Archives: Rob Stokes

Fort Bill is done…..

Fort Bill is done…..

…and I think I am still hungover.

Just a few snapshots of one of the most epic, strange and slightly worrying nights out I have ever had. Sitting in a Scottish curry-house round a table made up of the entire Santa-cruz Syndicate was surreal to say the least, but when Sessler got rowdy on the company card, and the drinks flowed, I started to feel more at home……We then went to a pub and the camera was pointed at stuff…..

Pull my finger….

Kathy Sessler can drink you under the table. Fact. She is also more of a legend than you may realise…this is stole from an interview with Kathy that I found on Dropmachine….http://www.dropmachine.com/Feature/the-queen-of-the-syndicate-the-kathy-sessler-interview-a512.html

”In 1972 when I was 14 years old I saw the movie On Any Sunday, since I loved riding dirt bikes. Seeing the kids ride bicycles in the movie prompted me to make a race track on two vacant lots on my street in Seal Beach, California and promote bicycle races. Also, I had a friend named Scot Breithaupt who had just started putting on bicycle races in Long Beach, just about 5 miles away (he is considered the father of BMX).
At my track I dug the water holes, made the berms, and built the jumps, the biggest was an entire 18 inches high. I made flag banners out of red, white and blue crepe paper and stapled them to string around the track. I made paper plate number plates with our local motocross hero’s numbers on them. Many kids around the world were doing the same thing, but what set me apart from the rest is that I grabbed my dad’s 8 mm movie camera and took movies of my races. I have about 20 minutes of footage. This historic footage can be seen on the Sprung 5 DVD, and Joe Kid on a Sting Ray.
Once I took our team over to Scot’s track, and I helped him keep score. A motorcycle publication called Cycle News came out to cover the event, and I believe they coined the term BMX, in that article. There is a photo of Scot and I standing on a hill at the race. Probably the first article ever published on this new thing, BMX.
Enter mountain bikes in 1990. I was 32 years old, happily married to Chuck, had two small girls, Christie and Cori, and we had just moved to our home in Murrieta,California. There are miles of trails just outside my door, and one day I hopped on my husband’s $50.00 mountain bike and rode off into the hills. When I got home, with a grin from ear to ear, I said to Chuck, “This is what I’m going to do now, race mountain bikes!”
I raced my first race at the Fall Classic at Big Bear that year, then raced the California State Championship Series in 1991. In 1992 I raced downhill in the Pro class and raced pro downhill until World Champs in 1997, which was my last race. I was 3-time National Champ Veteran Women in 1992, 1993, &1994. I was a World Championship Veteran Women’s Silver medalist in 1992, Bronze in 1994 and Gold in 1996. In two other World Championships (’93 & ’95)I was the fastest veteran woman in the Senior’s race, but our class was disqualified due to only 4 countries being represented instead of the required 5 (which still makes me upset to this day).
I competed in the Winter X-Games in 1997 and went 67 miles per hour in the snow. I raced down Pike’s Peak in Colorado, and raced in the Reebok Eliminator down the Kamikaze at Mammoth. My best pro finish was 10th at the UCI World Cup at Mammoth in 1994.
I was the first pro to ever race an Intense Cycles frame. Jeff Steber made the frame on his kitchen table for me. I was the first Maxxis girl. I was also the first pro to ever race the Intense M-1, and that first race was the 10th place finish at the UCI World Cup in Mammoth in 1994.
In 1997 while still racing, I started doing stunt work for a TV show called Pacific Blue, which was a show about cops on bikes at the beach. I doubled all the girls on the show for three years, and worked in over 40 episodes. I’ve done a few commercials and a few stunts for some B-movies. I’ve been raped, shot and killed in a bank robbery, tackled bad guys to the ground from the bike, jumped the cop bike over a Hummer, done a wicked stair fall, and tons of chase scenes. If you thought racing was the cool, let me tell you that doing stunts was off the hook!!”


Then for  hangover cure we rode the ‘Red route’, which is incidentally one of the best bit of trails I have ever ridden. Little bike monster trukin’ FTW.




I lost a shock bolt low down on the trail…..10mins later and a bit of bodging had us back on the b-line esque lower section of trail….

So there we go….Fort Bill of over, wish I was heading down to Leogang with PhilPOD, but have to get back to Chamonix for work on Thursday…..Hard life I know….I would however like to thank bigstone for the trip up, Hannah Barnes for guiding us to some hidden loamy hillside and to Kathy Sessler, and Peaty. Without them I would not have been anywhere near drunk enough to lock myself outside my hotel in my underwear, while vomiting, and therefore would not have had to saunter back through the hotel lobby, still in said underwear, disturbing guests and night porters to reunite myself with my section of hotel room floor.

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!

Winter 11 is dead….

…Long live summer!

