NZ continues to shine

Sadly, my time in New Zealand is coming to an end, in just a few short weeks I will be back in sunny Sheffield, putting the final touches to the new project..
So for now, here’s a tasty treat flowing down Queenstown bike park, railing berms of Vertigo into the newly made Thundergoat. Good times.

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Queenstown shredding with Swinny

Queenstown shredding with Swinny

Our World Cup athlete, Swinny, is currently hitting up the other side of the globe in preparation for the 2014 race season.
If you haven’t seen it already, Here’s a trip down one the rad tracks Queenstown bike park has to offer, Vertigo into Grundy. Enjoy!

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VDS, 1st of the year World Cup race report

VDS, 1st of the year World Cup race report

How things have changed over these past few years..

Since This Is Sheffield began, just a handful of us with a camera in some nearby woods on mediocre trails, we within this sport have seen one hell of rise through the ranks.

Me & my good pal Joe have come from dicking about together, to traveling the world, documenting & competing at the highest level in just a few short years.. And its great fun!!

For the last 2 years I have been chasing a bit of a childhood dream, to compete at a World Cup event (and to also catch up with the Steel City media team who have somewhat moved on from humble beginnings to world stardom!) I was given a brief glance at this dream in 2012 when I was called up to the British Cycling team to compete at the final round of the year in Norway, only for the harsh reality of riding a ‘proper race track’ taking its toll on my bike & body. Unprepared? Lack of resources? inexperienced? Naive? All of these & more are a good way to describe how I approached that race.. But this year things are different.

Since that race right at the back end of the year, with a glimpse at that dream, I realised what was possible, And I was going to make that dream happen…

Val Di Sole

Since seeing the coverage of the Worlds 2008, I have longed for this track. After the disappointment of having to miss Fort William World Cup, I was keen to make this event work for me. A real track. Long, physical, demanding, battering, all of which we don’t really have in the surrounding hills of Sheffield.
The opportunity has finally come around, I have worked hard for this moment. With an in-consistent start to my year, I was looking forward to going fast again.

Traveling with the PA & Steel City Media dream team along with Gee Milner, It was good to catch up with everyone & endure a proper Yorkshire trip! Sarcasm & laughs all the way.


On sign on, I was lumbered with the 153 plate. Top 150 racers were in A practice, the rest, B practice. So that instantly ruled out doing laps with the Syndicate boys then!

That decided it then, I was pretty much on my own for this one so that’s how I approached track walk. I have to start making my own mind up about tracks & lines & be able to see what I can ride within my abilities, not just nodding & agreeing with those around me.
Heading up in the lift there isn’t too much to see of the track, just the odd glimpse of sections through the deep trees, then before you know it, the top has arrived & its a little walk down to the start hut.

The track is just how it looks in the videos, brutal rocky with tree roots everywhere, deep loam & dust on some crazy steep gradients. Looks rad! I was enjoying this track walk & eventually caught up with Duncan & Sven as they were snapping away & even got myself a little interview & feature in VitalMTB’s track walk slide-show, which was cool.

Photo: Sven Martin pinched from Vital Slideshow

Photo: Sven Martin pinched from Vital Slideshow

This track needed time & care in its assessment, to learn & figure out where your coming from to where you want to be, its great seeing a track wider than the usual 1 line we seem a little used to in the UK. I must have been 3 hours on this one without even realising it!


Day 1 done, back to the hotel for an awesome three course meal with buffet appetizer & salad bar.. So much food eaten.

The heat was blistering all week, struggling to sleep at night followed constant sweating in the day, definitely not used to this!
Practice finally came around & my excitement was brimming! First time down the start ramp & I was thoroughly enjoying being apart of the World Cup scene.
A steady first run, the track seemed to run on forever!
Come second run, a little bit more speed. I heard Sven shout out “take it easy”, but I was enjoying that first testing section too much, it was easier, plus more fun, to go faster and skim the rocks & roots than try & go slow & burying wheels into the holes appearing.
A couple more lengthier runs later & I was starting to feel the effects of the long harsh track. Small mistakes with an unknowingly tired body made it much harder to ride the line in front of you. Only done 4 runs! How can I be tired?! But this track is harsh & could catch you out at any time, as many other riders found out.

