AE Forest NDH TT – Sunday 15 Jan.

by
AE Forest NDH TT – Sunday 15 Jan.

AE Forest NDH TT – Sunday 15 Jan.

The first race of 2017 was upon me, not sure if I was ready for it in all honesty due to the Christmas holidays (all the booze and food) and changing jobs I had hardly been on the bikes much or trained much, but sod it I thought will just enjoy it.

6.30am – My friend drew turned up and we quickly packed the car and set off, the car temperature read a balmy 7c outside, toasty!

As we got closer to the Scottish boarder and the iconic sign the temperature literally dropped from 7c down to 0c and we even saw the white stuff a few miles later, me and drew looked at each other thinking damn it’s going to be a nippy one!!!

The event was sold out with 120 riders entered, so there was no surprise when we reached the venue to find the car park jam packed with racers.

8.30 am – Myself and drew got setup and signed on, the number 35 was handed to me and I saw this as a lucky sign as I have just turned 35. After speaking with Carl the race organiser he informed us it was the same track as last year where I managed 4th, with this in mind there was no need to overdo practice.

image002

9am- The course started on a fire road sprint into a very tight left hairpin corner, this was actually quite tricky with no grip to help slow you down and get through the corner, but in the back of your mind you wanted to leave the braking to the last second to help carry speed for the 50m sprint ahead. This nice fast stretch of single track had a few whoops, jumps and drops then followed into the woods with a nice drop off sending you a good 10ft, onto 4 or so mini table tops and then the last straight that had a weird table that kicked the back end up hard. This year I spent more time looking at this section and decided it would be faster to go around it.

11.45am – Practice over time for food and a quick change as I was soaking wet and freezing cold, giving my bike a quick check over I found I had smashed the cage off my left pedal L this will make clipping in interesting!

My race run was at 1.20pm so had lots of time to kill, once changed we sat in the car with the heaters on full blast which was nice and toasty, so much so it was sending me off to sleep nearly.

image003

1pm – Setting off up the hill for my first race run, I managed to time it perfectly as I only had to wait 5 minutes which saved me getting cold again.

 

On the line ready to go although it felt strange having to clip my left foot in first instead of my lead leg, was also worried if I unclipped on the left side I wouldn’t be able to get clipped in again! Putting this to the back of my mind the countdown began, 5, 4,3,2,1 and I was off!

Hitting the first corner well I then push hard through the sprint, the run was steady with no real mistakes other than maybe being abit to cautious. The time keeper informed me I was 1st, how-ever I knew my nemesis Brad was still to come down. After the first run I was sitting in 3rd and my good friend drew in 4th his best result to date so he was really happy!

Photo courtesy of Jerry Tatton below.

image006

1.50pm – A quick 40 min rest and a top up on energy then back up the hill we went, knowing I was only 1 second off the win I had nothing to lose.

2.10pm – Once again starting with the dreaded left foot 5.4.3.2.1 GO! Being over excited I hit the first corner to fast, leaving my braking too late and nearly went though the corner which lost me some precious time. With this in the back of my mind and the 1 second gap to think about I pressed on hard, I felt a lot faster on the rest of the track and kept it low while pumping as hard as I could over the jumps. As much as it killed me I didn’t style it up for the togs on my race run.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Tatton below.

image008

Back to the time keeper and I was 1 second faster how-ever 1st and 2nd had also gone quicker, this left me one second off the win again. Considering I haven’t really rode much in the past few months I was happy and with the pedal being smashed I did ok. It felt good to be back on the podium and the Gt sanction was perfectly suited to the track, it’s so planted on the fast stuff. Drew finished in 4th so was stoked for him and his best result, well done mate!

image010

Big thanks to Carl Davidson race organiser, the marshals, medics and spectators. Big thanks to TRG for the support along with GT, Kenda and Flare clothing.

A big shout out to Jerry Tatton for his awesome pictures and hard work! Go check out his work on roots and rain and bag yourself an awesome picture!

3.30pm- Car all packed up with muddy kit, bikes and smiles on our faces we headed home! Until next time! Keep shredding!

image012

 

PMBA Round 7 Grizedale forest – Sun 02/10/2016.

by
PMBA Round 7 Grizedale forest – Sun 02/10/2016.

