Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Nutcracker MTB Series Round 1 - Dalby Forest

The first race of the year is always an nerve racking and exciting one, not knowing how well you are going but looking forward to getting stuck into some racing! This year was no exception at Dalby Forest on the world cup course for round 1 of the nutcracker series. After a winter involving some time off the bike due to injuries and illness, I was really happy to be back on the bike and be able to start the first race of the year.

I had a good start, getting the wholeshot into the first corner at the end of the start field before slipping back into second wheel as we entered the first single track section. The field stayed close together with quite a big group at the front through this first section before it started to split apart as we came back into start field after a few minutes of racing. I was still sat in second position at this point, with Jack Ravenscroft a few seconds in front and James Edmond on my wheel. The race started to settle down a bit by this point and I focused on riding at my own pace, setting a good tempo without without going too hard on the first lap of the four lap race.

Part way through the lap I broke away from the riders behind me going up the steep climb towards Medusa’s Drop, one of the more technical parts of the course. The rest of the race was quite consistent from this point on, with me not catching Jack in front or been caught by James behind. Although I had a couple of minor issues with my bike, which were only because it had just been built up on Friday, the rest of the race went pretty smoothly and I held onto second place.

I did the race with my new PowerTap Joule GPS bike computer on, the file of which can be found at http://www.strava.com/activities/123282887, with some interesting information about how the race went.

This was a fairly solid start to the season for me and a result I was quite happy with to say it is still very early in the year. From now on its time for me to continue building my training up to get some good race fitness for the main part of the season as well as continuing to race most weekends. This Sunday brings the first round of the British mountain bike series in Essex which I will be racing before I head out to South Africa to meet up with the rest of the team and race a round of the UCI Juniors Series.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Winter Training and Yorkshire Cyclocross

 After a short break from training at the end of the mountain bike season I got back on the bike for a few weeks of training, only to pick up a knee injury whilst riding on the road bike. This resulted in 6 weeks totally off the bike while my knee settled down. Whilst it still isn't 100% better, I am now able to do some shorter training session and I have also done a couple of races.
The first of which was the final round of the Yorkshire cyclocross series at Todmorden. Racing with the seniors on my new Polygon bikes that had just been built up the day before, it was going to be a test for both the bikes and me around the very steep and muddy course. I wasn't expecting much after such a long time off the bike and only little amounts of training that I have been able to complete since; but I got off to a good start and was riding at the front of the race with Mike Thompson for the first lap. The start effort took a lot out of me and I dropped back into second place, riding on my own for the majority of the race. As the hour of racing went by the course got even muddier with more sections of the course requiring running and carrying my bike. I started to slow towards the end of my race as my fitness wasn't in top condition, but I was just able to hold on to second place overall and take the win in the junior category, in what was a close sprint finish with Ian Taylor.

Just 3 days after racing in Todmorden, I went to do the Ripley Castle Cross in North Yorkshire on New Years day.This was again a race where I would be racing at the same time as the seniors, only this time in a much more competitive field. The course was a lot of fun here, with a bit of everything; all covered in plenty of mud. It was a fast start but I got into the first group for the first half a lap before some of the top elites pulled away. I was sat in about 6th place overall for most of the race, but in the second half I starting to get braking problems which cost me a bit of time. I slipped back to 8th place overall with a lap to go and by this point I was feeling pretty tired. After the brakes failing again on this lap and a quick bike change in the pits with half a lap to go; I was in a sprint for 8th place with Rob Watson, but just didn't have enough in my legs and rolled across the line taking 9th place overall and 1st junior. After a very cold and muddy day out I was pleased with both the races I did, taking two junior wins without been at full fitness. From here i'm now looking forward to racing the final round of the national trophy series and the national championships the week after in Derby; as well as progressing my training to try build up the strength in my knee again and start working on my fitness in time for the mountain bike season.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Yorkshire Points Cyclocross Series Rounds 1 & 2

For my first 2 cyclocross races of the 2013/14 season I was racing on my Polygon mountain bike as it was still during the mountain bike season, with the final MTB world cup still to go in Norway. Round 1 of the series was on one of my favourite courses of the whole season, and only a 10 minute ride away from my house. There was a lot of riders on the start line as the junior race goes at the same time as the senior riders. I managed to get a good start and was in the top 5 for the first few corners. It was a very fast race on a dry course which was tough on the mountain bike, but I held onto a top 5 place for the first half of the race. For the second half of the race I felt stronger and started to catch the riders in front, just catching up to Ian Taylor who was in 2nd position with 2 laps to go. We stayed together for the final 2 laps, both trying to get away from each other but it came down to a sprint into the last corner. We were together right until the last bit where I was able to get in front over the hurdles and managed to hold on until the line to get 2nd place overall and 1st junior. I was really happy with this result, as my team mate Dave Fletcher took the win as well.
The following weekend brought round two of the series which again had nice warm weather, but this time on a flat course. From the start I was in a group fighting for 2nd place, with Paul Oldham off the front. The group I was in stayed together for the whole hour of racing until half a lap to go where I attacked into the single track wooded section. This left no room for other riders to overtake and I held the front of the group until we came back out onto the field with only a few hundred meters left to go. From here it was an all out sprint to the line, where I just held on to second place, also taking the win in the junior category. This was another good result for me, with an added bonus of taking a trophy home for the first Yorkshire rider across the line. This is my last cyclocross race for a few weeks now as I have one more MTB race to go before having a rest and then getting back into racing cyclocross after that.

