I always find it a bit weird going racing on your own. Driving out I'm forever thinking "if I crash & hurt myself, how will I get myself / the van home?" I've heard nightmare tales of people's cars being abandoned for 3 weeks in Fort William etc. In my case the short answer is that Rachel +1 will have (using this weekend as an example) a 6 hour round trip to collect me / the van, which, as she's told me several times in the past is "the last thing she wants to do with her weekend". Harsh maybe, but understandable. Anyway, not the type of thing you really want to be thinking about when you’re off racing. Once you start riding though you soon forget about all that stuff, but there's no one to gauge your speed against or to chat to about lines. And probably most importantly when you’re not challenging for the win, no one to have the craic with. We race a lot so we know lots of people to say "hello" to & have a bit of a chat with, but it's not quite the same; still, it's loads better than being dragged round Aldi or cleaning out the gutters so...
This weekend Binnsy was walking round a castle or something & so I was flying solo at the Pearce round at Bucknell. Never done a Pearce race before, never ridden at Bucknell, but I'd heard great reports about both. It was raining when I left Marsden early on Saturday but that was the last I saw of it. Sunshine & blue skies on Saturday, white cloud on Sunday & a dry & dusty track that was loose. Very, very loose. Easy to ride, but quite hard to go fast on.
Keen readers will know that I slipped a disc in my back a few weeks ago, meaning that going up to the top crammed into a Landy was way more painful than riding down. Until run 3. Got a bit keen on the ski jump, held on for the first tabletop but hit the second tabletop a bit quick & crashed trying to make the next berm. Landed chest first into the ground with such an impact that it appears to have jolted my disc back into place. Bonus.
Think all in I got 9 runs in on Saturday. Could've done more but I was knackered after the early start. I had a proper bed installed in the van last week & Saturday night was her first outing. 10 hours sleep is pretty epic. So epic, that I overslept by half an hour & only managed to complete 3 of the 4 practice runs I’d hoped for before racing started. Racing was the best of 2 runs format & so I decided to put a safe one in first & then go for it on the 2nd run. First run was a 2:26 which put me in 17th. I knew it was safe but I was still a bit surprised to be so far down. Turns out the Vets at the Pearce are all pretty handy. Times were tight though, I was only 12 seconds off 2nd & if I could find 6 seconds & get under 2:20 I’d be 8th which I thought was doable.
Went for it on the 2nd run but flatted the rear tyre. I’m using Procore & before I went up for my race run I had 80psi in the inner core & 24psi in the outer. When I got back to the van I had 0 in the inner & 14 in the outer so the Procore got me down but I could feel the tyre nearly coming off the rim on the grassy corners at the bottom of the track. That'll teach me to try & save £20 by repairing the inner tubes. Went a second quicker on my second run with the flat but stayed in 17th. Not the position I’d hoped for but weirdly, looking at the results it was my 24th DH race & it was the closest I’ve ever been to the Fastest Time of the Day. That went to Brendan Fairclough with a 1:52 which, according to Roots and Rain makes him 29% faster than me. I don’t know how you go 29% quicker down there, but then it’s his job innit & well, he came over the final jump sideways. The only time I’ve ever managed to get the bike sideways like that was closely followed by a sound not dissimilar to a shopping trolley falling down a flight of stairs and lots of people breathing in through their teeth & wondering “is he alright?”
Congrats to the 3 younger members of www.facebook.com/revolutionbikeparkracing who absolutely smashed it. Riley nabbed 2nd in Youth after a massive crash in his first race run with Jack taking 3rd & Louis took 2nd in Juniors. Thanks to Pete Crookes for letting me hijack his pit space all weekend. Also, have to say how ace the organisation was by Pearce Cycles. Everything was super slick & ran like clockwork, easy to see why all their races sell out so quickly.
Right. Onward. BDS at Revolution in under a fortnight, closely followed by Masters Worlds in Val Di Sole the weekend after, then the BDS at Llangollen a fortnight after that. I might not be the fastest but I do love the racing ☺.
*delivered ASAP to try & induce Susha's labour