The Development Racing Team’s shenanigans on their Facebook page here: The Development Racing Team

Borderline Events - English Downhill Championship, Hamsterley Forest, 10th May 2015

Nick: Although Hamsterley Forest's my local riding spot I hadn't been there for a fair while and was looking forward to seeing how the track chosen by the Borderline Events posse flowed, quite literally at first as it turned out. 

It's a fairly short course by today's standards however it's physically demanding with no time to rest between sections, you take one big breath at the start gate and then it's a full on hammering until you cross the finish line.  Guess Danny Hart was at home with the weather that morning as it was absolutely pouring down, I was being kept warm and dry under my Berghaus coat so there was no grumbling from me mind! 

'Tommy Gun' Newrick arrived early Saturday morning and walked the new section of the track, he was at home from the word go as he practically lives on these courses!  Tom's had the new Manitou Revox shock fitted to his FTW, no bedding in required he was straight off ripping the course up with his mates.  

Both of us got more than enough runs in, the course is a game of two halves, keep the cadence up down the top section and then keep it loose across the technical sections down below.  It's a hard course to make up time due to its short length even if you merely clipped a pedal that would be the end of any winning run there and then.  Both of us were running Sun-Ringle's 650b A.D.D. Pro wheels for a bit of advantage over the rocks, power to the dark side of the force.

As Saturday progressed the track was drying out nicely making it a claggy in places I was building up pace and starting to blitz my lines.  Tom was absolutely nailing the course down, six runs in and he was on fire!

Come Sunday morning I squeezed in three steady runs and chilled out 'til race time.  Tom was a purple and red blur as he shot past me whilst I spectated on his first race run, I later learned he accidentally unclipped from his pedals before the table top and couldn't clip back in, unlucky.  I stalled near the finish on my first run and turned the air blue as it had all gone perfectly up until that point.  Hit my second run full on but just couldn't make up the time and took the fourteenth place in the Masters.

Tom had a little embarrassment through the new section on his second run when his foot slipped off the pedal, that said he still crossed the finish line in a respectable 7th place in the youths.

Next up, the big bad Fort Bill with the British Downhill Series.

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