PMBA Round 7 Grizedale forest – Sun 02/10/2016.

14 mile loop, 2750ft climbing.

Bike – GT Sanction Team 2016

image002

The last race of PMBA series was upon me! At the stunning location Grizedale Forest. Not only is this a mecca for Mountain bikers but also the general public ranging from walking, Go ape and Segway’s! Could have done with one of the segways for the climbs!

Turned up for practice on the Saturday at 3pm which felt strange being so late in the day, but we could only practice stages 4 and 5.

So myself, Kelly and Fabian set off on the climb to 4 and bumped into race promoter Kev, so he dropped on with us as he was sweeping the stages. After a good nattering we soon got to the top of 4. Stage 4 is the longest stage and drops all the way down to lake Coniston! The amount of rainfall the previous night meant with had a river flowing down the track making it quite interesting, roots, steep and mud = me going over the bars and being covered in mud, great!

Moved onto 5, wow the transition from 4 to 5 was huge, all climbing! Stage 5 started fast and only one corner caused me some issues going into it too fast and blowing through the corner same as last year, hello big holly bush! So had to remind myself not to make the same mistake in race day. Practice done and was feeling quite good.

The Saturday night we headed to the Queens in Hawks head for a nice birthday meal, meeting good friends celebrating Katie Clarks birthday.

So race day was here, and woke up to a glorious morning!

Bikes ready and kit ready, well soaking wet shoes and shorts from Saturday we set off too practice the remaining 3 stages. The surface water was still abundant as I hit stage one, at a snail’s pace. One eye squinting 10 meters down both eyes squinting after 20 meters, goggles were defiantly in order for the day. Other than this practice caused me no real problems. With practice finished we headed back to the café for free chilli and bread, thanks PMBA

image004

My start time for the day was 1.10pm along with my team mate Kelly and the usual race buddies, hoping the tracks would have dried out abit, they hadn’t.

Stage one was a walker’s path closed for the event, never been raced on before. The stage was fast, loose and rocky, right up my street just all-out attack, oh and the goggles defiantly helped this time. Put in a steady run maybe abit too hesitant in places, finished stage one in 13th with a time of 1.52.92. The GT sanction soaked up all the rocks and everything I gave it on this stage and the bike didn’t miss a beat! Awesome bike!

image006

Stage 2 was my favourite of the day. Wood section all the way to the bottom, rooty and muddy! With a little rock drop causing a few people some issues I sailed through it on the GT. Hit the first section nice and smooth with confidence coming back I hit the rest of the stage smiling! Some of the corners I hit loose and sketchy just holding on! Love the feeling of being on the edge and getting away with it. Finished the stage in 9th with a time of 1.29.63.

Stage 3 was the shortest track of the day but still fun and exciting. Started with a little fire road sprint then into the slop and woods with a little climb, needed to carry good speed from the sprint to get through this section. Then it was single track all the way to the bottom with a few nice berms to catch you! These felt good slamming into them nice and deep. Finished the stage 7th with a time of 1.13.10.

Stage 4 was the longest stage of the day a real test. This is where I had my crash in practice on Saturday. I knew I had to put that behind me and focus. The start was steep, crazily rooty and muddy! Managed to make it down getting all my lines with no dabs, however not the fastest pace just wanted to survive and not lose too much time with a dreaded crash. After this section it dropped onto a fire rood sprint at least it was going down and not up like normal! Jumping of the fire road a nice 6ft drop and back into good stuff. The second half of this stage was tricky, make one mistake or choose the wrong line and you lose so much time trying to get going again. This part over a dreaded uphill sprint on a fire road but then drops into a nice roocky loose decent that was fast! Very fast! Slamming into a natural left hand berm at the bottom of this felt amazing only just held on, flat out! Foot out! The stage finished at the lake, what a stunning stage and stunning view of lake Coniston. Finished in 14th with a time of 4.29.87, too careful I think.