Monday, 7 October 2013

2013 Mountain Bike Season Summary

The 2013 mountain bike season brought a lot of new things for me: my first year as a junior, my first year riding for Orange Monkey Pro Team and also my first year racing mountain bike internationally. This meant a lot of changes for me which I was very excited about, but brought a lot of mixed results as the whole year has been a very steep learning curve for me.
The first big difference was starting the season in Cyprus on a team training camp whilst racing the Sunshine Cup. These 2 weeks were a great experience with my new team and I got a 5th and a 3rd in the races I did there, a podium being really positive start to the season as there was a strong international field in both races I did. Just days before we left to come home one of my team mates, Dave, had a nasty crash whilst we were out training together on the road which ended up with him in hospital with broken bones and weeks before he could ride again. That was a day I will never forget, going to the cypriot hospital; something I hope never to have to do again!
The start of the British racing season starting next at a snowy race in freezing conditions at Sherwood Pines. I came in third here, a result I was happy with as a first year junior in conditions that suited me well after recently finishing the cyclocross season. From there my next race was round 2 of the British series down in cornwall. This time the course was much more technical with nice warm weather. I had a good start here and was up near the front of the race, however after half a lap in I had a heavy crash, ending my race there. It took a couple of weeks to get back into training after this race, after spending over a week on crutches with a knee injury.

After getting back on the bike, but not yet having had time to get back to race fitness, I did a round of the Scottish series, where I snapped a chain, before traveling to Germany for my first mountain bike world cup at. It was a steep, muddy and fairly technical course, the kind that suits me really well. After been pretty nervous at the start of such a big race, I had a good start and moved up the field well on the first 2 laps after been gridded 110th. The single ring setup I had chose to run on my bike started to tire me out as  the race went on, I was a bit over geared on some of the steeper sections. However, I punctured later on in the race and having a problem in the pits meant I was way back down the field, behind my original grid ding position with little time left in the race to make up places. Although I didn’t have much to show with the result after this race, I had learnt so much during the week leading up to my first MTB world cup that I could really use some of that knowledge to improve my results in the next rounds.
Next we travelled straight to the next round of the world cup series, a 10 hour drive away in the Czech Republic. I was amazed by the course here, with steep rocky and root sections covering the course it was the first time I had had to race around something so technical. After learning my lines early in the week, I had another big crash during wednesdays course training session, my second of the year. This time ending up in a wheelchair been pushed around some hospital in the Czech Republic late that night. With a lot of support from the team I was able to get back on my bike the day before the race for   a quick spin, before making the decision to still go ahead and race in the condition I was in, hoping that I wouldn't make my injuries any worse and would still gain a lot of experience from racing as it was only my second ever world cup. After having a good start, I sipped backwards on the first steep climb where everyone had to get off and run with so many riders packed in together; with me going up at walking pace with my injured leg. From been dead last at this point I was able to move up from here for the rest of the race and just breaking the top 100 by the finish, coming in 98th.
For the second time this year, my training was then affected by trying to recover from crashing which meant I lost quite a bit of fitness and only managed 10th at the next round of the British series. From here I did my first road race on open roads, where I was happy with finishing mid bunch after been on the attack a few times during the race. My fitness improved again with a few good weeks of training and by the next world cup in Italy I was feeling much more prepared to race. The heat and steepness of the course here was a bit of a shock to the system but after a good start I was happy with my performance and finished 61st, the highest I had finished in a world cup so far. 
I was back at home for a few weeks now after doing a lot of traveling to races in Europe and been able to get some consistent training in really helped; allowing me to win a northern MTB race and also get a top 10 and a top 5 finish in some senior summer cyclocross races. From here I went on to get a top 5 at the next round of the British mountain bike series, allowing me to come into the national championships at Glasgow with good fitness and confidence. As one of the races I was targeting for the year it was important for me to go well here. I had a great start, moving up quickly and held a good position near the front of the field after lap 1, with my legs feeling great. As I attacked and moved up into the leading positions I had a collision with another rider and ended up on the floor on a rock garden; ending the national championships for me. I got back on and managed another half a lap but after making a mess of my hand I wasn’t able to hold on to the bars properly and couldn’t finish the race. I was really disappointed after the race here, it was an event I really wanted to win and I was gutted to not have been able to finish after having such good legs on the day.
However, I didn’t have time to feel down about the race as we set off straight after the race with an epic drive from Scotland, down the length of England and France to the next race in Andorra; the 4th round of the world cup series. This was the first time I had done a race at altitude, and to make things even harder the course was another steep one. After been caught up in a crash at the start, I moved back up the field well, just getting into the top 40 by the finish. This was my best world cup result so far and one I was quite happy with after a super hard race so high up in the Pyrenees.
We were then onto the penultimate race of the season and the last round of the British mountain bike series in Essex. The course was on the 2012 olympic course which was really fun to ride but also hard with some steep climbs. After having a fairly steady start I moved up well during the race into 4th and was closing in on a podium position with a lap to go. After a long race I didn’t have the legs to close the gap any more and stayed in 4th position. This wasn’t a bad result for me, and a solid way to finish the British mountain bike series.
Finally the last race of the year, the world cup in Norway, also the venue for the 2014 world championship so it was an important to learn the course well here. The week leading up to the race went well and I knew the course well and was feeling good. The day before the race the conditions totally changed from a dry and fast course to a wet and muddy one. I went out on course to learn the new lines in the mud but had a small crash puncturing both wheels. After quickly putting a new wheel set in I was back out on course with mud tyres on and was loving the muddy conditions. On race morning the course looked even muddier after a night of rain, something I was really happy about at a muddy course is much better for me. After a great start I was higher up in the field that I had been all year, around the top 20 mark with my legs feeling great. Mid race I had a rear flat, slicing the sidewall on a rock which left a long way to go to the pits to get a new wheel. After getting a new wheel I was able to get going again and catch some riders back up but the thick mud was causing all kind of problems with the bike. After the final lap of nursing the bike back to the finishing line without many gears working, I came across the line in 44th, a lot further back than the top 20 I got up to at the start but still my second best world cup result of the year. After a long season it’s now time for a short rest before getting back into training and starting to race some cyclocross over the winter. Its been a very mixed year with some good results but also some races that haven’t gone to plan and too many hospital trips for one year! However I have learnt so much this year that I can put into place over the winter and by next years mountain bike season I’m hoping for a much more consistent year. Now time for a rest!