Another mornings of practice before qualifying. A long wait from my last run at 10:00 until my qualifying run at 16:00! So a snooze & a little unwind back at the hotel before heading down to ask Greg how the track was running.
The whole Syndicate outfit were so helpful towards me all weekend, Steve, Gregg, Josh. Marshy, Dougie, Tom. Kathy. Rhino & Lars too! cheers guys, really appreciate the help & input!!
Off I went, up for qualifying.
Strangely, no nerves what so every in the start gate. I had headed up early to have a glimpse of a few other riders & how they approached the first section, which gave me confidence as knew I could ride that section strongly.

Things started well, fast through the first 2 tech sections before a stall in an awkward flat left before pressing on through the next rocks & across the bridge.
I backed off through the next section as a few tight flat steep corners had exposed some deep roots & I wasn’t sure of the conditions so was playing it a little safe before opening up again & into the final section.
That braking may have turned out to be my downfall, this track is harsh & soon realised I couldn’t actually tell weather I was braking or not.. Turns out I was, perhaps too harshly as a slow tight right caught me out & over the bars I went. Lodged behind a tree I struggled to get going again before finishing off the run.


What an experience! despite the crash I thoroughly enjoyed that! It was so cool to hear my name being shouted a couple of times down the track as well as learning I was within throwing distance of qualifying for my first major finals. 39th at the first split, 50th at the second, 109th the final result, 5 seconds off that elusive top 80 place.
Such a shame but what fun. Yeah im pissed off, but not going to let it dampen the experience. I have rode a World Cup track, raced & was competitive (for the most part!) That’s more than I could have asked for merely a year ago.

So missing out on finals was a bummer yeah, but I enjoyed being their & watching too, plus we had a good laugh with Gregg & the marshals post race (hitting the big time! Now I know how Joe must feel!?)

Time to head home & prep for the next Nationals before Andorra World Cup. Not done yet!!




Race Report: BDS Rd3, Inners

So a mixed start to the 2013 season is the best way to describe my season so far. A couple of good results to kick things off from the Steel City round & BDS rd 1 was followed by a heavy crash at Fort William then achieving a life long goal of gaining enough points to compete at World Cups, all before a huge eye opener at Innerleithen last weekend.

I came into the weekend looking to build on my early form. Iv felt strong, fit & fast so far this season but something just didn’t click for me here. Maybe a few factors out of my power were playing on my mind a bit too much. Firstly the disappointment of not being picked by the British Cycling team to represent at The first World Cup of the year in Fort William, something I have been lusting for these past couple of seasons, then achieving my points, getting overly excited only to be told by the UCI I was not allowed to compete due to not achieving points in time. Steve tried so hard to get me involved in the event, but it was not to be. I cant thank you enough for your efforts dude!
Then, regretably, I had to make a tough desicion to miss out on the SPS training week in the build up to Inners, as valuable holiday allowance from work meant I needed to save days in order to compete at other events through the year.
These training days are part of what makes the SPS so unique, the chance to really see into what it takes to compete at the top level, seeing how Steve approaches his Job & takes on the terrain is a huge boost in both confidence & information, so valuable in this sport.

So without an extra couple of days on the hill, I joined my fellow SPS boys & got to work.
A few laps following James Ramsey down the tight & fast Inners track soon made me realise just what I had missed earlier on in the week. He was riding so solid & smooth, I was struggling to keep up!
The smallest of mistakes on this track pretty much ended your run, the tight trees & off camber gradient, mixed with flat out to tight slow turns made for a really challenging race track. I was struggling to get up to pace.
After 4 runs though I was starting to feel at home, that was before I took the opportunity to do a couple of laps with Steve. Now this was where my eyes were fully jammed open.. The speed, the flow, the smoothness, the control. Yes I kept up, but what a pace. I soon realised I was from from a competitive race pace here. Another lap with Steve & I felt a lot better. Smoother & more in control whilst finding it easier to keep up.