So the last stage 5 and no crashes all day, just keep it together I said to myself. Will this be my first PMBA with no crashes! Stage 5 started fast and flowy on single track, no roots on this part of the track. Just all out speed, dropping into a steep left hander then into a right hander, Yep the left hander caught me out again and I stalled! Oh hello holly bush again and spectator! Who Screamed “ go go catch him! “as I was close to another rider gaining on him until this point, love the spectators. I hit the corner with just so much speed couldn’t control it! Put that behind me and again same mistake as I dropped onto the fire road went too fast as it was a 90 degree right hander of a little 4 ft drop, lost me a few seconds. Then the dreaded fire road spring must have been 300 meters but felt like 3 miles at the end of the day, spotted my friend Fabian and I started to gain on him, only to realise as I got further up it climbed a little more no wonder he slowed! Nope I wasn’t catching him! The last part of the stage was the walkers path through the fields leading to the café! The end was in site! Finished the stage in 26th!!!! With a time of 3.43.12. A fun stage to ride but my fitness cost me dearly on this stage and on 4.

Finished the day in 12th, was happy to not have crashed but wish I had pushed a little harder in places. For next year I have learnt that I have the pace on the technical parts just need work on my fitness and push a little harder.

Finished the PMBA series with 10th overall, very happy with that as my goal was to finish top 10, next season top 5! More winter training!

image008

My team mate and GF Kelly Gott finished 11th, not her best result but she really struggled with the stages, how-ever well done for still getting down was a tough day! In respect to that Kelly finished an amazing 6th overall and that’s with missing 2 events! Smashed it!

A big thanks to TRG for supporting me through the series! A massive Thanks to GT for providing the GT Sanction, just eats rock gardens up all day long! Kenda tyres for the grip on them pesky roots and Flare for supplying the Killer race kit! A big thanks to Team manager Richard Molloy for all his time and dedication to the team! A big shout out to PMBA, Kev Duckworth and Mike Marsden for the best endure series in UK, the marshals, spectators, Photographer’s, my racing buddies and my GF/Team mate Kelly, wouldn’t be the same without all you guys!

Bring on 2017 season! Best get the road bike out for the winter training! I feel the pain already!

Tony Kay!!! Also known as PEDAL GROMMIT!

IXS German Cup – IXS Swiss Cup & BDS rd5 Revolution Bike Park!

by
IXS German Cup – IXS Swiss Cup & BDS rd5 Revolution Bike Park!

After allot of planning and map studying we was all set for our trip to Europe to race the IXS downhill cup in Germany and Switzerland. By ‘we’ I mean my little pit helper Jess/girlfriend, though I think she’d prefer to be named girlfriend.

With the car packed full with everything to make 2 weeks camping comfortable and my Gt Fury ready to race strapped to the back We set of on our journey with a long drive ahead. Racing the ixs was all new to me and I had no idea what to expect. Friday practice was good and the track was dusty, fast, fun along with a few technical features. Once I seeded 13th out of 130 on the Saturday I was feeling very confident with allot more to give which I think helped with Sunday mornings practice. I’m not usually excited for my race run but this one I was. Once out the start it was all or nothing, I’d come all this way and I wasn’t going to give up easily.

My run was going brilliant until the final section where I chose the line to jump a big gap between two turns where then my shoe popped out of my pedal, I landed it just but went into the next corner too hot, in a puff of dust I was down with one knee on the floor and loosing time rapidly. I pushed myself off the ground with my right foot still clipped in and worked my hardest to gain lost time but there was no chance I’d of made a comeback. For me the race was over. I crossed the line and felt sick inside, however not so sick once later I found out I finished 9th place with 3 seconds off the champagne!

With fire in my belly the following day we set off to the next round down in Switzerland. We arrived a few days early after spending the night in the car to enjoy abit of the local area and do abit of what people call (holiday making) but enough of that because practice day was soon here! The track here in Switzerland was a hell of allot different to the one the previous weekend and to be honest it didn’t mix with me well to start with. There was fast long berms, long sprints wide open sections and allot of features that would only be found in a bikepark. I’ve always been a technical rider and never really been fond of bike parks but I was trying my best to adapt and hopefully put in some competitive racing. Seeding soon came around and I wasn’t feeling too bad on track, though it may of felt like I was pulling barbed wire out of my throat and carrying lead in my shoes, I crossed the line that exhausted I crashed in the finish arena sliding along the Tarmac floor. But I did it and I was in 2nd place and pain never felt so good.

