Archives: downhill

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

Race Report: BDS Catch up

Race Report: BDS Catch up

Its been a confusing season so far to say the least. Things couldn’t have started better way back in February when i finished 7th in my first Expert race at Nant Gwrtheyrn on my Pitch, only a few seconds from a podium on a course which far from suited a short travel bike. Then things continued to roll forward when in March, i finished 2nd to Peaty at the incredible Steel City race.

Since that confidence inspiring start, things haven’t exactly gone to plan.

Rd.1 Nant G – March 20th

Only a month had passed since i rode my Pitch to 7th on exactly the same track, i was feeling quietly confident yet reserved about the weekend ahead. It was a wet one to say the least and the track was changing yet holding up, with mud parting way for more of the rock that lay under it.

Saturday – went as standard, clean with the odd crash but nothing major, just getting into the swing of things and dialing in my lines before race day.

Sunday rolled around and the weather was bleak, a couple of practice runs in the morning and i was feeling good. Quali then came around and as i sat in the van keeping warm and waiting for my time to ride, an incident occurred to one of the riders on course causing Quali to be red flagged for a while, not to worry i thought, keep warm and things will be under way again soon. This was not to be the case as the rider had hurt himself more than we at the top were told and he was trapped on track.

The organizers then had to make a big decision to cancel Quali and go straight into race runs. With the weather being so bad the light was already fading so this surely was the best option. Unfortunately i let this affect me too much, i snoozed a bit to much and got comfortable in my warm environment. Once my race run came around i had to try and wake myself up and get back into the mood. i struggled to do this and as a consequence i failed in hitting my high line in the devil rock section, causing me to tumble over the bars and rip my mech into my spokes. End of. I pushed to the bottom as there was no other way to get off the track. 47th was the end result, last place.

Rd.2 Moelfre – 10th April.

A track that has treat me kind in the past, my first UK win came at this venue and i was feeling confident to banish Rd.1 from my mind.

It was a scorching weekend with the sun out both days. I had Joe Bow and Duncan in support taking snaps and cheering me on so that was a nice plus.

Saturday – Went well, a flat rear tyre but that was all. Just out enjoying ridding in the sunshine.

Sunday – A couple more practice runs to dial in my line and ready for Quali. Which went well, 12th place after not pedaling the whole top/mid part of the track. On a track which is pretty basic flat out riding/pedaling. I have been working hard on my fitness over the winter and felt good on the pedals after a whole bunch of xc ragging.

Race run started great, hit all my lines and pedaled hard. I cleaned the top part of the track and carried good speed through the tight switchbacks, shot over the crossing and headed along the traverse pedaling hard all the way. It felt like i was carrying good speed and i shot off the last drop only to find myself land a lot further out than i had planned, front wheel landed right on a pointy rock and that was that, a flat front tyre. I was devastated as it was the last harsh place i could have had such a problem. DNF end result.

Rd.3 Glencoe – 29th May

What a venue! a track i hadnt previously done and on arrival i was instantly excited. From the bottom you could see nearly the whole track on the steep hillside facing you. It looked incredible, steep and rocky and very, very wet.

Saturday – Managed 2 runs due to some bad timing! i arrived in time for some one to fall and hurt themselves, this delayed things, did a run, someone else got hurt, did another run, wind caused havoc, went to to do another and noticed a cascade of yellow florescent jackets coming down the hill. was practice over? yes it was. oh well. i Enjoyed the track and looked forward to Sunday.

Sunday – One more practice run and i was buzzing. the track was very technical and difficult  to clean top to bottom without a scary moment but i felt good and happy on the bike. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas, the wind picked up and the chairlift looked to be struggling. riders getting blown harshly from side to side, some heard to have come in contact with the Pillars. A meeting was held and the decision to cancel the event was confirmed. A real shame but probably the right thing to do.

Rd.4 LLangollen – 26th June

Not a track i have enjoyed in the past for some reason i have no idea why.. its a brilliant venue and you can see riders from top to bottom as the tumble down the steep hillside. there isn’t a whole lot to the track, no real tree roots, no big rocks, pretty smooth compared to other tracks, just very steep. why i haven’t enjoyed this in the past is beyond me.. this time however i was having great fun! loving the steeps and trying to flow as best as possible from top to bottom.

