So the first race weekend was upon me! Alot quicker than I expected! Wish I had spent more time training instead of thinking save it for tomorrow loads of time yet well I was wrong….. Anyways….
So woke up to a beautiful fresh winters morning on the Saturday feel really excited! Once the car was packed mainly by me!!!! Me and team mate / gf and with our cheeky mascot Monkey we set off.
The drive was around 2 hours but soon pasted driving through the stunning mountains of the lakes. On arrival we was greeted by a smiley face team mate cath Tilford. All unpacked we set off for practice… me being here twice before kinda knew the route to the top. Riding up the fire road was full of turn offs and we headed down one only for the girls cath and kelly to say ” NO it must be further up !!! ” so 2 against one took their word hmmm but after another hour of climbing and ending up near fort William and a million wind turbines this can’t be right! Luckily cath got single rang the bike shop and yes the turn off we first went down was correct! I knew hate bring right!!! smile emoticon
So after a thousand mile detour we reached the track! The track itself was technical but with being just flat out speed it did make it tricky. First straight down a fire road into a tricky left hand harpin corner that was easy to overshoot. Then it was basically a straight line descent with a few small corners into little jumps drop offs and a nice bomb hole.
Once past this it took you into the woods that hit a nice drop off where you could go big depending how fast you hit it then into some nice smooth tables tops then into a small fresh cut piece and boom over the line.
Once finished we headed back to our hotels to freshen up and head into town.
Found a nice pub had a few pints and a good pub meal with lots of banter we won’t talk about the underpants! DOH! Shared a taxi back what I can only describe as dumfries most pissed up man in the world! A very polite old drunk I might add that made it interesting.
Sunday morning arrived again we clear blue skies perfect! Kelly had to drag me out off bed though was sooooo comfy! Breakfast sorted and we head for the track!
The tracked had changed slightly by adding in a few more corners that caught me out as I went down with out walking the track, lesson learnt always walk the track or atleast cruise down! Not go down at 80% race pace opps! Kelly swapped from flats to clips and she felt 100% better on he bike myself and cath was happy aswell! Was also nice to here a familiar voice in the background the one and only blakey boy! Nice little team turn out!
So my first race run was little nervous as wanted to make sure I got the first hairpin correct and nailed it, head down the track and once finished was sitting in 4th! Took it a little to easy as wanted to make sure I put in a decent time.
2nd run new I had to made only a second to podium so knew I had it in me. Set off only for the dreaded hairpin to bike me in the ass! Really put the cranks down and focused on the remaining track! Was slightly faster but remained in 4th! Was happy with the position as respectable. Kelly was stoked to be in 4th only a few seconds of Helen gaskell, proud of her. Cath finished in 3rd!!!! And blake finished in 2nd! Great result for the team!
Perfect weather for racing, perfect team mates, friends, good job from the marshals, nicely run by Carl Davidson NDH, also thanks to the photographers as I love a good pic! AKA as ( CALENDAR BOY ).
Big shout out to our sponsors Gt, Kenda and flare and TRG RACING for their support.
Bring on the next race! Keep shredding!
How to win a National champs – Hazel Wakefield.
Here’s my slightly later on race report from the National Champs in Llangollen. Sorry Rich… ! It’s more of a reflection really.
On a whole the weekend was brilliant with a super fun track and the TRG team out in force. Also trying to teach Mick a Welsh accent whilst sipping tea and consuming a pack of choccy biscuits!
In a way it’s been good to look back, I think sometimes you have races that you learn a lot from even if at the time you don’t initially know it. Here’s a couple of things I learnt:-
1. To have more confidence in my riding ability, I’m a bit of a doubter sometimes. Moan less.
2. To not overthink – remember kids we do this for fun!
3. That being really nervous increases the rate that you’ll be running through the field for a pre race wee!
All in all a ‘cracking’ weekend. (That ones for you Mick)
I came away with the Masters Ladies Champs which is pretty fantastic. The last time I rode a champs was 13yrs ago when I was dressed head to toe in lycra and I thought slogging up a big climb was ok. I definitely have more fun riding DH.
The people, the challenges and that adrenaline is very addictive.
