The Northern Downhill Series came to town with the Northern Areas Championships, a big race with a fantastic turn out and, more importantly, held at Hamsterley Forest in County Durham with the assistance from Descend Hamsterley. You may ask why that is so important, well it is for us you see, we have a whole lot of good history with that there forest! So, all in…… bring it on!
Here’s Nicklaus: The course was a combination of two tracks that were least ridden by Nick, starting on the 4-cross, crossing the fire road at the top and then onto the main line through the rock garden. Some nice flowy jumps up top and a gaggle of spectators near the bottom of the 4-cross section watching riders crash their guts out on the triples, bless!
A wooden booter threw you over the road into some technical traversing corners and drops then through the rock garden. Saturday was bone dry and a load of fun, got a load of runs in and things were going great, fantastic banter between the riders, nice to see such a good laid back event. Completely forgot the GoPro on the Saturday, I know, I’m an idiot! The conditions were ideal as well. Race day span around and so did the weather, the recurring trend this year, it was foggy and cold, meh! So….apologies for the filming quality as it was a tad dark in the trees. The track hadn’t changed that much, I’d dare say there was actually more grip to be had apart from the rock garden which was a greasy little *expletive deleted*.
My three practice runs which went pretty well, hit the lines I needed to and got into the flow of everything, feeling top notch. Chilled out with my mates after that until the race runs. As I was the reigning Northern Champion from 2010 I was determined to put in a good result, it was a very competitive field.
My race run went well although I lost a little time over jumping a few jumps and getting a little carried away in a corner where I ended up stalling on the exit killing the speed needed to hit it full tilt through the rock garden. With that aside a side I was happy and only a couple of seconds off the pace.
With the second run I knew what needed to be done. Loads faster up top, staying smooth, hit the lower corner that was giving me grief earlier and same thing happened, stalled it, bollocks! Made up some time further down the course and came across the line taking the second place in the champs, awesome!
(This Vimeo Link will take you to the video on the Vimeo website - a new blog template is being worked on as I type)
So it’s a wrap for this year’s racing and I want to say a big thanks to Lee Walker and all the support from the Sponsors. The hard work now starts for 2012, it has been a good year however I need to up the ante. Really looking forward to getting the new frame as the FB10 has been beyond awesome….. and I would like to add that it’s the only frame I haven’t snapped! Top work indeed Mr Wadleton!
Angie: Hiya Lee, I'm sat in the van here with Chris and Steve Foster on our way up to Aberdeen and then off on a road trip around the Isle of Skye with the XC bikes. Really excited!
I'm pretty happy I actually got to race at Hamsterley, the beginning of the week was a nightmare as I thought it just wasn't going to happen because of my wrist.
We walked the track on Friday and knew it was gonna be a wild race...starting off on the 4X past the hut and into the main line down all the drops to the bottom table-top by the river. I only had one concern and that was how my wrist would hold up off the hard hits but Helen (Gaskell) gave me a nice metal wrist support which helped loads. :)
Practice on Saturday was good, I had three uplifts but sectioned a lot of bits. Did most of my practice with Sara and The Tea Lady. There was a big wooden booter by the hut over a gap to a landing which was a bit dodgy for me as I wasn't clearing it quite like I wanted and was getting bucked about a little.
After a dry Saturday you almost knew Sunday was gonna be wet! I kept the same tyres on and got two practice runs in in the morning. It well went damned well.
On my first race run, I'm not quite sure what happened really, I will put it down to pedaling a lot more and having a big crowd cheering me on but I managed to clear all the jumps on the 4X track and landed off the wooden booter fine. I got to the bottom with a 1.47 giving me a 10 second lead against the other girls!
Second race run was better overall by 1 second with a 1.46 which is amazing as I messed up a bit of the 4-cross section but let the brakes off through the rock garden, totally railed it. Kept the first place with a big fat grin on my face!
