Archives: James Swinden

Race Report: Going out with a Bang!

My much belated race report form the final National round of the year here for your reading pleasure!

Its been a long hard year that has finally drawn to a close with the final National round over at Caersws.

BDS Rd.4 – Caersws

With the Cancellation of Fort William, the venue for the final round of the National series was to be held at Caersws. I was disappointed Fort William had been cancelled, having never raced  there it was the venue I was most looking forward to all year, however, I had just won my first Expert race only a month and a half earlier at Caersws so was keen to push for another top result.
Fellow team members Joe Bow and Duncan had made the trip over to do some “work”, which was great as its always nice to have some mates around at these events.

Saturday – Waking up in my new chilled out approach to racing, I steadily got myself ready to hit the hill for about half 11 ish.. nice and lazy seems to suit me at these races, puts a less serious side to it i think. I quickly got into the track as it was the same track we rode barely a year earlier when Rob was unfortunate enough to brake his collar bone. Only a few slight changes were made this time around with a new corner slipped into the bottom wooded section making for about the only sketchy bit of the track.

I got into things quick and soon felt up to speed, the uplifts were flying and the ability to put runs in so close to one another really helped me with confidence in different sections of the track. I had a good day to say the least, the sun was out and I got to do a few runs with some fellow Expert riders, Ryan West and Tom Kelly. Which was a nice fun change.
By the end of the day I had managed 8 runs and was feeling it a bit, my last two runs were race speed and clean so i was happy to leave it at that, even with 45 minutes of uplifts still remaining.

Saturday evening I did my usual track walk with my dad, who has helped me loads this season asking question like, ‘why do you go over it and not round it?’ and, ‘you jump over to there?! alright then’.. These questions really help me to take a look at other lines and confirm in my mind im happy where im going, until Peaty popped up and tells me to go a different way! Cheers, Steve.

Sunday – Race day

Woke up a bit earlier today and boshed out a few runs, instantly felt up to speed and tried Peatys line out.. turns out it felt way faster, cool.

The track was running quick thanks to a bit of morning moisture but i was sure it was going to turn dusty just like Saturday.. Turns out Mother Nature had something completely different in mind.

As myself and the rest of the Expert field reached the top of the track for qualifying all was pleasant, the sun was out and we were all laughing away.. At the moment just before Experts were due to descend the hill.. a few of had noticed the hill across the valley had disappeared.. Moments later, we were covered by a horrendous rain storm which soaked us all to the bone. Iv never witnessed weather change quite like this before. As my name was called I left it as late as possible to sit on the start mound, you couldn’t lift your head to see the timer as your goggles just got soaked and visibility was a minimum.. so it was head down.. quick look up, count it in your head, one more look and go..

I set off in what felt like hurricane weather as trying to pedal into the wind was a real challenge! Myself, like the rest of the field were not prepared for rain, no waterproofs, shorts and dry weather tires, so i decided to judge the grip of the first 2 corners and go from there.. turns out there was as much as practice.. so thats how I. On some of the chutes there was a small river running down the line, this was great as I had left on my Bender Fender, Every rider should own one of these! discreate, light and does the job better than anything else out there! I was attacking the track and felt great, riding as i had been all weekend. Coming in to the bottom woods was slippery, but i rode it exactly the same, plus i bit more sketchyness, but wasnt fazed and laughed my way through it. Into the field and backed off enough to clean the super slippy grassy corners.

I have always wanted to cross the finish line and be 5 seconds clear, watching videos and seeing the pros do it and seeing how excited everyone gets is something iv always wanted to be apart of.. this was one of those moments. As I watched the rest of field come over the finish line I was starting to get that giggling feeling, and as the last Expert crossed the line I realized I was just shy of 7 seconds clear! What a feeling it was too when I saw the Elite field come down and only 2 riders top my time, Al Bond by .05 and Matt Simmonds by .10 of a second. I was buzzing!

Race Run.