Massive well done to the TRG team, reckon we did a good job! Coops getting 3rd, Cath getting 2nd and Rich, Mick and Ben for shredding the whole weekend. Thanks guys
Well this was it the final Borderline Event and sadly one of the last big races of the year which turned out to be an epic battle on every level.
Setting off early Saturday morning with mad Mick McRay we made our way swiftly towards Molefre via the famous golden arches for a heart stopping breakfast. Parking was a doddle as the field was almost empty, a quick change & we headed straight for the uplift. Thankfully there was no need to do one of our famous and meticulous track walks as we had already done so 2 weeks ago on a sneaky uplift day. We caught up with Ben and Kath Tilford who had also come down for the full weekend. Once at the top the breeze was somewhat noticeable and blowing the wrong way too, nether the less I put that to one side and put the power on the cranks to try and get up to speed. It was immediately obvious peddling was futile so a bit of aerodynamics had to come in to the equation, basically just rest your chin on the bars and look where you’re going. Picking up speed we had no sooner got going when Mick Rodeo Hill had pulled over with a puncture, so a gentle ride down from that point and back to the pits for repair and more psi. This process continued 3 times for some bizarre reason, although Molefre does have some ridiculously sharp rocks ready to shred both you and your tyres. 3 tubes later and a rim splitting 50psi we hit it again, by this point the track was drying out a bit and the speed was starting to pick up nicely, well that was until Mick turned his attention to smashing his rear mech off in one of his spectacular crashes. With Mick busy fixing, I went for another run and found myself back in the pits with a broken gear cable. With the day drawing to an end I was ready for calling it a day but mick insisted on a chainless last run which turned out to be completely uneventful for the first time that day. Thanks to a speedy uplift service and chief marshall Ben Tilford making everything run ever so smoothly we got all the practice we needed for the day. After a long day on the hills it was off to put our feet up at a local B&B for the night, fuelling ourselves up ready to attack race day.
Race day and let the battles commence. Driving up through fields trying to find our parking space from the day before, all eyes were on the lookout for the Yorkshires boys Rich Molloy, Liam McDermott and Mick Ward who decided they only needed to turn up on the Sunday. How very anti-social and to top it off they parked on another field creating a border between us Lancashire lads, never mind Mick Rodeo Hill had a master plan up his sleeve later that day. With Mick still needing to fix his steed from the day before, I got myself straight to the uplift, well that’s what team mates do isn’t it?? Reports where coming in from riders who had already come down the track that the relentless breeze from yesterday had turned into a storm force gale at the top, which didn’t fill me with enthusiasm in the slightest. Everyone jumped off the trailers, some were blown off! Everyone just piled into one big group all trying to find shelter from the insane wind. It was at this point I realised I was missing a bar end plug and without it unable to go down the track. Feeling like a proper mud muppet I raced back down the fire road to the car park to sort it. When I finally got on the track for the first practice run, the conditions where as expected with a side wind all the way down to the first corner, even thinking about lifting the wheels off the ground was crazy. With sheltered spots few and far between it was a constant battle against the elements pretty much to the finish. With the bike running as reliable as ever and thanks to a 450lb spring, taking care of the extra weight I’ve managed to somehow put on this year (fat fucker!!!!) it was down to me to do the rest of the work. On the 2nd practice run decisions had been made to bring the start further down the hill for safety reasons. Both happy with practice it was time to chill for a while. The start times where up and we all got our race faces on. With team mate Ben Tilford recovering from a nasty rib slamming crash at Farmer Johns the previous weekend, I was doing it on my own for the masters class. With the long wait over it was finally my time to rip it up. With the red light out I put every ounce of energy down on the pedals. With a successful start and no drama on the top section I came to the fast shoot down to the fire road descending like a pin ball all the way down, luckily I managed to pull it back in line before hitting the savage head wind along the traverse. With one or two sketchy moments of veering off the narrow single track it was down to the final quarter, this section was nail biting as I had lost it in a previous race once before on the final corners, but only this time crossing the finish line in 2nd place. Made