Borderline UK DH Series – Round 1 Caersws
Good preparation was essential going into my first race under the wings of TRG Racing, so what better way to start a long weekend off , than a trip to Revolution Bike Park. Several trees later, I was a bit battered, had less skin on my shins, and a fat shoulder but was feeling good on my steed. I was riding well on the slippery roots and sending some technical drops so confidence was high and my wrist (which I broke 5 months previous, and now had a screw holding it together) was feeling strong. Having been told by the big South African…’Chick…you got balls man!’, I headed over to Caersws feeling positive.
Saturday practise arrived and I met up with the Tilfords. First practise runs never go well for me so why break a habit? I bottled the road gap at the top of the track, and in an attempt to regain my ‘balls’ I sent the next kicker only to ‘pirouette’ (bystanders description) off my bike into a thorn bush. I cased the small double and things didn’t get much better than that for a few runs. ‘Balls’ momentarily lost. I finally managed to get a few decent runs in and my confidence was starting to grow again. ‘Balls’ returning. Inevitably, the final run of the day resulted in an over the bars on a techy roots section and I face plant snapping, my already gaffer taped, visor off. Zip ties and more tape required. The track conditions at this point had become pretty grim; windy at the top (definitely no road gap now) and thick, slippery mud all the way down. A call out to my new team mates for some spikes and the lovely Mick Waud comes to the rescue.
Race day. Despite not feeling great in practise, I was still fairly confident I could crack on and get a decent result. First run down went ok, not fast but staying on my bike was priority at the time and becoming quite an achievement. Conditions had become even worse so Cath and I had a tyre change. I had two more runs to get used to running a spike. It felt a bit twitchy but definitely gripped more through the relentless mud. Once again, the last practise run was dire…but stylish apparently, as I cartwheeled over a berm and received an 8/10 from a spectator. Bonus.
First race run. I pulled on my brand spanking new TRG jersey and felt good to go. A team gun show was then required…obviously. As we reached the top of the hill, the wind had picked up again. I was first down out of the ladies. I felt ok through the top few berms but then got stuck in a rut at the bottom of the roller coaster section and my back end washed out. At this point, my racing Tourette’s kicked in. I got back on but lost a good 5-10 seconds. I finished the run with only a few minor mistakes and put in a time of 2.57…2nd place. It was slow and I knew I could give more. Monet Adams was 20 seconds ahead, and the lovely Mrs Tilford was sitting in 3rd. Was pretty dishearten by the time gap until I found out Monet was an Elite and had been riding with the ‘big’ girls at Stiniog the week previous. I knew top spot wasn’t really an option but if I could knock 10 seconds off, I would be happy. The lads put in good first runs with Liam sitting in 3rd and Ben, Richie and Mick all getting decent times.
Second race run. Team body warmth sharing, one handed handstands and pistol squats were the uplifts entertainment. It became apparent that the wind has once again picked up as it blew me sideways into a tree stump, after getting a bit of air off a small kicker. The red mist set in and I was desperate to make time back. Things went from bad to worse…bad lines and stupid mistakes were to follow. I cleared the double but for some reason, opted to use the embankment and my head to stop me, instead of my brakes. Then came the rooty section, which can only be described as un dignified, before washing out on a berm. I got to the bottom of the track in about 4 days, 2 hours and 27seconds. I managed to retain 2nd, with Cath closely behind in 3rd. I’m happy with the result but not pleased with my riding, I know I have a lot more to give.
Unfortunately, Liam crashed out in his second run and slipped down into 6th position leaving just the girls representing on the podiums for TRG.
Despite the mud, blood, wind and rain, I had an awesome weekend with valuable experience gained, and I’m feeling stoked about further races with TRG. Bring it!