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 126.96.36.199.1 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!
First race of the 2016 season
First race on the GT aka The Fluro Flasher
First race as an elite!!
The track looked pretty challenging when I walked it on Friday afternoon, a combination of mud, ruts, roots and some big features. Though the top section looked pretty mental with a fast mud chute with some dodgy roots thrown in, this part of the track quickly became my favourite and I really enjoyed just letting the bike do its thing.
Practice day was met with a day of rain, long uplift queues and a passenger coach getting stuck in the fire road ditch. But aside from these minor issues, the day went generally ok though I did manage to puncture on the rock garden and also smash my chain guide casing the step down. Just a mental note for the future.. give a bit of space before sending a drop behind Trick Mick. We both managed to smash our chain guides, but lucky E-13 was on hand to get our bikes up and running. Good egg him. Though I was happy with how I was riding the track, I still felt apprehension about the step down drop nearing the end of the course and knew this would be on my mind the next day.
The rain was still hanging around the morning of race day, and though this is never great for motivation, I was glad that the top section would be staying wet, making it a lot easier to guide the bike through. I decided to do just one practice run before seeding, usually I’ll try and get a couple in but I felt a bit tired and the lure of a brew in a warm caravan won me over. Come seeding run I felt pretty excited, which was really refreshing as I am usually racked with nerves. Rockin my new TRG jersey I was ready to roll. My run was ok, felt a bit like hard work, my arms were hurting and I stacked in on the dreaded rooty corner coming into the lower section. I decided to not do the drop, I just wasn’t feeling it so thought I’d chicken line it. But it’s cool, I knew I could do it, and there’s no way I wasn’t going to do it. Got a time of 3 mins 5 secs, putting me into 5th place.
So my mission for my race run was to take it a bit slowly into the shite corner of roots, pedal like a bastard to get that bloomin step down. Don’t know if it’s becoming obvious, but this drop was soon becoming my thing to conquer!
Race run – went well, tried to keep it flowing and did make a couple of minor mishaps but kept the bike and myself upright so all good. Did some chanting on the lower section and sent the drop – boom… balls to my race time, I did the mutha truckin drop!! Stoked. Anyway I pottered in to 5th with a time of 2 mins 55 sec… just .2 seconds of 4th place, which was pretty darn close.
All in all I had a bloody good weekend on the bike. I came away having learnt a hell of a lot, gaining more confidence and really enjoying riding and racing.
Mick got a podium in his category which was brilliant result, and Liam forever amazes me with his talent on two wheels.
This is my first year into vets and I have been a little anxious not really knowing where I will fall in the ranks of rapid gents…
Having just missed out on a Podium at Steel City and feeling so close at the Hamsterley round of Borderline series I was very keen to get to FJ’s and give it all I had. I went down on my own knowing I would meet up with a few people I know being pretty regular at these races.
The first thing I did when I got there was a track walk, knowing that there had been some significant changes to the top section of the track and the bottom always being interesting. The double had been taken out (thankfully) and replaced with a respectful table top and the run in was now perfect. I had seen a track preview that had not done the bottom justice, it was a revamp of carnage corner… hopefully it wasn’t going to rain! Meeting up with not so young Andy we went for a days practice trying to nail the bottom half as the top was just about how long you could stay off brakes and how long your legs would pedal.
I left the day happy with my lines and was very much up for my pint (or two, three) of wizard.
Race day brought familiar and unfamiliar faces. Trying to sus out who was vet and who wasn’t was amusing and led to me staring at random folk, no Idea what they thought ha! I did see a few I knew and they were fast, I knew I had a race on!!! My first run I held back a little wanting to just put a safe run down but most disappointing was messing up one of the last corners I had been nailing all day Saturday, could have been nerves or just a different pace. Coming down I was in 1st and was grinning from ear to ear. Then good old Duncan informed me they were waiting for one more time, when I came I was dropped down to 2nd place by a second.