Back at camp i was excited by my quali run, who wouldn’t be. so took another walk to see how the track was. The rain had stopped by this point and things were starting to get slippy. I saw plenty a rider go down and despite there not being any deep mud, opted to run a set of full spikes. As we sat on the uplift ready to head up, a marshal told us to all inspect the rooty corner up top, so we did and it looked slippy as hell, clay and roots with no real purchase for tires to dig in. I spotted my line and settled on it..
I had a plan, to gap some roots and nail inside of this big slippy looking root. As i approached said section, I felt all lined up.. that was until the back end stepped out, i dabbed a foot to stay upright but the moment to hit the line was gone. So i bundled into the nasty root and went down. DAMN! didn’t want that. i picked myself up and tried not to be too aggressive, just ride how i did in quali and see what happens, I soon settled and attacked as I had all weekend and crossed the line.. Very disappointed with myself for going down but somehow was placed first! excitment was short lived as I should have been last man down, only to find out a couple guys had missed there start time and there were still 5 or 6 more to come.. I was really nervous and sure i had thrown it away.. Turns out all went well! no one bettered my time and I had just taken my first National Win! BUZZIN!!! Plus, Ended up with 9th fastest time of the day, which again was nice considering the floor had me again.

On to the podium and there I was, grinning away in the middle holding up the first place trophy.
Amazing feeling and thanks to every one who was there to cheer me on, felt amazing hearing the noise.

Cheers to everyone who has been behind me this year! You know who you are and have all been amazing!

Photos courtesy of Callum Biggin and Duncan Philllpot.

Thanks to my sponsors. GOOD JOB WELL DONE!

Peace out x

Race Report: A Change of Luck?

With a recent, extended run of bad form and bad luck, you tend to start doubting your own abilities. Confidence levels drop, things aren’t quite as exciting as they were and you find yourself looking at the next obstacle to hit rather than the next line to nail. I think its pretty fair to say i have massively under performed this year.. But are things starting to finally go my way??!

Ramsgil – Yorkshire Champs.

After arriving back home on a Friday from a 2 week holiday, i found myself re-packing the race wagon and preparing to head off to Ramsgil, North Yorkshire to race the Yorkshire Champs. Instead of heading off that night i decided to get a proper nights sleep and we would head off first thing Saturday morning. as i had been doing nothing but relaxing and enjoying life the last two weeks i thought id try to head into this race with less serious-ness, i just wanted to ride my bike and have fun, forget about racing and times and just go out and enjoy myself.

The track was perfect for this mindset, it was possibly the simplest of tracks i have ever raced on, think a very slimmed down version of Moelfre, Grassy fields with one short tech(ish) section, the rest was just about holding speed and not over cooking the flat/off camber corners.

Saturday was fun, i was enjoying the simplicity of the track and had a good laugh hooking up with old friends i used to ride with back in the day. I put in a fair few runs and had a giggle trying to get the biggest drift i could get whilst still clearing the sketchy man made kicker to river gap. Things were going well, all the practice from the Dual races over the winter helped with the lower part of the track as the tape simply snaked its way down a grassy field to the finish.

Sunday, race day.

It had pissed it down Saturday night so the uplift tractors were unable to to navigate there way up the sodden fields.. which meant we all had to push our bikes up the hill.. Fortunately the hill was that big and steep so it wasnt too much hard work to get up top. Plus is was actually quite a nice warm up.

I had spied i few different lines Saturday evening (honestly, there were lines) and decided to hit them. They were pretty cool so i was happy to mix things up, keeping off the main/one line that there was on offer. Most noticeably my line was to gap a big flat rock that sat on the inside of the first of a 3 corner off camber fest to sketchy booter. this line allowed me to land earlier than hitting the rock itself like everyone else was and generally got pushed wide. I was able to hold a tighter line to the tape and therefor set up cleaner for the next two corners, then on the gas early to clear the gap and away.

My first race run was clean, i hit ever line i wanted to, nailed the lower corners and crossed the line. I didnt think too much of it until Tom Kelly (Superstar SPS rider) wobbled over to let me know i was up by 2 seconds, and had the fastest run of the day.. I was a little speechless as i hadn’t gone out to do that well today, i just wanted to clean both race runs and have a fun weekend.

