Race Report – Fort William BDS
To say I was bricking it, going into my first BDS was an understatement! The nerves were matched with excitement, though as I set off early doors on Friday to meet up with the lads and make the long journey up to Fort William. I got to chauffeur the infamous Tony Kay (north west champ) and he didn’t disappoint with tales of cake making, mega ships and earth facts! A low point was his request for Atomic Kitten and Beyoncé…can you get ejector seats for Polos?
We arrived in convoy at a Fort Bill and cracked on with a track walk. I’d rode the track last year but forgot how massive it was. Considering there had been quite a bit of rainfall, first impressions on the condition of the track were great! As we got closer to the wood section, however, we were greeted by a few worried faces, head shakes and ‘it’s crazy in there, man!’ We weren’t disappointed, the woods were slop mixed with roots, stumps, off camber hell and a bit more slop! Awesome! The rest of the track looked like its usual gnarly goodness, with the ‘experienced’ lads showing their years of riding knowledge, picking up some sweet lines! At this point, Rich’s belly was rumbling so we headed back down and got to the hotel just in time for tea and a few steady pints!
Saturdays practice came and a slightly thick head was not helping my nerves of tackling this massive track! It was the first time I’d rode with my kenda nexcavator tires so was interested to see how they held on the loose berms at the top of the course…they worked a treat and I soon got into my flow. Following the lads down, I was pretty stoked to be keeping with them, might have been a different story if Tony didn’t have a gammy hand, (he made me put that bit in) but confidence was growing with every run.
I really wanted to hit the Hazzard Hoofer river gap and pretty sure I could have nailed it but with no spare wheels (or limbs) I couldn’t afford the risk. The wood section however, was a nightmare. Loads seemed to be struggling with it’s delightful maze of stumps, roots and mud and only got one clean run through it all day, but it was only a small portion of the track so tried not to get too worked up about it. The motorway section was, as expected, ridiculously massive but mega fun. Even pedalling my head off…I was nowhere near clearing the tables! I got the hip jump (kinda) so was pleased with my efforts! Practise day over and despite an over the bars from Mick Hill, all remained pretty much unscathed. Food and beer required.
Race Day arrived and we all got a decent practise in early doors to settle the nerves. Tony, Mick Waud and Mick Hill all put in good seeding times. Team captain Rich had watch issues(!) and I think Liam had a mechanical, but got down safe. I finished my seeding run 20 seconds down from Bev Barnes in top spot. I wasn’t too disappointed as I knew I’d made a few mistakes at the top, and wasn’t pushing as hard as I knew I could. I made it through the woods cleanly though (even though a rut upto your handle bars had appeared)!
It was a long wait until the race runs and rain had become torrential so I settled down for a little kip in the Polo. Awesome race prep! After a bit of food, we headed up for our race run…only to have a delay of about 40 mins, I think there was a timing issue, I’m sure it couldn’t be helped but waiting around does naff all for nerves! The lads went down first. It was great to see them setting off but would have loved to see them smashing it into the arena!
It was my turn to head down, and whilst I tried to remain calm and chilled on the outside…internally I was a bag of nerves. A deep breath and I was off. First bermy section and the rock gardens went ok. I knew I wasn’t going as fast as I was in practise but I just kept reassuring myself I was doing ok…just stay confident! Everything was going well until I got to the nightmare woods. I slip on an off camber root and I was down in the mud! I picked myself up as quick as I could and pointed my bike in the direction of the rut hoping it would guide me down. It did the trick and I was back on it. I felt quick past the silver line wall ride and down to the Hazzard hoofer….for a split second I thought ‘go for the glory shot’ but bottled it and splashed through the river. I carried my speed well into the final wood section and then onto the motorway, a deep breath and I was over the bridge heading for the loose berm into the hip jump. I over took a couple of girls on the tables and was desperate to cross the finish line. I let off the brakes as much as my lady balls would let me on the mega steep log drop and came into the arena and crossed the line. Knackered! Bev Barnes crossed the line and she looked quick! Panic! I looked up and saw Tony and Mick Hill looking at the results monitor. They had a big grin on their faces and TK was holding one finger up! I’d bloody done it!
It got a bit messy after this…champagne, beer, whiskey, wrestling and rum make for an interesting evening!
Liam and Coupes put in solid performances, as did the Micks and Rich (no watch issues). Unfortunately, Tony crashed out in the woods…twice…and got beat by a girl.
Thanks to all the mega sponsors, and event organisers, but especially to my TRG team mates. You were awesome all weekend and your support really helped me get to that top spot. Massive fist bump to you all
lots of Photos of Fort william and all our races by Ian Britton Photography here: https://www.facebook.com/TeamRockGardener/photos_stream