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British Downhill Series Round 2 at Moelfre, Wales
13th April 2011

top bermsAs most people are aware, over recent years the UK has real depth of world class elite DH racers when compared with other countries. I’m not going to start discussing why, but I am going to mention that this year the category has again increased its limit for the maximum number of riders it can hold. It now means that instead of 20-30 elites turning up to each round of our national series, there are closer to 50 and competition is hot! Everyone wants to do well and therefore push it as far as they dare (no pun intended for all you Ellsworth people...).

April 9th/10th saw the second round of the British Downhill Series head to Moelfre, Wales and the weather was amazing! This track is completely exposed and with the weather on side it makes for an incredible weekend of racing! I was feeling confident coming off the back of a 4 day training trip to Spain, and my recent wrist injury practically healed up! My sights were set firmly on a top 10 finish!

Saturday practise was awesome. This was the first race of the season I’d had all my new 2011 kit so it was a fresh feeling when I headed out of the pits for practise. The track was running fast and furious throughout the morning with no wind to slow us down, so it was easy to get into it and I was soon feeling like I was up to race speed. I limited how much riding I did in the afternoon. This was to save energy but also the wind had become strong and gusty making conditions up top dangerous, especially if your wheels left the ground! There was no point continuing to smash out the practise runs. I’d done 5, knew my lines, was feeling really quick and could have raced right then if needed.

seedingI wanted to do two more runs at the end of Saturday, one at the end of open practise to get warmed up again and one in elite practise at race pace with a nice clear track. However, I ended up only getting one more and that was under yellow flags, along with a strong wind.

With the track being so fast and also narrow, if you made a mistake you were going to be in trouble. The air ambulance had already been out once on Saturday and out it came again at the end of practise. The problem seemed to be broken collar bones with guys hitting the ground hard and fast. We waited at the top for about 45 minutes for the medics to do their stuff, then finally got to the bottom at about 6pm. So not the best finish to practise but at least we were hanging around at the top in the warm sun which makes a change for UK races.

The weather forecast for Sunday was better still! Sun and absolutely no wind! I had been home on Saturday evening, as it is only 1.5 hours up the road, in order to drop my girlfriend home and pick up my trusty Dad to have his guidance throughout the race day. We headed down in the van and after battling some 'car boot sale' idiots, who snarled up traffic on the way down the A483, we arrived in time for me to get on the first uplift and be first rider down the track. A nice warm up with a clear track, then two pinned runs to really get into it before racing started. I had three awesome runs and was feeling strong for the race. I knew I would have my work cut out to get in the top 10 considering who was in attendance (at least 10 racers were capable of getting top 10 results, to name a few – Steve Peat, Gee Atherton, Matti Lehikoinen, Brendan Fairclough, Josh Bryceland…. The list goes on and on!)

I was excited for seeding and not at all nervous. I always remember that I’m riding my bike for FUN so never let anything get in the way of that ultimate aim! Especially when I have a track like Moelfre to go smashing down in the beautiful weather!! My run was awesome – near perfect. I’d fueled up on SIS energy gels and Go fluid, got excited, hit all my lines and pedalled like crazy! I came cross the line and went into 1st by 2 seconds. When all the elites had arrived at the bottom I was in 7th place which I was obviously totally delighted with! I out-qualified people such as Brendan, Josh, Dan Atherton and Ben Cathro. Cooler still, I was 4th before the split timing gate which was only about 38 seconds from the bottom and from there the time I’d lost was on the pedally sections. All the technical stuff at Moelfre is before the split. As I don’t train much, relative to the pros I am racing against, I’ll let myself off losing time on the pedaling!!

Time for racing. Everything was in place for a good performance. My bike was running perfectly, I was running some nice light Oneal clothing so I could pedal as easily as possible, my head was in the right place, and I have a system of nutrient intake to get the maximum effect out of my Science In Sport products – 2 Go energy gels at half hour intervals, the second taken 40 minutes before the run, a Go energy bar 45 minutes before and then one of the Smart gels 20 minutes before take off to really kick me into top gear. I also throw in a couple of bananas just to let my stomach chew on something.

When I was at the start warming up I couldn't help but notice some of the country's top elite riders, who I'd out qualified, blasting out of the start gate like they had an engine attached to their bikes! Its hard for someone in my situation – working a 9-5 throughout the week with time for very little training, to really feel confident in such a scenario. However I'm pretty good at the whole self confidence/belief/determination side of racing so I maintained focus and got ready for the job at hand. If I could hang onto a top 10 spot in the race I would be over the moon!

I really went for it from the off and gave the run absolutely everything I could. This back fired in a couple of places where I got a bit scrappy, having to throw feet to keep up right and losing speed in a couple of corners. However I battled through it and overall produced another really good run. I hammered across the finish line to see Brendan Fairclough perched in the hot seat and I went into 6th place. When I heard this I was initially disappointed, and thought I must have gone slower than seeding due to the mistakes I'd made. However when everyone was down and I realised I was 11th, with the order going like this: Gee Atherton, Steve Peat, Brendan Fairclough, Matti Lehikoinen, Joe Smth, Marc Beaumont, Josh Bryceland, Adam Brayton, Dan Atherton, Ben Cathro, Jack Reading... with 31 other elite riders behind me, I was well stoked with the result. I'd also gone 1 second faster than my seeding time. Just a bit disappointed I was only one place out of the top 10, but hey, with time for training in a year or two and more experience, I'll be up there challenging for the podium!

For full results see http://www.rootsandrain.co.uk/race287/2011-apr-10-halo-bds-2-moelfre/

Bring on the world cups!!!!

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