My 2nd Race run started similar to my first, i hit my line up top nice but carried plenty more speed.. this however back fired on me as with carrying more speed i got pushed wide coming out of a turn and had to take evasive action and missed my rock gap line, instead plowing into the flat inside line rock, this then pushed me wide which then cocked up the next two flat corners. I lost the back end on the final left hander before the sketchy booter and was unable to get on the pedals. I had to pull up hard to clear the gap and decided i would no break the next section.. this again back fired as i once again got pushed wide and had to inside another corner i really didnt want to.. so 2 mistakes, so i pushed extra hard on the final turns and crossed the line.. I was pretty sure i had thrown the win away but just how far i had slipped down the results sheet i didnt know.

Turns out i only went a little over .100 of a second slower than my first run but ultimately did throw away the win With Liam Little putting in a stormer to put 1.610 secs into my first run, and also took the fastest run of the day. Fortunately i held on to 2nd place, but only just ahead of Tom Kelly who rounded off the top 3. If only I hadn’t pushed that hard I perhaps could have took the win, but then the track was of that nature where at a comfortable speed you went quick, but when tried to push was easy to make a mistake.. Lessons learned..

Dont get me wrong, im stoked to finish 2nd and be back on the podium again, its been a while! I was also happy to learn i had took the Yorkshire Champs win, with Liam not being from Yorkshire, the award went to the next highest finished Yorkshirman, which was me! Happy Days.

(photos bit pixily as it was taken on one of those telephone thingies)

Caersws – Welsh Champs

With the previous weekend landing me back on the podium, i was keen to go out and enjoy myself once more and try and let loose that little bit more.

Caersws is a venue i have visited numerous times before and have had mixed results. It offers tracks that soon get you rolling at high speeds and if you have the confidence on the day, can bring you a good result.

Saturday – Practice

Another lazy start, I couldn’t be arsed to rush around again and get on the early uplifts, instead took my time, enjoyed my breakfast, checked the bike over and off it went.

First run was perhaps the funniest first run i have ever done! I met SPS riders Josh Lewis and Tom Kelly in the uplift queue and decided to stick with them instead of having a walk of the track. his turned out to be a good and bad idea. As we dropped in Tom set off first with Josh close behind then me, he really is called loosegod for a reason! I  was a little in over my head as this was there 3rd run of the morning and only my first, nevertheless, i stuck with them and giggle my way down. Towards the bottom Tom and Josh switched leaders and off we went again. This again was very entertaining watching Tom this time getting loose, great fun!

The track was dusty and dry so for the rest of the day I just made sure went straight back into the uplift queue after every run and boshed out another while the track was fresh in my mind. Within 4 hours i managed 6 runs, this place has uplift speeds dialed.

Saturday night came around and I did my standard track walk with my dad. There were rumors going around that rain was coming during the night so i wanted to check the off camber sections to see how they were going to hold up in the rain. But only time would tell how they would ride.

Sunday – Race day

Yes it had rained and as a wandered to the uplift, saw riders and bikes coated in mud. The sun was out and i was running dry tyres from the previous day so decided the track would dry up soon, as it tends to here, so joined the queue and off i went.

First run of thee morning was funny, slippy slidey but a giggle. I must have time things perfect as i didn’t end up that muddy after my first run and didn’t struggle too much for grip on the track.

I plodded on things as they started to dry up and steadily rebuilt my speed and churned out another 3 runs. There was one corner however that was causing some havoc and had me off 3 out of attempts, damn corner, but i was sure it would dry up by race run time to be ride-able again. So off I headed back to camp. There was rumor of rain to come around the same time as my first run.. I looked over the hill and noticed the big nasty looking cloud heading our way but was unsure how quickly it would arrive.. I headed off to the uplift queue and as soon as i stood there the wind picked up and a few spits of rain were felt.. so i made the decision to rush back to camp and swap tires for something with a little more bite. This was a good idea as whilst i was changing rubber it began to piss it down real bad.

So off i went with the intentions of a clean run. The rain was enough to turn the track greasy but didn’t really soak into the ground so the spikes were just floating around on top, needless to say I cleaned the majority of my run but fell off trying an inside line that just resulted in me running wide with no control over turning. I picked myself up and finished things off, crossing the line in 2nd place, and there I stayed, which was nice.

2nd race run

In all honesty I wanted more rain, I would have been more than happy to take another second place and wanted to ride with no pressure, but thing really dried up and the track was almost dusty again. So that meant first runs counted for nothing. I left my cut spikes on.. not sure why.. but that’s what I chose to do.