Saturday ended good, the Sun was shining & I felt fast, I was keen for racing now.

Sunday soon rolled around & I was up early to get on the hill in time to get 2 practice runs in. The uplifts were just shocking, a 2 mile ride before waiting in what seemed to be a line involving every rider at the event. Just not enough wagons to cope with the demands.
So, back on the hill & first run leading out Josh Lewis. Things were going pretty good for a first run, until I hit the deck hard. Taking a beating on my right side of my body, arm & hip taking the brunt of the force. A steep chute that dropped onto a fire road was catching a few people out over the weekend. I should have know better though, the cold air at night mixed with warm morning meant for some dew around, this part of the track was so firm being a fire road, a little bit of moisture on the polished rocks & it was like an ice rink if caught wrong.. Which is exactly what I did, hitting the floor hard before I even knew what was happening.
So it was back to the pits & an attempt at a quick patch up so I could get another run in. I was keen to try to block out the pain, think no pain, feel no pain, but things were definitely stiffening up & my confidence had took a knock.

Quali began & I wasn’t riding smooth at all. The light piercing through the trees made for really challenging conditions with vision being interrupted by the intermittent light & shadow effect. I crossed the line after a bit of stop stalling in the lower woods & waited to see where I had placed. 26th.
Their was so much talk surrounding how ‘stacked’ the field was with World Cup contenders, all keen to get a bit of race practice in before the following weekends opening World Cup round, but this doesn’t matter. If I want to compete at World Cup level I need to be able to compete with the top guys time. It doesn’t matter to me who goes fastest or who is attending, its about getting as close as possible to that winning time, & 9 seconds is far to far back for me to be competitive at the highest level.

I was however confident of a big improvement in time, It was not a good run, full of tiny errors & mini stalls, I was sure of taking a good chunk of time off.
But it wasn’t really the case, Race run began & I felt reasonable up top, A solid middle section before again a little struggle in the lower woods before over the line. An improvement on my quali time but by no where near as much as needed, 2.5secs quicker & I ended up 30th, again 9 seconds back on the win.
Needles to say I was pretty pissed off by the result, a safe run the weekend before in Norway lead me to a top ten, but a safe run here put me no where. You cant just be a little quick anymore, you have to flat out from the word go, precise, delicate, accurate, aggressive, confident & consistent, all of which I was just lacking a little come race time. Something I definitely need to work on & quickly!

Next up is World Cup rd.2, Val di Sole, Exciting!

Cheers all!



Norges Cup, Back on the hunt UCI Style

This past weekend I headed abroad once more on the quest my those oh so valuable UCI points.. So here’s what happened..

The plan was crack out a top ten at the Norges Cup in Drammen, Norway. A quick Bank holiday weekend trip with a happy ending.. Well, it nearly wasn’t..
I had planned everything to run quick & smooth without taking any more time off work, who have so supportive of me these past two seasons, so I could save that valuable holiday allowance to book time off for the World Cup rounds I was hoping to head off to..

Friday night ship out, me & Mari (PA/wag) were on the road to the airport for 17:30, loads of time to get stuck in traffic in Glossop & still make our 20:45 flight. Easy done as it turned out Glossop was not even that bad! (For a first) Everything was going according to plan, on time, organized, right up until check in. Lost wallet. Uh oh. Hadn’t a clue where it could be. Last I remember I had it at the bus stop, damn. A quick call to the bus company but no sign of it. A 45 minute round trip with only 45 minutes to our flight time.. even bigger uh oh.. Jet Parks plus were awesome, they sent me a personal pick up from an Irish fella named Willy, top guy, cant thank him enough for ragging that bus around getting me back to the car park to search foe the wallet. But no joy. It must be either checked in with my bag.. or someone has it. Hoping for the former i was rushed back to the airport, bouncing over kerbs & worrying other drivers as we sped back to the terminal. Dropped as close as possible i ran to meet Mari, picked up both hand luggage bags & sprinted to the gate, girlfriend in tow. Just in time we made it to are gate, only to find the flight itself had been delayed slightly, which was nice. A bit more time to add that bit of worry as to where the wallet actually was..

