Archives: DH

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!

Slide1

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.

photo-10

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!

photo-9

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!
SwinnySlide1

Race Report: BDS Catch up

Race Report: BDS Catch up

Its been a confusing season so far to say the least. Things couldn’t have started better way back in February when i finished 7th in my first Expert race at Nant Gwrtheyrn on my Pitch, only a few seconds from a podium on a course which far from suited a short travel bike. Then things continued to roll forward when in March, i finished 2nd to Peaty at the incredible Steel City race.

Since that confidence inspiring start, things haven’t exactly gone to plan.

Rd.1 Nant G – March 20th

Only a month had passed since i rode my Pitch to 7th on exactly the same track, i was feeling quietly confident yet reserved about the weekend ahead. It was a wet one to say the least and the track was changing yet holding up, with mud parting way for more of the rock that lay under it.

Saturday – went as standard, clean with the odd crash but nothing major, just getting into the swing of things and dialing in my lines before race day.

Sunday rolled around and the weather was bleak, a couple of practice runs in the morning and i was feeling good. Quali then came around and as i sat in the van keeping warm and waiting for my time to ride, an incident occurred to one of the riders on course causing Quali to be red flagged for a while, not to worry i thought, keep warm and things will be under way again soon. This was not to be the case as the rider had hurt himself more than we at the top were told and he was trapped on track.

The organizers then had to make a big decision to cancel Quali and go straight into race runs. With the weather being so bad the light was already fading so this surely was the best option. Unfortunately i let this affect me too much, i snoozed a bit to much and got comfortable in my warm environment. Once my race run came around i had to try and wake myself up and get back into the mood. i struggled to do this and as a consequence i failed in hitting my high line in the devil rock section, causing me to tumble over the bars and rip my mech into my spokes. End of. I pushed to the bottom as there was no other way to get off the track. 47th was the end result, last place.

Rd.2 Moelfre – 10th April.

A track that has treat me kind in the past, my first UK win came at this venue and i was feeling confident to banish Rd.1 from my mind.

It was a scorching weekend with the sun out both days. I had Joe Bow and Duncan in support taking snaps and cheering me on so that was a nice plus.

Saturday – Went well, a flat rear tyre but that was all. Just out enjoying ridding in the sunshine.

Sunday – A couple more practice runs to dial in my line and ready for Quali. Which went well, 12th place after not pedaling the whole top/mid part of the track. On a track which is pretty basic flat out riding/pedaling. I have been working hard on my fitness over the winter and felt good on the pedals after a whole bunch of xc ragging.

Race run started great, hit all my lines and pedaled hard. I cleaned the top part of the track and carried good speed through the tight switchbacks, shot over the crossing and headed along the traverse pedaling hard all the way. It felt like i was carrying good speed and i shot off the last drop only to find myself land a lot further out than i had planned, front wheel landed right on a pointy rock and that was that, a flat front tyre. I was devastated as it was the last harsh place i could have had such a problem. DNF end result.

Rd.3 Glencoe – 29th May

What a venue! a track i hadnt previously done and on arrival i was instantly excited. From the bottom you could see nearly the whole track on the steep hillside facing you. It looked incredible, steep and rocky and very, very wet.

Saturday – Managed 2 runs due to some bad timing! i arrived in time for some one to fall and hurt themselves, this delayed things, did a run, someone else got hurt, did another run, wind caused havoc, went to to do another and noticed a cascade of yellow florescent jackets coming down the hill. was practice over? yes it was. oh well. i Enjoyed the track and looked forward to Sunday.

Sunday – One more practice run and i was buzzing. the track was very technical and difficult  to clean top to bottom without a scary moment but i felt good and happy on the bike. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas, the wind picked up and the chairlift looked to be struggling. riders getting blown harshly from side to side, some heard to have come in contact with the Pillars. A meeting was held and the decision to cancel the event was confirmed. A real shame but probably the right thing to do.

Rd.4 LLangollen – 26th June

Not a track i have enjoyed in the past for some reason i have no idea why.. its a brilliant venue and you can see riders from top to bottom as the tumble down the steep hillside. there isn’t a whole lot to the track, no real tree roots, no big rocks, pretty smooth compared to other tracks, just very steep. why i haven’t enjoyed this in the past is beyond me.. this time however i was having great fun! loving the steeps and trying to flow as best as possible from top to bottom.

Saturday – things started wet and muddy but so much fun, sliding down the hillside pretty uncontrollably was a real challenge but a laugh non the less. i had one big crash on the fast traverse, things were roughing up down there and before i knew it my hand was off the bars and in front of me, then i hit the ground pretty hard. fortunately for me iv had some good practice when it comes to crashing so was able to comfortably tuck and roll out of it before i got too hurt.. for the speed of the crash damage was very minimal.

Sunday – The sun had been out since late on Saturday and continued to shine all Sunday. The track went from slightly moist slippy dirt to dust in places! A real contrast from Saturday morning but again as loose but this time even faster! I had felt good During practice, Put 6 runs in Saturday and was 2nd an down the hill on Sunday and went on to do 2 more practice runs, i had my lines comfortable, no big risks, just wanted to clean this track. Quali came around and things were really hot by this time. i was keeping cool hiding out in the wagon waiting for my time to come. Quali went well, i made one or two minor errors, one being scrubbing the banking on the top pedal traverse causing me to loose my momentum. This wasn’t too bad as i qualified 6th, only 1.8 seconds back. was my luck starting to change? I went back to the wagon happy with my time and thought about my race tun ahead. i was confident of a top 5 podium finish.

Race run started good, i didn’t pedal as hard as quali as i wanted to avoid scrubbing the banking again, top went smooth, dropped into the first steep, went pretty good, nailed the traverse pretty fast, cleaned the bottom steep, sent the drops and pedaled hard to line. 3.6 seconds back?! what?! that was a clean run and i went slower than quali! i ended up 4 seconds down on first place. Pretty disappointed with myself as i felt i should really have done much better than that. Thinking back i just didnt attack enough on the steeps, i comfortably rode them with no major force being put through myself or bike. 21st end result.

And thats that for now, looking forward to a short break from the bike and going to aim to come back strong for Fort William.

Thanks to all those who have supported me this season, sorry for the lack of top results!

Special thanks to:

Duncan Philpot for all his amazing pictures www.duncanphilpott.com

and especially Ma and Pa Swinden and Marian (for putting up with my moaning all season)

Cheers, Swinny

Back to top