Grassy corners

Things started well, i took my mind off the beeps whilst looking for the eagle (private joke) and pedaled my way out of the start. I felt i got into my run pretty quickly but took things steady in a couple of spots as I really didn’t want to crash this time around. I cleaned the whole track and felt quick, especially when sending the gap into the field a tad too far and landing just before the catch berm, strolled into the field, cleaned the last too grassy corners and cranked to the line.

I crossed the line and went into 1st with one rider to go.. I was more than happy with that run and was happy to get back to back podium finishes but which spot would it be?! I eagerly awaited Liam Little (the guy who had beaten me at Ramsgil) to cross the line, and as he did i realized i had just won my first race of the season, by 0.199 of a second, and my first win as an Expert rider!

Top Step! Boom

So there I stood, back on the top step of the podium with the biggest smile on my face. Glad to be back up there and being consistent again, hopefully things can carry over to the next race, BDS at Fort William.. We shall wait and see.

Turns out I also finished 2nd in the overall series after only competing in 2 out of 3 events. SPS rider Tom Kelly taking 1st.

(Sorry for the lack of photos in this post, looks like Duncan might have to teach the girlfriend how a camera works?!)

Big thanks to all my Sponsors and www.tyler138.com/ for the photos.

Cheers all, Swinny

Race Report; National Champs

1 month has passed since I massively bitched out of the last round of the BDS series at Llangollen. Now its time to go back to that venue and try and put something together for the National Champs.

Since my BDS disaster I have taken some time out, rested well and not been on the bike too much. I took a trip to Sweden to see good friends Joe Bow and Hanna which was amazing, it gave me a good chance to catch up on some zzz’s. It was the usual chilled holiday, we slept, we laughed, we played in the lake, we tinkered with bikes, we rode Jarvso, which turned out to be an amazing days riding, very wet but the tracks were top quality, and then came home.

The flights didn’t exactly run smoothly however, on the way to Sweden we got delayed and missed our transfer in Amsterdam (all due to bad weather apparently) after waiting in the transfer queue for 5 hours we were told all flights that day were cancelled and instead got put up in a swanky hotel with a flight first thing in the morning, and free food! Much was eaten..

On the way back things were a little worse, my bike missed the transfer and never turned up in Manchester (we landed Thursday morning and expected to leave for Llangollen Friday midday)

We waited and waited and a few phone calls later found it was in Manchester airport, it was Friday afternoon by now and the bike was still not shipped out! Anyway, bike arrived 10:30pm Friday night, then a frantic hour and a half was spent building it back up and then to bed for 5 hours. So, tired from little sleep and stressed at the thought I may not have got my bike back in time meant for a bad start to the weekend. Not really in the mood to race now!

We eventually arrived at the venue and I decided I didnt have time for a track walk, instead I would go to the top and slowly blind run it down.. ..this would have been a very very bad decision. Fortunately for me the track was that steep and tight at the top riders were falling all the time and red flagging the track. This made for a hefty queue at the top and gave me chance to walk the top half. Wow, this place was seriously steep, good job I didn’t drop in blind. I took my time looking at lines, deciding where to go and had a steady first run and went back into the uplift queue to head back up. UPLIFTS WERE BEYOND AWFUL!! Out of every race I have ever been to, never had the uplifts been such a failure. Many riders were grumbling and unhappy about the state of the uplifts, it really was rubbish. But never mind, no point getting wound up by something else I cant change.

Top steep wooded section

The new sections of the track were good, a bit tight in places in the woods, and not too sure about the uphill bit, but coming out into the open and cranking across that traverse was great fun, dropping into meet the BDS tracks lower section seemed simple after riding that steep top section, then off the 3 drops to end.

I got 3 runs in Saturday and spent the day enjoying riding, slowly getting up to speed. Did a track walk to see some lines but I was happy to stick with what I already knew, all the track walk told me was that the track was getting dragged down the hillside wih the amount of breaking that was happening! An early nights sleep was on the cards as the early start meant I was out cold by 10:00pm.