We've known Ian Linton for years, he's an all round lovely bloke and a stalwart of the Scottish mountain bike rounds, notably more so when they're being held on his back doorstep at Innerleithen, the Scottish Borders. He's blown me away yet again with another shot of Nick, taken at the last SDA round. So step forward Mr Linton and take a bow :)
Originally this was set to be Fort William but due to adverse weather conditions it got changed to Caersws last minute, a bit of a drive but then so was Fort William. Angela and Steve decided to live the high life and stayed in a hotel for the weekend, sometimes having somewhere to stay that’s comfy can make all the difference on a race weekend! No raggedy tents for these two!
Both of the riders got together for an early start on Saturday. The last Caersws-course experience that Angie had was about 3 years ago where it chucked it down all weekend and their tent got flooded! Then with doing the 2nd practice run of the day on a Mr Big (must find a photo of the Mr Bigs…) she went over the bars on a jump and broke her wrist. Ahhhh those happy days!!
(Blimey, here's a blast from the past, the old Mr Big 'ST10' bikes, they were built in the back of a garage under the railway line in Newcastle by the living legend that is Tom Barker!)
Before walking the track Nick wasn’t so enthusiastic about the venue as it has been a series of really short courses with not much too them. Both of them were chuffed that a new track was being used, it looked great with some big jumps, a smattering of technical bits and nice drifty corners. They quickly got back down to get ready for the uplifts.
Exactly how amazing were the uplifts?! Angela got seven runs in, Nick (riding with Steve) got in nine… then there’s a rumour that someone else managed17 runs, bloody hell, well done to the BDS boys for that!
The track was bone dry and dusty starting off with a berm into a road gap followed by some tight switch backs which lead into a few fast bus stops and through a tunnel. With the daylight suddenly hitting your eyes again you’re hitting a wild loose corner with stumps at warp factor 60 followed another road gap with a terribly harsh landing (the one that Angie broke my wrist on all those years ago, but thankfully not this time!), over a big tabletop, a roosty left hander followed by some nice big roots and step down into the field finish! All over in less than 2 mins by the top dogs. Both of the team’s riders were on form and making it all too easy!
(How steep?! Angela hits the off camber with aplomb. Photo courtesy of Iain McConnell)
Angie pulled in a 2m24s with her seeding run, reminding herself to pedal more in the race run however that little theory went completely out of the window when someone up above decided to chuck several bucket loads of water from the sky all over the hillside! Full-On-Wet! Nick got to the top of the track for his seeding run just as the monsoon hit and wasn’t prepared for a soaked course on dry-condition tyres! He set off hoping that not much had changed….. he doesn’t ask for much! Rivers were running down the track forming big pools of water on the flatter sections. Incredibly difficult to keep control of the bike with the course’s corners being washed out quite literally. He came off after hitting a nasty compression in the tree section, straight back on through the sketchiest sections of the course, hitting the step-down and across the finish line…..soaked!
Both riders were soon up and running again with Maxxis ‘Wet Scream’ mud tyres fitted. The rain didn’t let up but Nick had a quick wander up the course to see what the damage was. There was no time for either rider to practice, mind you having said that everyone was in the same boat, so we can’t grumble too much!
(Strike a pose, the team's very own super model getting papped in the stump-field! Photo courtesy of Foto-4-u)
Angie was sat at the top waiting for her race run with 60mph gusts of wind mixed with rain, testing her ‘rip n roll’ goggles to the max! A pedal stroke out of the gate later she was off, straight over the step down and into the sharp corner, so chuffed she was using Wet Screams as that corner was as slidey as hell. She got down most of the track until the last big rooty off camber section in the trees, her bike gave way underneath her, hitting the deck and sliding down to the bottom berm all very comedy-routine (think of the waterslide sequence in ‘The Goonies’ with added mud and swearing then you’ll get the general idea!). Ellie was coming down and she let her past, then jumping straight back the bike Angie tried to make some time up. Her time was almost a full minute slower than the seeding however when conditions are like this and you smile like she was smiling you knew she was happy regardless. She’d still beaten all the non-Elite girls….. Ka-Boom!
