Archives: BDS

This Is Swinny: Scottish Excursion – Fort Bill

Packed up and away we go again.

I’ve been on the road a fair bit these past few weeks, travelling, riding and racing. But this was the one I was perhaps most looking forward to, the infamous Fort William.

Its track I’ve ridden once before, but many years ago and not on a downhill bike, so the excitement to race this legendary track was building weeks before the event.

In the build up to the event bad news was circling that it may be cancelled due to bad weather, this was the case last year because of high winds which actually never really arrived, so I was a little anxious. ‘An 8 hour drive to find out it may be cancelled the next morning?’, wasn’t looking to appealing, but i made light of the situation. ‘I either stare at the wind and rain in Sheffield, or stare at the wind and rain in Scotland, it’s practically the same!’. So off we went.

The drive was instantly hampered by a police road block and diversion, which caused quite a bit of backed up traffic, but never the less we eventually got on our way and cruised up. I slept for pretty much the whole journey (as i do as a passenger) but from what i gather things ran smoothly.

We arrived pretty late on Friday evening, around 8:30, so not quite early enough for a track walk which was what i had intended, never mind! I’ll just blind run it in the morning! Great idea.

And what a track to ride!! Everything was running sweet on the Saturday, the SPS pit was up and looking well, Jamie (our mechanic) was up and doing a banging job of everything and the wind was pretty low, a bit overcast but not cold, just right for riding. So off into the queue I headed for first runs. Taking a Gondola to the top was amazing, no worrying about bikes getting owned by the Tractor & Trailer method, just smooth and pleasant with a nice view looking down to Finish/Pit area.

It was an incredible feeling standing inside that big wooden eye start hut thing waiting to head down this amazing track. Like I said earlier, Blind run, so this really added to the excitement coming over some of the blind crests and into back to back switchbacks. I had an idea of where I was going thanks to watching the World Cup round on’t computer, but it doesn’t really prepare you for the ride ahead.

It’s such a fast flowy track up top mixed with intense rock sections, then back to fast turns and big rock faces. Bouncing around, railing turns and rattling through sections I was having a great time. Dropping into the middle section I was struggling with a couple of the flat, rocky wooded spots, mainly because I didn’t want to slow down and I forgot I had to in order to make the tight turn before the tough rock sections. I managed to cock this section up pretty much every time bar one, but still, I was having a laugh! Then in to the pedal to the finish. Coming over that Jump, sat on top of the fade away and swooping down, building up Speed was incredible. Over the last couple of jumps and over the line. This definitely has to be the best finish area I have ever experienced on a race track. Other tracks just seem to fizzle out a bit coming to the line but this one builds excitement with both racers and the crowd.

I managed to crush in 4 practice runs on the day before seeding which had been moved forward in case Sunday where to be cancelled, which it was, so seeding became race runs which started around 3:00 ish.

Onto race runs then and I was feeling pretty good, I still didn’t exactly know where I was going in places but never mind! I was enjoying myself all the same. Railing the top turns feeling fast and flowy all felt good, then I took a tumble washing out on one of the loose left handers. I tried not to let it bother me too much and carry on having fun but the damage had been done. I instantly went offline for a large part of the track, in-siding corners, not hoping rocks, just generally being off line until the deer gate. Once past that I felt a little more relaxed and began to pick up momentum, then bang! For some reason coming off a rock drop I just rode into the banking on the left hand side of the track and went down again. Bugger. All was over really but I carried on in search of a clean bottom section. This was Not to be. One more off on the left handed wooden wall ride. I just didn’t commit enough to the line and slid out, hitting my head and neck pretty hard on a tree. Possible my worst race run ever?! On returning back up to pace I heard the whistle of someone behind me, I knew fellow SPS rider Donny was the next man in the gate so thought I’d move over, then a brain wave! Team tactics, I’ll tow him in on the motor way section, allowing him to draft me! Genius. Not too sure how much this actually helped him but if it did, then so be it. Over the finish line and that was that.

So, a great day, an awful race run. But it’s forgotten now and on to the next, no point dwelling on the negatives but try to take the positives with me through the season.

Cheers to all!