Friday, 1 February 2013

2012/13 Cyclocross Season Summary

                For the 2012/13 cyclocross season I moved up from youth to junior category, which meant the races were a little longer, and also that there were bigger world cup and world championship races I could compete in. My main goal for the season was winning the national championships and getting some international race experience by competing in some big races abroad.
                I started the season by doing a couple of local races which went quite well as I could test myself against the senior riders as the junior category races at the same time as them. This was great preparation for the national series and I even managed to get an overall win in round 3 of the Yorkshire points series.
                The first national trophy was in Abergavenny, a course that suits me well with some off camber corners and steep banks. From being near the back after the start I came through the bunch during the first lap and attacked off the front mid race. I managed to hold a small gap until the end of the race to win the first round of the series and get the yellow jersey.
                The first national trophy allowed me to get selected to race the European championships in Ipswich. This was one of the biggest races I had done so I was keen to do well, unfortunately I got caught up in a few crashes at the start and dropped back from been gridded mid field. I got some places back during the rest of the race but the lead group had gone away early on and I only managed 29th spot in the end.
                The middle part of the cyclocross season consisted of 3 national trophy races were I had a bit of a dip in form where I got two 6th positions and a 4th. These results weren’t too bad for me and still allowed me to pick us some fairly good and consistent points towards the overall series.
                This lead on to the penultimate round of the national series in Shrewsbury which was a very muddy race, it was a close race with some tough sections where it was difficult to keep the bike upright in the slippy mud, as the front group separated towards the end I got into second position which I held until the end, but was unable to close the gap to the front. The last national round was another muddy race in Derby, this time on a course with less wooded sections but still plenty of slippy corners. There was quite a big bunch of riders at the front of the race to start with which I managed to get in, but then I was able to ride the sand pit and also bunny hop the hurdles which gave me a small gap over the other riders. I kept pushing on to try open up a bigger gap behind me but crashed on one of the corners and lost the lead that I had built. After swapping bikes after the crash I attacked again and this time kept the gap until the finish to win the last round, and get my second win of the series. I had also got 2nd overall in the series which was a bonus as it wasn’t one of my main goals for the season.
                It was then time for the national championships, which were been held on my local course in Bradford this year. This was good news and it is a course that suits me with lots of steep climbing and lots of local support. The first lap was hectic with lots of attacks with riders trying to get away, but also lots of crashes in the mud. I managed to avoid crashes for the first part of the race and attacked with a few laps to go, I got a gap which was difficult to hold around the tough course but I rode the corners well and the gap gradually got bigger towards the end. Coming up the finish straight with a lap to go the crowd were so loud and gave me the extra energy to keep pushing on for the last lap. I managed to keep the gap and win the race, my main focus of the season. I was really happy with the result and am now able to wear the national champions jersey in all the cyclocross races next year.
                This result allowed me to get selected to race the final round of the world cup series in Hoogerheide, Holland; and also the world championships in Kentucky, America. We travelled to Hoogerheide 2 days before the race to allow time to look at the course. It was an icy race which made some of the corners and steep banks very tricky. I didn’t have the best of starts and went into the first corner mid pack, around 40th position.  It was a very tight bunch with riders 2 or 3 wide for most of the first lap. It was very difficult to move up with so many riders around but after the first lap a few gaps opened up and I was able to move through the field a few places to finish in 33rd. This wasn’t a bad result for me in my first world cup event and a great race to do in preparation for the world championships 2 weeks later.
                The world championships was my last race of the season and also my first worlds so I really wanted to get a good result. We travelled to America a week before the race to allow time to get over the jet lag and look at the course in Louisville in detail. It was a very interesting course with 2 sandpits, a few sets of steps, hurdles, a bridge and lots of steep bankings and corners. I it was a fun course and the muddy conditions on Fridays practice session suited me really well. When race day came the temperature had dropped a huge amount which left the course frozen and rutted, totally different from the previous days conditions. After a quick change of tyre pressures we were all on the start line and ready to go, I had a great start and first lap and moved up to 7th position. However soon after I crashed on the icy ground and lost my rhythm and a few places. The race went downhill from here for me and I got caught behind some other crashes when riders in front slipped on the ice. By this point I had dropped down to 23rd position with a lap to go, the race had split up leaving most riders riding on their own or in small groups. I managed to hold this position until the finish and finished in 23rd place. Although I felt I could have had a better result had I stayed upright a bit more, I was still happy with a top 25 in my first world championships as I still have next year in the same category. It was a great event that I really enjoyed and it was a fantastic way to end a good season. The crowds in America were the biggest I have ever raced in front of and really made you push harder. After such a good experience I am focusing on the world championships for next year’s cyclocross season but currently looking forward to racing cross country mountain bike through the summer. Bring on 2013!

