Team BTR Fabrications – 661 Mini DH at the Forest of Dean
This was going to be the first race that we were attending as “Team BTR Fabrications”. Unfortunately not all of us could be in attendance as Tam had to attend his ‘day
job’ and Rhys Jenner busted his shoulder the weekend before playing rugby. Still, I was super excited about taking my ‘Rippers’ (Although Riley is now in juvenile) to
a race in Wales. It would be their first time racing a track over that way and it was certainly going to be a ken load gnarlier than they were used too.
I planned on getting into Wales on the Friday night in order to meet my old friend James McKnight. He is usually pretty hard to pin down due to being a bit of an international bicycle traveller, but he has recently taken up a full time job down at the Dirt office as Editor of the BikeMagic website. It’s been a long time, and I was dead keen to find out why on earth he decided to give up his amazing lifestyle and ‘settle down’! We had a few ciders and good ol’ chat about this an that before he finally admitted that he was just a bit fed up of being skint and couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work with the guys at Dirt. It’s not very often a cushty job like that turns up, and to turn it down would have been crazy mental! Fair play I’d say. Jimbo took us on a little walk around his gaff on Saturday morning, rubbing it in just how amazing everything is round there. He has a great hill for building tracks on just outside his back door, plus a rad looking cliff for climbing! And ever river just down the hill for canoeing… I’m so jealous It’s always the way its been with Jimbo though, ever since I first met him and saw his riding style!
It was time to get to the track and get some practice in! We got there just after Riley and Aaron did but they were already kitted up and ready to go, pestering me to get my A into G and up the hill. They eventually got fed up of waiting for me and went up on their own! By the time I got myself sorted they were already covered in mud and grinning from ear to ear. I remember the days of having that much energy…
I walked the track on my own as the boys were already hitting it and I didn’t want to get in the way of their fun. Saturday was just unofficial practice so there would be plenty of time to show them some lines on Sunday morning before they got serious with some proper race lines! A friend from work had come along to the race just for a bit of fun and said to me “do you inspect every part of the track!?” Well if you want to do well you need to know where you are going! The track looked
pretty fun, with the bottom section being the most technical and the top section before the fire road being fast, flowy and jumpy.
Towards the end of the day I got the boys to follow me down the track. I obviously took it easy in order to show them the lines I was taking, and when we got to the bottom Riley was so excited to have hit all the lines I was. I was pretty chuffed I was able to show him a thing or too as well. I noticed Aaron seemed to be having a bit of trouble with the reach on his brake levers, he was having to use up to 3 fingers to get enough power on the brakes and as you well know this is far from ideal. We headed back to the pits so I could do some adjustments to try and improve things for him. He had a go on a kinda flat bit and said it was better, but a test on the race track was required to actually find out if it was working.
So on Sunday morning we all got to the pits at the same time, as we all stayed in the same B&B, it was pretty easy to coordinate. The boys were ready and on their way up the hill in no time. It takes me a while longer than them to get ready in my old age, plus I have a few extra ‘supports’ to put on due to old injuries. Aaron and Riley went and got themselves warmed up on the bottom section of GBA, it’s a good fun jumpy section of the track and they love it. They then headed up to the track and got some runs in while I changed to forks on my bike. Once I got myself sorted, we started to push up the track and I showed them all the lines I had spied out the day before. I really enjoyed showing them my lines, explaining to them why you want to take these lines and then watching the boys jump straight in and have a go. There was a super tricky outside to inside line at the bottom of the track, that required a hop over a tree stump, and then a pretty rooty off camber. I showed them this line and Riley was well up for it, but Aaron seemed not too sure. I don’t blame him, when I was looking at it I wasn’t that sure either! So I showed him a couple of alternatives and explained why the line he had been taking made things more difficult for him. Riley went first and sent it first go, it was a little sketchy but he nailed it non the less. I think I was more happy than he was! A couple runs later Aaron followed him in and hopped the stump just as easy! These two have got balls, and skills to match! We carried on up to the top, checking lines as we went. There wasn’t anything else on the track as technical as the bottom corners so it was just a general take this high line into that low one, see how it all links up etc. etc…
After all the commotion I only managed to get two practice runs in before they closed the track. I went to the start with the boys and tried to calm their nerves by telling them to just have fun riding their bike and that’s all that matters. Aaron definitely looked the most nervous of the two, but he was soon off down the track and smashing it! Riley was up next so I started to make my way down the track so I could meet them at the bottom and see how they got on. Both of them made it down without any stacks but neither of them were happy with how the run went or their position. I tried my best to get them to understand that the position didn’t matter and that they had another run to get one in that they were happy with. I then had to wait around for ages for my run, we were sat at the bottom right by the sketchy off camber section and so many people were stacking. I tried my best to ignore what was going on and keep my focus but it gets pretty hard sometimes, ha ha. I heard some people saying that their run was a bit earlier than expected so I thought I better get myself up the hill in case I missed my run. Unfortunately I got up there far too early so the only thing to do was to check out lines on the top section of the track. I saw a friend of mine up there on his new bike and got completely distracted and missed my run time anyway, doh! Luckily they let me slot in! I had a banger of a run until the last corner/inside off camber section. I don’t really remember what happened but I think my back wheel slid out on a root sending me sideways just before this lump in the track you had to hop, or at least lift the front wheel over. This sent me straight over the bars and onto my face! I got away without injury, which was pretty lucky considering the close proximity of the trees in that section, but was pretty gutted to not get a solid first run time in.
It wasn’t long after my first run when Aaron and Riley were back up for their second. Both of them looked much faster this time and were much happier when they got to the bottom. Aaron took 2sec off his run time which is pretty damn good, Riley took off 3sec and was much much happier with how his run went. I told him that’s all that counts and that when the results come out to not be bother by his position because he had fun on his bike. He wouldn’t have it though, a racer is a racer at the endof the day ha ha! I managed to stay on for my second run this time and took 9sec of my first run. Not too shabby.
Aaron in the Rippers – 4th with a 1.34.31
Riley in Juvenile – 12th with a 1.08.70
Burf in Senior – 30th with a 59.57
Keep ‘er Sideways