With a very sore nights sleep I was back on track the following morning ready to race. I give it my all on the fast greasy track and managed to hold second place! With my team top on I earned myself a step on the podium! Feeling very confident we had a long drive back to the uk to be soon met by work, but with round 5 of the British downhill series the following weekend my mind was set and I couldn’t wait to race. Before I knew it the car was re-packed and I found myself in Wales.

We fell pretty lucky with the weather, nether the less the track was like an ice rink through the top switchbacks at Revolution bikepark. I was soon met by team mate Michael Waud and after a good nights sleep we headed up for practice. Even though the track was drying out unfortunately the top slate switchbacks weren’t and riders were getting flung all over the place. Come race the following day the rain started which gave us a lovely sloppy, wet and slippery track, for me I didn’t mind but for Mick, he was having a little nightmare. But thankfully he soon woke up and manage to bag second place in grand vets. Next up was me and after finishing 13th in seeding I was praying for my first top 10 finish at the British downhill series. I crossed the line in 4th and with I few more riders to come I managed to finish in 7th place in experts just narrowly missing the podium by 0.5 seconds! With another good race and a massive grin on my face I’m just hoping I can keep up this momentum and follow it through into the 2017 season.

liam2

mick-podium

Borderline Events Llangollen 21-22 May

by
Borderline Events Llangollen 21-22 May

Borderline events Llangollen and sunshine, now that was sounding promising! I arrived early Saturday morning to be soon greeted by team manager rich along side team mates Michael coupe and Blake white. But unfortunatley the sun didn’t stay long and along came the rain.

The track was riding great, even in the slop and ruts, all of TRG were feeling good on track and the sun even came out to play at dinner time.

After about 7 runs we called it a day and packed up and headed home for the night.

Sunday’s weather was mixed, with torrential rain quickly followed by baking sun! Once race runs came about the track was unknown and was unpredictable. My first run went really well and I was sat in 4th place only 3 seconds back from 1st.
I was hoping 2nd run I could make up that time but due to a silly mistake where my foot popped out my cleats and I was unable to pedal along the bottom section which cost me allot of time and crossed the line 2 seconds slower.
I was knocked back to 7th place in experts but was still happy with how I rode throughout the weekend

2016 Welsh Gravity Enduro Spring round 5 at Eastridge 21-22 May

by

Hazel really will ride any thing with two wheels and this time she turned her hand to Enduro at the 2016 Welsh Gravity Enduro Spring round 5 at Eastridge.

And of course with out any fuss she ended up on the podium taking 2nd in the elite ladies class.

BDS rd2 Fort William 14-15th May

by
BDS rd2 Fort William 14-15th May

Round 2 of the British downhill series at the legendary Fort William was just around the corner. I previously had 2 weekends off riding the downhill bike and parked my bum on the motocross bike, so it was nice to jump back onto the GT Fury feeling fresh to race one of my favourite races of the year.

Saturday’s practice was hot and went well, within the first 2 runs I was happy with my lines and focused on getting down using minimum upper body strength to save my arms from pumping up. I was feeling strong and fit and couldn’t wait to go against the clock. The main contributor to this was my GT Fury. With the big wheels and amazing long geometry this thing is built for this track. Fast, loose and rough.

My seeding run was smooth and a little reserved, I crossed the line in 18th with allot more to give. I was excited to get on track for the race and I knew exactley what I had to do to make up time.

On the start gate I was a little nervous but kept myself calm, before I knew it I was giving it my all along the motorway, my legs were burning and I was clearing the jumps with the finish line in sight. One final push and I crossed the line, 10 seconds faster than my seeding run and was sat in 7th place. After more riders coming down I was pushed back to a respectable 18th in experts and I was very happy with my performance

Borderline Events RD1 revolution bike park. 9/10 April

by
Borderline Events RD1 revolution bike park. 9/10 April

Round 1 borderline events revolution bike park.
With a bad weather forecast the waterproofs were packed and the mud guards were fit. Early hours Saturday morning team manager rich rolled up in the team bus and dragged me out the house for a long drive to rainy Wales.
We shortly met up up team mates coupes and Blake. Luckily the sun was out and after a quick track walk we loaded the bike on the trailer and headed up the hill.

liam1

A couple of runs in I was feeling comfortable with the track but unfortunately the rain started shortly followed by snow! After a very cold late lunch break we washed the bikes off and decided to call it a day.
Once home I left my lovely mum a present of wet gear on the step to clean for race day and all I could think about was the poor people camping.