Sunday, Up real early, 6:30, to prep the bike, eat and get ready for the day ahead. I got on the first uplift and trundled up top. Had a solid full run and jumped straight back in the queue for run 2, this time picking up some speed and pedaling a bit harder in places. Now, ready for Quali.

Qualification – went shit, crashed in the first left hander and rode straight over a berm up top. Nailed my favourite part of the track, the traverse, then buggered up the lower track, crashed in the last switchback, then rode into the mega tree beside the second drop down at the bottom.. somehow I managed to jump sideways off the bike as it hit the tree, down the drop and landed to flat on my feet backwards looking back up the track as I saw my bike tumble towards me.. ..a good landing to say the the least and a cheer from the crowed was nice after such an awful run. Crossed the line and ended 89th but with the 8th fastest speed trap recording! Boom! That gave me a bit of confidence for the finals.

Open traverse/Speed trap

Back to camp to gather my thoughts and get ready for the finals.

Race Run – Started better than quali! cleaned the first few turns and focused on cleaning the rest, didn’t exactly let loose but that wasnt what I wanted to do here after my rubbish seeding run. I cleaned the top! happy days. Cranked my arse off along the traverse as surely I lost some time up top, caught someone up just before the split/speed trap, got slowed a little but not too much, attacked the lower switchbacks and let off the brakes coming into the final corners! All had gone so so well up until this point. I hit the corner and seemed to bottom the bike out of one hole that was in the corner, got unweighted, hit the second hole and just felt the tyres give underneath me.. I was down :( ….I didn’t loose too much time as I got tangled in bike but seemed to bounce back upright. Saddle was turned 90 degrees and I had to straighten that with my knees as I headed towards the 3 drops. Landed them and went to pedal for the line, feet straight off, snapped chain, damn, had to coast to the line and that was that.
What a shame it all ended like that. On reflection, I was 23rd at split 1 (expected after my steady sop section) and finished 31st with that crash, So not a bad result considering but hey, that’s racing, these things happen and all I can do is look forward to the next event!
Cheers, to everyone for there support
Photos courtesy of www.duncanphilpott.com/
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

Spring Race Series – Round 4 – MegaDeath!

Your truly presiding over the prize giving (Photo: Dom Worrall)

Spring Race Series – Round 4 – MegaDeath!

Round 4 will go down in history as the one on broken road, where two world champions turned up and half the racers puked on the finish line. Carnage from start to finish, just like it was meant to be. Dreamed up drunk in the Lescar and held back until the time was right, it couldn’t have gone better. Watch out for a write up of this race and the whole series in Dirt soon.

You’ve probably seen this video Duncan edited together of all of our amazing helmet camera footage,  it captures the atmosphere perfectly so you can witness the carnage first hand.

ThisISheffield Team Kit, Stokes, Bowman and Hamilton (Photo: John Alexander)

We all met up for a ride up the broken road on Mam tour, 36 of us in the end. Steve Peat came along and brought along his house guest Brian Lopes who was in the country to race at Dalby. Rob Stokes even made a guest appearance flying in especially from Chamonix again and the new This Is Sheffield team kit also made its first appearance. We met at the bus terminus, geared up and rolled out. As we crossed what would be the finish line I explained a few rules. In order to complete the race you had to neck a pint of ale on the finish line. Spilling or chucking away of beer would be severely punished by DQ. We continued to ride up and everyone took in the features they would have to negotiate on the way down. Nothing too bad but elbow to sharp elbow with you mate put a new perspective on things.

Pushing up to the top (Photo: Dom Worrall)

World Champions Rolling Through (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Once at the top, everyone was instructed to turn their bikes upside down and line them up. 36 bikes actually take up a surprisingly amount of room. We walked down the hill about 50 metres with loud groans from most complaining that they were riders not fell runners, some of us are both! The Le Mans style start worked brilliantly and it was carnage from Peaty hollering ‘Go!’. We all battled for position pushing and shoving for all we were worth. Ruari POD obviously hadn’t been listening too closely as he ran straight to his bike rather than running round the back with everyone else as instructed. Joe Bowman was similarly deaf as he took off straight down the hill rather than following everyone else around the end of the line. Thankfully Lopes set him straight as sent him back up the hill with the rest of the pack. The first few corners were open and uneven meaning lots of shoulders were rubbed and places stolen. Swinny was well out in front from the start, a combination of talent and pole position, he took advantage and shot back down the hill, closely followed by Timmy. Tim had turned up somewhat late and had sprinted all the way up the hill to catch up, he and his brother Chris were still panting at the word go.