Friday, 26 October 2012

2012 Mountain Bike Season Summary

This year’s mountain bike season, my last in the youth (under 16 category), went really well with me achieving my two main goals; winning the national mountain bike championships and the national mountain bike series.
After a hard winters training I came into the first round of the national series with some good form and was able to start the series off with a victory around a fast course at Sherwood Pines.
At the following round at a very muddy Dalby forest, I had a few technical problems which I didn’t have the legs to recovery from on the steep climbs and didn’t make it on to the podium there, finishing in 4th place. The bike problems proved to be more serious than first thought and resulted in me riding a new bike for the rest of the year, a Merida Big Nine.
The next round took me to Hopton Woods on a red hot weekend which was also my first time out on the new bike.  The course there consisted of a long climb to the top of the course followed by a flowing descent all the way back down to the bottom. I was able to get away on the first lap there and keep a gap until the end, I was really happy to come away with the win there and to have a race with no mechanical problems.
Round 4 was another muddy race up in Scotland on a great hilly course. There were lots of slippy climbs and descents there which suits my riding style and helped me to get away early on in the race and keep the gap until the line.
The next race I did was the national championships, the biggest British race of the year and also my main goal for the season. The course was similar to the race the year before where I rode well so my confidence was high coming into the race. It was a tough race that started fast but I was able to get a small gap on the first lap which I increased during the rest of the race. It was a very fast course but I was thrilled with winning the national title in only my second mountain bike season.
After the nationals I got the chance to go and race the European championships in Austria for Great Britain, the event was held in a different format to the British races with a skills competition, a combined cross country race where riders are handicapped from the results of the skills competition, a marathon race and finial a cross country race. I came into the race really tired after a busy season of racing and training so didn’t ride as well as I wanted, finishing 61st overall. There were a lot of things I learnt in my first European championship which was a great experience as I had never ridden in a race that big before.
The weekend after we got home from Austria was the final round of the national series where I placed 2nd in a sprint finish. Although I wanted to win the last round, I was still happy with the days performance with winning the overall points competition in the national series.
My final event of the season didn’t come while October which was the inter-regional mountain bike competition where I was racing for Yorkshire. October is the start of the cyclocross season so I came into the race with some good legs in preparation for the first cyclocross race. The event was held in a similar format to the European championships with a skills competition, a dirt crit, a hill climb and a cross country race. The weekend went well for me and I picked up wins in 3 out of the 4 races. The skills competition really puts the pressure on your technical skills so I was happy to hold it together all the way around and clear the course. The next event was the dirt crits, a series of short races (heats, semis and a final) where there is a fast pace all the way through and lots of tactics involved to try and be at the front after the final sprint for the line. I managed to get through my heats, avoiding a few crashes and take the win in the final. We had the hill climb race to do next, I had a bad start here and never got back to the pace of the leading riders, only finishing 12th. I was after a much better result here but was ready to give it everything in the last race of the weekend, the cross country. This was a real tough race, one of the hardest of the whole year which wasn’t helped by the hot conditions. It was a close race with a few riders at the front around the Olympic course right until the closing part of the race. I managed to get away with a lap or 2 to go and keep the gap over the technical descent and climbs that the Olympic riders raced around just a few months earlier. I was really happy to get the win in the last race of weekend and also the season. It has been a great year for me, getting some good results but also having a great time at the races and having some great experiences racing abroad.
I am now looking forward to moving up to the Junior (under 18) category to race cyclocross over the winter before coming back to race mountain bike again next summer.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Hit the North

