End of season write up – part 1
Steel City DH
The opening event of the year for me & a great way to start it. Steel city DH has always been so much fun since it’s first event 4 years ago. It’s great to see such an amazing local crowd swarm around Grenoside woods, seeing many faces I know cheering on gives such a buzz when on track. I was more determined than ever that this year I was going to deliver & be able to thoroughly push & challenge the unbeaten Steve Peat to a tense & exciting finale.
Race runs both had small errors in, with pushing so hard on such a short, fast, tight track, it was always going to be a battle to not push the boundaries too far & result in errors..
It’s important or stay smooth, fluid & relaxed on this course. There isn’t much room for pedal strokes so flow is incredibly important. A jammed chain early on in run 1 had me uncomfortably set up for the run & put me back in fourth. My 2nd was going much better, until I over cooked one of the ‘S’ bends, tucked the front tyre under & bobbled off track, spoiling the run.
It was incredibly tight & exciting racing throughout all the categories, but once again Steve came out triumphant & remains the King of Steel City. For me, 5th place.. There’s always next year.
Fort William World Cup
The one I have been looking forward to competing in since acquiring my uci points. After missing out on the chance to race last year, this season was my first experience at racing this iconic track.
The new bike was built up only a week previous to the race & I hadn’t had a chance to test/bed everything! The guys over at Uberbike did an amazing job for me, building the bike up with a very tight turn around time. In the end, Fort Bill first day practice was filled with the usual tinkering & adjustment that goes with bedding in the new bike.
Perdro in the Marzocchi truck did an incredible job for me, ripping out & adjusting all internals on Fork & Shock to get me feeling comfortable with my set up.
Qualification run was going reasonably well, a tad scrappy & not finding my flow so well had me 63rd first split, on course for finals. However An error in judgment dropping into the woods had me catch a tree root & resulted in a crash, ultimately ruining my chances of moving into the finals. Too cautious heading into the section had me not have the speed to clear the root, a slight tag had me on the deck. A carried on anyway, wanting to drop into that fantastic finish area. A death grip & tuck down the final sector handed me 14th thought the speed trap & a 50th fastest for the final sector.
My disappointment of missing out on finals was impossible to hide, but it was time to forget, enjoy the experience & after party experience in the Syndicate pits before hitting the road for a few weeks away riding bikes..
Leogang Wold Cup
The weekend after Fort Bill & after a very long drive, with help from Race dad who did an amazing job driving through France, we landed in Leogang, Austria for the next World Cup round of the year.
After getting up to speed with the new bike in Fort William, I felt confident heading into the next race.
Practice was enjoyable, with the feeling of being up to speed seemingly straight away on track. Perhaps not the most challenging event on the calendar, Leogang held a different kind of difficult where squeezing every tenth of a second on the flat out track mattered.
from the start hut I felt relaxed & confident.. I got as far as turn three before hitting the deck, a front wheel wash out had me choking on dust. Not long after, a rear flat before split 1 ended my run.
Race day was spent heading to the very top of the mountain for a couple of relaxed laps with my Dad, before cracking a few beers & enjoying the drama of the race unfold..
Schladming IXS cup
A short drive through the beautiful Austrian mountains & another weekend of racing ahead. I’ve competed in 1 IXS round before, Innerleithen 2012, & was impressed with there set up in schedule, with plenty of practice allocated for the Friday, Saturday & the Sunday, it was great to able to get some lengthy track time.
IXS rounds are great for privateers & amateurs alike. The chance to ride World Cup standard tracks, without the stress of a restricted practice, like that found at World Cups. Any mechanical issues or a hearty lunch break can be sorted in a relaxed amount of time, no rushing or hurrying to get things sorted before heading back on track for plenty more practice.
Schladming was a wonderfully fun track, flat out from the get go, with incredible dirt under the tyres. With 400 competitors, a large amount of the field seemed to be going flat out early on. It’s fast sweeping corners up top, before ‘that famous’ step up under the gondola, before diving into the woods for a bit of loamy tech, the kind of loam that tickled your shins before filling your shoes full of the wonderful stuff. Finally popping out into the open for a few fast turns & a comical steep grass field that once wet was a right laugh! A few more fast sweeping turns before the wooden kicker to finish line.
41st in qualifying with a clean non-pedal run. I was amazed to see the amount of riders crammed into the timing sheet, often 4 or 5 riders on the same second! I knew I would have to turn it up a lot in finals to even gain a top 20!
I began finals attacking out of the gate with strong pedal strokes, over the step down & sliding inside the first turn, next up, a compression that kicked out onto a fired road before a tight switch back, & that is where my race run was done. Too fast into the comparison, I was spat out & landed just before the turns, whilst on the breaks my front end again washed & I was down. I got & resumed before ending up going a second quicker than seeding time, 48th spit. Not sure how much time was lost in the crash but frustrated I let myself into a daft error again.
Thanks to everyone for the support this year.
Part 2 is on its way..