Discipline: Downhill, Enduro
Competition Level: Open Women/ Female Veteran
DH Bike - Giant Glory 1, Enduro Bike - Giant Reign 1
DH Bike; Giant Glory as stock except for Renthal handlebars. Preferred tyres Magic Mary and Dirty Dans subject to track and conditions. Enduro Bike; Giant Reign again as stock with except for Renthal bars.
Proving age is just a number I didn't really pick a bike up till I was 42 and this was only because I was given it for Christmas by my other half to help rehabilitate my knees from a total of 6 operations/reconstructions spanning the past 6 years from playing around and racing motocross.
After a couple of months of riding forestry roads and a couple of trips up Afan I was bored so entered my first downhill race in March 2013 at the Forest of Dean 4 years and 72 races later I have gone from strength to strength.
I have never really owned a trail bike as my first bike happened to be a Carerra Banshee X with Rochshock boxer downhill forks I went straight into downhill racing this was soon replaced with a Giant Glory and more recently the Saracen Myst. December 2015 I bought a Specialised Enduro and started to play around on the local trails then entered and won my first enduro and then the series.
19 races, 19 podiums and 3 championship titles
1st in 2016 British Downhill Championships
1st in 2016 Pearce Cycles Championships
2nd in 2016 Welsh Gravity Enduro Championships
Finish in the top 3 of the British Downhill Championships
2018 World Masters Championships
Finish in the top 3 of the Pearce Cycles Championships
Despite the track being relatively local only 45 minutes down the road its one place I have never ridden. That was until I found out it was being used for this years national series. So after a couple of pedal up laps on the Giant Reign I booked an uplift for the Saturday before the race weekend to learn the basics of the track. This was to take the pressure off official practice.
I arrived at the start with 30 mins before live timing started, giving me chance to recover from the transition from race HQ and to make sure I was first off the line and not stuck in a que.
After Afan was cancelled due to snow, my focus was the next round at Bike Park Wales. This was a collaboration between the Mini Enduro and the Welsh Gravity Enduro and was to be a one day format with time to practice in the morning and 4 hours of live timing in the afternoon. The tracks being used were Die Hard, Hot Stepper and Roots Manoeuvre.
Not only is this the final round of the Welsh Gravity Enduro series but its also my final race of the year and what better place for it to be than on my door step, Afan Forest Park. Not wanting to tire myself out too much, my plan was just to do a single run through stages 1 & 3 to familiarise myself with the track and how it had been taped out for the race, and then possibly do stage 2 a couple of times.
You know you're in for a good event when you have to be towed into the pits. It was the final round of the championships and I was laying in second place. Like the Bds I was too far behind to catch first, but with a fairly comfortable points gap to third I was unlikley to lose second. So maybe I could relax and enjoy the final race with out having to take any risks for a change.
Well if BDS finals history repeats its self then I will be injured by mid afternoon Saturday and having to do my seeding and race runs in pain. 2015 I arrived at the final round in 4th place but with a good chance of getting 3rd. This year I entered the finals in second place, too far off for me to catch first, but third was hot on my tail, I was taking no chances and wanted to actually make it through practice and race runs crash and injury free.
Initially when Llangollen was confirmed as a venue for this years BDS it was advertised as using the woods track known to most racers as "Death Woods". I was looking forward to this super steep and technical track as much as it scares me, it's where my strength lies. I had made my mind up before even arriving on site I didn't like the track and was not excited or looking forward to it.
But you know as soon as you hear the beeps at the start you need to be 100% switched on and within 20 seconds of the start your heart rate can be maxed out and adrenalin spiking as you sprint for the roadgap. So I soon find myself back on the start mound. I got down pretty clean, with only minor bobbles where you feel it could have cost half a second at most. But I felt exhausted and found it hard to push.
It seemed strange leaving work at 5.30 on a Friday afternoon to only have to drive 20 minutes up the road for a track walk instead of the usual 2.5+ hours. Rheola forest has a well earned reputation stemming from the old Dragon downhill days when the likes of Manon Carpenter & Mike Jones cut their teeth on the same course. One the gnarliest old school tracks in the UK, oh and did I mention its always wet at Rheola?
Aberystwyth Cliff race always promises to be a great event and part of the Aber Cycle Fest, its great for spectators and the short 'different' semi urban track makes for fun racing. The day started with a track walk to scope out the track and look at what lines I would use, the track was very similar to when I raced there a couple of years ago although the foot path seemed much deeper under gravel.