Today was my first mountain bike race of the year year at 'Hit the North'. It was the fist time I had done the event and I thought it was a brilliant atmosphere and a good course, an event that I definitely will be doing again in the future. It was freezing when we set off in the morning, only -5 degrees, but even with the cold it was still a great turn out. The course was really good and had some technical sections, and a climb that was covered in ice! The race went well at the beginning, I led from the start and got a gap after the first lap. My skewer holding my front wheel in came loose and was hanging down as I went through the finish area after completing one lap, I had to stop and get off to fix it so my front wheel didn't fall out. The gap I had made was closed right up and I had to try to pull away again for the second time. Through the rest of the race I managed to increase the gap again and took the win. I'm delighted as it was my first race of the year and I wasn't feeling very well at the start with having a bit of a cold. It was a great day out and even Guy Martin (Isle of Man TT Legend) turned up to race!! Have a look at some of the pictures on the British Cycling website at  http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/cyclocross/article/cyx20120204-Hit-the-North-2012-0.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Rapha Supercross

I was chosen to ride for the Rapha/GB Development team in the first two rounds of the supercross series, at Lake Windermere then Huddersfield the following day. It was a great event both days with big crowds and a lot of noise which made a great atmosphere for racing. The course at Windermere was very technical and deep in mud which suited me really well and I managed to get up to the middle of the field from the back of the grid. It was a great experience racing against elite riders and I was happy with how I performed, our team got 3rd position which was great to say our team of youth, junior and under 23 riders were racing elite riders! We also managed to hold onto this position the following day in Huddersfield although I didn't have as good a ride as Saturday on the flat and dry course around Huddersfield new college. It was still a fantastic experience and great fun racing in 2 big events in 1 weekend!! Looking forward to my next cyclocross race now which is the 2nd round of the national trophy series in Leicester!

National Trophy 1 South Shields

I was really looking forward to this race, as it always is a great feeling at the start of a new season. I got there the day before to have a look at the course and set up my bikes for the race. The course was quite good with some climbs, slippy corners and even a sand pit! On race day it was very windy which was going to make the racing even harder, and it did. I had a good start leading it out for the first few laps but then I quickly tired in the wind and slipped down to 4th place. I was really disappointed with this result as I wanted to start the season with a win, but learnt some things from it and hopefully will have a better result next time out!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

National XC Champs

The national XC mountain bike champs were in Yorkshire this year which was really good for me as we had a test event which was a short race on half the nationals course to learn it ready for the champs. This ment I already knew my lines for half of the course when we arrived on practice day. It rained all weekend here and was quite cold too which I didn't mind because I quite like racing in the rain while a lot of people don't. I had a really good start and was in third position with a gap behind me after the steep muddy descent on the first lap. I stayed in this position for the rest of this lap when disaster stuck and I was stuck in my big ring. My gears were then far too big for this course with the steep climbs and tight corners. Still I made up some time on the technical descents and only dropped 3 places to 6th with about half a lap to go. Mike Thompson was catching me a bit through the woods near the end and it came down to a very small gap between us when we hit the fire road leading up to the finish arena. I managed to hold him off and kept 6th position. This was quite a good result and I was happy with it because it was made a lot harder for me when my gears broke on the first lap. I have a bit of a break now until September before the remaining national mtb races this season and then it is cyclocross season which I am really looking forward to this year because I am second year youth. Have a few weeks now to put some good cyclocross training in to get ready for the season.

