Thursday, June 30, 2011
Cross winds and cable ties
Last weekend we headed up to Telford to visit Goose and Shona. With a van packed with BMX's and MTB's we drove through terrential rain wondering if our planned session at Birmingham BMX track would still be on in the morning!
It still looked iffy saturday morning but whe we got to the track and met up with the Sheffield guys, it looked dry and fast! We were just getting to grips with the track when it rained again... it wasn't too bad and it was really humid, so only the heaviest rain stopped us riding. The sun came out for us after an hour or so and the real fun began!
It's such a good set up there, fully fenced in, a 5m start hill, floodlights, a pro section, canopy over the start hill... it's like some of the euro facilities we have been visiting for years but never had in the UK.
More importantly though the track was great fun. Admittedly, the first straight and a half was maybe a little dull, but not bad. The 3rd and 4th straights was where most of us where sessioning though, cool rhythm sections that are so smooth, and the last corner pings you round it so fast it seems rude not to carry on and ride the 4th straight every time you ride the 3rd. Goose had a good crack at the Pro Section, but the conditions weren't ideal for that.
We hit up Redditch in the afternoon, we were pretty knackered already but it seemed worth a look. It is pretty open there and we were greeted by a bit of a cross wind. I didn't have much energy and the 3rd straight looked the most fun so sessioned that as much as the wind allowed! I loved jumping the triple step up to triple step down. A good step down feels awesome, it's almost cheating the distance, you get more airtime for your money! This one is a good un. A local kid asked Scoob for some advice on jumping the step up.. he looked a little blank, so the kid suggest "pedal and pull up?" Scoob says "yeh pretty much. Oh, and look out for the cross wind!" much to Shona's amusement. Sound advice though, I think you'll find!
There was also a big skatepark next to the track, which had some very odd grafitti art on the wall rides, massive portraits of some blokes called Matt and Antony?!?! I liked this warning as you walked in though:
After a good night out at Goose and Shona's local curry house (5th best in the country apparently!) and experiencing the ruckus that was Shifnall carnival (Shona - " It's normally posh and lovely here, honest!") we set out to Harthill 4X on what was a scorching Sunday morning.
It's a strange place. Mainly a Mountain Board park, it looks like a bit of a dump in places where they have randomly placed Mountain Board obstacles sticking out the grass. On first look, I can't say I was impressed with the track, the top half looked like an old worn out 80s bmx track and the split line jumps half way down had some shocking looking lips. I'm glad to say most of it rode a lot better than it looked and we had a decent days riding. I can't say the same about the split lines though, after building my fair share of lips over the last few years I am pretty good at spotting a badly built one before I've even ridden it. The transitions are way to quick and some then continue into too steep a lip. I guess there's an art to it and if you don't know...well you just don't know. We are hoping these lips will get changed for the race in a few weeks, because at race speed they'll be pretty vicious. If that gets sorted, there's plenty of moves to be had so it should make for some good racing!
On a final note from the weekend. Tip for the day, don't leave a sharp edge when you cut your cable ties off, they'll cut your arm off!
Thanks to Goose and Shona for a great weekend.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
World Cup Final Video
Duncan Philpott Photography
Check out his website www.duncanphilpott.com for more of his great work.
Thursday, June 09, 2011
Fort William Race Day Blog
What a trip!
Sorry it has taken me so long to update properly it's been a bit hectic since last Saturday night!
So going back to where I left off...
Saturday arrived and amazingly the weather was dry again and looked to stay that way for the duration (that's for you Granma - Granma told me off for not saying how the weather was last time! haha). As most mornings we all chilled in the caravan in the morning, drinking coffee and having a laugh.
When we got to the event village, we grabbed some risotto and went for a trip on the gondola to chill for a bit. Other than that my plans for the afternoon were to make my bike a bit more puncture proof. I'd had 3 puntures so far and didn't want to be getting any during racing. Schwalbe were ace, hooking me up with some freeride tubes and a fatter tyre for the rear - I'd been running a 2.1 previously, but swapped it for a 2.25 the same as the front. Those rocks were giving people punctures left right and centre!
Come practice, the tyre felt way better. There was no wind at all and I was feeling pretty good on the first straight. I didn't really get much gate practice all weekend, but my gates were ok, and I knew I'd been getting good gates consistantly back home so I just told myself I'd make it count when I needed to. I practiced the inside lines I hadn't yet done but I was finding the corner before the rocks tough. Everyone else looked to be struggling a fair bit too though. It was getting loose.
