Click to read each riders race reports.
Hey all, little report from the last few weeks.
Arriving to a muddy field in a little village called wasing, it was sure to be a heck of a race. Off to do a practice lap, and it soon became clear that my initial tyre choice was far too ambitious, so back to the van I went to change wheels. Grippier tyre fitted and off I went , better but still not pulling me around on train tracks like I'd envisioned. Practise lap done , and mind set that it was quicker to run the climbs and I would have to be stopping to clean my bike each lap as the mud was so intense.
Race time -
Lined up with some of the countries leading riders, I was nervous to see how I would perform. Off to a good start along a nice fire track we was all together . After he first few sections of track and running sections. I found myself riding in 12th place. Plugging away in the mud, running the bad sections and cleaning my bike as quick as I could I was soon catching riders. All of us at different times having bike issues. After a race long battle , not only with riders but also the elements and savage mud, I crossed the line happy with my performance and exhausted in a solid 8th place. Now to get the bike back race fit ready for next weeks Eastern series.
What a change of weather, arriving to a dusty sunny race day !! Bike set , practise lap done , nice dry and dusty. A fast track, with lots of bumps and switchbacks on a grass field. Lining up with a clear line ahead of me. I was unsure how I would perform, I knew a few of the riders were going well off the back of a winter of racing , but improvement is what I was here for. Off to a poor start I worked myself into 3rd place. Soon to be passed by quick started and I was riding in 7th place. Settling into the race trying to keep a consistent pace I was soon catching riders , with a strong head wind down the back end of the course I used this to pull back time. After 9 laps of racing and passing endless riders as there was 200 other riders on the short course at the same time . I was chuffed to finish in 4th place. Happy with my result and my consistent lap times, just left me thinking "I just need to go faster" I've got a fair bit of work to go to get where I want. The hardest thing is I still have the feeling and visions of 6-7 years ago when I dominated the scene and was a consistent national/international podium rider. I know the results will come with the hard work so for now I have a few weeks of training before the next race.
Thanks for your support it's greatly appreciated
Sunday , Olympic Park London. Mud sweat & gears round 1. Elite race.
Arriving keen to get stuck in and see how my form was after a winter of training. I knew my rivals had just raced a winter of cyclocross / winter series races so was already on good fitness.
Course was dry , rocky and not many places to overtake.
Wearing my new tenn race kit which fits amazing ! And is clearly visible for my pit crew to spot me.
Getting a great start i lead the start loop and then settled into 2nd place in a group of 5 of us at the head of the race.
Until the midway point we was wheel to wheel. Then we started to lap the back markers , with 140 riders on the short 11minute lap with not many places to pass it was proving difficult to get passed. A few mistakes from other riders and a few crashes split our group with 2 riders going clear. I was then in the middle trying to keep a consistent pace and keep out of trouble riding in 3rd place.
2 laps to go I was joined by another rider who then pulled a gap on me as I was stuck behind some back markers , not taking any risks I got past and regained contact with 3rd place.
But the effort of digging deep to regain contact proved to much and I soon lost contact and rolled into the finish in a satisfied 4th place.
My highest result in a mountain bike race since I switched to the road in 2011!!
My dad " Jim whenman" also raced in the Grand vets and came in a solid 40th!
Now a few weeks training before the next race.
Aston Race Report
After starting riding last year it’s taken me a while to find the confidence to want to do any kind of racing so when Firecrest MTB announced they were hosting a race on the track Ricochet at Aston Hill (A track I’ve ridden before and know I can get down) I knew I had to sign up. After my friend and I convinced a bunch of our riding buddies to sign up too I managed to put the nerves aside and start getting excited at the prospect of my first Downhill race.
So the Saturday before the race rolls around - the sun is shining, reports online show that the track is drying out nicely and everything looks prime for racing the next day.
The only problem is I keep checking my weather app and it’s pretty convinced it’s going to pour down with rain, which for anyone who knows Aston Hill knows it’s going to make for some interesting conditions.
I went to bed that night praying the weather report would be wrong, even though I knew full well we were going to wake up to grey skies. Amazingly in the morning there hadn’t been any rain where I lived (Bearing in mind this is about 85 miles from Aston) so I stumbled over to the van at 6:30am hoping that my prayers had been answered.
