Few weeks back I shook off winter, crawled out of hibernation and ended up in Tavistock woods for a day. Also known as Chip shop and also just down the road from the ex-Dirt 1.04 MKII track which lives in Gawton woods. And on that topic, the Gawton Gravity hub is well up and running, a small log cabin with hot drinks and basics is open and the Flyup downhill service is running Fri-Sunday, so it has uplift, something I mean to do as I have only ever ridden the 1.04 track or Super-Tavi by it’s real name, or faceplanting bloody mess in my case. And theres four tracks to play on now.
So, been slack, but been broke too, so been hibernating because that’s cheap, boring, but cheap. I found myself in the right place about the right time, got the itch to race, so went for it. However, it’s been a while, the old skills are rusty, the bike hasn’t gone rusty, but took a battering last year, and haven’t got round to fixing it up yet…what to do…to race or not to race? That is the question, being as it’s a winter series and the Gawton mob are very laid back, I raced the only rideable bike I had to hand, the return of the Rigid raider and some more 29er death wish action.
The track was on the subtly named Gnarkill, not so hard for the newbies and little rippers that start off in grass roots racing, but hard enough when the speed ramps up if you’re aiming for a podium. The expected mudfest didn’t really happen, the push up on the fireroad was wet, but the sun was out, the track started muddy but quickly became very rideable and fast.
A nice easy practice session, I smashed out 3 runs and even walked the track fully as well, using the excuse of not riding for six months I stopped at 3 runs, the push up was fairly easy, and I reckon I could have done 5 or 6 runs in allowed practice time, if I didn’t keep stopping to chat to old faces and partake in the odd bacon roll or two, and only £2.90 for a tea and bap, bargain!
We expected the whole track to be like brown soup, but only parts of the fireroad were this bad. Still glad I lashed on a front mud flap though. Practice was nice and mellow, few new bikes rolling around, gossip on who is waiting for this seasons racer to arrive, excitement over the BDS being back at Combe Sydnham country park again (April) and expected crowd turnout should be bigger than last year (must go and have a look see there pre-race).
First to run were the little rippers, with much cheering from the grown ups waiting there go. Sprint start, gentle slope, choppy ground, into the trees and roots, then drop in to the first road crossing, some nice tight turns, not steep but fast if you carry speed well.
Slightly hard going on the rigid Karate Monkey, could have done with having the wheelbase slammed for the turns, the v-brakes worked, bit of rim deflection under heavy braking so came a bit close to playing with trees. Two-pawl freewheels suck in tight sprinty tracks, really must get a proper wheelset. Did get a bit of pisstaking (expected) over the bike, but quickly pointed out mines been down Glencoe and Fort William, one of the few bikes there that could claim that, and of course the only bike to hand thats raceable for me. Chris Lamely did then point out if I asked him I could have borrowed his steel Stanton Slackline as he had a loaner Titainium prototype to play with, got him to keep still for more than a minute and got some snaps of it, should be available around May I belive (no idea how much though), looks nice though.
Veered off a bit there, back to racing, tight turns, roots, loads of line choices enough for some to get lost in there run.
Yeah…from the top of the last four photos then, Ben Deakin checking out line choices from the other side of the tape, next photo, out of shot is the super wide line aka the chicken run but we can’t call it that anymore. I ran the really tight inside line as the camera man would have been a soft landing unless I hit the tree first, used my big wheels to smash through the scooped out ground, the middle line had some little poking out stumps, being rigid that would have been real bad for me if the front wheel clipped one.
Next big thanks to James Millen for that shot of me, will buy you a beer or burger next time, I looked fairly smart for a change, my mate Tim blagged some Schwalbe t-shirts at the core show, so matched my top with my tyres. Hans Dampf coped well with the mud and roots, so had to run them a bit firm since they were single ply. Fourth photo, I kept veering into this tree by the Marshall, bit of a step/drop into a small bomb-hole with a rocky hard right exit, some flowy turns and spit out onto the second road crossing, flat sprint across roots and round stumps and through the timing gate. Chaz had set up a viewing screen so riders didn’t hassle him for times, I didn’t worry too much about mine, just as well.
On the walk back up I stopped off for a chat with Chris Jones who was on marshall duty. Propped up the Rigid Raider and had a chat with another rigid raider.
Chris races an adaptive trike and is well on the way to developing a racing trike (hopefully later this summer, a prototype) if you’re on Facebook check him out, some videos of Chris jumping the old rigid trike www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/mericisports he might have a go at racing Rd4 hopefully I will be about for that race as well.
On the walk back up, I had another bacon roll, and saw this leaning up against a tree, wanted one of these 10 years ago, only the second one I have seen, the old SuperCross.
Second race runs came round fairly quickly. That’s the joy of winter local races. About 120 racers, no major tree swiping (some did try) so things turned around quickly. Usual run two issues of trying harder but failing, even if it felt faster it wasn’t. The track had turned out real nice by run two, bit choppy in places, but considering the weather over here, surprisingly dry.
With my runs done, it was time for a quick wash down, pack away and go get some photos.
Andy who runs www.dartmoorcycles.co.uk in Tavi hinted that he might just run rigid as well in Rd4, he’s got one of those Transition Clunkers. I reckon it will end badly if he snaps the chain mid run (pedal back brake) then again most people think I am nuts for what I chuck the Monkey down. I reckon another 1/2″ off the seat post, and a chain tension-er, so I can slam the wheel forward, might be faster then. I might just keep Andy company and do Rd4.
There was some curious finger pointing going on from younger riders, and “what’s a v-brake?” type questions, then you point out that Steve Peat started racing on something like this before they where born. This makes you feel old, we never had the stuff you get now-days and would race almost anything, it certainly sharpens up the reflexes real quick when you go rigid. The sport has come a very long way.
Expert Elite podium.
Chazz on the far left, the man behind the scenes, along with many helping hands from www.woodlandriders-racing.co.uk that lay on the races for us. Ash Mullane in 3rd (left), Jay Williamson 2nd (right) and the Deakinator aka Ben in 1st (get some UCI points, have a go at a WC) great day out, short track local racing, real close times, and laid back atmosphere makes for fun racing.
Round 3 is this weekend if your in the area, drop in for a bacon roll and cheer some people on, still time to get in for Rd4, which could be messy if several rigid raiders turn up.