Nick had delays with his race run as riders were taken off the course and sections of the track were being rebuilt, he was also warned about a corner near the top of the track which had become particularly bad. Once he set off for his race run he tried to settle into things however he hit a slimey root on one of the top corners that sent him off his line and he knew it was the end of his race run. With that in mind he enjoyed the course more determined to finish it with big drifts in the corners and styling it up off the jumps and the table top. What he didn’t get with a result he was certainly trying to make up with in style!
(Nick airborne in practise before the rains hit. Photo courtesy of Chris Ratford)
Hello again you lot! Lee here, Nick's disappeared on a European jaunt and sadly didn't send me a race report, the dozy mare, so I'm letting Angela have the full reign of this one!
....Hi there everyone, I'm writing this sat in a tent in the wet Peak District! You don't get much more hardcore, eh?!
So, here we go! INNERS with the Scottish Downhill Series boys... *claps*
Me and Steve (Foster) got there on the Friday a little bit late in the day and walked up the track...the SDA were using the steep corners at the bottom, I was dead chuffed with that, get in!!
Kept walking up and it was pretty much typical Innerleithen. The run down: up top straight out of the start you were hitting the rooty off-camber sections which was a bit of a tricky one I admit! Once across the fire road it's into the fast pedal-fest motorway section with the doubles, beyond that was the luge, which keeps the speed up nicely. And then it all drops down the devilishly dark and classic Innerleithen tight and twisty singletrack spitting you through the steep corners to the finish line, awesome stuff!
(A little pootle down the woods I think not, Angela makes it all look easy! Photo courtesy of Ian Linton)
Tried to get some kip that night but it was pretty hard with the constant pitter-patter of the rain throughout the whole...... entire......... night - it was sure gonna be a wet one!
(What d'ya mean it's muddy? Nick takes it all on! Photo courtesy of James Cattanach)
Saturday dawned greyly, I only got four practise runs in, could have done with another but planned to have an early start on Sunday instead. That said, the practice went well and I felt pretty good, totally loving the jumps and the steep corners.
(Fresh mud-pack! Photo courtesy of Barry Primrose)
I walked the track again with Steve and the Reno Beasts, saw a few different lines I wanted to take which would hopefully shave a few seconds off.
(Absolutely LOVING this photo of Nick, courtesy of Jamie Rodda)
Sunday, I got my first practice run in and hit all the new lines that I'd wanted and they all felt good, went for a second run and I got turned back, just out of time. :(
My first race run went OK however it's a super-pedally track and I felt burnt-out halfway down. Crossed the line with a 4m 26s and was sitting in third place... can I just add that there were 12 girls racing- which is amazing for a regional SDA! We need more of this please!
(In the dark, dark woods! Photo courtesy of James Cattanach)
After swigging down a can of RedBull I went for my second run and then 'BAM' got red flagged at the top for an hour. Bugger! Once out of the gate I felt like it was a load faster and I pedalled a lot more yet I ended with same result, huh?! To be honest I was really disappointed with my time, but will take the rough with the smooth, and hey, a third place certainly can't be sniffed at ! :D
Looking forward to the last round of the BDS at Caersws! :) ....time now to get some more training in!
Oh gosh, I dunno where to start! This is the first time I have done a race like this!
The 121 Race Series is only in its second year running and consists of a cross-country race on the Saturday followed by a downhill race on the Sunday at Hamsterley Forest in County Durham. It attracts a mixed type of rider from the full on XC racer to the born and bred DH rider - there is one little catch though and that's riding both races using the same bike, oh yes! I decided to do the weekend on my Trek ‘Remedy’.
Saturday came and there were 11 girls altogether with six in my category. All the guys went off first followed by the girls in a mass start, I had absolutely no idea where I would be having never raced cross-country ever before.
I didn't want to go too hard at first as it was three laps of a 4.8 mile loop, kept things nice and steady as to not burn myself out which I think worked. I ended in 4th place behind close friends Helen Gaskell and Sarah Newman who took a joint win.
