No Fuss events/Hope DH Enduro 2012 (part 2, race time)
Part deux of Ace Woodley's 2012 Fort William endurance downhill experience!
So part 2, race time, 6 hours to try and hit 15 laps on a world cup track, a heady mix of newbies, hardtails and world cup level riders duke it out, some want the win, most want to survive.
Drop the saddle on the move, adjust helmet, goggles ready, reach the wall-ride, goggles on, drop in follow the rider in front down to the gondola.
Run 1) 8.19.6 top section is fast down to the boardwalks, i am not used to the bike at all, off the boardwalks, first rock garden, steep left turn into the top rocks, i get pinged off line, and lose my line, stall....left or right, get it wrong and crash, left then right over the off camber ramp, into the switch backs, wooooohay scary fast and skimming my way down to the deer fence, lots of heavy braking needed to stay on track, haven't ridden a suss-er for ages so not used to the lack of feedback. Fighting the bikes speed, it just picks up speed with no input from me, i mean really picks up speed, i am having trouble adjusting to this. Woods to motorway.....fuuuuuck slow down, stop speeding up like that bike, half ass-ed chop at the first new motorway jump, flat land it again not nice, rest is alright, bit boring, tissot jump, skirt round it don't want the extra boost, the off beat wall, heavy braking, hit the crest spot the line brakes off hang on, slight kick up from the rear ride it out, into the finish, go again. Bit more neck ache.
Run 2) 7.59.6 overcook the first jump :) really rail it through the berms and remember why i never used the tyres, big gap between centre and side knobs, so slip and grip mid berm, go nuts down to where the off camber ramp is, yellow flags, slow right down, little Roslyn is trying to wrestle her bike off the ramp and rocks, get round go again, fine to the deer fence, scare myself silly down to the woods, really overcook the top of the motorway and fight to scrub speed and stay on the track, get over the first new jump and try another line down the wall.
Run 5) 8.55.9 So far i am getting fairly clean runs, i see large groups coming down the top section in trains, little available overtaking, i pass broken people resting at the deer fence crossing and further up. The track is narrow up top, with no run out, you go off the edge of the track you crash simple as that, no where to go. The rear brake lever is now pulling in, and where is my magic carpet ride ? it's smoother yes, but it's harder work, i thought 8" rotors would be awesome and i could sit down more, i stop for a rest in the pit, re check pads, lever pull seems fine. A few are milling about fixing flats having a little rest etc etc.
Run 6) 8.51.7 neck muscles give out when i exit the boardwalk into the rocks, so really try to slow down so i don't get any jolts, Ste on the Hitman hardtail catches me up, i try to get out of the way and he rear ends me, both stay upright i let him pass and follow him down. To eek out performance from the rear brake i try lots of heavy front braking to keep speed in check. I have a fibrax semi pad rear and a RWD sintered pad up front, front brake is working well, but induces brake dive as the old 07 zocchi 66RV is basic on the damping front, i do my best to roll the first motorway jump, don't want the slam of a flat land and just make it through the off beat wall. 6 down, about 2.45 hours left, in theory time to make at least 10 maybe 12 runs, i have another break. I try to take some photos of race action but instead watch a rider bin it big time on the off beat wall, he is spread over the landing zone, Marshall is up with yellow flag, i jog up drag the bike clear and the rider sort of moves over a bit, riders are being slowed and warned to stay left. After a few minutes rider can move on his own, we where going to red flag it, but he is only winded, i carry the bike over the red fence (this is near the finish) grab the grip thats been ripped off in the crash, the rider makes his own way to the finish, i don't know what number or if he retired at this point.
I skulk about in the pits and decide to have another run, then Ste rolls in the zocchi 55's are semi locked, he reckons the cartridge has let go, i wash the fork and spray it in juice lube, it may not have much effect but might help, on seeing the fork juice lube Ste's mate ask's for a squirt so i drown his boxxers and shock in it, they both zip off for another go.
Run 7) 9.29.8 i jump on the bike and pedal to the gondola, gears skip so hit the shifter, nothing, hit it again, nothing, punch it up and down nothing. I assume the crash with Ste has taken out my mech, turns out it severed the cable, on post race checking nothing else appears damaged, hanger seems straight, i thought the mech was broken but from checking the paperwork the b-tension adjust is ment to flap about and not sprung like a shimano mech. You don't need gears or a chain so it can be removed for the rest of race if needed.
This run is a nightmare. I am not even a passenger in places, neck and shoulder muscles are giving up, i try to stay seated and roll down but the bike picks up so much speed, which finishes off the rear brake, lever pulls to the bar now so rely on the front brake, i get out of the way of other riders coming down, twice i nearly lose grip on the bars, not a passenger but barely holding on, i hit the off beat wall and the pain in my neck as you ride through the transition is enough to make me shout. Still about 2 hours left. I could try and rebleed the brake, some others offer me painkillers i decide thats a bad idea and will end in a big off...maybe a race stopper.
I don't retire as such, i play the press card " going to take some photos" ahem may have another run in a bit if i fancy it, and spray up with deep freeze again. By now from 118 on list starters there are maybe 41 off track unable to continue. From looking at the results which only list 103 as finished thats 26 out, Ben Cathro a contender for the win (who i beat in 08) is also out on lap 7 with a time of 15.03 so the bike must have let go as Ben appears to have logged the fastest time of a 5.14.2 thats 10 seconds faster than the winners best lap time, i beat him before as the bike let go, so my 7 runs aren't too shabby when you look at it that way, would a full on world cup factory bike last the distance ? doing 15 back to back 5.30 runtimes ?
Chipps from Singletrack survived intact....and by what he said in the bar is planning next years attack.
I reckon i got another go at hardtail before it beats me up too much. It wasn't as comfy/easy as i expected on the SX, but the bike held up fine, and it looks like when i change brake pads i then have to re-bleed it, i did try to borrow some other brakes as i wasn't that confident in them from the start so something to sort out there.
What got me was the manner in which the SX gains speed, only 170mm rear travel and 160mm up front, how much faster is a full on DH bike ? some of my problems i think are down to basic front damper, dive in berms and heavy braking, loads of grip, maybe more track time and i could ride within it's limits better, add some air preload, maybe heavier oil. Still i wanted a soft ride, i got that, the bike only got lairy in the fast turns. Is the old SX really old suspension wise or just from a marketing point. Anyway it will be going back in storage for a bit, find some newer bits(brakes) and give it another go, the days of hardtail aren't over just yet but i may have the odd day off in the future :)
Big thanks to no fuss events for doing mad races, long may they continue.