Hardtail aficionado Ace Woodley popped dow to Tavistock way for a race at Chip Shop. Did he get battered? Was he a-salt-ed? Did he win-egar? Read on and find out.
Unspellchecked words and photos: Ace Woodley
First race for me for a while, as things panned out i maybe shouldn’t have done it, but then i haven’t been out for ages so was hell bent on at least having a go. The vets class is calling out to me, maybe for me anyway my hardtail days are coming to an end, well might have to skip the bigger World cup tracks, but i might have to have a little comfort time.
So the day down Tavi way, nice and sunny, blue sky, a push up race and a venue i have never been to before, Chip shop has about 10 DH tracks hiding in the woods and some other things to play on. The track marked out was deemed easy for all, some of the roll in’s i saw on the push up would make your chocolate starfish pucker up, some interesting stuff hiding in the woods. www.woodlandriders-racing.co.uk for race dates and general information, or try www.dartmoorcycles.co.uk the shop has changed hands and the website is being revamped. For day trips go to www.woodlandriders.com as you need a day pass to ride (£5) Gawton or Tavi-woods.
Find the place, sign on and go for a track walk. Rooty and lumpy was not in my favour today, fairly technical at speed but most should get down ok, parts of the track made me think back to Mynydd Du and Rheola, i like tracks like this, a bit of skill is more handy than balls out raw power. Build up the bike, chunky drop ship style, my old Z1s need a service (only like 2 years since Tim Flooks fixed them…also speedy recovery to Tim, take it easy ) i just happen to have an old set of low air miles 66rv’s, softer sprung (very handy today) and only 160 over my normal 150mm, but the 66’s have lots of sag, also handy as i can try some new brake pads in the front juicy as my old Hopes are IS mount and won’t fit the 66. 8″ brakes and single speed so should stop quick and not much to go wrong. Did have to remove the top caps so they don’t hit the down tube when i crash…..as it turned out i didn’t crash at all, or hit any trees which was nice.
Already decided if not feeling it then won’t try to race, might try a single race run, be rude not to, come a long way, just bag a time and i will be happy. I had a roll down of the top section to the burger wagon, first 60m are fairly smooth then into what could have been lifted from a Dragon track, roots, muddy roots and instant hurt. Let some PSI out of the tyres, and have another go, better but not loving it, going to slow. Little rest, check tyres, go for a full track run, bit of effort and speed and the top section is not so bad, nice steep roll in across the fire-road, and into some switchback turns, with some nice roots mid turn to have you off, some greasy off camber and rocks but smoother, track favours those that can carry speed, some nice tight turns and big trees, cross another fire-road to the final fairly flat section, tight straight through the trees or the slower wider choice, need to pedal here but not catch roots and little stumps sticking out, short but sweet, the push up wasn’t to bad. Have a rest and watch a few others, then have another full run nonstop, bit faster, bit smoother, i can do this, i might come last but i can have go. Only one attempt, stay loose take it easy, enjoy it log a time. I always go for it on second runs and i can’t take much damage today, the old internal organs are delicate, backswiping a tree will be bad. Jon Creddi on the white Marin, a borrowed bike with semi slick street tyre on the back, and George Greenslade on the blue Identi, both on podium both singlespeed, several of the HT class where running SS, racing doesn’t get much cheaper than this.
Jamie the Ed of wideopenmag, they where out in force with all there team and bought along a crate of bubbly for the podiums F1 style. With a couple of world cuppers out to play the racing was going to be tight.
I think this is number 23 which would be Edward Charles, zipped through here fast enough, into a steep roll in or jump in as shown next.
No 22 Keith Saunders jumping into a tight right turn, the trees stopped you leaving the track as some found out. Is this the year of the Demo 8 ? quite a few racing, few years back it seemed every other bike on the uplifts was a blue and white Glory.
This was lining up for a nice shot, as George Bellwood zipped round the shallow berm, his front tyre ran high, a chunk of berm blew out, i dived for cover got this mid-flight, thought it was going to contact my head, George was downed but not out, lost several seconds but got back on it to finish the run.
Chris Jones, on dirt not so long ago, doing a xc marathon over Dartmoor on a hand cranked trike. He is saving himself for the marathon, but hopes to race the final round of the winter series. Had a good chat with Chris, top bloke who will race DH. http://dirtmountainbike.com/news/chris-jones-dartmoor-adaptive-marathon.html
Practice went well enough, did 2 part runs and 2 full runs with ease then got ready for race runs. My plan was a token effort to log a time….however, didn’t have to let the others know that, so to mess with heads i powered off the ramp and sprinted off into the woods, then when out of sight back off, backed off at the crossing then cruised down, bike did what i wanted when told, back brake was playing up, could hear whistles in front of me so not far off another rider, didn’t hear any behind so going ok, might not be last, the mid section was pretty rollable and fun, then the gradient goes and you have to put in work, sprint for the finish line and don’t pedal clip a stump, safe run bagged, job done, happy. Push back up, pack up and inform start gate i will not attempt a second run, grab some food and settle in to watch the others race.
Final times, a DNS by choice is better than a DNF, i did look at the first run times, and did think about having a go, only 12 seconds to 3rd, i could maybe do that, could bump back to 4th by cutting corners and not going wide but smooth but just hitting the race lines, then things reminded me not to go there, you got your race fix walk away…..thoughts wander to trying a susser ? and how the fuck did Jon Credi get down on micro drive gearing and a slick back tyre, nuts truly nuts 16th overall from 84, me DNS on run 2, and 3 others DNF run 2, the elite experts had a good scrap over winning, that’s some tight times up there.
Quite sure thats an airborne Ash Mulane, in-between racing ending and results being sorted an impromptu jump style contest happened, with a lot of top quality showboating and some quality near carnage fuckups, nothing like an audience and racers blowing off steam, Jon Credicott bagged the win with moves a triple clamp forked DH rig just can’t pull.
Jon warming up for a win. With results sorted jump off was over and time to soak everyone close to the podium with bubbly. The elite podium was a race to blow off the cork and nail the competition, Jay was too slow there, and got drowned.
On the right 3rd Rich Thomas wideopenmag, on the left 2nd Ash Mulane Kustombikes and No1 Jay Williams wideopenmag.
2 more rounds to look forward too, today was classic, not so long ago the UK was frozen over, today was t-shirt weather, the track was damp enough to make things exciting with out being muddy, no major smash ups which is always good, relaxed vibe on and off track, a good day for those starting out and those off to do some world cups, as with any event, big thanks to all those in the background that make the races happen.
A final photo as i was leaving i walked past Ashes van, i am used to seeing old race plates up in vans, but this was one-up to that, how many are there ? dead casual like, Ash pulled out a load more he hasn’t hung up yet, 12 years of racing, living the dream and the trophys. Racers, quality display.