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2013 UK National Champs @ Bala, Wales - 20/21 July 2013

The British National Championships has to be the hardest national race in the world to get a top result at. The strength in depth our country has in it’s downhill circuit really is amazing.  I was 7th at this event last year, and was hoping for another top 10 this year. This was especially important as I went into the event running very low on UCI points!

This year Bala was the chosen venue and a new track had been prepared fresh for the race. We were all pretty excited for the weekend, even more so when we saw the weather forecast which was sun sun sun! I travelled down Friday afternoon with my Dad, girlfriend Sarah and mechanic Alex, and met up with racing buddy Will Jones and his girlfriend Annie, ready for a weekend of racing and fun.

We walked the track Friday evening when it cooled down and I was very impressed. The track was very long and had a great variation of terrain on offer. It started off very fast and loose, before heading into a section of twisting fast berms and jumps. Then came a very tight wooded section, before some fast dusty ruts at the bottom and a fast field to finish. We couldn’t wait to get riding.

I got a good days riding in on Saturday and was feeling fast on the track. It was probably my favourite track of the year, certainly in the UK. I did a bit of tyre experimentation, comparing Schwalbe Hans Dampfs and Schwalbe Muddy Marys. They both felt good but the Marys felt like they provided a bit more support in the loose dusty sections, so I decided to stick with these. I also had my 2014 Fox 40 floats on which were making the front of my bike feel awesome! My mechanic Alex Bennett of TickyBikes kept my bike running sweet all day, big thanks to that man for his support. By the end of day I had all of my lines dialed and couldn’t wait for racing to start, I was feeling confident.

Sunday morning practice went well and I was really looking forward to qualifying and racing. I put a smooth fast qualifying run together and only made one small mistake the whole was down. I was really happy to qualify in 3rd place behind Gee Atherton in 2nd and Steve Peat in 1st – two absolute legends. I was pleased about this, as it would give me good practice dealing with the pressure of qualifying well before heading out to round 3 of the world cup next weekend.

My race run was awesome. It’s the first time I’ve never made any mistakes in a race run ever. Obviously I’m not saying I couldn’t go quicker, because you can always do things differently, but I executed everything as planned and put a really good run together. I finished in 7th place again! A result I’m happy with. Especially considering I was only 0.8 of a second behind 4th, and 1.8 behind 2nd place – some very close racing went down!! Gee Atherton was a bit further in front though to take a convincing victory.

So a great weekend of racing for me and right before heading out to Vallnord for world cup round 3. After puncturing at round 1 at Fort William and crashing out in Val Di Sole at round 2 it is really important that I get a result on the board at this next one!

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