A few anxious hours later & the time had come to collect baggage & see what situation we were in… was good news? At first no, no signs of the little fella. oh bugger, my heart sank a little, then success! Nestled away in between my shoes, there he was, sneaky thing! relief..

So, on we pressed. Rent-a-car, then hotel for a sound nights sleep.
Again all was running smooth but time was really getting on. Gone 01:00 in the morning & still traveling, I had been up since 04:30 am the day before! Starting to feel tired & really want sleep we pulled up at the hotel, Which turns out they mixed up our booking with another hotel some 15 minutes back up the road. So off we went again. 03:30 am we eventually got our heads down. 23 hours awake in total, great.
Up at 07:45 am for breakfast. An all you can eat mix of hot & cold buffet style delights & those that know me when it comes to food know this is never a ‘quick feed’. A little insight into how I ate..
It started with a large warm plate, A large helping (and large means what you would imagine as large, plus more) of eggs, beans, meatballs, little sausages, some onion omelet things & potato chunks, with a side helping of a couple of sizeable hand cut slices of seeded bread & coffee. The size of meal you’d normally look & think, ‘Wow, I’m gonna feel full after this!’
But that’s not all.. Onto a helping of porridge & more coffee, before helping myself to the cold buffet, a couple of bread cob sandwiches stacked with hams, cheeses & salads before heading back for another plate of warm. Not as much as first time around admittedly but considering the size of round one, even half that portion size was still pretty sizable.
Not done yet, a bowl of cereal & yoghurt, more coffee before another sandwich & a take away coffee.. That just about covered it I reckon.

Enough about food, Time to ride!
30 minutes down the road we arrived at Drammen Skisenter. Pulling into the car park a noticeable in feel between British rounds & this one. So much more relaxed, no one rushing about, no struggling to squeeze runs in, just calm & welcoming. The chairlift probably helped a lot, set just off the road, such easy access.
We set up our pits for the day, built the bike up & headed to the lift, around 11:00 for first runs.

Slide1The track was cool, a huge rock slab to build speed before dropping into a very loamy section. Due to pretty severe weather in the build up to the race, this section as littered with thick deep mud bogs that killed your flow, but as more riders descended, soon dispersed the most & dug down to the bare rock.
A tricky switchback before a large rock roller to build speed! A couple switchbacks later before opening up a bit. Building speed was fun on this track! Smashing through 2 very soft turns, easy to bury the front end & get pitched forward before opening up over large rolly rocks again. 1 more tricky wooded section before exiting onto the ski slope to the finish line turns & jump.
A rad track. so enjoyable it didn’t feel anywhere near as long as the race times suggest.
I headed straight back up.. no queue, at most it was 3 people deep, just pleasant.
Unfortunately this time around I clipped a rock in the high speed rock roll section, got bucked pretty bad but held her down! Determined not to crash! (it pays off being strong!!) damn rock though bent my pedal pretty bad, too bad to be able to ride it.
A quick call at the Norwegian Santa Cruz & one of their riders sorted me out with a fresh set of pedals, cheers guys! would have been really stuck without you!