Sunday came and it was time for me to get stuck into the downhill, I did two practice runs and then the racing was underway from midday. The track was pretty much a pedal-fest, the overnight rain made for some nicely greasy roots, which I add in a rather sadistic way were great fun! :)
With my first race run I got a 2.55, knowing I could pedal harder especially with the track drying out. Second run came around and I knocked 7 seconds off getting a 2.48 coming 3rd in the DH again behind Helen and Sarah respectively. This put me overall 3rd, as the girl who took 3rd in the cross-country took 4th in the downhill and so they go with whoever was fastest in the DH, and erm, that would be me! :)
Angie's back on the steps. Photo courtesy of Gary McIntyre
It was a really good weekend, bloody hard going yet really fun, it’s a clever format for a weekend’s racing and indeed great training for Fort Billy next weekend. I've realised how fun it is riding a short travel bike on DH tracks too, maybe a hardtail next time?!
Big “Thank You” to both Vitamin Water and Red Bull which got nailed this weekend! Such thirsty work!
Whey hey! The Northern Downhill Posse rolled into North Yorkshire with their Ramsgill round. This was a new track to race on, it’s always great when there's a brand new course as you don’t have a clue what it has in store for you. It was on the opposite side of the hill to the course of years gone by.
Angie got there with Steve (Foster) on the Friday night, Nick was soon to follow and and they walked the track...
I’ll let Angie take over here: …..It started about five fields up from the valley bottom, scattered rocks here and there and a bit of a boggy left hander which got more blown out and a bit deeper as the weekend went on. Around some corners over a rock berm and down over the stream gap (embrace the case, respect the bounce!) it had a funny landing if you weren't giving it big big licks. Onwards on the gas to the next corner, an immediate left off the infamous "cock jump" (a wooden kicker-jump with a lovely ‘cock’ shape drawn on it to help distract you, Nick was laughing about it all weekend!), a few more corners, past the cow barn and then back on the gas again for the rest of the way, past a little step down and some hellish flat turns into the finish. Verrrrryyyyyyyy old school!
When Angie races, everyone takes note! Photo courtesy of Richard Easton
Nick was super-excited to be back at Ramsgill, so many good memories from the NAMBS races of old (Lee: I’ll try and find an old photo of Nick at Ramsgill from years back….)
Here's Nick many thousands of years ago on the old Ramsgill course!
And here's Nick doing a practise run:
Angie: For me it was just a brilliant experience, the opportunity to race an old school course. Something I have missed out on having got into the sport all too late. These days most turns are bermed or banked up, but uh-uh, not these ones, great fun seeing how fast you can go, how much the bike can slide at the back and still being able to control it.
The course is deceptive, it’s a pretty easy track to ride yet at the same time you need to be on the ball as there’s no room for mistakes, the times are just so close. Nick was saying how unbelievably slippy the corners were becoming.
It was dry on Saturday and I got 7 runs in, everyone seemed to be loving it... however the evening came and brought heavy rain with it. It lashed down all night and we awoke to soggy fields which left the tractors a bit useless in getting up the hill to the top, not to worry, ce la vie! A 10-minute push wasn't going to kill anyone, was it?
Nick was pretty much on it with his first run however he also knew where to make up. Sadly with his second run he mis-judged a boggy corner losing time, he has however kept his fourth place overall standing. Consistency is the key!
Nick's kicking up the dust! Photo courtesy of Richard Easton
Angie's back: I got two practice runs in rocking some brand-new Maxxis Super-Tacky ‘Wet Screams’, baby yeah! So much more grip! My first race run went fine, hit all my lines and pedaled like a banshee where I could. I got a 1.41. That put me 7 seconds in the lead, totally on it!
Second race run came around and the track was drying out real quick, knew it was going to be a faster run. Hit everything harder, getting more pedaling in until I hit the second kicker-jump and got distracted, went straight over the bars and got all tangled in the tape. Not wasting anytime I jumped back on, feeling that the other girls were going to have a faster run with it drying up, luckily this wasn’t the case and I took the win! Elated!
Top step! Photo courtesy of Richard Easton
Big thanks to Carl and the Northern Downhill Series team for getting Ramsgill off the ground, we all had a belting weekend!!
