Thursday afternoon and im buzzing with excitement ahead of the first BDS of the season! so excited in fact I cant stop eating.. anything in sight was consumed at a rapid rate!!
After my disappointing trip out to Portugal a few weeks back, I was feeling a little behind schedule with my preparation for this event. I didn’t want to start this season as I had started last, A disappointing start followed by a lot of “oh well there’s always next time”, which seemed to circle every event with me throughout 2012.. But not this year! This year I have come with a different mindset, something i’ve been able to work on with Dr Rob from Sheffield Hallam Uni. I’ve given myself more of a focus, a better drive to succeed, and now comes the time to put practice into play.
Friday and the new race truck is packed up and on the road. A 4 to 5 hour trip down south was ahead.. Until we broke down a couple of hours into the journey.. Not the best start to the weekend. Turns out my dad was working not too far away and was able to get to us within an hour to help out.
Turns out our alternator was faulty, and having to turn the headlamps on during a rainy journey must have drained the last of the battery and cut the engine out.. bit sketchy at 65mph whilst overtaking going up a hill in the pissing rain, cutting up a jeep with minimal vision whilst attempting to get onto the hard shoulder.. Fun.
After some time twiddling the same wires over and over again with no result, something clicked in Dads head and Boom! jump leads from truck to truck and see what happens.. success.. Now to get off the motorway for a proper look.. Run the jump leads from the truck battery through the window and attach to a leisure battery in the foot-well? why not!! Worked a treat!
We eventually got back under way after swapping batteries around and headed off, hopeful to make it before dark so we didn’t have to use headlamps and drain another battery! This didn’t happen, it went dark just before leaving the motorway. Noticing flashing blue lights approaching behind us made me panic a little as it was definitely time for lights, yet we were still plodding without.. fortunately they were not interested in us and pulled someone up only a couple cars back! We survived the rest of the journey with Dad leading as we followed closely, no lights just in case!
Arriving at around 22:00/22:30 we fed and got our heads down ready for the weekend of riding ahead of us.
Saturday – Up at 05:00 for track walk! Peaceful and quiet with no one else seeming to be around or even stiring, I was able to get to the top have a look and come a someway down before even seeing any else on track.
Nothing had changed from last year, still same old same old, just a nice refresher having a look around.
Saturday Practice and things started nice. the new V10 was running sweet and I was enjoying plodding down my first run. Then things didn’t seem to go as planned. The weather turned and rain came, 2nd run was a shambles, I hit my head and shoulder pretty hard into a tree and upset myself. As id got up early I was able to have a little hissy fit while Jamie and Ricky Bobby were tending to my ride. Having those boys around during the weekend helps so much, It gives me the chance to go away and leave my bike in their capable hands, have some food and a clean up and come back fresh knowing my bike is clean, prepped and ready to go as soon as I am. Cheers guys for all your hard work!
The rain was beginning to come down hard and eventually myself and Loosedog made the decision to head up for another couple
of runs. Again, things were not really going to plan and I was struggling to find my flow.
Sunday- Race day. Up early again for First lifts! Knowing how bad the uplifts can get i was sure to be on the first lift, right at the end so the chance to be one of the first down the hill.. The track did not look to appealing. Thick gloopy mud caused by heavy rain through the night, conditions just look draining. I met Loosedog at the top and we proceeded to descend the track. Again, a shambolic morning, nothing I was doing seemed to be going right and I couldn’t figure it out. My final practice run was the worst of all. We stopped a couple of corners up from the step down into the open to see what conditions were like. As I dropped in to attempt to huck, I double un-clipped, reached fro the break levers and slipped of both only to grab again just as my front wheel dropped over the take off and landed me face first into a pile of mud. Funny i’m sure to the onlooking crowd, but not for me!
Back to the pits, leave my bike with Jamie as I sit on the turbo and go through the track in my head, Not thinking about any mistakes!
Qualifying – Just awful. First corner over the bars. Scrappy run, another crash dropping out of the second bus stop. Missed line in the tight woods, then one more crash in the lower woods. Wow, things really were looking terrible.
Once more, back to pits, refresh and forget. Then Irve came out with a cracker, “Forget it lad, its in the past now, Quali is only a ticket to the party”. And he was right, made me smile as I span on the trainer, first, get into the party, then its time to dance!
Finals – Arriving back at the pits with Fresh Jersey, fresh pants, fresh SKINS, fresh shorts, fresh socks, fresh shoes. Fresh head. Ricky and Jamie had set me up Pro with some tyre wraps to keep the thick mud out before the start.Feeling pro now!
I headed up early for a look and some prep work. Jamie traveled up too with the turbo for warm up. I gave myself a plan. Spoke to Loose and told him I had a plan, he replied, ‘Stick to it’, I said, ‘I’m going to’… Sat on the trainer, spinning away with my headphones in, then by accident the best thing that could have happened, happened. a few minutes before my run, “Ludacris, Rollout” came through the speakers. A tune that has always got me fired up not matter the mood. I smiled, eyes shut, felt calm and got pumped!
Race run started as planned, gently caressing the sticky mud, riding lines outside of the deep stuff. I am not the most skilled rider, nor the most stylish nor fastest, but what I have over a lot of riders is an ability to push my bodies limits. To put in more effort when others don’t want to. I payed attention to my weaknesses from quali, but didnt let it take over what I knew my strengths were. I rode the first awful turns cleanly, then it was power time. I shifted down 2 gears by mistake, so all that meant was pedal harder.. so thats what happened. I cleaned the sections I had previously Struggled on and now was time to push. Cranks were spinning as i felt composed and in control. Things seemed to be running slow, yet not. I was fast but in control, I had found my flow.
Back off again a little in 2 more tricky corners as I dropped back in to the middle woods. Clean the deep ruts then it was pedal time. Approaching the first double pedals were just turning, not good enough, on landing, down 2 gears and smash through the pedal strokes! Holding the bike down over the next few jumps I felt strong. The winter of training was showing.
The final wooded section and again I backed off a little earlier than practice, good as things rolled smoother and cleaner, holding momentum. Then just before the final sketchy crucial Rock roll, I snagged a tree root and get turned 90 degrees left, unable to un-clip.. A slight panic but just managed to get the left foot out. Dab the long way around a tree and roll the rock drop before really having to give it my all to get up the slight off camber incline. I cranked my arse off to the line and over. As I got off the bike I was happy yet frustrated a mistake happened where it did. Legs wobbled as I grabbed a needed Monster and I made my way off to the side to watch. Being 3rd rider down I ignored the hot seat as i didn’t think I had performed. Yet rider after rider were coming down with times slower than mine..
I was still holding onto the position.. how?! The last few descended and the end result was 8th! more than happy with that, but what maybe could have been without that mistake and lost time?.. Looking at the breakdown of times.. I was 6th at split 1, on the same second as 5 time World Champ, Sam Hill. That mistake at the bottom cost me dearly, with every one around me clocking 40.00 seconds I was back on a 43.00+ seconds, but still to manage a top 10 at the first chance of the year boosts my confidenc an joy! This then boosted even more to learn my team mate Josh Lewis bagged a 5th place finish in Expert, and then further boosted learning Brad Swinbank too placed 5th in Youth.
Well done to everyone on the team and again a huge thank you to Ricky and Jamie for keeping us all running smoothly throughout the whole weekend!
A cracking end to a challenging weekend, made better the fact Dad had single handily swapped the alternator in the truck in the pissing rain, and we got home safe and sound!
then to celebrate.. A Jaffa Cake!
Cheers to all for the support this year.