New pedals fitted & back up the hill. 2 more runs but was starting to struggle with fatigue & tiredness. So headed back to pits for a lie down.
So, 4 runs, a lengthy pit stop & it was still barely 14:00!
A lie down turned into a nap.. nap turned into a sleep.. so I called it a day & went for a track walk. 17:45 & still riders on track, Norwegians have riding priorities dialed!
A couple of fresh lines had appeared in the tech sections, something I was keen to try out in Sunday mornings practice.
We headed back to our hotel, passed out pretty early on after scouring what delights Norway had to offer on telly. Why oh why do you guys seem to have a channel dedicated to breast feeding?! Its just creepy!
Back up for more breakfast (see above for portions) Before arriving for 09:00.
To the the lift for 9:30, practice closed.. oops.
So, First run Sunday with trying new lines would be seeding run, not the best prep but that’s the position I got myself in!
A gentle run scoping things out. Over the line & in 10th place. Pretty positive.
Top ten was the goal for the weekend, this would give me the points needed to compete at World Cups this year.
Off for race runs.
A bit different to what I’m used to this year, no trainer, no music, just myself & my thoughts.
Its easy to over think things & get wound up before a race run, something I have struggled with greatly in the past. So for now its off for a walk, a bit off warming up whilst picturing back to back clean runs of the track.
Into the start gate & a sudden flutter of nerves, before being able to shut them out with some clean thinking.
Onto the pedals & away! cranking hard I could feel I was under power from fatigue but no excuses, time to race.
A small error into the first woods dropped me off line slightly, not loosing too much time though as moment was kept.
Onto the open section & time to open up, some stiff pedal strokes before nearly ditching it in the soft switchbacks. Thrown over the front wheel as it dug in, foot dab to hold upright, before getting back on with it.
The final wood section was clean & smooth before smoothing out the final turns, squashing the last jump before crossing the line.
Slightly nervous as id crossed the line in 2nd & waited for the next man down to see where id end up.. A chance of missing out on that top ten was a possibility.


Fortunately for me that didn’t happen! 7th the end result, a little further back than id have liked but still, job done! Happy with the result & 100Euros better off! Cheers Norway!


So, back off to pack up with smiles on our faces. A good weekend of sun & bikes with a result that would give a life long ambition of competing in World Cups a reality.

Thanks Norway for having me! You were all so awesome! See you later in the year for Hafjel!!
Cheers all!

Race Report: BDS Rd1, Combe Sydenham

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.




Race Report: Portuguese Cup – Gouveia

So last week saw me enter my first race of the season, The Portuguese cup in Gouveia.
In pursuit of a bit of sunny riding and those all important UCI points, there is a reason Brits head over to Spain and Portugal this time of year.. mainly because our weather is so shit to ride in! and to get up to speed for the year ahead on a fast flowing track.

Weather for the week

Weather for the week

On arrival I was struggling a bit with a virus, which gradually got worse over the week! Gastroenteritis, not nice! low on energy and suffering from De-hydration, things weren’t looking good for the week ahead. To make matters even worse, the weather wasn’t looking to be what it had originally promised. Grey skis with menacing clouds hung around all week, the odd bit of sunshine warmed things up but mixed with the amount of rain and riders meant the track to and unusually quick battering, which for a fresh track, just turned it into a mess as the week progressed!
In terms of food, all I could try to stomach all week was water, and dry ham sandwiches. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner, Dry ham sandwiches, all week. And some biscuits here and there!

This year saw the introduction of a new, fresh track dug into the Portuguese landscape. A lovely looking loamy track with high speed off camber section most of the way down.

Friday was sign on and track walk before an evening of practice. I signed on, then slept on the car for a couple of hours, then attempted a track walk. Half way through and energy levels were so low I had to return to the hotel and sleep. From 15:00 till 07:00 I was out like a light! Before returning to the hotel I did watch this cool train of caterpillars though! It was about all I could focus on.

Caterpillar train

Caterpillar train

Saturday and a full day of practice ahead. I was feeling slightly better after necking a handful of Imodium tablets and headed off for my first run of the weekend. A blind top section was probably not the best of ideas! although the track wasn’t incredibly technical it had the odd section to catch you out, especially the awkward turn to drop to flat to off camber corner which nearly caught me out severely!
I was feeling a little fresher however the lack of fluids and nutrients on my body meant I was unable to fully focus and my mind was way behind where my body actually was on track, which eventually caught me out and I had my first crash of the weekend, a simple error but one that wouldn’t normally happen.
4 runs in and I was done, out cold and back to the hotel for more dry ham sandwiches and sleep.