National XC 4

The fourth round of the British mountain bike series was in south Wales at Margam Park. The course had a huge climb in it and some really tricky descents which was made ten times worse by the deep mud that covered the course. This suited me well and I was really looking forward to the race. I got a good start and was sat in about 6th position going up the single track climb on the first lap. Once we got to the top of the climb we hit the deep mud and technical sections where I moved up to second, Ian had got a gap off the front on this section of course which I closed down on a steep descent and dropped the riders with me. I closed it down some more going up a short steep climb and was almost onto his wheel by the time we hit the top of one of the longest descent sections of the course. On one of the tight corners near the top I lost my front wheel in the mud and landed head first down a drop off into the floor at the bottom. This was quite bad crash and it took me about a minute to get back on the bike. I then had to blow up my front tire as it had blown when it hit the floor. By the time all this had happened I was way down the field in about 30th. I spent the rest of the race moving up and got back up to 14th position by the end of the race. I was really disappointed with this because I was feeling really good in second and was hoping to beat my third position in the previous round of the series.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

National XC 3

Last weekend I raced at Wasing Park near Reading for the 3rd round in the national mountain bike series. I got there the day before to have a look at the course and to find the set up that I wanted to do the race on Sunday. It was warm and sunny on Saturday so the ground was dry so I got a good set up ready for the race the next day. After a night of rain the track the next day was really wet and slippy so all the set up from the day before had to be forgotten and a new set up had to be guessed for the race. However I got a good start and was in the top 5, as the race settled down I was riding with Harry Franklin for 2nd and 3rd places. The set up was great for the course so the panic with the changing conditions wasn't a problem for me and I managed to stay with Harry for nearly the whole race and came in to finish in 3rd place. I was really happy with this because it was my best ride of the season by far and my first national mountain bike podium as a youth rider and it also meant that I have moved up in the standings to 5th place. Looking forward to the next race of the series now this weekend down at Margam Park, need to try and keep my 5th place overall. A top 5 finish overall in my first year youth would be a great result that I would be really happy with. I also raced in the nutcracker race this weekend at camp hill which I won, that was another good course and my second mountain bike win of the season.

Monday, 18 April 2011

National XC 2

This weekend was round two of the British Mountain bike series at Dalby forest. I went out there on Saturday to look at the course and found that it was completely different from the other mountain bike races I had ridden with steep technical sections and long steep climbs making the course really tough. After a few goes at some of the tricky sections and a crash over the bars I had the course learnt and was looking forward to the race in the morning. I was gridded on the front row and had a good start going into the single track in 4th. I stayed in the top 5 for most of the race but tired in the last lap after having a really fast first lap and came into the finishing area fighting for 7th place. I managed to win the sprint for 7th and was really happy because it was better than my result for round 1 and also I was the leading under 15 rider. It was a great race on a fantastic course and the weather was brilliant too so it was a really enjoyable weekend and I can't wait now for round 3! I had my first mountain bike win 2 weeks ago in the welsh series at Coed Y Brenin which was great and helped my confidence for this weekend too. Also I have my first national road race in two weeks in the isle of man which I am looking forward to too!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

National XC 1

This weekend was the first round of the 2011 British Mountain Bike Series at Sherwood Pines. I went down to look at the course on Saturday, the course wasn't very technical and had quite a lot of fire roads which was going to make a very fast race. I was gridded at the back because I hadn't done any races last year to get a gridding. I didn't have the best of starts and hadn't moved up much by the time I reached the single track for the first lap. The rest of the race then was spent trying to move up through about 30 riders on single track which was really tough. In the end I got up to 11th which wasn't brilliant but it will give me a better gridding for the next round in Dalby so I hopefully will be able to get a better result there. I also did a race last weekend which was the first round of the Midlands series where I got a start position on the front row and finished in second place. Had a good time at both races still, really enjoying these new mountain bike events and looking forward to round 2 now!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

National Trophy Round 6 and End of Season

The last race of the season for me was the final round of the national trophy series. The conditions  were dry and warm which was a bit different from the usual cold and wet races although it was very windy. I had a good start and went into the single track after the start straight in 3rd spot. This bit of the course was too narrow to pass and it lasted quite a while so I was sat in 3rd for a while. The leader then got a bit of a gap because I couldnt get past second wheel, eventually when the course opened up on to the road section I made my way up to second spot. I couldnt manage to get the gap back to the leader so I ended up finishing 2nd. I was still pretty pleased with this reult because it was the last race of the season and I enjoyed the race on a fun course. Also I managed to get 3rd overall in the series which I wasn't expecting because I started the day quite far down overall because of my puncture at round 3 and been ill at round 4. So it has been a good cross season for me and a very enjoyable one which I am happy with because its still my first year. Have a few weeks to go now of really tough training before the summer season starts. Getting really excited now ! Mountain bike for the first time this year !

