Another weekend racing bikes for the awesome www.facebook.com/revolutionbikeparkracing team. Here's the lowdown from the showdown...
Last year's BDS at Bala was a tale of 2 halves. Saturday was the best day I had on a bike in 2015. The sun shone, the track was insanely brilliant, dry & dusty, & everything was pretty close to perfect. Then, overnight the rains came. All that lovely dust turned to claggy mud & the woods became pretty much unrideable for quite a few of us. In my race run I washed out on the entry to one of the bus stops & smashed my hand into a wall & then crashed a further 3 times on the way down. I came last in my category. It was abysmal, my worst day on a bike all year.
With a decent weather forecast all weekend this year, I was keen to get back & have another crack at it. I've been doing some coaching with Jack Reading over the last couple of weeks, trying to improve my riding & get faster. I've only done a couple of sessions so far but I saw some instant improvements. Time wise, last weekend's result was the best I've ever had, the closest in % terms that I've ever finished to both the fastest Elite rider & my category winner.
On Friday night Jack let me jump on his track walk which was really helpful & the track looked mega. It starts off with a motorway type section with a series of bus stops leading into a jumps/rhythm section, then there's the woods which are tight & twisty, then it opens out where the trees have been felled & it's flatter & faster again before the flat out bottom section through the fields & down to the finish arena. It's definitely one of the best tracks we've raced.
After a few mechanicals at the start, Saturday was just another amazing day on a bike. Think I managed 7 runs, Binnsy did 9 & we managed to hit all but 2 of the jumps on the top section. One of them we were never going to do, way too big for us, but the other one we really wanted to have a crack at but it was tricky to get into & we couldn't get a run together where we cleared the jump before it & got the berm after that right. We'd try again on Sunday. We had the rest of the track pretty dialled. Both buzzing.
After a ghetto shower with a jet wash & some shampoo; tea & a few pints in the local boozer & another night sleeping in the van, Sunday came round & it was hot, hot, hot at 9am as we started practice. We intended to do one warm up run, then one full run where we'd hit everything except the biggest double & that would be perfect. Except things don't quite work out how you plan & that 2nd run was the worst run of the weekend for both of us, so we rushed back up & did another before practice ended. Squeezing that 3rd run in meant there was no time for hanging around & we were straight up for our seeding run. Binnsy off first & he put in a 4:17 which placed him first in Grand Vets, 3 seconds ahead of his big rival, current Grand Vet National Champion Steve Felstead. I messed up my top section but then rode pretty well. By the time I was in the woods I'd caught the rider who'd set off 30 seconds in front of me & I seeded 13th/18 in vets with a 4:34.
If I pushed it Binnsy thought I should be able to do a 4:20 in my race run so I decided that I was going to give it everything & try for that as it could possibly jump me up to 10th. Now we were seeded properly I shouldn't catch the rider in front & I just had to get the top section right.
I nailed the top section. Hit all my jumps, hit all my lines, pedalled through all the bits I'd previously been pumping & I'd probably already pulled 5-10 seconds back. I got a bit carried away though, full red mist & I hit the entry to the woods far too quickly & the next thing I knew my face was heading for a fence pole. How quickly it can all come crashing down. Not the fence pole btw, that remained steadfast in the ground, I mean the race run :) So that's that, everyone else put in a clean one & I left Bala with another crap result.
It's not all bad though. Last year I left this race feeling like I was the worst rider on the hill. I was just trying to get down. This year I went out chasing a top 10 finish, pushing hard, getting over the front of the bike & riding aggressively & I know I'm riding loads better than this time last year.
Binnsy couldn't quite put it together in his race run either. He made a mistake that cost him 3 seconds & relegated him to 2nd. Also gutted. Cheered ourselves up by spending the rest of the afternoon sat in the sun watching the Elites come down whilst having a couple of beers with James & #datbitchfromrevo Susha :)
Congrats to Binnsy on his podium, but massive congrats to to our team rider Riley Scott who took his first podium at National level in Youth. Good skills all round.
Thanks to the rest of the team & all the marshals etc for another amazing weekend racing bikes & to the guys at www.facebook.com/rideio/ & www.facebook.com/SilverlineTools1 for sorting my bike out on Saturday morning.
Right, after racing 3 weekends in a row we've now got a few weeks off to regroup before the 2nd half of the season. Maybe next weekend I'll want to have a look round some shops or something. Oh, did someone say Fort William World Cup? :)