Lee here now: there was a bit of debate on the internet over whether there is a place on a modern race series for such an old school styled course. And I back Carl 100% for what he achieved at Ramsgill which was in effect a short open course, the style of which we had in the middle of the 90’s. Today we see a huge influx of steep technically demanding courses and there are people who thrive for these. However in order to have an fair balance throughout a race series there is, I feel, a need for variety and this is where such a course fits in perfectly. It shows you the riders who can handle ALL types of terrain, not just the purely vertical gravity set. My hat is off to Carl for pulling off such a brilliant weekend.
.....and this is the second part of the same 'National Champs' weekend racing strategy...... simply put, Angela kicked arse! I'll let her take over.....
If there is one race that is highlighted in my calendar, it has to be the Downhill Endurance at Fort William. There is something very special about this event, it's just so incredibly hard yet it makes you keep going back for more. This is one of my extreme addictions, I love it!
It was my third time participating in this event and I was hoping for a 'third time lucky' but wanted to make it with my own luck so I changed a few things from the last two years where I'd had a 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Firstly, I warmed up for the 'Le Mans' style sprint to your bike, (which in hindsight is something I should do a lot more of), secondly I fitted a quick release seat post as there's a 2 mile uphill slog along a fire-road at the start to the 'Big Wall Ride'. And finally I wound the compression right down on my forks to stiffen up the suspension, this helped a lot and I wasn't bobbing around as much when pedalling. Oh yes, and another thing, I've been consciously trying to ride uphill on my downhill bike whenever I can to get a bit more power into these thighs of mine, spinning classes have worked a treat too.
I managed to pedal 90% of the climb which is a massive improvement to previous times and I was the 2nd lady to the Gondola, most chuffed!
All I can describe of the climb is "painful"..... it's so hard pedalling a 43lb bike up a hill with only 9 gears, a full face helmet on, plus the body armour and a bag full of fuel and spares. Oh my god, it really did feel like someone had rubbed away on the back of my throat with sandpaper!
As soon as I got to the 'Wall Ride' I jumped on my bike and got down the gondola as quick as I could as I was dying for a rest on the way up.
(Hitting the berms with aplomb Photo courtesy of David Lund)
On my first run down I could feel something wasn't right, I had a quick check and my chain was sagging all the way down, my rear mech was f*cked but it wasn't posing any problems so I did another two runs with it like that and thought it would be ok.
On my 4th run, as I was coming past the deer gate up on the moor, I heard the awful sound of spokes being snapped. I had to stop and found my rear mech was hanging off and that my chain was wrapped around the chain device. I grabbed the chain tool quickly but had massive arm pump and was in a state of blind panic, the bloody midges weren't helping matters much either! I managed to get it sorted however was well aware that people were passing me including two girls which took me out of the lead. Damnit!
I threw the mech to the side and the chain went the distance too, my rear mech hanger was bent all out of shape too. My lovely new Sun-Ringle rear wheel wasn't looking too pretty with 9 spokes ripped out and 7 loose as fook! *Sad face* As soon as I got to the bottom I popped another wheel on and from here on out it was a lovely quiet bike again. I knew I had to catch Jen Hopkins up to take the lead back. It didn't make a great difference with no chain apart from the motorway section where I found myself pumping more and braking less, excellent!
(Photo courtesy of David Lund)
Anyway, about an hour was left and there was a red flag on track, rider down. I'd been getting closer and closer to Jen and she was only 2 people infront. We got set off in 30 second intervals and we were told that this was our last run, I knew I had to get past her on this run to make it count, it was all or nothing, and near the 'Big Wall Ride' I saw her, took my chance and passed to take the win ...YEEEEEESSSSSSSS! *Mega happy face*
(Even Mother Nature was impressed with Angela it seems! Photo courtesy of Paul Cram)
At last, 6 hours later and I could finally chill out. I'd won and I was so, so, soooooooo happy, I had wanted to win this event for the last 2 years! The trophy is huge, it weighs 1 stone and I could hardly lift it above my head on the podium.
