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.
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