Early Sunday morning we was back on the road with the GT Furys clean and ready to go. The weather looked to be holding out but the mud on the track was getting thicker and thicker. 1st practice run was a shock, due to an early finish I found the track had changed allot throughout the back end of the previous day. And this made 1sr run very eventful. 2 runs later I was getting the hang of riding through the treacle and whipped on a fresh set of gear ready for my 1st race run.
liam3

 

 

On the start gate I was feeling pretty nervous and was very cold, but my blood soon got pumping once my cranks were turning pushing me down the track. I crossed the line absolutely exhausted. For run 2 I knew what I had to do to improve. As soon as I hit the first few turns I knew I was already on a better run. My aim was to ride very consistent and a little reserved which would able me to save allot of energy for the bottom section. My plan worked and I crossed the line finishing me in 11th place in experts. I was very happy with my result. I knew where I rode well and knew where I didn’t. I learnt allot from this weekend and even put my new practice regime in play.

Thanks Mike marsden for a great event and look forward to round 2.
Next stop is peatys steel city where I better get my legs ready!

AE Forest – BDS Series Round 1 -2/3 April

by
AE Forest – BDS Series Round 1 -2/3 April

First race of the 2016 season

First race on the GT aka The Fluro Flasher
And my
First race as an elite!!

The track looked pretty challenging when I walked it on Friday afternoon, a combination of mud, ruts, roots and some big features. Though the top section looked pretty mental with a fast mud chute with some dodgy roots thrown in, this part of the track quickly became my favourite and I really enjoyed just letting the bike do its thing.
Practice day was met with a day of rain, long uplift queues and a passenger coach getting stuck in the fire road ditch. But aside from these minor issues, the day went generally ok though I did manage to puncture on the rock garden and also smash my chain guide casing the step down. Just a mental note for the future.. give a bit of space before sending a drop behind Trick Mick. We both managed to smash our chain guides, but lucky E-13 was on hand to get our bikes up and running. Good egg him. Though I was happy with how I was riding the track, I still felt apprehension about the step down drop nearing the end of the course and knew this would be on my mind the next day.

hazel1

The rain was still hanging around the morning of race day, and though this is never great for motivation, I was glad that the top section would be staying wet, making it a lot easier to guide the bike through. I decided to do just one practice run before seeding, usually I’ll try and get a couple in but I felt a bit tired and the lure of a brew in a warm caravan won me over. Come seeding run I felt pretty excited, which was really refreshing as I am usually racked with nerves. Rockin my new TRG jersey I was ready to roll. My run was ok, felt a bit like hard work, my arms were hurting and I stacked in on the dreaded rooty corner coming into the lower section. I decided to not do the drop, I just wasn’t feeling it so thought I’d chicken line it. But it’s cool, I knew I could do it, and there’s no way I wasn’t going to do it. Got a time of 3 mins 5 secs, putting me into 5th place.
So my mission for my race run was to take it a bit slowly into the shite corner of roots, pedal like a bastard to get that bloomin step down. Don’t know if it’s becoming obvious, but this drop was soon becoming my thing to conquer!

hazel2

Race run – went well, tried to keep it flowing and did make a couple of minor mishaps but kept the bike and myself upright so all good. Did some chanting on the lower section and sent the drop – boom… balls to my race time, I did the mutha truckin drop!! Stoked. Anyway I pottered in to 5th with a time of 2 mins 55 sec… just .2 seconds of 4th place, which was pretty darn close.
All in all I had a bloody good weekend on the bike. I came away having learnt a hell of a lot, gaining more confidence and really enjoying riding and racing.
Mick got a podium in his category which was brilliant result, and Liam forever amazes me with his talent on two wheels.

hazel3

Pearce #1, Bringewood 20-3-2016

by

After a long winter off season last weekend brought me to my first race of the season, round one of the Pearce series at bringewood.