The National Champs took in a combination of the venue's two tracks and it was as steep as you like, bang on perfect for the FB10! Friday's track walk was good, great banter with my mates scoping out the lines and it was pretty damned wet with an inch of slop on top of the shiny roots thrown in for good measure. Tyre choices were gonna be interesting.
I have to say that none of the videos nor any of the photo's do the track justice..... walking up or down was nigh on impossible, thankfully the course builders had put in ropes between the trees to help spectators get around!
As soon as I got up on Saturday for practice, the Maxxis 'Wet Screams' were on without a moment's hesitation! The first run was so bloody hard going, trying to hit the lines you wanted in the gloop resulted in some almost-out-of-control sliding down the hill for everyone. Once it came to the flat section it was a big relief knowing that from there on it was flat out on to the older track.
Each run got better and better with more and more grip. After 3 runs I decided to throw on some Maxxis 'Minions' as the track was drying out fast. Although the course was great fun, due to the hang-on-for-the-ride nature of it I dont think it's the best kind of course for a full bore race track, now please don't get me wrong here as it is such a challenging track regardless.
(...I like my wheels fast and my crouch down low.... Photo courtesy of Alex Tyler)
Come race day I managed to squeeze in two practice runs which went well. Had my seeding run which went frickin' awesome at the top, absolutely pinned it, the spectators could probably hear me laughing and whooping as I went past! Further down though some of the corners had started to be blown apart by this time and I had to pull back hard to make it through. Ended up in the middle of my field which I wasn't too mad about but really motivated for my race run. I was feeling really good on the bike, the top seemed to flow so much quicker and I put everything in. As I approached one of the blown out corners that caused me grief in the seeding I came in with a bit of caution and unfortunately I did the same thing again, pulled back way too hard. Kept my cool this time as I knew where to make up the time. I knocked off 10 seconds which I was happy with however disappointed I made the same mistake.
(Photo courtesy of Alex Tyler)
A big SHOUT OUT going to the boys at SRAM for replacing the damaged rebound damper and seal in my RockShox Boxxers quick sharp on race day, you guys rocked, thank you so much!
I am very proud to announce a product support for the Development Racing Team from Vitamin Water in 2011. A huge "THANK YOU" is going out to Ema and the Vitamin Water posse, you guys totally rock! These drinks will go a long way to keeping the team's riders hydrated throughout the season, it is very greatly appreciated, cheers.
Keep your eyes open for Vitamin Water fuelled Development riders coming to the podiums near you soon!
The British Downhill Series Circus rolled into Llangollen in Wales for their round 4, you can already guess the weather…. chucking it down!
This course followed on from the Dunkeld SDA race rather well in that it’s a nice and steep track, largely out in the open. Saturday was on and off with the rain, so Maxxis ‘Wet Scream’ tyres were the call of the day, perfectly suited. Queue times for the uplift were quite lengthy thankfully the lift itself didn’t take too long and I kept a beady eye on my brake hose this time around!
(Photo courtesy of Laurence Crossman-Emms)
The track started with a long traverse across the hill with a series of steep and tight corners. The middle section of which was absolutely flat out and my plan of attack was to death grip it, this is where the speed-trap was going to be. As the weekend progressed it became rougher but nothing that the FB10 couldn’t handle. Following on were more loose corners the last of which spat you out into a new off camber section followed by three drops and a sprint to the finish line. On the filmed run I landed quite sketchily sending me towards a tree, which made my arse twitch like a rabbit’s nose!!
(Photo courtesy of Tim Joyce)
As Saturday progressed the course became dryer. I kept the Wet Scream tyres on for the rest of the day as it was still patchy in places but swapped to the Minions on the Sunday due to improved course conditions. As a result Sunday was a hell of a lot faster!Managed to pull two practice runs out of the bag, which was good considering the uplift queuing and the fact it was blisteringly hot. Must have drunk about two litres of Vitamin Water to keep hydrated!
