01/04/2010 | 10 comments
A race report by Jake The Tea Boy.
MIJ Events Rd2, Taff Buggy Race Report.
I think firstly I need to apologise for the lack of my photography in this report, which was mainly because the weekend was so much fun, the camera didn’t leave it’s bag…
An early start on Saturday, calling in at the golden arches for breakfast, and to hook up with the rest of the guys who were coming along. The hire van that three of the guys had for the weekend was in “limp home” mode for some reason…that didn’t really matter though, Rich Lane’s rock star shades and outfit meant that the LDV in limp home mode suddenly became the epitome of cool. Half an hour down the M4 watching the LDV boys singing along to the Lighthouse Family, we were at Taff, unpacking our kit and getting ready to ride. Taff Buggy is a pretty unusual venue as all the parking and pit area is at the top of the track, different to anywhere I’ve ever raced before. Really nice though. This weekend was going to be a good’un.
Finally on the bikes and into Saturdays practice session. Dusty was the order of the day, I don’t think they’ve got layers of dust quite like that in those old-skool stately homes! The track started with a couple of nice dusty flat turns with a jump into some nice bermed up corners, off a wall drop, then down a steep chute with a blown out right hander at the bottom, then along into rock garden no.1, tempting you around a left hander. There was a lot of line talk here, with some colossal claims coming from a couple of riders mainly regarding a huge huck to flat inside line….I didn’t see anyone ride it at any speed. By saturday lunchtime there was a nice line wearing in through the middle anyway, which really became the line of choice. Off a log drop at the bottom of the rock garden and then off into the next section.
A pedal across a fire road, round a left hander with a nice bit of grippy grass on the inside, then off down another steep chute, a longer one this time, and into a new tabletop. Another pedal, over a double into a left hand berm, then another pedal down into the next rock garden. Technically not as hard as the 1st rock garden, but a lot faster. Through the rocks, and into a pedal into the bottom section. An amazing, super fast berm and jump section into the finish. Easy to overjump with the speed, but hard to ride super fast and not spend all your time getting big air. Over the finish and only ever a short wait for the uplift. MIJ started the uplift padding for bikes, and it was going strong over the weekend. The usual uplift carnage was never to ensue. Bikes finished the weekend as well as they started it (ignoring crash damage!), which I think is a major step forward in UK uplifts, with other uplift and race organisers already using the same system.
Turn around time was spot on too, I managed to get 6 runs in before we had lunch! First run after lunch and a bit of an over-the-bars-onto-head clanger later, I spent most of the afternoon led by the van.
Atmosphere. Something that is a bit scarce at some of the races in the UK these days. You could really feel the relaxed buzz though. Everyone was there to have fun, have a laugh, and kick back in the sun. Having the pit area close to the start really creates something special. The ability to relax in the sun, wander over and have a run. No fretting about getting to the top on time, just ride the hundred yards to the start and get on it!
Saturday night all started with bike riding round the pits facing backwards… and things deteriorated from there as the beers started flowing. It must have been something to do with the nice weather, it was like drinking lemonade. The next thing I know, walking down to the pub is the best idea since tubeless. If anyone races at Taff, you have to visit the Rose and Crown. It’s the best sample of welshness I’ve had since Steve Jones’ stick snapping video! Steve Davis the landlord took a particular shine to Josh. Renamed him Titch…kissed him on the head, and bellowed across the pool room in a deep welsh frenzy,”Titch….You’re next!”. It probably was simply to do with the pool…but still made us all collapse with laughter, ever so slightly pissed. Sat in the corner of the room I did some thinking through my beer goggles. My leg was stiff and my arms still stinging from the crash, but I wasn’t bitter one bit. This weekend was turning into the best weekend I’ve ever had racing. It really is all about having some fun.
After some serious staggering back from the pub and a bit of sleep, it was light, it was Sunday, and no-one was feeling too great. A bit of relaxed bike maintenence and we all headed over for some practice. 4 runs in an hour and a half, turnaround times at Taff are kept to a minimum. Everything hurt, but that didn’t matter. The atmosphere in the pits was great, that relaxed buzz seemed to penetrate all of us. Mountainbike racing had met Bob Marley in a way it never had before.
Race time. I rolled up to the start for my first run, and on the left, leant against a wooden post, is a bit of old plank. Written on it in yellow signwriting paint was “Have Fun”. I laughed to myself, then the green light came on, and it was time to pedal. It was all going well until I flew into the rock garden and somehow managed to jump over my handlebars. Back up to collect the bike and fun came back into my head. There was no way the run was going to be competitive, so it was time to get sideways over the jumps!
Lunchtime came and some relaxation in the pits with all the boys doing their best to woo Dawn, the mum of local rider Ben Humphries. The bacon and egg rolls from the onsite catering really are where it’s at. Huge!
Back to the top for race run number 2. After my disappointing 1st run, I was determined to get back in there. Pedalling like a lunatic, and I even hit all the lines I wanted. It was looking really good. Bang! Rear flat! I had to do the best I could with the back of the bike all over the place, but still didn’t get me anywhere. 3 seconds slower than run 1! Normally at races, I’d be a kenload more annoyed than I was at Taff.
Looking back on it, it was the best weekend’s racing I’ve ever done, even though it was my worst result ever. Amazing atmosphere, loads of fun, and some of the best flat out riding this side of the English Channel. The work behind the scenes must have been huge, I’ve never seen a race run in such a clockwork manor. Big Up MIJ events, they might be newish on the scene, but the wealth of racing knowledge and organisational skills really shines through.
Cheers MIJ, what a weekend.
Get well soon to Jonny Howe, storming senior in one run before a huge rockgarden crash fractured his lower leg.
- Photo’s thanks to Martin Howe (Rowan Photo) and Tyler138. See you next time!