Sunday race day came around and the weather wasn’t playing ball. Rain mixed with periods of sun meant the track really was struggling, wet bog sections dried up slightly and turned to thick mud, then back to water with the rain, then mud with the sun, things were getting really tough! Not good with no energy!
1 practice run and then waiting for seeding.

As bad as I felt seeding went, I turned out a 19th position, 7 seconds off a top ten. With very little pedaling to conserve energy I was surprised to be in touching distance of a top ten.
Finals came around and big rain shower hit before more sun. This effectively ruined any chance I had of a result. The weather massively deteriorated the track and out of the gate i was done, 2 errors to which i stopped and was unable to move with bugger all leg power.
Everyone seemed to suffer, times were 20 seconds slower from quali to finals and I ended up 23rd.
Not the result I was looking for but given the circumstances there wasn’t a great deal I could do about it!

Fresh kit for the year

Fresh Royal Racing kit for the year

So the season is well under way now and time to focus on recovering fully before hitting the first BDS hard!

Sorry for the lack of photos! not much riding was done!

Cheers to everyone for the support for the season ahead, here’s to the next race!


















For Sale: 2012 Limited Edition Santa Cruz V10

So, we are well under way in 2013 and i need to move on my race bike from last season.

Here we have a limited edition stickered SPS powered V10.
FOX suspension and Shimano Saint equipped, Renthal Cockpit, Hope Hubs lased to Sun ringle MTX 29 rims with High Roller 2 tyres.

The bike has been very well looked after, with mechanic treatment throughout the whole race season.
Heli taped to the 9’s to keep that beautiful carbon in top nick.

If your interested, drop me a line;

This Is Swinny: Taking 1 for the team

A couple of weeks back i popped over the hill to Farmer John’s in Stockport to compete at the North West Champs.
A small hill with a flat-ish pedal section up top, a couple of jumps and wooden structures, before dropping into a short technical section before the finish at the bottom of the hill.
With there being no uplifts, we decided to skip Saturday practice and just crack out a couple of runs on the Sunday morning before finals.
This nearly backfired as we were unable to string a full run together due to nature of the short track mixed with bad weather and the tricky tech lower section of the track. A steep chute the crossed a rocky platform before tackling a tough rooty section. This part of the track was key as momentum was easily lost if you got it wrong and as the track went back up hill slightly, meant you stopped dead if you made an error.

Official NUmber board for the day?...

Despite being unable to get a full run in a was feeling strong on the V10, I had cranked my suspension to the hardest setting and pedaled my heart out! A good mid-week xc ride with Jolley set me up nicely for the weekend. I was feeling confident on the bike and was enjoying trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

I’ve had a few mixed results here in the past, because its such a short track, any mistake made can’t really be brought back further down the track. You have to get up to speed as quick as possible and the first couple of corners can be tricky if you over cook them and miss your turning point, pushing you off line for the following corners and just sapping your speed.

Another muddy UK summer race

Fortunately, on my first timed run, I rode smooth out of the gate and was able to crank hard throughout the whole top section. From there we dropped into the switchbacks, which I’ve always ridden pretty strongly, and committed to the lower rooted section. Here I got very lucky, a rock caught my front wheel at the bottom of the chute and forced me to dab a foot, which stayed off for main part of the root section, getting pushed offline I somehow cleaned the bottom corner and carried good speed out. Just a bit of time to regain composure before backing off to make sure I cleaned the final section to the line.
All went well and I crossed the line 5 secs clear, not bad on a 1 min 30 sec track!

I was feeling pretty confident no one would beat that time so was buzzing going up for my second run, thinking where I could push on a bit to make more time. However, this run didnt start so cleanly. A mistake in the first corner set me up poorly for the next couple and I lost all my flow.
As this run wasnt going to plan, I had a brain wave and tried to no break the rooted section. This did not work in any way, straight down trying to turn that treacherous corner. Oh well, I plodded onto the finish and crossed the line.
My first run was good enough for the win and also to take the fastest time of the day, which i was rate happy with!
A good platform and confidence booster before the next round of the BDS.

Cheers everyone for the support!

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