SDA Rd1 Innerleithen 22-23 March

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well here it is, hot of the press….Ben Tilfords SDA rd1 race report:

Having ridden Innerleithen 3 years ago and being one of our first real introductions to downhill we were keen to get to race here. We booked on this 1st round of SDA a month in advance to avoid weather watching and choosing whether to race or not. We got lucky and the snow cleared, the winds stayed down and the sun came out. The first thing we all noticed is that none of the faces were familiar, being so used to social scene this side of the border it was a little strange.

The track to be used was a mix of several that mixed it up a bit. The top was sloppy and flat over the fire road into a fast jumpy section. Out of this lead into a total pedal fest… sigh… back into the woods and then jumping out onto the fire road into a series of deep ruts. Now halfway into the track we entered back into the woods where it got interesting, nice and steep with multiple lines and then into open for a one last tricky corner through the gully and into the infamous finishing area.

Inners is a proper DH venue and the tracks all look amazing but sadly the uplift was shocking, taking about an hour to get to the top including the massive pedal along the road to the pickup point and a monster push to the start hut. This sadly meant we only got 4 practice runs on the Saturday and 1 practice on race day. This just wasn’t enough time for me to warm up on race day and dial every line in. I came down from each race run disappointed about mistakes and not having the fitness to power through the pedal section.

The SDA event its self was really well organised and the friendly but was definitely an atmosphere of a serious race. Cath, Liam and I all left the race feeling we need to work on fitness but felt positive about the weekend. Personally I can’t wait for the next race, another new venue for us at Caersws and the rest of the team are all at the 1st round of the BDS next week

SDA Round 1 – Innerleithen

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SDA Round 1 – Innerleithen – Jamie Scott

Even for what could be called my “local” race the weekend begins on the friday, packing, cleaning and checking the weather forecast almost every half hour. Car packed and ready, it was time for an early night.

Saturday morning begins as most do in the racing season, with my body telling me I am awake far too early… but hey, an hour and a half later I rolled into the pits, parked up and hit the track for track walk. Quite often at Innerleithen I find myself standing on a corner during track walk not knowing where the hell I’m going to go but this problem did not arise with this track, it was pretty much one line and flat out! Back to the bottom, a quick coffee and tyre change and it was time to join the uplift queue.
We had all been promised over the tannoy that we no longer had to do the almighty pedal to the end of road and that we would be getting picked up from the car park… that lasted about 10 minutes. Unfortunately by this time the queue had swelled and threatened to burst its banks. This continued for the whole of saturday practice and so getting as many runs in as possible became the mission! I managed to bang out 5 good runs, hitting my lines and finding some pace. The track didn’t change much all day except for a few lines missed in track walk becoming ever more handsome. One of the main challenges of the track was the top section, proving quite difficult to link up nicely but once you got out into the open you were spat into some awesome high speed jumps and bus-stops. Although the jumps were a bit small for the speed they were hit, whips were to be had all day long!
Coming off the high speed motorway back into the woods saw you hard on the brakes and slamming into corners as if a spare set of wheels was ready for you after every run – it was great fun! With practice over it was time to pack up and head home – i couldn’t wait for my fajitas!!

Another early morning on Race day in order to get to the track in plenty of time as first uplift was at half eight. With my bike and kit all lovely and clean from the night before I got myself ready and pedalled along for a nice confidence building practice run. I was hoping to get two practice runs in before uplift closed for racing but it was not to be. The one run i had, had to do.
I was lucky enough to arrive at the top with Scotty Mears in front and we decided to do a run together, and so my one practice run turned out to be a flat out eye opener!
With practice over and desired lines hit it was time to clean the bike and get the race kit on. Race prep finished, energy consumption became the main objective – two bacon and cheese panini’s, mmmm yes please!
I had plenty of time to kill as my first race run was not until 2pm and it was still only half eleven. The rain had been spitting all day but yet the track still remained dry, apart from the very top. But the weather forecast said it was to chuck it down after lunch time and so I thought I’d be sneaky and throw the spikes on! – bad idea! My race run came but the rain didn’t and so I was the only one sitting at the top with full spikes on. Needless to say despite my best efforts the high speed bottom was a slog and i felt as if i wasn’t going anywhere. I was in eighth place after first runs and I knew I could make up a whole heap of time just with a simple tyre change, so i got on the job!
Bike once again clean and tyres changed I was ready for my second run. In place of my spikes I had chosen the Kenda Nexacavator tyres as they roll very fast and provide great amounts of grip under braking. Time was pushing on now as the race was an hour behind, but the sun was out and the drizzle was kept at bay, which was good news for my goggles.
The countdown began, “15 seconds”, “10 seconds”, “BEEP!” and i was off! instantly I noticed the Faster rolling tyres but I soon got that out of my head and focussed back on the run. All was going well until in the middle of the track in a steep shoot where I decided not do as I had in practice all day yesterday and today and ended up in an embrace with a tree. A mad scramble to get back on my bike quickly followed and I was back into my run, pushing hard to try and scrape back what I could. Unfortunately it was not enough and although coming down 5 seconds faster than my first run I still finished in 8th in Experts with a time of 3.42.7

Even with a slightly disappointing result I still had a fantastic weekend.
A big massive “braaaaap!” to Team Rock Garderner
My bike once again ran like a dream, thank you FreeFlow Bikes
and well done to my fellow team mate Blake Senior-White