Cattle trucks and coaches were the order of the day, and luckily the sunshine held out, meaning practice was fast and dry. The track, a ribbon of trail weaving through various bands of forested conifers, had only a sparse handful of jumps and fire-road crossings to punctuate the relentless onslaught of steep rooted sections and rutted corners. The final descent began with several very steep turns, which dropped riders into a tricky off camber root section, before a final few berms and jumps and a short sprint into the finish area. It was on these steep turns that, even during the last few runs of Saturday practice, spectators began to gather in order to heckle and watch riders come flying down the hill. After a long day’s riding we were all refuelled with a nourishing BBQ, washed down with some of Eric’s exquisite home-brews.
Sunday morning saw a few hours to squeeze in a few more practice runs, and get used to the slightly wetter conditions created by the morning dew. As race runs drew near, a big band of cloud was gathering, but luckily we were let off with just a light drizzle. After some carnage ahead of the Bristol riders in the girls field, Naomi and Louisa were told they would get to have another shot at an uninterrupted run after men’s qualification. Lawrence was the only Bristol rider to qualify, with a blistering time of 3:44, which he then bettered by a good 6 seconds in his race run, to take home 19th place. At a race where the top 10 riders are also riding professionally on the world cup circuit, this is an incredible achievement, so congratulations go to him. Also worthy of note was Elky who was on an absolutely blistering run, but crashed due to forgetting to constrain his airtime to normal people standards on the second to last jump, overshooting the landing by about 3 bike lengths, before getting back on the bike and crossing the line in 4:21, taking home 116th place. The time cut off to qualify was 4:15. Naomi and Louisa also took home some metal, winning bronze in the women’s team category. Some great results all round, and clearly confirmation that cake-racing is an effective training format.
After the dust had settles and we had collected our winnings, it was time to break camp, drive off into the sunset up the Tweed valley, and (eventually) back south.
A great weekend was had by all, the track was an absolute riot and the company even better. Thanks to everyone who drove, cooked, helped organise, and made the weekend such a blast!
Words Nat Aaronson
Some extra videos from the weekend: Unofficial Race Report on pinkbike and a short one from Sam.