Scottish National Round 1 – Innerleithen
Summer is here already!! We have seen no rain for the last 3 weeks and all the trails are riding so well it’s like the middle of summer. Taking a trip to Scotland is always good as the scenery is stunning, but when the sun is shining it’s even better. With the entries full after only 11hrs of going online, the Scottish Series is set to be great this summer. They have some of the best tracks and organisation in the UK and a real relaxed approach. It’s 10 yrs since I did my first downhill race at Innerleithen and the place has just got better every year, with so many tracks to choose from you never quite know what to expect. This year’s track had a bit of everything, some really slow, tight sections, very typical of Innerleithen and some fast stuff at the bottom. It’s always a good work out as you have to ride 1.5miles along a road to get to the uplift and then a 10 min push once you get dropped off! I think I racked up about 15miles on the road on my Downhill bike over the weekend!! No wonder my legs were sore on Monday morning!
The riding and racing was good, I felt pretty good on the bike and felt strong which was good. My first race run did not quite go to plan as I crashed on the first corner about 10metres out of the start gate! I got a loud cheer and was quickly back on my way! I tried pretty hard to make up the time I had lost and rode some sections really well. I ended up with a time of 3.42, enough to take first in front of Helen Gaskell in second on 3.50. Helen also had some issues with the first corner apparently! I was hoping to improve on that in my second run and go below 3.40. This time no crashes, only a slight hold up as I caught a guy near the finish and struggled to pass, but I ended up a second slower. Looking back I think I was probably just trying too hard, and on this track, when it is so tight, you really need to be smooth and carry good speed. Helen went 5 secs quicker to do a 3.45, so I still managed to hang on to the win. However I was a little disappointed as I felt like I should have gone a bit faster. I still have a month till the first world cup, so some time to really get up to speed!
Italian National - San Remo
Tucked away up a mountain not far from Nice lies my worst nightmare of downhill tracks! I love the course at San Remo, but my hands don’t! It’s 4.30min of technical, fast rough rocks and roots. I have been here a few times for training and it is also a course that is used a lot for suspension testing. However it always poses a challenge for me to do a full run in complete control! This year we had great weather and a very dry track, almost too dry as it was so sandy it made it really slippery on the rocks. I was struggling in training for the first part of the day until we made some changes to my fork and it was great from then on. I was pretty happy with how I was riding sections, but putting it all together was going to be a different story!
It was going to be a tough race as we had 5 out of the top 7 riders in the world cup overall present. I was first off and had a pretty steady clean run, I just wanted to be accurate, get my lines and be able to still ride well at the bottom. I was satisfied with my run. Unfortunately Sabrina, who set off 30secs behind me, appeared at the finish a lot sooner than 30 secs! She had an amazing time and put 12 secs into my time. However compared to everyone else my time was ok, I was in 2nd 9 seconds ahead of 3rd. Understandably I was disappointed to be beaten by so much and I was looking forward to trying to take some time out of her lead in the second run. However due to the high number of crashes the second runs had to be cancelled as there were no doctors left at the race! So unfortunately the result from the first round stood and I took second behind Sabrina, with Emmeline Ragot in 3rd. It was another solid race and I can take home many things to work on before the next arm beater which for me will be the 4th round of the World Cup in Schaldming in July! I now have 2 weeks off racing before the first world cup in Vigo, Spain.
photo Getty Images