Saturday, 15 January 2011

National Cyclocross Championships

Last weekend I raced on Saturday in Derby for the national cyclocross champs. I went down on Friday to have a look at the course and found that it was brilliant for me with lots of slippy corners, descents and climbs. It wasstill covered in snow on Friday but it was melting fast which was just going to make it muddy for the rest of the weekend. On Saturday morning all the snow had gone and the course was deep in mud, it was quite a warm day too, so the conditions were turning out to be pretty much perfect for me. The course was very long, about 10 minutes at race pace so it was only a 3 lap race. I didn't have the best of starts and was sat in about 10th but the end of the first straight I was sat in second wheel. I rode away from the rest of the field with Harry Franklin and we got quite a big gap. Both of us have had problems in the national trophy series so we wanted to win this one. We kept swapping positions all the way through the first lap, trying to gap each other but after the first lap we were both still together. On the first corner of the second lap was a huge puddle making the first corner really slippy and I crashed going around it. This gave Harry about a 15 second gap, I tried to close the gap over the final two laps but couldn't manage it and held the gap around 15 seconds for the rest of the race, the course made it hard to close a gap because with so many corners the leading rider could always see where you are to respond if the gap starts to close. So I finished in second in the end, I was disappointed with this because I am too far behind in the national trophy because of a puncture at Mallory and being ill at Southampton so I really wanted to win today. Still I wasnt too disappointed because I won the U15's national title and a big trophy. Here's the link to the British cycling report http://new.britishcycling.org.uk/cyclocross/article/cyx20110108-Home---2011-National-Cyclo-Cross-Championships-0.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Yorkshire Points Round 9

On Sunday I raced in Todmorden for round 9 of the Yorkshire cross series. It was a very challenging course with a very steep long cobbled climb which is probably the hardest part of any cyclocross course I have ridden and also a very technical descent. The start was fast and I was sat in second for the start loop, just before going into the woods I took the lead and got a bit of a gap going up the cobbled climb on the first lap. Going down the descent I took it easy, not wanting to crash the week before the nationals and was caught by the bottom. I then rode a few laps with Jake Womersley, going up the cobbled climb one lap we slipped at the bottom and had to run the entire climb. Jake pulled a gap running up the climb as this is not one of my strongest things. On the last lap I managed to ride most of the climb which Jake ran so I closed the gap down but I wasn't able to catch him before the finish. Its the national champs on Saturday now, can't wait ! I'm going down to Derby on Friday to learn the course and get ready for my race on Saturday. Really liked the course there at the national trophy in 2009 and it suits me well so hopefully I'll have a good race!

North West Round 13

I decided to do another of the North West league as training for the national champs coming up soon, I had never ridden at Macclesfield before but I had heard that the course was very hard, which it was. The course was all on fields with some really tough climbs and a long run up, I knew the course wouldn't suit me but it would also be brilliant training for the nationals which is one of my best courses. It was another cold day and extremely wet and I was slightly late for the start because I was trying to get as warm as I could ready for the start so I ended up on the fourth row. The start was fast and there was a crash on the first corner and also a few corners later which I got caught up in both. I managed to pull some places back though and was sat in 3rd for the majority of the race. Near the end of the race Chris Lawless in second place rolled a tub and one of his cranks fell off which made him run quite a distance back to the pits so in the end I took second. I was quite happy with my performance here because the course was really bad for me and I felt fine after the crash  had the last race.

Yorkshire Points Round 8

Yorkshire cross round 8 was at Thornes park in Wakefield. It was a very cold day which made it hard to get warm before the race but the course suited me quite well with a technical descent and a hard climb back up. I had a bad start but going down the descent on the first lap I managed to close the gap made at the start. I then broke away and got a small gap going up the hill but just after the top my gears jammed and after fixing it I no longer had the lead. I had to chase again for about a lap to get back with the leaders but then whilst hopping the log on the course both my cleats came out of the pedals which ended in a very painful crash. I got back on my bike immediately by instinct like with all crashes in cross races but found that there was no way I was going to finish the race because there were still more than too laps to go and I was in a lot of pain so I ended up not finishing. I was disappointed at this because I was feeling really good and I was quick round the course but luckily it wasnt too bad so after a few days off I should be back to riding and hopefully back to normal by the nationals.

Monday, 13 December 2010

National Trophy Round 5

Yesterday was round 5 of the national trophy series and my home round at Peel Park in Bradford. I went up to look at the course on Saturday afternoon and found that the course didn't suit me that well, with the course not really having any technical sections and a long set of stairs which aren't my strongest point. However, when I arrived on Saturday the steps had been cut out of the course and added a hard climb which suited me a lot more. By my race in the afternoon the conditions had made the course completely different in the deep mud which made even the straights technical as it was hard to ride in a straight line. I didn't have the best of starts but made my way up to the front on the first lap. I broke away with Chris Lawless and we kept swapping places all the time, going to the front on our strong bits of the course. Chris had a small gap coming into the last lap which I closed and passed him on my favourite bit of the course, a really hard deep mud descent. Chris chose to run down which was safer but I managed to ride down which gave me a gap on the last lap. I kept the gap until the line and took my favourite win of the season on my home ground which I was thrilled with. Looking forward to the national champs now in January!

