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!
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