The second run consisted of me pedalling my ass off over shooting the table, having a near miss on the bridge jump and basically blowing all my energy, I dropped into the finish with the clock in full view all I could see was I had not beaten my first time…! I was however still worried that Chris had improved on his time after crashing in his first run, thankfully I had held onto second place by a mere second. So this was my first official podium and it was commented that I was probably the happiest they had ever seen. I am so stoked and cannot wait for the next race.
Thanks to all our sponsors and friends.
Ben Tilford 2nd Vets
Richie Molloy 11th Vets
Cath Tilford 1st Ladies
James Gregory 13th Senior
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.
Llangollen Downhill track is famed for it’s steepness without the addition of the top woods or to give them there official title ‘Death Woods’
Myself, Mick and Liam travelled down friday and once we were settled in our cosy holiday cottage we set of to the track for registration and track walk. The bottom third of the track was nothing new as its been used for many races, the 3 infamous drops and sprint finish preceded by the steep switch back section. After climbing this and chatting to Rachel Atherton about death woods we were soon looking at them ourselves and now understood her wry smile as we questioned her about them! We’d seen them in the dry and even ridden them, but in the sopping wet – well that was going to be interesting to say the least.
On the way back down we bumped into Peaty who decided to change the track – apparently the drop was dangerous at the speeds the top boys were hitting it – old boy Mick asked why didn’t they just put there brakes on then but this seemed to fall on deaf ears and a route to the left of the drop was tapped in!
We soon retired to Llangollen and some pub grub and the best karaoke we’d heard in a long time!
Saturday morning saw us meeting up with the rest of the team, Coupes and Mick Hill had already bagged a decent spot when we arrived and soon the van doors were open and wheels were going in bikes. I’d be lying though if I said we rushed to get in the uplift queue – Liam was man though and he went up asap with Seb Frost the man behind Roots and Rain – the rest of us decided to wait in the vain hope it would stop raining! Well that was never going to happen so eventually we decided to get out first run in, the uplift queues were tiny a sure sign that a lot of riders were thinking the same way we were or had already sacked it off!
Once at the top we found out why the queues at the bottom were so small, everyone was waiting at the top – it took an hour before we made it to the start line! with 20 second gaps between riders to try to help the flow it was obvious that it was carnage in the woods, just listening to the marshals radios confirmed this ‘red flag at 1’ or ‘red flag at 4’ were being repeated over and over again.
Soon it was my turn to tackle death woods (the rest of the gang were already in there somewhere) and sure enough ‘red flag at 1’ greeted me as I entered the first corner, from then on it was a mixture of half off’s, walking, riding where i could until I’d cleared marshal point 4 from here on down it was fairly ridable even in the wet – once out of the wood a pedally roller coaster traverse took you to the steep switch backs and on down to the drops and finally the finish line.
Back at the vans we all looked like we had been through it, not much was said, the looks on people faces said it all! With reports of riders dropping out left right and centre even the resolve of The mighty TRG wavered slightly but after a dose of man the f**k up it was decided we all had to get back up the hill to complete your 2 runs to enable us to race on the sunday. This time there wasn’t a queue at the top of the hill and we were soon under way with our second practice runs – with mixed results for us all.
I called it a day after 2 runs and decided to sort the van out for our return to the digs, the rest of the team braved it out with another run and to be fair to Liam he couldn’t get enough, clipped in and running dry tyres he was smashing it!
Back at the cottage we cleaned the bikes and our kit, and then heading off into town to meet the rest of the gang for some food and what would turn out quite a lot of beer! I think there was definitely a ‘last supper’ feel to the evening and the thought of a hang over in the morning was the least of our troubles.
Race day! and the sun was shining! but the track so far wasn’t with practice runs still being a messy on off affair. soon enough it was time for seeding and my initial thoughts were to break the beam and sit it out until race runs, but once up there and waiting to go the F**k it whats the worst that can happen attitude kicked in and I was soon away down the small sprint to the first steep corner, making a right mess of this set the tone for the whole run through death woods and I was soon caught by team mate Mick Waud who was faring slightly better than me, but basically we bumbled our way through until we could enjoy the last 2 thirds of the track.