The Pearce series is something I’ve never tried but heard so much about so I was looking forward to seeing what they had to offer. Early Saturday morning I walked myself up the track to see what there was to tackle, thankfully the weather held out for the weekend and the track was perfect for grip and the roots weren’t too treacherous.

I was really looking forward to practice as it was looking flat out. This was my first time wearing my superb quality Flare rider jearsey and only my 3rd ride on my new 2016 GT Fury and I was loving it. This bike really is designed to go fast and stay in control. As the day passed by I was feeling good with the track and well connected with the bike and now the track was drying out more it was even faster.

Sunday morning started cold so the pants and coat were on, with just 2 runs in the morning I was happy to relax and keep myself reserved for the race. After a refuel I was set for my first race run but coming through the first section at the top my chain came off and I unfortunately had to do all my run without any pedalling which put me in last place 13 seconds behind 1st. 2nd run however went really well with only one sketchy moment which cost a short amount of time. With the track being so fast this meant the times were ridiculously close.

Overall I finished 6 seconds off 1st place which put me in 22nd place. I was really happy with how I rode but I really wanted to be further up the leaderboard but for the 1st race back i felt really strong and can’t wait to get this year in full swing and see what it brings. With our current and new sponsors I feel this will be a good season for TRG Racing.

PMBA Enduro series, Round 1 Gisburn Forest. 20-3-210

by
PMBA Enduro series, Round 1 Gisburn Forest. 20-3-210

PMBA Enduro series, Round 1 Gisburn Forest.

Race report by Kelly Gott

If you ever fancy entering an enduro I would recommend Guisburn Forest, it has something for everyone, from small to medium and large drops, fast flowing trail centre tracks or greasy, technical off camber rooty madness!!

 

I went into this event feeling quietly confident, I knew most of the tracks as this was my local so I could really push myself. This may have been the reason for my big crash! I’m struggling to find the happy medium between pushing to do my best and over doing it and taking too many risks. I mean you need to take risks to do well but I’ve learnt its more about knowing your game plan, committing to that plan and choosing great lines. I am fairly new to racing and I’m still in the beginner’s mind of just go as fast as you can and hope for the best (not the best tactics as I found out).

 

The day started on a high meeting up with friends at 8.30am with the sun shining and every one in good spirit for the day. Obviously there were a few mechanicals, my boyfriend and team mate Tony Kay managed to somehow loose the pads from his back brakes, and another fellow rider Drew got two punctures before we even finished practice.

image002

Practice was over and with all our bike problems sorted it was time to head back for a much needed rest and refuel ready for the race. By this point we had already ridden 21k and the thought of doing it all over again but at race pace was a bit daunting.

1.55pm race time!! Now to make that all important decision, clips or flats?!?!?! I have a never ending battle deciding this. Most sections I found better being clipped in, but I kept having to dab in the woods and once I had done that I couldn’t get clipped back in again. As this wasted a lot of time I decided to play it safe and go back to flats.

 

Stage 1 and the rooty madness begins, dropping into the woods was fast and you could get some good speed if you took the right lines. The track was tight and very rooty, now I’m not the best when it comes to roots, this is where practice helps as I knew which parts to aim for and when to be light on my bike to avoid hitting the deck. With this in mind there were still some parts that I couldn’t ride as the mud was so thick and deep. My plan was to jump off before hand and run as fast as I could with my bike. Now I hadn’t practice this, but seemed perfect in my head. Reality kicked in and it became one of those nightmares where you’re running but not getting anywhere. To make matters worse when I jumped off my bike to run the mud was so deep and thick it pull my shoe off (AHHHHHHHH). I then had to stop drop my bike, run back for my shoe and try and get it back on my foot before the next rider caught me. Eventually I got going again and hit a fun part where you could get some good speed before turning left and dropping into a cheeky bomb hole just before the finish.

 

After catching our breath my group then headed up to stage two, this was quite a frustrating loop as you had to ride back up to stage 1 again and then some. There were long ques for both stage 1 and 2, although some people found these frustrating I quite appreciated the break.