Unfortunately, we got about 50 miles in to our journey and the heavens opened. My stomach tightened as I realised I knew this day was about to get a whole lot harder. Not one to back down from a challenge however, I rocked up, got my bike ready and headed over to sign on, trying to ignore how tense I was feeling.
After meeting up with some of the girls my friend and I decided to get a first practice run in and scope out how sketchy the track was actually going to be. Thankfully due to a resurface and fresh rain the top section didn’t clog up our tyres as much as I thought it would so we made it through that at a decent pace. Dropping down the gulley off the fireroad things started to get interesting. Sneaking a less rooty but slower route round the first big corner I headed with trepidation down to one of the main features of the track – a big intimidating root garden. Thankfully I made it over that in one piece with no feet down but then got completely confused with line choice through the trees leading in to the next section. After the roots I headed in to the drop section, a newer line that was being used for the race. Here unfortunately the rain had really taken its toll. Losing all my speed by getting sucked in to a super sloppy berm meant avoiding the bigger drop all together as I know I wouldn’t be able to hit it safely at the speed I was going. By this point the mud was sticking to everything, including the tread on my tyres and unfortunately in between the 2 smaller drops I slid right off. Jumping back on I made it over the last drop and down the chute to the end of the track, the back end of my bike wiggling behind me precariously.
At this point I started to question if I really wanted to continue the race, I found that bottom section really challenging in these conditions and I had to wonder if I would really enjoy the rest of the day.
I pondered this on the walk up but after chatting with the girls decided to give it another shot. I wasn’t the only one feeling nervous that’s for sure!
The second run down was similar to the first, the rain was still falling and the conditions were definitely not going to get any better. Another friend of mine came off near the end of the track meaning there was a bit of a pile up so I hadn’t managed a clean, full run in practice but I didn’t feel at this point that trying again would really benefit me and it was almost time for race runs to start!
We then had a considerable wait, as all the younger riders set off before the women. Given the weather it was pretty hard to stay warm so we resorted to making use of the pump track to stop ourselves from cooling down too much.
Just as we returned to where the race started we realised our numbers were next which meant no waiting (probably for the best although we cut it a bit fine!). I don’t think I’ve pedalled so hard in my life as I did on that top section as I knew this was where I felt the most comfortable. I took a different line in to the gulley this time which was a mistake that cost me some time as the exit from the corner was tighter. The track just seemed to be getting more and more slippery! Heading down to the bottom section I annoyingly had an off in the same place as in practice but managed to make it to the bottom of the track and not be in last place which was a good feeling. A couple of the girls had some pretty nasty crashes on the way down the final straight, one narrowly avoiding making friends with a tree but we all made it down without any serious injury and were absolutely buzzing.
Cue more waiting and the nerves slowly creeping back in. I made it to the start well before my run this time so the anticipation had time to grow. Then suddenly I was off, pedalling like crazy again. This time I took my usual line in to the gulley, made it down through the roots then some indecision on which line to take around a stump made me falter and fixate on it and unfortunately fall again. It was so slippery it was hard to get back on and get going again but I eventually made it down to the bottom and my first ever DH race was done! One of the girls had a better run than her first which knocked my down a spot so overall I came 7th out of 11 that actually did the race. In all honestly regardless of the conditions I didn’t expect to do much better than that, as all the over 18 ladies were all in one category it meant I was up against some seriously fast/experienced riders but the sense of achievement from making it down the track and not coming last felt pretty amazing.
The racing was really fun but ultimately the thing that made this day awesome despite the conditions was all the support and laughs with my friends who were racing too. It’s supposed to be a competition but all the girls really looked after each other and were there at the bottom to cheer each other on regardless of if they were going to beat their times which was really great to see.
I’ve certainly got the race bug however, so I’ll be back on the 26th of March racing at the Pedalhounds Enduro and then the first in the Root1 series at Tidworth Freeride at the end of April – can’t wait!
Thanks to Tenn Outdoors for the comfy kit, those waterproof shorts definitely came in handy that day!!