Time for race runs and the sun had been beating down all day so hopefully the track was drying and the good news it was. With a terrible time in seeding I was first away, this time the death woods were dry and I was able to scrabble ride much more than in practice and soon was out of them and in to the long traverse down to the switch backs, I’m not sure who the supporters on the hill were that day bit thank you for the chants of TRG, TRG, TRG they really do make a difference and soon I was exiting the switch backs and my team mate Mick nibbling my back tyre, he was on a flyer, unfortunately he could hold the long left had burn after the tree drop and I un-laped myself as Mick Hill put it! well I was down and I was happy to have survived Death woods – with 101 riders that had entered either not turning up, going home or not finishing the race I was very happy to have crossed the line. The rest of the team did brilliantly, another podium for Becci (after a DQ farce!) and very nearly top ten finishes for both Coupes and Mick.
Bring on RD5.
Liam McDermott 25th Experts
Michael Coupes 11th Masters
James Hurst 31st Juniors
Mick Waud 11th Vets
Richie Molloy 13th Vets
Becci Skelton 3rd Womens
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
Sorry this is a wee bit late! (unfortunately work gets in the way of having fun sometimes) so here it is Liam’s first race report as an Expert racer :
My first race this year was Boarderline events farmer johns.
Even though farmer johns isn’t a national I was still feeling a little nervous due to been in the expert category for the first time.
Out of Trg racing was myself, Jamie, Ben, cath and mick hill there to offer his support on Sunday due to his injured shoulder.
After a great day riding with Trg and a few others on Saturday I felt confident for Sunday. There was a few corners I needed work on but I knew and hour in the morning would polish them up nicely.
Sunday morning was a much more chilled environment than usual. Maybe that was because I was ready, and I had a good feeling the team would do well.
Around 11 my mum, dad and dog arrived to offer their support which was nice. A spot of lunch with plenty of carbs and sugar had me race ready and I pushed up the track to the start.
Sat in the start gate back pedalling my cranks with the noise of my Hub clicking away helped me focus on the track that layed ahead. With the all clear I was already upto speed floating over the jumps. With gym work through the winter I was feeling super strong, I was scrubbing the jumps and hitting the pedals where I could. The new kona oporator was feeling awesome! Dropping into the woods I had plenty of cheers and hecklers and scared a few people as I nearly lost the front end. Coming down the steep shoot I hit the corners I had been struggling on with ease and crossed the line feeling positive in a 2nd spot not even a second off 1st place.
Some more food and drink later I was back at the top in my coat waiting to be called. With my mum by the start gate she shouted me along the first straight untill I disappeared around the corner. I must admit I wasn’t feeling as strong as I did on my first run but my technique through the woods was so much more planted and the crowd so much louder. I reached the bottom clean to find I only just beat my previous time but unfortunatley I was still only 0.1secs off 1st place so I had to settle for 2nd place in my first expert race which I was incredibly happy with. The rest of team also did great. Jamie managed a 2nd in juniors, cath a 5th in women’s and ben with a 10th in masters.
Well what another great race put on from mike and john and the rest of the guys and girls at Boarderline events along with all the Marshall’s and crowd for making this event awesome.
Liam McDermott 2nd Experts
James Hurst 3rd Juniors
Cath Tilford 5th Women
Ben Tilford 10th Masters
|Adam Hurst Race Report: Urban X
woke up bright and early sunday morning to to a constant nagging from my bro to get up and get ready to go racing. the race this weekend was the urban x round 5 at grenoside woods in sheffield. the track was super flat and you just had to pedal and pedal. even thought it was quite fast with an ace freeride section in the middle. practise went well but smashed my pedal on a rock meaning i could only clip into one side of my pedal!! bummer! anyway race runes came round. first run i had a melow cruise. not too many pedals just getting down the track in a decent time. second run came and i smashed it. spinning the cranks wherever i could to gain those precious milliseconds due to the nature of the track. overall my result was a 4th place just 3 seconds off pace with a time of 1:28.10. big shout out to trevor for putting it on. its well worth the laugh and the lads are top class – cheers dudes.