up with that I tracked down the rest of the team to see how they had done. So far so good, with only Liam to come down the track all eyes were on him. When the first lot of results came in, it turned out me and Liam had a battle on our hands with me on a 2:04 and Liam on 2:05, the 2nd run would have to step up a notch. Whilst one battle was going on another was brewing in the bottom field with Mick Rodeo Hill kindly decorating Mr Molloy’s VW camper van, with the very fashionable Lancashire red rose beer mats!! Sadly Molly took a dislike to the upgrade and disposed of them immediately. Within this time the rain clouds had rolled in which meant times were going to be hard to match. At this point I was in the frame of mind of settling for 2nd place that was until the 3 trusty veterans’ came down from their 2nd run and demanded I get up the hill for my 2nd run as the wind had now calmed down up top. Sure enough things had improved but after the rain the track felt like I was riding on slicks. With another respectable run down I awaited the final time which due to technical difficulties only came in towards the end of the day, which turned out to be a fraction quicker, landing me 1st place but was it enough to beat Liam’s time ?? No is the answer with me on a 2:04.87 & Liam on 2:04.37 making it one of the closest races between us, he walked away with the crown this time. Well done to Cath for making the podium & doing it for the girls and Mr Rodeo for a very good effort with a narrow miss on the podium himself. Pedal harder the rest of you you know I’m only joking. So the final results for the weekend are as follows:
Rich Molly 14th2:40.22
Mick Ward 11th2:29.01
Mick Hill 5th 2:21.83
Cath Tilford 3rd 2:41.45
Liam McDermott 8th 2:04.37
Michael Coupe 1st 2:04.87
Ben Tilford DNS -excuse (sore ribs)
Once again myself and rich was on our way to Scotland. But this time it was for the SDA held at the famous Innerleithen.
Around 9:15 we rocked up at Woodknowe B&B and with a quick change of clothes we dashed out to the pubs for a few quiet drinks. Due to it being the Innerleithen music festival it was no quiet drink. We soon met up with kona rider Lewis Buchanan in a noisy bar and a ‘few’ led to a few too many. With rich once again throwing down the dance moves we called it a night a little later than expected.
7am, we got on with our usual practice day prep. Arriving at the track at 8:30 we met up with TRG’S 2nd expert rider, Jamie Scott.
With not seeing Jamie since last season due to some very serious injuries it was cool to catch up again and have him back on the bike. After the track walk I had my shoulder strapped up due to me dislocating it 2weeks ago. Feeling a little more supported we headed to the uplift and put in our first run.
Along the bottom half of the track I had a little accident with a tree. At first the medics thought my knee was dislocated due to the swelling. But luckily once Ice was applied I managed to still ride. The rest of the day went great. Me Rich and Jamie were loving the track and finding new lines each time we rode it. With new narrower bars on the bike with a little rise made the Kona feel spot on. Infact I was feeling the best on the bike that I’ve felt in a while.
Feeling very confident and excited for race day we packed the van and ended the day on a high.
For tea me and rich found ourselves a very nice chinese restraunt, how very romantic it was. I stocked up on chicken and rice to get in those carbs and we hit the pub to watch the live bands. With mainly lemonade drunk and a quick dance we cut our night short and made our way back to WoodKnowe B&B for a good nights kip.
Bright and early race morning I raised myself out of bed creaking like and old door, my injuries were definitley taking a toll on my body.
We packed the van and headed to the track for one last time. Luckily it wasn’t raining but it was rather chilly. Two runs of practice got us warmed up and refreshed our memories.
1st race run we all felt we could have put on a little more, but with the SDA being a 2 race run format it’s beat to always out in a half descent time first. I was currently sitting in 4th in experts, Jamie in 6th and rich 17th in Veterans.
Going into 2nd runs it was Rich up first. He came storming down and across the line, he finished 16th which he was happy with as there was some fast old boys in his class.
Next up was me and Jamie. A quick walk down the track together talking line choice we was feeling ready.
I was down first and I was having a good run, I hit all my lines, felt right at home on the bike and my Kenda Nexcavators were gripping great. I got abit loose on the bottom and couldn’t get my feet clipped back in but holding my line I made the turns. I crossed the line in 2nd. The next rider knocked me into 3rd and I sat there on edge as the rest of the riders came down the hill. Jamie crossed the line in 7th. Considering he’s been layed in hospital and not rode a downhill bike half as much as he should of he did a cracking time.
