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)
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!
|After a long 3 hour journey listening to some of rocks greatest hits me and Richard Molloy rolled up at round 2 borderline events at caersws. First job was to replace my forks with team mates Michael wauds as mine exploded the day before…… Luckily he wasn’t racing!!
Practice was underway and no other words could describe it apart from awesome!! Even the slop and ‘slut’ ruts couldn’t dampen our fun. We soon changed our tyres from our trusty kenda nevagals to our kenda kot’s spikes, with me and mick running and open tread nexcavator on the back with spike on front. They were perfect! After a day of smashing in run after run at the end of the day came the snow and rain. We all stood shivering on the uplift getting piss wet through and thurther up the hill came the heavy snow. Must say even though we couldn’t feel our hands or arms we had a cracking run down with me and coupesy leading the pack. Later taken over by Richard ‘erosion’ Molloy and Micheal Hill, a little like the hare and tortoise due to me and coupes unable to stay on from the poor visibility and urge to go faster down the rut infested shoot. Mick was eager for one more so went back up, but the rest of us descided to call it a day, get changed, book into the b&b, get a shower and go to the pub. What a plan!
After seeing Rich in a pair of underwear a man should never ever wear(lucky pants!) we had a few drinks followed buy an indian meal and a few very competitive games of pool. Me and coupes called it a night and went back to the b&b to get our race heads ready. And mick and rich….. Well they went back out and smashed in the jagerbombs. Thank god he’s not my mentor.
Race day took off and we arrived at the track with a full belly of good old English grub and hit in a few practice runs to warm the legs and refresh out minds.
Race time came and I was in the complete mind set and felt good about my run. I smashed it of the start with all my power in my legs. I hit the step down jump with plenty of speed squashing the jump. I hit the left hand berm and dropped into the rooty off camber section. I hit all my lines and rode like I never rode all weekend. I came to the steep shoot and let off the brakes picking up speed but unfortunately too much speed and ended up hitting a tree stump sending me riding through the tape down the hillside totally off track. I decided not to finish my race run as I would of been too far behind and put all hope into my second run.
All pressure was on as I sat on the start ramp waiting for the countdown. My tactics for this run was to keep a slower more steady pace as my team said it would be still plenty fast for the podium. I nailed the top again but as I dropped onto the fire road too far to the right I made a stupid amateur mistake and let the front end slide off the edge of the drop which sent me over the bars down the hill side tumbling through branches and brambles and used my head to stop me on a log. That was it, I felt sick I was that gutted! …… It was over. I took the fire road back down with my head held low and was given a DNF for both runs…. Disaster! For me racing isn’t just about having fun it’s about doing well and getting the podium aswell as having fun. Call me nieve but….Comeon!! That’s what racing is about!
But all in all we all had and excellent weekend and had such a laugh. Can’t wait for the next race there. We will be definitely coming back.
Well one to all my team mates who all did great especially Michael hill who took 5th spot in the vets. Rich came 8th in vets and coupes managed a strong 15th in seniors no thanks to him crashing on his first and getting stuck in tape on his second. Well done guys!!
Thanks to mike Marsden (event organiser) for doing his stuff and everyone else who was involved. Made it an awesome weekend
Photos from Down and Dirty: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Down-and-Dirty/386422444789114
Great Vid from Will Sanders Productions: