So here it is – did a hangover stop Mrs Cath Tilford smashing farmer Johns – no it did not! read on….
I’ve raced Farmer Johns MTB park now for over 1 year, so I guess you could say I know it well. Its done me no end of good in terms of developing my skills, confidence and its been a great introduction towards me completing in bigger events. Again I find myself excited by prospect of new team, good friends and another challenge.
Its not the steepest of tracks nor is it the most technical, in fact you could say its quite flat in places, and those that have ridden it will know, it never ceases to deliver good quality fun and atmosphere.
Yet, this time I really really had to dig deep to even ride my bike let alone race, having gone Team TRG Karting the day before and had a few too many beers, my energy reserves were low and I struggled especially with upper body strength, a battle already lost by fellow team members Mcdermott, White, Kean and a husband who spent the afternoon drinking tea, heckling or behind the lens nursing their hangovers. Yet, Molloy, Hill and Ward were ready to show the young prodigies how its done.
My practice consisted of a few scruffy runs of the bottom section but only one full practice, in a bid to preserve energy for the race I missed out the gap jump due to the muddy conditions. A couple of hours later, was I ready to race?…not in the slightest but I was determined to give it my best shot.
So I wandered over to the “muck off team” with a slightly nauseous stomach I hoped that cleaning my bike with would give a perception that loosing a ton of mud may make me ride faster with less effort!!!!
After a bit of pre race banter with the other 3 girls in the women’s category I prepared early at the start ramp and began to think through the line choices, I knew I had to peddle and stay off the brakes where possible and I knew I had to hit the gap if I was to get a good time.
The race beeps sounded and I took a deep breath as I got into position. I raced out of the start hut and took a line over the grass to the left and drifted around the immediate berms with a little feather of the back brake, through the trees and out into the open section. I peddled to clear the small table tops but only managed to land them half way. I pretty much rode the cat litter tray in a straight line to carry as much speed as possible and then swiftly changed gear to give plenty of cranks towards the gap jump.
As I didn’t hit this in practice I knew I’d have to give it several enormous cranks to get over it and I knew this was essential to getting a good time. I didn’t think it was even possible to give it too much but somehow I ended up overshooting it and panic breaking as I landed in the banking to the left narrowly avoiding the fence…I swore rather loudly and wished I had the “moto” skills of Danny Hart having felt like I lost a shit load of speed. I swiftly pointed my bike…in “one direction only” and got back on the peddles to regain some speed.
The track from this point runs over a series of rock gardens via the berms, hitting the gap jump well should usually give plenty of speed but I felt heavy as I opted to pump them and rode towards the wooden table and over the hut jump.
The bottom section was a line not used since last year and this time it included the drop into the fast sweeping left handed berm that really kicked out extra speed into a tight switchback, steep rooty section into a final couple of slippy corners towards the finish.
I immediately knew I didn’t have the run that I wanted…loosing more speed on the final corner I practically came to a stop, costing me time, I was in second place.
My second race run, I decided I needed to get a better line over the gap jump and have a clean run in the wooded section. I also realised that I needed to utilise my gears more something that I’ve not really considered in other races. At the race beeps I peddled out of the start gate and into the immediate berms, again drifting down the line through the trees… Again I cranked several times toward the gap jump but rather than overshoot I nearly didn’t make it at all as I lifted the front end I dropped the back wheel on the lip!!! but it didn’t cost me too much time as it gave me the speed I needed to clear the rock garden, rail the berms like a roller coaster and into the wooded section with a new found confidence…and clean over the finish line …..had I done enough??? I sure did. I managed to make nearly 9 seconds on my previous time and secured a mighty 1st Place.
My final race of 2013 as a member of TRG was a success, having found a new confidence and a new speed, I feel ready to push my skills in racing and I’m looking forwards to 2014.
Cath Tilford 1st Ladies
Mick Hill 1st Vets
James Hurst 1st Youth