Monday, 6 December 2010

North of England Champs

On Sunday I raced at lake windermere for the north of england champs. I was feeling better so I decided to race and see how I felt, so I would know if I should ride next week at the next round of the national trophy at peel park in bradford. It was -8 degrees and very deep in snow, making the course very hard and impossible to keep your bike in a straight line. The start was very different to normal with some people started running and some riding. I started running which got me a good start but then went back wards when I jumped on so I decided it was best to run. When the chaos of the start settled down I was miles back and had a lot of work to do to get near the front. Over the first two laps I gradually worked my way forward finding hard to pass in the deep snow off the racing line. I found my self at the front with a lap to go and extended my gap a little over the lap. On the finishing straight I got my front wheel stuck in deep snow which stopped me immediately. I got back going again but was passed just before the line and came second by less than 2 seconds. I was still quite happy after today because I still felt good racing unlike the last few races where I have been ill so I think I have got over it ready for my home round of the national trophy series.

National Trophy Round 4

Southampton was the furthest English race of the season without going abroad so I travelled down on Saturday to look at the course and stayed over in a hotel that night. I have had a bad cold all week before but was feeling better by the weekend so I decided to go down to race anyway to get some points and limit the damage. The course had lots of corners one after another, all U-turns. The ground was rock hard in the freezing conditions which almost made it like a road race. It was a fast start and I was in the front few for the first lap. After about a lap and a half I started to feel poorly. I had to then stop 3 times during the race and was sick at the side of the track. I still managed to finish and came across the line in 15th, im regretting going now after and should have waited until I was fully better before I raced; but nothing can be done now, just learnt my lesson for next time! Having all week off the bike now to recover and maybe race at the weekend at the north of england champs if im better.

Yorkshire Points Round 7

Yorkshire points round 7 was at myrtle park and was the coldest race of the year so far. Looking at the course and warming up was all about trying to keep warm and having many gloves and socks on as you could fit. The course was quite good with a few technical sections and corners and a long flight of steps. It was a fast start and I rode away from the group with Jake Womersley for the whole race and we had a big gap over the rest of the field. On the last lap Jake attacked on the stairs and I couldn't hang on to his wheel after racing the previous day which I'm not used to. It was an exciting race riding together and kept swapping positions the whole race.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

North West Round 10

This morning I raced in Liverpool for round 10 of the north west league. The course was fantastic, possibly the best cyclocross course I've ever ridden! It was really long and technical and had a bit of everything; short steep climbs, tight corners on cambers, hurdles, descents and even a run up. Because I had only done one other round of the north west series I wasn't gridded on the first row, but by the second corner I managed to be in the lead. Through the race I gradually increased my lead round the long course and by the end of the race I had about a three minute gap. I am off to watch the revolution at the track now and then have another cross race tomorrow which is a Yorkshire points round, so a very busy weekend!

Monday, 15 November 2010

National Trophy Round 3

On Sunday I raced at Mallory Park in round 3 of the national trophy series. I got there early Sunday morning to have a good look at the course and to find the best lines. I really liked the course and the conditions were good for me so I was feeling quite good about the race. It was another fast start and I went into the first corner in 3rd wheel. Just passing the pits then after the first corner I punctured and had to run bits of the next half a lap to get back to the pits to change bikes. I was way down the field after this and had a lot of work to do to get some points. Throughout the race I kept catching people but it was a hard course to pass on, but I still managed to get back up to 6th place by the finish from twenty something after my puncture. Unfortunately I lost my series lead but I am only 10 points behind in second which I was quite happy with as i was expecting to be a lot further down after my puncture.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Inter Area

This weekend was the Inter Area Team Championships in Leicester. I was riding in the pink and blue Yorkshire jerseys in the Yorkshire A team with Jake Womersley, Edwin Oliver-Evans and Seb Marsh. The course was good with lots of tight corners on slippy grass which made the race very exciting. I started on the second row and had a good start and was in to the first corner with the first few. There was a few at the frount for the first lap and then I managed to break away after that and also ride the hurdles that lap to extend my lead. I managed to make the gap bigger throughout the race and won by just under a minute. The Yorkshire team finished in second place with Jake finishing in 8th and Edwin 10th by just 3 points to the London team. Unfortunately Seb had a mechanical at the start and ended up at the back but still managed to finish in 30th.

Inter Area Team CX Championships 2010 - The Youth Race