The Off Camber Shale (Photo: Dom Worrall)

Checking out the lines (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Once through the first gate we hit tarmac and the big ring was engaged. To keep it interesting we used grassy parking lumps to slow us down or catch air depending on your speed. Shane Townsend took a tumble here and left a bit of skin behind, all in a nights riding. Further down we slid through the next gate on to the Broken Road Proper, where the sides got distinctly precipitous. Negotiating a descent drop at speed or risking a pinch puncture chute was first up. Several riders punctured that night, including Alec Hartley who had a flat by the time he got to the start line. After a fast grassy or tarmac corner came a brilliant off camber shale slope with multiple lines. Steve Taylor made a last minute course correction on entry and nearly lost it on the way in, thankfully his skills saved him and Joe captured everything on video. Rob Jolley took a tumble on entry here too thankfully stopping before the edge and getting going again quickly.

Jordan, Nick and Ruari riding the Shale (Photo: John Alexander)

The next feature was a bit of a step up with a couple of line choices then it was on to a sharpish right hander and in to a grassy chute. At the bottom there was a narrow get-off gate just before the road sprint to the finish line. I rolled in 5th place to the finish following Swinny, Timmy, Luke Meredith and Jordan Gould. By the time I got there Swinny was across the line with his pint empty and Tim was well on the way. Taking a couple of deep breathes I managed one large mouthful, that was it, breathing required again. Next to me, Jordan was in even more of a state, he puked as soon as the amber nectar hit the back of this throat and couldn’t hold anymore of it down. One lad spilt most of his pint down his face then chucked the remaining half away, he was DQ’d for such brazen waste of Ale. As my Father said despairingly “you’ve taken a health giving sport and turned it in to a drinking game”, he’ll get to know the CGCC better one day. There were some real wrecks on the finishing line, lots of little voms and quite a few big ones, however after we’d all got our breath back, you could see the grins spreading again. This had been something to tell your mates about, to say you were there.  To laugh about and talk about for the next week and especially bring up at Stoke’s Birthday in Corp on the Friday night.

Rob Jolley hits the deck (Photo: John Alexander)

The usual prize giving followed with Swinny taking first pick and selecting a nice looking packet of cookies, Tim took the Malt Loaf. Katie Hallam took the ladies crown, 16th place out of 31 finishers and the only lass. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of lots a people: Simon Garrard, Adam Wiles, Anna Dearnley, Phil Taylor (I think), Ester Stokes and Jeff King all did their bit, many thanks. Also thanks to all the came to shoot photos and video, Dom Worrall, Henry Marsh and Rich Braybutt, its great to have this shit documented for posterity.

Yours truly presiding over the prize giving (Photo: Dom Worrall)

So to the points, 16 for first place as usual but I’ve now instigated a new rule, everyone that attends gets a point. Also in this case, Jordan got a bonus point for best puke and Stokes got an extra 5 for travelling the farthest to compete.

MegaDeath points

This leaves the series standings with a new leader, Wills poor performance and Swinny’s winning streak catapults him up to first place. Ruari and Tim are also rising up  pushing Jordan down a couple of spots.

Series Standings after Round 4

This was one to remember, but the next race will be too. XC in Endcliffe Park, as many laps as you can complete in an hour and lycra is compulsory, extra points for fluro!

Spring Series – Round 3 – Mini DH

As the Sun continues to shine, so the Spring Series continues to gather momentum. Race 3 was a mini DH out in the peaks on an old favourite track which has a steep wide open, fast top section that then dips in to the woods for some bar smacking tight flowing turns. It then pops you out in to a rough rooty left which sets you up for two of the sweetest berms in the Peak. If you can hold your line out of the second you pedal hard in to a big booter with a lovely flat landing. All over in less than a minute, which most of the other lads are used to.