Round 1 of the men went down, unfortunately Ross, Bates and Jordan didn't have much luck and went out. After 1/8ths for the men, I was up for the 1/4 final. I went for gate 3 as the first roller on the inside sucked and I felt I'd have a better line into the first corner. It worked well and I won the race no problems. I took it steady in 'that' corner though and knew I had to step it up a bit next time. The noise when I came down the hill was immense and I was in the zone! Dan Jarvis the commentator was repping the GB bikes and beers tee to support me too. Psyched!
By the time I got back up the hill it was time to race again. Quick turnaround! I went for gate 4 this time, I just felt confident out there. Anneke, the World Cup leader was in this race so I was a little surprised to find myself in the lead! I won the race, giving myself a bit of confidence, but I knew Anneke had messed up on the first straight and had more to give.
Final time. For the same reasons I went for gate 4 again. I was sat on the gate not really knowing what to expect. I didn't really imagine I could win it. I heard Dan Jarvis announce my name and the crowd go nuts. I just sat there happy to be in a World Cup final and knowing I'd give it everything I could. I had been getting good gates but hadn't really thrown myself at it yet, so I was like, right, this is it!
I got a minter and I could sense Anneke to the right of me, not really knowing what'd happen into the frst turn. I kept moving accross and as I hit the last jump I had the edge and took the lead. Exiting the first turn in first I remember the crowd going nuts and I went faster down that straight than I had before. Going into the next turns I slipped a bit on the old start hill lump, I felt like I slowed right down and knew I'd let Anneke get too close. I went as close to the flag before the rocks as I thought I could, hoping it'd be enough to shut the door but still stay on line, as I knew this was my most vulnarable point on the track. Anneke, having not won in Fort William before, was incredibly determined though and found a gap that wasn't really there, hitting into my shoulder and pushing me offline as she took the lead. She was gone!! My thoughts then turned to oh my god I have to salvage 2nd! I went down the rocks with a foot still hanging off the pedals and managed to hang on to 2nd. As I rode the last straight into the finish arena, the crowd were even more unreal... making so much noise and giving me so much support, I can honestly say that was the biggest buzz of my life.
Anneke and I congratulated each other on a great race. Although we missed most of the men's racing, we saw snippets and heard how crazy the crowd were going. That was the best night of 4x for years and we knew we'd been part of something special. Who said 4x is dead! I have never seen so many people buzzing so much after watching a night of racing.
A few thankyou's I'd like to make for the weekend...
To everyone who cheered that day, you spurred me on for sure and made it the amazing experience it was! Dan Jarvis, Matt@Ison and the Schwalbe guys for the support. Everyone at home who was cheering me on, all your comments have touched me, thankyou! Most of all, thankyou to Shona, Goose, Bates, Ross, Tim and Jordan for such an awesome week, Tim for fixing my punctures, Ross, Jordan and Goose for the tow ins and the tips, Bates for driving, letting us stay at his house and making us laugh so much, and Shona for being amazing putting up with all us riders and still making us dinners, coffees and giving us awesome support in every practice and race session. All we did in return was let her watch Britain's got talent! and we even talked about bikes all the way through, Haha. We love you Shona, you were ace!
3 months ago, when I started to build an MTB just to have a razz about on when the weather was too rubbish for BMX, I never planned to race, never mind race a World Cup. I hadn't ridden an MTB at all since 2007 and never thought I'd race 4X again,yet somehow I rode better than I did years ago and here I am buzzing after leading a World Cup Final. Immense! I do look back on the race now a little frustrated at what could have been, but really, I rode as good as I could and Anneke deserved the win. Still stoked!
More 4X World Cups next year? I hope so!
Monday, June 06, 2011
2nd at Fort William World Cup!
"An amazing night of 4X racing finishes with a BANG. It started off as a slow burner but ended up with fireworks. Joey Gough was so, so close to taking the win in the women’s 4X. She led out the field in the final from the start, but as she came into the rock garden section at the end of the third straight she kind of got herself in a bit of a tangle on ‘that rock’ (as Buhl). It was enough to let Anneke Beerten through to take the win (her first win here in Fort William), and she will be the first to tell you that she got lucky. Gough managed to hold it together for a very creditable second place, but oh what could have been!"
