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Winter Dual – Round 2

Winter Dual – Round 2

That was the most mental dual ever. Last night, we raced dual in a blizzard, with temperatures well below zero, with gusting winds and the sloppiest of mud. We were all wet, cold and grinning. There were a couple of cases of near hypothermia, many hands didnt work well enough to pull brake levers let alone hold on to bars. The chattering of teeth could be just about heard over the wind and there were many shouts of  “Cant we just go home now?”.

In short.

WE LOVED IT.

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Winter Dual – Round 1

Winter Dual – Round 1

The clocks have changed, the nights have drawn in, it’s wet; which can mean only one thing.

Dual

Last night saw the season opener and it was a cracker. It pissed down all night, it’s was as slick as I’ve seen it and it was so much fun. In the brief history of TiS dual, this is the first night I can remember when Its rained all night. Thankfully I’d thought to pack a tarp so Steph, our timing angel, stayed relatively dry. As did the laptop.


With it being the start of the season, interest was peaked, and we had a total of 39 riders. Too many! This meant the first half an hour of the evening was spent with quails whittling it down to 32. Great fun though as the left lane had a killer 2nd left turn. You had to setup for the following traverse and stay high otherwise you’d be paddling or running up the little hill. Several fell victim.

Racing was tight from the off and the mud took many a victim, changing racers fate in a heart beat. Big wheels were in abundance, with the 4 mid sized versions in the top ten.

Its great to be back in the woods.

Heres the results

winter dual 1 2013-14 - Overall

winter dual 1 2013-14 - fastest

winter dual 1 2013-14 - Points

Sheffield Mates Races 2013 – Get Involved!

Sheffield Mates Races 2013 – Get Involved!

Its exciting times at TiS , the Summer Series of Mates Races is about to get underway. Now by the nature of these races they have to stay a bit under the radar and somewhat exclusive… well to mates. Unofficial throw downs they serve to pit amigo against amigo in a race for bragging rights and pub plaudits.

We get a lot of requests about how other people could get involved with them but unfortunately this just cant happen. They would have to become official, paid for, insured races and that’s what we run Peatys Steel City DH for. Until now that is. We run Dual races all through the winter to bring a little flood lit joy to the dark winter nights. Well, we’re bringing dual to the masses and hoping that this year it wont flood!

As park of Sheffield’s Cliffhanger outdoor festival we will be setting up the dual poles on a grassy hill in Graves park on Sunday 7th July. The course will be out all day for anyone to come and have a play. If you wish, you have one chance to lay down a qualification time. Should you be among the fastest of the day, you will get the chance to compete in the finals. A knock out competition pitting the best of the best against each other to decide the winner. This will be run in true TiS style with each entrant throwing down a prize as an entry fee and the winner getting first pick. Timing will be with stopwatches and fast fingers. As always, spiked tyres are banned to keep things even.

The race will start at 3pm sharp so all practice and quali’s will be done by 2:30pm, then it’ll be straight in to racing. We’ve raced on grass several times before and believe me it gets very interesting and very sideways especially with a bit of rain.

Theres a facebook event here which will be updated as the week goes on:

So come along and pit yourself again the best TiS has to offer.

On the Saturday at Cliffhanger our lycra loving Ride Sheffield brethren are helping to organise an XC Eliminator event , More details here

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.

Slide1

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!

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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!

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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.

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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!!

Cheers!

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World Cup Swinny – Val di Sole

Photo: Sven Martin pinched from Vital Slideshow

World Cup Swinny – Val di Sole

Our Man Swinny’s hard work has paid off and he is riding World Cups this year. He missed out on Fort Bill due to the UCIs inability to process his points in time, however, he’s out in Italy for the second round with the Steel City Media Whores.

See and hear the man himself (and plenty of Joe and Duncans self promotion) on slide 16 of this brilliant Vital Slideshow. Lets hope the nepotism continues and we get more Vital coverage of our lad.

Gwarn Swinny! We’re all rooting for you lad. What a track to start his world cup campaign on, but then again, have you seen his guns? VDS’ rocks had better watch out!

Photo: Sven Martin pinched from Vital Slideshow

Photo: Sven Martin pinched from Vital Slideshow

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!

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TiS at UK Gravity Enduro – Hamsterley

TiS at UK Gravity Enduro – Hamsterley

TiSEnduro

This doesn’t happen very often, members of the TiS crew actually racing at the same race together. Individually we’re often out listening to the beeps but collectively, its been quite a few years. There Should actually have been 4 of us in this picture but unfortunately JoBo picked up an injury on his w*nking arm while trying to pick up ICU points in a practice at Swedish mates race. His attempts to impress his Swede better half with race winning times back fired and landed him in the docs instead. Heal up soon lad. Ruari ‘ Bar Drag’ Hallam, his brother Gee and myself all attended round 3 of the UK gravity enduro series at Hamsterley. Gee is back from New Zealand for a mo:nth to visit friends and family and his sister Katie kindly bought his the race entry for his birthday. Alongside her partner John, it was a heavy hitting Sheffield Crew. Even Poppa  Hallam was in attendance and kindly took all the photos in this post. Thanks very much Peter (hope you dont mind me using them!). There were many other of the Sheffield Fam racing too I’d travelled up with my mates Dave ‘fastest hardtail in last years series’ Griffiths and Carrie ‘overall womens champ last year’ Poole,

ruarienduro

The conditions for racing couldn’t have been better, it had rained on friday which left some sections damp and greasy but non of us are used to dust so it just played in to our hands. The trails at Hammers were brilliant, a real variety of trail types. The first two were fairly natural loads of roots and off camber sections with a bit of loam thrown in for good measure. The third and fifth stages were pure trail centre with many berms and a few loose flat corners to keep things interesting. The forth stage started at the top of the 4X track and ran down a very tightly taped DH run, great fun.

ruarienduro2

Practise on Saturday was a real eye opener for me, I haven’t raced an Enduro for about 5 years and it took me a long while to get up to speed. My mates Dave, Carrie and Mandy showed me the way though and the whole day was just like going for a ride with a bunch of mates… apart from the sun and warmth. That was very strange… we even got sun burnt.

geeenduro2

Late Saturday afternoon was a seeding run. Stage 5 was used which had some of the highest speed sections of all. That said, there was loads of pedalling required, keeping on top of a gear and sprinting where ever possible on the upper section. Lower down the hill was more of a challenge to carry speed and hold your nerve through the quick berms. Popping out in to the arena at the end I, along with many others, managed to wash out on the final corner. Bugger.

geeenduro wheels

Sunday was race day and it was an early start as the ladies were off first. I got to the start of stage 1 early and wondered down the track to watch the action. I’m very glad I did as I realised my race craft is crap. There were so many high lines and ‘cut’ lines being employed by the quick vets I saw that I had to rethink my race plan and somehow managed to hold all the new lines. Great fun.

geeenduro

The rest of the race day went pretty well. The weather gods were again smiling on us and the sun was out all day. With a fairly short loop it was all over in a couple of hours and we were back at the finish cheering in the rest of the racers. The atmosphere was great and the grins infectious, Steve Parr had put on a great event and everyone seemed to have a great day.

In the TiS stakes I managed to Squeeze out the fastest time on the day with a 19:16.58 only good enough for 23rd in Masters. Ruari came home 24th senior with a 19:26.74 and Gee 30th Master with a 19:40.56. It really was a great days racing and reminded me what I’ve been missing out on for all these years… now for some Enduro Mates Races!

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