Tim Pearson heading down toward to woods as the sun sets (Photo - Duncan Philpott)

Helmet Camera footage by Duncan Philpott featuring Ruari, Swinny and Dunc’s own crash at the start

The series is starting to draw more of a crowd and certainly more attention. Last night we had nearly as many spectators, hecklers and drinkers as we did riders. Thankfully it was an experienced crowd who’d brought pans and wooden spoons to make as much noise as possible. Perhaps not quite what was wanted in the middle of the Peak District but certainly what was wanted for a great racing atmosphere. The race was slated to start at 7:30 so riders were up practising from about 6 and the tight wooded section quickly claimed a few casualties. ThisISheffield’s in house photo genius Duncan PhiliPhoto was already bleeding by the time I arrived, his arm had lost in an argument with a tree. He later did exactly the same thing again in the same spot which put him out of the race. Thankfully this meant he took lots of great photos. Henry Marsh managed to head butt a tree which also finished his racing for the night meaning he took photos too, thank you.

Pushing back up for another run (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

Joe Bowman on the Cotic X (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

After all the racers had chucked 2 quid in to the jam jar and popped a prize in to the bag racing got underway. Henry Norman still out from racing with injury but concentrating on marathon training was kind enough to take on timing duties ably assisted by Simon Garrard. Simone was unfortunate enough to take the starters roll so spent half an hour stood at the top of the exposed track gradually freezing his tits off in the wind as the sun went down. The later racers also had to suffer the same fate hiding in the heather to keep warm. Reports of Swinny kissing caterpillars were greatly exaggerated. Joe Bowman was out of the race again due mechanical issues, with his van. However, he did turn up to heckle and session the track on the Cotic X. Going back to the old school, mobile phones and a stop watch were all we needed and each racer was sent down the hill in turn with a “3, 2, 1” and a Tarzan cry.

Racers waiting for their run with Si Garrard ready to send them off (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

On the racing ridge (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

Jordan Gould took an early lead, 6th out of the ‘start hut’ and getting down in 37.12 also reportedly putting in the best jump off the bottom booter. I was next down the hill and put in a 39.97 sliding me in to an early 2nd place. However, next down was Ruari ‘POD’ Hallam who sent the final jump in a 37.91 closely followed by Steve ‘BikeTrack.org’ Taylor with a 39.94. The Ladies made a welcome return to racing with Jody Vallance bringing along Liz Bowman (any relation?) for her first race. Liz took the win with a 53.53 on only her 4th mountain bike ride in 3 years and was looking pinned over the top section. She narrowly beat Jody by just over a second and it was a good ride from both lasses. The next rider down the hill to worry the leaders was series leader Will Swinden. There was a real split between riders on hardtails or full bounce and strangely there didn’t seem to be much between them. Will was on his Curtis and put down a 38.56 sliding him in to third spot, however his elder brother was about to get on track. Swinny was looking super fast all night and also had the recovery of the night. Getting out of shape on the top section he clipped a bush, pitching him forward on his front wheel towards a little booter. Somehow flying off this he managed to get back on two wheels and make the next corner, amazing control. Swinny took 1.5 seconds out of Jordan with a winning time of 35.59 and a well deserved return to the podium.

Dave Mitchell (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

Will Swinden railing the last berm (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Swinny victorious on the Podium with Tunnocks (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Prizes were given out in the traditional fashion with Swinny opting for the Tunnocks’ Tea cakes and Jordan taking Haribo. Jordan had once again produced a brilliant trophy which will have to be presented later as he left it at home. My apologies to Dave Camus who I mistakenly missed out of the roll call so only ended up with a University of Sheffield T-shirt. With racing done we retired to the warmth and comfort of the Cricket Inn to rehydrate, although Eighteen bikes’ Si Bowns decided to have a pint on his own in the crown. Talk naturally turned to future series plans with some great ideas coming from all corners, my favourite though was Jolley’s suggestion. “Starting at the top of Porter Clough, first neck a two litre bottle of strongbow, run to your bike, then ride as fast as you can to Corp and the first to pull a fat bird wins”. Genius.

Round 3 Results

So the series standings. No change at the top, Will Swinden extends his lead with myself narrowly in second place. Swinny jumps up four places to 3rd spot only 1 point ahead of Jordan and Ruari jumps from mid-pack up to 5th.

Series Standings after round 3

Next race – Mass Start DH. Details will be in the calendar.

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