(Photo Courtesy of Tim Joyce)
Came down from my first race run disappointed to find myself 14 seconds off the pace and tried to figure out where I’d gone wrong, admittedly I semi-stalled higher up on the course, the rest of the run seemed perfectly fine though. Kept trying to visualize where I’d gone wrong.
(Photo courtesy of Tim Joyce)
My second run, well I felt loads quicker, pretty much nailed the top sections and had a good race pace going on. Flew into the off camber section and took a wider line to carry more speed however little did I know that the corner had disintegrated over the course of the day’s racing! I had a huge moment here yet somehow managed to stay on. I hit the field off the last drop flat out, got my head down and sprinted as hard as I could. Unfortunately I put the posted the same time again I was pretty damned gutted!
(Photo courtesy of Ian McConnell)
Other than the lack lustre result I loved the course and can’t wait for National Championships there in a few weeks’ time. I’m heading off out on the road bike now, gonna get some miles in around the Teesdale countryside!
First and foremost.... WE HAVE THE NEW TEAM STRIPS!!! *Dances a jig* Soooooooooooo impressed with them, a big "Thank You" to David K for taking the vision I had of the tops from my head into an actual design and Brian at The Cycle Jersey for sorting them out at the very last minute, we are completely over the moon with them! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
(Nick looks all set for the breakdancing competition by the looks of that 'pose'...!)
Dunkeld? Two words for ya - steep and technical, 'nuff said! This is one of both Angie and Nick's favourite courses....so, without any further ado...
Everyone was greeted by a dry course on Saturday morning, hallelujah! However it was very much short lived, should've known, it's Scotland and soon rained heavily, joy! Having typed that things were going pretty damn well, Nick was looking as smooth as butter although took a wee tumble in practise, Angie was pretty much pinning it.
(Photo courtesy of Ian Porter)
New sections had been cut into the course to prevent it from becoming 'routine', as time went on the exposed roots became more polished, the mud was nice and sloppy, and in some gloop covered technical sections it was sheer pandemonium as riders did their rather superb impressions of 'Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo'! There were however some more welcome sections, the rock garden being especially so, having the balls to stay well off the brakes and hammer through it lead to it being a total blast! The team's Sun-Ringle wheels were more than up to the job all weekend. Regardless to the weather both riders were loving it.
(Photo courtesy of Barry Primrose)
Blue skies greeted everyone come race day, oh hang on...de ja vu? Best not tempt fate. It was a hell of a lot drier and in some respects worse as the mud was really thickening up...not good! I think both riders got two practise runs in, a few dabs hither and thither but both looking pretty much on it. Nick was flat out in the top section, full bore rock strewn, the FTW 'FB10' bike was perfectly at home here. Although a bit of a dodgy moment he didn't lose much time, keeping consistent and coming across the line in 3rd place on his first run. Angie had a few dabs and sat back in second from Bex in front with a 7 second gap. She knew she could make up ten sections on her final run mind you.
Nick wasn't so lucky on the last run after his brake hose was ripped out on the uplift, ....Nick being merely pissed off with this is putting it politely here....! Anyway he bit the bullet, spoke to his minute man, Ryan Chambers, to say he was still doing his run and to give him a shout if he was being caught up. Let's face it, racing's more fun than just pootling back down a fire road looking sorry for yourself! Straight off from the start Nick was actually feeling rather confident, this quickly diminished by the time he hit the second corner and realised it was a crazy idea with only a front brake! That said he was pretty much on form, hitting the steep rocky corners with riding tactics that Mr Kovarik would be proud of. He crossed the line with a sub 3-minute time beating plenty of people who had no drama's. The wee lad done well although no podium for him this time around!
(Photo courtesy of Barry Primrose)
Angie was looking pretty confident all weekend, she loves this course and it really suits her riding style. I will get some GoPro footage up shortly. She had a totally mint top section, absolutely flat out however got tangled in the tapes half way down, gutted. She kept it pinned for the rest of her run and held onto her second place but she so wanted to take the win!
(Photo courtesy of Paul Cram)
Next up is the British Downhill Series at Langollen in Wales, bring it on!