(Sorry for the lack of photos, Duncan had exams so was unable to make the trip)

This is Swinny: Combe Syd Race Report

This is Swinny: Combe Syd Race Report

The first round of the BDS and my first race of the season took us down south to Combe Sydenham..

It was the first time the team had met up all together and as a bit of a bonding session with Steve, Tristan and the rest of the boys, we headed over to the UK bike park for a couple of days before the race weekend. Joe Bow and Duncan were in tow to take snaps and document our activities over the long weekend.

The drive down was long.. very long and boring as i had just myself to keep me occupied, and i assure you, i do not hold a good conversation with myself! i was fortunately guided in for the last hour by Joe (cheers mate!) as i didn’t really know where i was going! Phone signal was very low down there so i had to guess a lot of what Joe was actually saying, but hey ho! made it. Joe and Dunc traveled down together as team media, with Dunc doing what he does best! No no, not getting lairy with uni girls! but taking photos!

We had a good couple of days riding down at UK-BP, with the weather threatening at times it held off for a couple of pleasant days.

Joe managed to take a bit of time out of his hectic filming schedule (lol) to have a bit of a razz with the boys.

And then got back to work after gompering around a bit..

It was my first real ride on the new bike and boy it felt good!.. so i did this cool skid for dunc to capture, gold.

and then posed a bit while trying to act cool.

and then rode some more with the champ.

After a couple days riding we met up with Ben Deakin in the local and had a bit of a sesh.. things happened, we had a laugh, that’s all that needs to be said on the matter..

So that pretty much wraps up the first 2012 SPS meet up, i think it went rather well, apart from Irv that is.. Hope that hand is better for Fort William buddy!

So onto Combe Syd..

We arrived Friday afternoon feeling a little sorry for ourselves and trundled off up for a track walk.. It went as you would assume, we looked at stuff to ride on..

Saturday practice and i was lucky enough to tag onto the back of Peaty and Bryc for a couple of runs, which was interesting! As i tried to get up to speed with the big boys.

The track itself wasn’t exactly difficult but i thought was a good one to start the season with.. you were straight into a couple of bermed turns followed by a bit of a jump and into the man made rock garden, which soon filtered out as riders rattled through and moved the majority of the rocks out of the way. Then it was into a series of fire road sprints split up by a few bus stops, the off into the woods for a tight-ish section of turns. Out into the open via a large step down and a sprint through the field into the jump section, think Pietermaritzburg but a bit smaller.. ok, a lot smaller. Then back into the woods for the final tech rock roller section and a sprint for the line.

Sunday race day and i wasn’t feeling to hot.. maybe a combination of a few factors, booze, expectation, nerves, first race of the season. But i cracked on and got 2 practice runs in.

Onto seeding and their i sat at the top with the rest of the Elite field. This was a pretty new experience for me and i felt a little out of place to be honest, but i got on with it as one of the first riders down. I felt good through the first few turns but then seemed to hit a barrier and my whole body felt heavy.. i was unable to pedal as i wanted on the sprint sections and soon ran out of breath.. i chilled out then and cleaned the rest of the track and crossed the line. Finishing 20th out of 40 elites i was relatively happy giving how shit i felt.

Onto race run and i was a little apprehensive i wouldn’t be up for cracking out a solid run.. Mum laid into my legs ninja stylee and a got a good warm up massage.

So, of i went and instantly made a mistake.. dropping low out of the third turn and off line, ok tho, not too much time lost. Then into the rock section i blew a foot off the pedal and dabbed all the way through, not comfortable.

Into the pedal section and i wasn’t sure how much i could give, given my seeding performance, so chilled out a bit and didn’t pedal as hard as i could, this i later regretted.

I went for a clean, not over the top middle section and pedaled pretty hard through the open section. Dropping into the final woods again, a clean run was on my mind, so a little steady but clean did me fine, then the sprint to the line.

Crossing the line i feel i backed off too much in the upper section as i didn’t feel too out of energy, unlike seeding, but never mind eh. 22nd out of 40 was the end result, not a bad start to my Elite campaign but definitely a lot of room for improvement! ill have to tag on to Steve more often!

So all in all a good experience, a lot was learned and a lot can be carried over to the next event..

See ya’ll soon!

(Pictures thanks to the womanizer, Duncan Philpott)

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

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