 

Stage 2 I can only describe as a massive obstacle course! It was fast with tight corners, big rocks, trees, and tree stumps galore to try and weave yourself round. Part way through was a fun rocky decent that put a smile back on your face, this came out onto a fire road sprint before heading back into the woods. The second woods section was just as fast and flowy as the first, with a bit of an up at the end which caught quite a few people out. Regrouping with my fellow riders we had a short break before tackling the awful long climb up to Stage 3.

Quite a few energy cubes later and we were at Stage 3, the SLAB also known as big foot!! This was by far my favourite stage as it was short and fast. At the top you could either go straight down big foot or take the chicken run to the side, going off big foot gave you loads of speed onto the trail centre section so was by far the best choice to make. The corners were a test of nerves, who can go the fastest without touching the brakes. I have to say I struggled not to tap the brakes a little, the corners were so loose and there was not much if any berm to catch you. Most people did fly down this section though, and everyone had massive grins at the end.

Now onto stage 4, which was only a hop skip and a jump from the bottom of stage 3, quite a blessing after the last slog. This section was hot on the peddles but by far my strongest stage, I knew I could do really well on it.

image006

Setting off I was full of confidence and had a clear game plan in my head, regrettably this game plan like in stage 1 was unpractised. There’s a drop at the start that turns into some nasty braking bumps, but soon opens out onto the legendary berms of hully gully. It was all going great until I hit the small section of switch backs in the middle of the stage. These had not been a problem in practice, but having listened to my fellow riders it seemed clear that straight lining through the middle of them was the fastest option.

 

I did attempt this in a much slower practice run to see if it was possible but for some reason at high speed I doubted myself. This doubt then caused me to make a last minute decision and revert back to hitting the corners as normal, which at race speed I found impossible. I soon found myself in a heap on the floor with my bike… OUCH!! I immediately untangled myself and just jump back on my bike to set off again. Sill quite baffled by my crash I hadn’t actually paid attention to where the track was going next, it was a steep drop which veered to the left… I think you can guess where this is going. Yep, I chucked myself off in the wrong direction and no sooner had I been back on the bike I found myself plummeting down the side of the gully and landing head first into the stream below.

 

This was now game over for me, bye bye podium, my goal from this point was getting back to the track and making it to the bottom. I waved to my friend Katie Clarke as she flew passed and just laughed at myself. Eventually I got back on my bike and trundled down to the end with my twisted handle bars.

 

As for the rest of the riders this part of the course was brilliant, it really opens out with a few drops and two streams to blast through before hitting the finish. My amazing friends then fix me up and with a massive pat on the back I was ready to take on stage 5.

This final stage was a downhill line, I had been a little worried about this stage in practice as the drops were gnarly. Putting a brave face on I tried to shake off my crash and focus on hitting the drops well and getting to the finish line.

image004

Starting in the woods at the top of the DH line were some off camber rocky descents, a few sharp corners later and I’m flying down the drops getting some great air. You then went over a fun table jump, which sent you to a nasty rooty corner. I had crashed on this corner several times in practice, remembering what team rider Tony had told me I stayed light and tried to hit them with as much speed as possible, I managed to nail it (mini fist pump). I was now on the home straight, dropping back into the woods and over a few little drops that came out onto another very short road sprint. Once over the road its back into the woods and into another very rooty section with plenty of line choices to choose from. The last part came out onto a really off camber rooty banking, I tried to keep on the high line so not to end up in the mud bath at the bottom. I kept high as long as I could but just a twitch of the brakes and off I was again. No worries though as I was only racing myself now, I jumped up and peddled as hard as I could to that glorious finishing line!!!

 

Although I didn’t do well results wise coming 12th out of 18 I had a blast competing against some very fast ladies. Well done to team rider Tony Kay coming in 16th out of 120!!! A massive thanks to my Team TRG and sponsors GT and Flare clothing for the support, and to Mike Marsden and Kev Duckworth for hosting the event. Will be going into my next race with a better mind set and a change of strategy, fingers crossed I will be much closer to the podium at the next race.