Col des Courtes

I am actually hoping to keep skiing all through the summer this year, searching out patches of snow in hidden shadowy gullies and probably skiing into some rock climbs up high, but my proper winter skiing is over now. It ended on a high. T’other week I skinned up the Argentiere Glacier with long time Cham local Ross Hewitt and Dave ‘Milky bar kid’ Searle intending to ski the Ammone, a huge and very asthetic line that would have dropped us bastard miles from Chamonix in Switzerland. Due to the logistics of ferrying cars and setting up lifts, and our apparent inept ability to organise anything more than ‘first bin at GM’ we decided the North facing Col des Courtes could be a good, and logistically easyer line.

Searler on the leisurely approch

Touring up to the face was pretty cool, the going was easy with a firm snow surface and just a couple of inches of fresh made it a very social skin with the 3 of us side by side having some good man-chat.  It was all very leisurely really. As our line came into view it was all looking very nice, no tracks, fresh snow and beautiful runnels running down the upper part of the face.

Myself approaching. Photog cred:Ross Hewitt

The bergschrund was conquered after a small false start too far left, with skis on and roped up. Crampons on now for the duration of the climb. Ross put a slightly ascending traverse in, and then started up the face proper. The going was fairly deep. No bootpack in before us meant some hard work, with some steps sinking boot deep, some waist deep wallowing and a bit of swimming. At least everything felt stable and the deep snow offset the ever-apparent exposure as we gained more height on the face. The rock band was ascended through a short gully on some ice and then a wee bit more wallowing.

Myself about half way up the face. Photo: Ross Hewett

My ‘bomber’ belay at the transition

The snow started to get hard and shitty near the top so we decided to crack the skis on, and forgo gaining the actuall col. Ledges were dug and sketchy belays were improvised with ice axes and ski poles in the unconsolidated pow. The battle to change over from crampons to skis is never an easy one, frozen crampon straps, exposure, dynafiddles, the ever present risk of dropping something important has me taking my time here for sure. I don’t wanna’ rag-doll to my death while trying to take a piss ether, so that had to wait. Though thinking about it I could use a few more GNAR points…

Searle

Down time. This is what we are here for. Ross and Milky are much much stronger climbers than me, both technically and fitness wise, but I can ski well so its a level playing field again. I feel an equal again. Rather impressively Milky is first ready and skis the first turns. A bit sketch at first after a few cautious jump turns we all relax a bit. The snow is good. He gets to a safe spot so our slough doesn’t kill him and its my go. The snow is good. Still cautiously jump turning I start to link a few turns instead of stopping in-between turns. It feels steep, even in the perfect conditions we have it in. We estimate it at 55degree’s. Its pretty hard to estimate pitch though. Everything feels so different in different snow conditions….45degree’s feels nearly flat in perfect powder, but put even the best skiers in the world on 45* in icy conditions, and over fatal exposure and they will be shitting bricks. A few weeks earlier I skied Cunningham couloir (50*) in hard hard snow conditions….it was scary as shit. I stayed on the rope for a fair way…..so we figured if this feels steeper than Cunningham despite having perfect snow…it was definitely fucking steep.

Why does looking up always look flat? Searle skiing

Me just after the ‘choke’. photo: Ross Hewett

Ice axes in hand we got through the rock band with skis on, and ropes away which made it all a bit quicker and we soon found ourself on the lower face linking some nice turns. Little jump over the bergschrund and we were free. Awesome line! Looking back up Ross and I took the piss out of Milky Searle’s ‘epileptic’ and erratic tracks and then for his apparent loss of his ice axe somewhere on route. Truth be told, Searle is doing very good skiing lines like this after the amount of skiing he has done. He has a bloody good jump turn on him, and will become a very good skier for sure.

The ski-out wasn’t without its fun ether…there was pretty much no snow down low, so we linked up patches of heather and grass until even the Scots man had to walk.

Good end to the season! Bike time now…

Jally pallez Franceh?

Although I fear writing about spring is very clichéd (note French thing on top of the ‘e’) I feel like I need too…. It seems to be every outdoor-orientated persons favourite season, the lights are getting nighter, the trails are drying up and the sun is coming out. Read on for a few words and a big ass picture dump….

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Race Report: Steve Peat Steel City DH

What a Weekend!

Sorry for the delayed post.. to be honest i still haven’t come back to reality on what actually happened…

A moggy March morning is what it all came down to.. After weeks of preparation from our very own Joe Bow and Nick Hamilton, with help from Steve Peat and plenty of others (sorry, i don’t actually know who was involved but thank you all) the race was finally upon us and ready to go..

An incredible atmosphere was buzzing around the Greno woods, as soon as sign in was completed my heart started jumping, i hadn’t been this excited by a race event in a long time.. maybe it was because i had entered my self in Pro-am for, ‘the laugh’ to see how id fair against some top riders.

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Peaty’s Steel City Downhill – Race Report, Images and Video
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