Saturday – things started wet and muddy but so much fun, sliding down the hillside pretty uncontrollably was a real challenge but a laugh non the less. i had one big crash on the fast traverse, things were roughing up down there and before i knew it my hand was off the bars and in front of me, then i hit the ground pretty hard. fortunately for me iv had some good practice when it comes to crashing so was able to comfortably tuck and roll out of it before i got too hurt.. for the speed of the crash damage was very minimal.

Sunday – The sun had been out since late on Saturday and continued to shine all Sunday. The track went from slightly moist slippy dirt to dust in places! A real contrast from Saturday morning but again as loose but this time even faster! I had felt good During practice, Put 6 runs in Saturday and was 2nd an down the hill on Sunday and went on to do 2 more practice runs, i had my lines comfortable, no big risks, just wanted to clean this track. Quali came around and things were really hot by this time. i was keeping cool hiding out in the wagon waiting for my time to come. Quali went well, i made one or two minor errors, one being scrubbing the banking on the top pedal traverse causing me to loose my momentum. This wasn’t too bad as i qualified 6th, only 1.8 seconds back. was my luck starting to change? I went back to the wagon happy with my time and thought about my race tun ahead. i was confident of a top 5 podium finish.

Race run started good, i didn’t pedal as hard as quali as i wanted to avoid scrubbing the banking again, top went smooth, dropped into the first steep, went pretty good, nailed the traverse pretty fast, cleaned the bottom steep, sent the drops and pedaled hard to line. 3.6 seconds back?! what?! that was a clean run and i went slower than quali! i ended up 4 seconds down on first place. Pretty disappointed with myself as i felt i should really have done much better than that. Thinking back i just didnt attack enough on the steeps, i comfortably rode them with no major force being put through myself or bike. 21st end result.

And thats that for now, looking forward to a short break from the bike and going to aim to come back strong for Fort William.

Thanks to all those who have supported me this season, sorry for the lack of top results!

Special thanks to:

Duncan Philpot for all his amazing pictures

and especially Ma and Pa Swinden and Marian (for putting up with my moaning all season)

Cheers, Swinny

Final 5 – Fort Bill

Final 5 – Fort Bill

Well, its taken a while but here are my last few shots from fort bill.

Gee applies some style for the Anthill films boys who were out shooting the whole weekend.

ThisiSheffield’s own Jack Reading doubles up some rocks higher than any other i’d seen.

The Monster Energy drop attracted large crowds throughout the whole of the final runs.

The girls were looking faster than ever, pinned through the rocks here.

Finally Sam Blenkinsop enjoying the rocky, rooty and wooded sections of the course.

Next few will be from leogang!

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….

”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 Series – Round 3 – Mini DH

As the Sun continues to shine, so the Spring Series continues to gather momentum. Race 3 was a mini DH out in the peaks on an old favourite track which has a steep wide open, fast top section that then dips in to the woods for some bar smacking tight flowing turns. It then pops you out in to a rough rooty left which sets you up for two of the sweetest berms in the Peak. If you can hold your line out of the second you pedal hard in to a big booter with a lovely flat landing. All over in less than a minute, which most of the other lads are used to.

Tim Pearson heading down toward to woods as the sun sets (Photo - Duncan Philpott)

Helmet Camera footage by Duncan Philpott featuring Ruari, Swinny and Dunc’s own crash at the start

The series is starting to draw more of a crowd and certainly more attention. Last night we had nearly as many spectators, hecklers and drinkers as we did riders. Thankfully it was an experienced crowd who’d brought pans and wooden spoons to make as much noise as possible. Perhaps not quite what was wanted in the middle of the Peak District but certainly what was wanted for a great racing atmosphere. The race was slated to start at 7:30 so riders were up practising from about 6 and the tight wooded section quickly claimed a few casualties. ThisISheffield’s in house photo genius Duncan PhiliPhoto was already bleeding by the time I arrived, his arm had lost in an argument with a tree. He later did exactly the same thing again in the same spot which put him out of the race. Thankfully this meant he took lots of great photos. Henry Marsh managed to head butt a tree which also finished his racing for the night meaning he took photos too, thank you.

