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8th July 2012 - British National Series #3 - Glencoe, Scotland

Helmet cam run with Jack

Glencoe is one of my favourite race tracks on the UK circuit. It's so technical that you have to be completely committed the whole way down, and if you get cocky and over confident it will eat you alive. You have to be careful to find a nice balance of aggressive riding and respect for the track, otherwise you'll be heading off in the ambulance before you know it.

We headed up early on Friday morning because we'd caught wind that riders could practice for a few hours on Friday afternoon and the weather forecast looked good. I ended up doing 6 runs in the afternoon and it was awesome. The track was in good condition, there were only a few of us riding so there were no queues at the lift or on the track, and the sun even came out for the odd minute at a time. By the end of the day I felt like could have raced there and then.

Saturday was a very similar day, 6 runs and lots of fun. It was so quiet on track, because of the limited number of riders attending this race, that I had to be careful not to do run after run and burn myself out. It was really nice to come to a race with less pressure after all the world cups in June, and just enjoy my new bike and continue to get used to it and push myself. With my arm almost healed up and not bothering me anymore it was shaping up to be a great weekend and I was secretly trying to put a run together to grab my first British Downhill Series race victory. I felt like it was very achievable the way I was riding on track, and if not the win a podium position was highly possible.

Saturday night brought rain and the track had actually benefitted from it first thing in the morning. It had washed all the greasy mud off the surface of all of the various rock slabs and there was more grip than there was on Saturday afternoon. I'd walked the track the evening before and finalised a few lines and got everything straight in my head, so I felt fast from the off in the morning. I did 3 practice runs and had my first big crash of the weekend towards the end of the 3rd, inevitable really with three days riding that particular track. Luckily I'd got it out of the way before racing started and I wasn't hurt. Instead it had just identified a rock to definitely avoid come my race run!

About 15 minutes before going up for my seeding run the rain and the clouds moved in. It wasn't windy, but apart from that it was very grim. As a result I miss timed getting all my gear on, such as gloves, helmet and goggles, in time for my start time. With 15 seconds to go I was still doing up my helmet and trying to get my gloves onto my damp fingers. As I whipped my goggles over my helmet the final 5 seconds, anytime during which we can set off, had run out and I clipped in and went. It wasn't the best start to a run, however I had no other problems and rode really well. I seeded 4th with a 2.26 and I was very happy with it. Hopefully I could push a bit harder for the race, hold it together and go a bit quicker.

I was fired up before my race run. I really wanted to do well here. I knew I was going well on the track and felt like a great result was very achievable, at least my second ever national podium. I started well and aggressively. Unlike Windham I had no mechanical issues to deal with and headed into the main steep section of the track with everything going well. Then the fun started. Since seeding there were huge holes everywhere and my run was sketchy almost crashing one time after the other. However, I was riding fast and holding it together. When I got to the bottom I went into 3rd place with only 3 riders left on the hill, so if 1 of them was to have a problem I was guaranteed a podium. Unluckily for Josh Bryceland he got a puncture so I ended up 5th with a time of 2.22 and only 3 seconds behind the winner.

I'm really pleased with this result and happy with how I'm riding. That's my second national podium in 3 national races – Caersws at the end of last year I was 4th, and now here 5th. I now have a weekend off after 6 consecutive races which is a relief. I'm going to use these 2 weeks to train hard to try and improve my upper body and core strength because I'm well aware that's holding me back at the moment. Also some rest and recovery is in order as well as a house warming party next weekend as me and Sarah have just moved into a nice new place. Then its back on it for National Champs at Moelfre in 2 weeks!

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