With a sigh of relief after the last rider came down I held my 3rd place which got me a podium spot which I was absolutely chuffed about.
This was only my 3rd SDA and richie’s 1st, we will most definitley be racing this series again. Really well organised and everyone was super friendly.
Thanks to everyone at the SDA.
BDS Round 3
The name almost describes where you might end up A&E! Thankfully that wasn’t the case. A new venue, great weather, great company and of course my birthday. All had the making of a fantastic weekend of racing.
Transport as usual, was of course provided by Mick “Rally” Hill and his trusty 3 wheel van, and making sure we had everything on board and to get there safe was in my hands. We convoyed up the M6 with Tony Kay and Becky Skelton before arriving at Ae Forest. We arrived at the forest to see the track and before we even got on the track the midges had taken a pint of my blood….. so we didn’t hang about and headed straight across to the finish line, were what can only be described as a grass wall with 2 lines of ‘HOPE’ tape stretched down either side of it. One good thing about that is we didn’t have to pedal to the finish line! A quick scramble up the steep hill took us up into the bottom forest section to some mega berms and a nice big step down. With all this gravity hard packed track and big corners it had fast written all over it!
Continuing up we eventually met up with the rest of the gang, which were currently eyeing up the large rock garden at the fire road, finally we broke out of the top forest section onto open hillside towards the start line.
We concluded that it was a track that we could learn pretty quick and get the lines nailed, our wish full thinking was soon to come to an end during practice.
We left the track and the monster midges behind and headed off to check ourselves into the B&B, Rich Molly organised for us all- “Thanks Rich” B&B’s don’t usual shock us but this one did, me and Mick Hill shared what can only be described as the antiques roadshow set with 2 beds in the middle and captain Kay and queen Bex slept in the cabin themed room, with its very own ships steering wheel attached to the bed! “If you see the boat rockin’, don’t come knockin’”Apart from the quirky taste in décor it was a 10/10 for everything else. A quick wash and go we hit Dumfries centre for a few pints and pub grub.
After a ridiculously long wait in the uplift queue we were ready for our first run down, the first obstacle was a slippy off camber section across the hillside, before dropping down steep into the forest, Which looked easy but let me tell you it wasn’t! Once picking up speed before dropping into the next technical section the bars were too wide, the tress to narrow but we managed to squeeze through. Once out of the mayhem, speed picked up again and we were then ready to take on the step up and dreaded big rock garden. Were we then stopped before tackling the coffin jump and massive step down. Once I made it to the finish line I waited for the others to come down to see how everyone had got on. Mick Hill was the first one down behind me, he came down the finish so fast that he had to use his extra ball sack break, in absolute agony rolling around on the floor we gave him some TRG sympathy and raced back to the uplift queue. With 6 practice runs completed it was time to head back.
We aimed to get to the track as soon as possible but only managed to get 1 practice run due to us being late! (Nothing knew there!) Once on the track we realised just how slippy it was considering it hadn’t rained. With not having as many practice runs as I would have liked I decided to take it steady and try and get all the lines pinned. We headed off to the tent to find our seeding times and chilled out until we had to go.
Right it was that time already off I go, with a good strategy in place I completed the seeding run confidently. Now time for the main run, with the threat of rain, nerves were kicking in and we were all hoping the track would stay dry. Knowing I had 8+ seconds to gain to get anywhere near a podium I had to keep my cool and concentrate on hitting the correct lines. The bleeps of the timer sounded and I was off, slipping on the off camber section disturbing my speed, instantly causing me to push harder in the next section which then caused me to make yet more mistakes- things weren’t looking good!
I managed to pull this back into shape and get down in a respectable time, finishing 9th.
Taking the podium in 3rd place for TRG was Becky Skelton not only did she win for the team again but she also made a fab birthday cake that we all tucked into at the end of the day.
Just when we thought all the fun had finished driving home Mick Hills van developed an unusual burning smell and flashing ABS warning light a few miles later we found ourselves on the hard shoulder with a knackered wheel bearing- finishing the day off on the back of a RAC van! The Joys of racing
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!