Pushing back up for another run (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

Joe Bowman on the Cotic X (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

After all the racers had chucked 2 quid in to the jam jar and popped a prize in to the bag racing got underway. Henry Norman still out from racing with injury but concentrating on marathon training was kind enough to take on timing duties ably assisted by Simon Garrard. Simone was unfortunate enough to take the starters roll so spent half an hour stood at the top of the exposed track gradually freezing his tits off in the wind as the sun went down. The later racers also had to suffer the same fate hiding in the heather to keep warm. Reports of Swinny kissing caterpillars were greatly exaggerated. Joe Bowman was out of the race again due mechanical issues, with his van. However, he did turn up to heckle and session the track on the Cotic X. Going back to the old school, mobile phones and a stop watch were all we needed and each racer was sent down the hill in turn with a “3, 2, 1” and a Tarzan cry.

Racers waiting for their run with Si Garrard ready to send them off (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

On the racing ridge (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

Jordan Gould took an early lead, 6th out of the ‘start hut’ and getting down in 37.12 also reportedly putting in the best jump off the bottom booter. I was next down the hill and put in a 39.97 sliding me in to an early 2nd place. However, next down was Ruari ‘POD’ Hallam who sent the final jump in a 37.91 closely followed by Steve ‘’ Taylor with a 39.94. The Ladies made a welcome return to racing with Jody Vallance bringing along Liz Bowman (any relation?) for her first race. Liz took the win with a 53.53 on only her 4th mountain bike ride in 3 years and was looking pinned over the top section. She narrowly beat Jody by just over a second and it was a good ride from both lasses. The next rider down the hill to worry the leaders was series leader Will Swinden. There was a real split between riders on hardtails or full bounce and strangely there didn’t seem to be much between them. Will was on his Curtis and put down a 38.56 sliding him in to third spot, however his elder brother was about to get on track. Swinny was looking super fast all night and also had the recovery of the night. Getting out of shape on the top section he clipped a bush, pitching him forward on his front wheel towards a little booter. Somehow flying off this he managed to get back on two wheels and make the next corner, amazing control. Swinny took 1.5 seconds out of Jordan with a winning time of 35.59 and a well deserved return to the podium.

Dave Mitchell (Photo: Duncan Philpott)

Will Swinden railing the last berm (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Swinny victorious on the Podium with Tunnocks (Photo: Henry Marsh)

Prizes were given out in the traditional fashion with Swinny opting for the Tunnocks’ Tea cakes and Jordan taking Haribo. Jordan had once again produced a brilliant trophy which will have to be presented later as he left it at home. My apologies to Dave Camus who I mistakenly missed out of the roll call so only ended up with a University of Sheffield T-shirt. With racing done we retired to the warmth and comfort of the Cricket Inn to rehydrate, although Eighteen bikes’ Si Bowns decided to have a pint on his own in the crown. Talk naturally turned to future series plans with some great ideas coming from all corners, my favourite though was Jolley’s suggestion. “Starting at the top of Porter Clough, first neck a two litre bottle of strongbow, run to your bike, then ride as fast as you can to Corp and the first to pull a fat bird wins”. Genius.

Round 3 Results

So the series standings. No change at the top, Will Swinden extends his lead with myself narrowly in second place. Swinny jumps up four places to 3rd spot only 1 point ahead of Jordan and Ruari jumps from mid-pack up to 5th.

Series Standings after round 3

Next race – Mass Start DH. Details will be in the calendar. coverage of the Peaty’s Steel City DH by Alex Rankin coverage of the Peaty’s Steel City DH by Alex Rankin

The legend that is Alex Rankin filmed and has edited this brilliant edit of the days events for Sit back with a brew and enjoy reliving the days fun.

Many thanks again to everyone that made it happen and helped us along the way. It wouldn’t have happened without you.

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