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.
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.
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.
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 188.8.131.52.1 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.
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!
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!
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!
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
well now, it wasn’t just Downhill last weekend, Team rider Tony Kay was riding up hills as well as down at AE forest! here is his report:
Tony Kay race report – Round 1 Uk Gravity enduro Ae. Friday 11 – Sunday 13th April.
Waking up friday morning feeling good and ready for the weekend sun shinning for once was super excited. Got all my gear together ready for steve owen to pick me up ready for the long journey to AE.
We made good time and rolled onto the campsite for around 4.30 with already lots of people set up in tents and the lucky one’s in motor homes oh how the rich live!!! Defo need that lotto win.
Once all set up and ready to roll it was time to head out with the kona process 153dl and see what she can really do as had only rode her twice on easy local tracks. On the way up to stage one and five it was a transition of 1hour all climbing, but for once didnt mind the climbing as Miss process pedalled really well was impressed.
Once at the top had a few minutes to relaxed and take in the great views felt good to be out and ennoying the views scotland had to offer. Rest over blasted down stage one, was quite easy fast and smooth through woods, dropped over a fire road onto a fast man made section. This was fast, flowly, tables and jumps was amazing then dropped into the woods for the last section and was damn steep and loose was mega! Really good stage as fast loose and open.
This dropped us into the arena so had the nice long transition to do again. Once back at the top hit stage 5. This was a pure dh track quite techy in places and super fast. At the bottom flowed into two big berms where i had my first crash. Wasnt ready for the speed the process can carry and washed out on 2nd berm getting some nice gravel rash down one arm and elbow.
Back to the tents for a nice bbq and relax ready for sat practice and seeding.
Woke up sat feeling quite good and excited. Breakfast all done and off we went again with young Elliott Heap tagging along with me and Steve Owen. Spirits was high good banter on the way up. Hit stage one alot faster than on friday as knew what was coming up. Moved onto stage 2 wich was only a 15 min transition. Stage sucked a bit very slow corners and really had to get the pedals in. Once down we set off for stage 3 wich was miles away!!! 1 hour 10 min transtion.
Hit stage 3 was wide open at the top man made with lots of steep tables but the strong winds was catching alot of people out. We just sailed over them like whipping pro’s , style for the win. Then it dropped into some nice flowy single track. Once back in the arena got ready for seeding wich was stage 5.
My seeding run wasnt great made 4 mistakes putting me in 49 out of 109, played it quite safe and wanted to get down safe but know i had alot more in the tank but was happy.
Saturday night was nice and relaxed a few beers and camp fire with a few people.
Woke up sunday morning sun blazing!!! Every one in good spirits and ready for a great day of racing!
Race day went ok for me no real drama played it safe and wanted to finish in top 50% as last year had so many bike problems i didnt clear top 90 %!! But the Kona process didnt let me down once over the weekend amazing bike.
Ended up finishing 49 out of 109 so very happy with that as was alot of talented riders in masters. Stage 5 pushed abit harder and was 25th out of 109 for that stage. Next race want to finish top 40% get fitter and push harder!
Ride more! Race more! Have fun!
Big thanks to sponsors.
And every one that raced!