Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Northern Rocks

A great days riding with Cotic and Singletrack Mag up in the Peaks.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2009

UK Bike Park - BUCS 09

A bit of a change for the champs this year the weather was absolutely amazing! Loads of sunshine and a great venue with camping right next the track created a brilliant atmosphere. The champs is always one of the best races of the year. the racing is incredibly chilled out but at the same time a huge amount of pride is at stake as the University teams battle against each other for the top spot.

I missed friday practice after having broken down thursday night, the day was spent frustratingly under the van replacing the alternator and trying to get it all fixed up in time to rejoin the action. Hearing stories of grass slalom races friday night with mass start directed at a line of students who were marking the extents of the track, the weekend was clearly starting well and I had to get my act together.

Still tweaking the van saturday morning, swapping in a new fuel filter and giving her the last bit of love and persuasion she was after. We were finally on the road, rocking up at 10 to find Rob had also only just made it. I cant say I was a huge fan of the track to begin with, it was a short fiddly one, not too technical but most of the corners were over blown and roots hid in strange places and which swiped the wheels away from under you. This was a track that required care and control rather than ballsy off the brakes antics. With a huge range of ability on the track practice was a bit of a traffic jam so no chance to really get into the flow or manage a full run.

Come racing though it was a totally different game. The entire length of the track was lined with loud, excited students dealing out the encouragement and abuse. They were all there for one reason, to see some carnage. It was possible to tell standing at the top how a rider was getting on just from the pitch of the cheering that was making its way down the track. First run I got a little carried away and excited by the audience. Charging the top half of the track I was putting in a good run until some friendly spectators were shouting at me to get on the pedals right before this cheeky steep right hander. A good crowd had developed above this corner as it was the center of the action and I flew in totally forgetting it was coming and had no chance in hell of making the turn. Having smashed into a couple of trees I eventually ran out of momentum half way down the hill. The crowd were clearly well entertained by my cornering abilities. Will Soffe was the only rider on form for Swansea placing 3rd overall with his usual unhurried style that never seems to reflect the incredibly quick times he posts.

After the DH the flood lights were wheeled out (and some even lit up) illuminating the first 3 jumps off the 4X track. A straight knock out was arranged, a drag race with the top 2 going through to the next round. This was so much fun. The track has been changed since I was last there and there is now nothing to slow you down up until the table which consequently is very short for the speed. That combined with not being able to see the landing and flash photography smashing you in the eyes it was a really sketchy, fun, exciting event. First practice down the track and someone ran under my wheels as I was flying up the step-up totally scaring the sh*t out of me and getting the adrenaline pumping ready for the event. A few snaps later and I was knocked out by the french BMX champ who's name I should know and Steve Atkins who went on to take the event and earn himself some easy money.

Then the main event, the party started with Soffe and the torico boys laying down the moves with some break dancing and a few pirouettes. A heated battle of British bull dog, George instigated the coneing of a few unsuspecting characters who had to down large amounts of the contents of his bottle, enough said really.

The XC track was brilliant. A flat loop round the woods then up the 4x track down the dual track into one of the DH runs then up the uplift track to complete a lap. The climb was too steep to really pedal so it was a brisk push to the top, perfect! Me and Soffe went all out to get the holeshot, starting near the back of the pack we shouldered the bikes legged it over the grass leaving the start field we were up with the top 10. This was a lot of effort so I took my first break up in the woods! The DH was fun, some serious overbreaking meant the mega techniques were back out involving some crafty high lines and possibly dodgy overtaking maneuvers, which apparently resulted in a string of fallen riders in my wake. A can of WD40 sprayed at disk height up at the top would have really improved this race! After the climb I figured it was a good chance to sit in the van grab a drink and change my top ready for the next lap, this was a serious race and hydration is always important!! I ended up finishing just behind Rob, Soffe came in in 7th which is really good going, will be entering him for the Champs next year!

Representing Swansea in the champs was Sion the defending champion, Matt and James. James had been shredding the DH and Dual all weekend so big expectations for him despite being the underdog in XC this was a track that really suited his ability. Going for the cheeky start up the grass he made it from the second pack to the front half of the leading pack and was seriously flying the DH only to puncture. Legging it back to the car he was straight back on it and made up a serious number of positions on the descents, really good to see. One corner at the bottom of the descent surrounded by probably over a hundred rowdy downhillers. The look of terror as the less confident riders approached the section was brilliant. Loads of cheering, chants, overtaking, crashing, skidding, Mexican mooning. . . made for some great entertainment. Sion ended up finishing 4th just off the podium.

Another great weekend, a big thanks to everyone involved in organising the Champs, bring on next year!

Anyway Sod all this typing malarkey heres the real story, thanks to all riders involved:

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Tuesday, 3 March 2009

DIRT Issue 85

If you havent seen it yet, Dirt done their first roadtrip feature in Swansea. Steve asked me to write some words so check it out my first piece of published writing, exciting stuff!

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Wentwood - Simpy DH

This weekend was back to racing a serious track, Wentwood was certainly more challenging than last weekends antics. The track was fast, tons of corners, nice wide taping which offered some real options when it came to line choice. There was also plenty of sections ready to catch you out. In my opinion a great track to race both challenging and super fun at the same time. The bottom section was incredibly tight and deep greasy mud, off camber and roots meant it was a total minefield that could destroy a good run. Pushing was actually not too bad, there is less chance to build up the nervous energy and stress when you are slogging up a hill compared to sitting in a crowded bus. The sun was out and it was a good chance to have a natter on the way up. In terms or riding, I managed as many runs as I would have done on an uplift so cant really complain.

The hardtails were getting competitive this week. Last weekends warm up fired up the competitive streaks leading to a lot of light hearted banter. Stuart stormed the first run setting the target of 2.26 for the second run. This clearly ignited the beast in Alex who I believe has never been beaten by Stu and he set a blinder of a time in his second run of 2.22. My first run was well off the pace, somehow I avoided ending up off the track after getting pitched up into the bars coming off the road where the track drops into a steep rooted section, hairy to say the least. Second run was on pace with a 2.26 but Stu managed to clear a second off his time putting him deservedly on the second step of the podium and leaving me back in 3rd.

Hardtail Podium.

Will Soffe was on it once more representing the Swansea boys and 2-Step bikes. He posted second fastest time of the day and took the win in Expert. Rob Hinds was looking good all day, lining it up to the max, finishing in 16th place in the senior category. It looks like Swansea still stand a good chance of domination once again in the forthcoming student champs!

Soffe flying

The drive back was totally Maxxed up with the van taking its go at rally driving. Suspension damping was clearly not high on Mitsubishis priorities when designing the beast making it really quite an exciting experience blasting down the forest road out of the venue. Ha anyway for a proper report check out Si Patons write up at Pink Bike

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