What an buzz riding down the course with that amazing crowd going wild! A great night for 4X all round! Still recovering and only half way home, so I'll update in more detail when I get home. Thanks to everyone for the support and messages!
Thanks to Jordan for the Photos.
Saturday, June 04, 2011
World Cup Qualifying
Yesterday was a big day, the start of my first World Cup competition since 2007. Wasn't really sure how I'd fare but hey, I'm here for the fun of it so I was taking it as it rolled!
For some reason I was finding the first straight harder then Thursday's practice, not sure why...I was looking forward to getting on the gate to get a better run up. However, it didn't quite go to plan, as when I got on the gate for the first time, my front tyre went flat. So I walked all the way down to the quad, where our trusty pit crew of Shona and Tim took my bike off me and fixed it so I could have a rest - thanks so much guys! there was a good 20 mins left of practice so I was gonna get a couple of gates in. Or so I thought. As I was waiting for a gate again, the valve on the rear started leaking air! Great. I was ready to trek back down again and accept I wouldn't get any gates, but massive thanks to Mick Beaumont who was up the top and replaced the rear tube for me - appreciated that so much, it meant I got two gates in. After all that I wasn't feel as prepared as I'd like to, and it didn't help when my bke fell off the trailer at the top of the uplift!
Anyway, I was pretty much last down the hill after having no ranking. I didn't get the first or second straights as good as I'd like, but it was decent. The rock section went reasonably smoothly for me, and the big jump before the quad was fun as always! I don't think many girls were doing that jump, but for me it's the easiest part of the track that I don't need to think about!
The support coming down the hill was pretty awesome as always, I crossed the line into 2nd place, the highest I've ever qualified in 4X so I was pretty stoked to say the least! A good buzz to be back and competing with the worlds best... and to think only a couple of months ago I didn't even have an MTB, I wasn't even thinking of racing a national never mind a World Cup.
Today's racing is going to be a lot tougher, I'm under no illusions. Taking all the fast lines in quali's is quite different to protecting your line in racing and there's always an element of luck involved... but I will give it my best shot, and whatever the outcome, I'll still be really happy to have been up there with the best!
Out of the rest of our crew, Jordan Gould qualified pretty well after nearly knocking himself out on the rock gap in practice - he jumped it again in his quali run but I hope he's not feeling the effects too much for racing today. Tricker wasn't happy with his run but was happy to qualify, as was Bates who was left hanging when he wasn't given a tme straight away!
Dogman unfortunately got DQ'd for a flag violation,as did a few other Brits. Everyone was going close to the same flag, I'm sure it was a close call but they are pretty strict on these things. Goose didn't have the run he wanted, clipping out on the first straight, which was a real shame as he was riding good and hitting the big gap which jumped over the rock section - takes some guts to do that, props!
So today is race day, looking forward to it, I'll be soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying it, however it goes. It's good to be back!
I've got a few pic's from Tim to upload, but the wifi is so slow it won't upload them. I'll have to try again later.
Thursday, June 02, 2011
Fort William practice day
Today was first day of practice for 4x. We walked the track earlier in the day, most of the interest was surrounding the rock section where everyone was sussing out possible lines. It's not that long but it was on the steepest part of the course and at a first glance looked like their was a lot of rocks ready to eat you up if you missed your line!
Was a little nervous about that but I wasn't the only one! First go down I jumped the first double off the start hill, wasn't going to mess about rolling that, it's deep. Got it all jumped on the top section, but wasn't worried about perfecting it as it'll be faster with the gate. A few times I didn't even get clipped in till I'd jumped half way down the straight cause I didn't realise my cleats were muddy..oh well!
I moved onto the rock section, watching a few riders, then having a couple of goes following Goose and Ross to get my eye in. It really wasn't that bad, I quite enjoyed it really. The corner before is more of a problem for me to get the right line, the rocks themselves are fine!
After that is the big table/double thing. I'd jumped it on the old track, but now you were taking a more straight line towards it through the rocks and its fast.. I jumped it second go no probs... that bits right up my street!
Last go down and I got a flat in the rocks. Didn't know about it till the berm after jumping the big table tho, just like so many others I'd seen do the same.
It's been a good day, cool to see some people on the scene who I haven't seen for some time, and some more BMX friends from the French road trip were hanging out today too.
Qualifying tomorrow... wish me luck, it's been a while! The sun has even been shining, fingers crossed it stays...
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