Pietermaritzburg World Cup - 10/12 April 2014
Well what a weekend to start my 2014 world cup campaign with! Ups and downs from start to finish. Practice started well on Thursday with my buddy Matt Stuttard pulling me over the two big jumps, that I never managed to get over in 2012, on the first run of the day. By the afternoon I was up to speed and feeling good on my Intense M9 with a Schwalbe Magic Mary on the front and a Rock Razor (semi slick) on the back which was running very fast. In timed practice I was 22nd with a crash that cost me about 10 seconds, so I was up to speed. Unfortunately I then crashed very hard in my final practice run of the day and damaged my shoulder. I was in a lot of pain and by Friday morning I could barely hold myself up on the bike. I got my shoulder taped up by a local guy and did a practice run which was agony. I stopped about 10 times and my speed was very poor. When I got to the bottom I went through the pits to find a physio. Thankfully I was pointed in the direction of Greg Minnaar’s physio. He treated my shoulder and knew exactly what he was doing. Thirty minutes later and lots of supporting tape I was in better shape and was ready to give qualifying a go. Because there is always a smaller field of riders in Africa I knew I had a chance of qualifying with a steadier than normal run. I did just that and qualified in 55th place with a 4.25 – the relief! Race day and it started with more treatment from Laurence on my shoulder. He did an amazing job and in my following practice run I felt like I was back to good strength and managed to hit all of the lines I was hitting on Friday before the injury. Racing went very well considering my injury and that my gear cable snapped and I was stuck in hardest gear for the entire run! I came into 2nd place with a 4.15 and at the end of racing I finished 40th place, which I’m so happy with all things considered! What a weekend! Thanks to everybody that helped me especially my team SC Intense for the support over the weekend, and Laurence for the awesome physio.
SC-INTENSE HQ on the way to South Africa - 7 April 2014
After the recent successful racing trip in Portugal, I’ve spent the last 3 weeks training as hard as possible in preparation for South Africa and the start of the world cup calendar. This included winning an Enduro race on my DH bike for training. I am currently sat in Switzerland at the SC Intense headquarters relaxing before we leave for our long journey to Pietermaritzburg this evening. I’ve been reflecting on the winter and how hard I’ve worked to get in shape for this season and I don’t feel I could have done more. I feel great: stronger, fitter and more powerful than I ever have. I love my Intense M9 that I’m riding this year and the SC Intense team is great to be part of. I’m prepared, I’m massively fired up for this year and I have the support. It’s time to get after it!!
Pampilhosa UCI Cat 1 National DH Race - 16 March
Our hotel for this event was a stones-throw away from the bottom of the track and the SC Intense pit, which was very convenient. We could see the entire track from our balcony and it looked to be a very direct line down a mostly open hillside with a short wooded section at the bottom. I wasn’t convinced with the track after my first practice run. However after my second I thought it was awesome. As soon as you were up to speed it flowed really well and apart from some tight rutted switchbacks at the top it was very very fast!
I was working with team manager and experienced Fox suspension mechanic Gery Peyer with suspension settings throughout practice to make sure we had the bike dialed in for racing. I tried a number of different settings that Gery gave me, and by mid morning on Saturday we had the bike feeling really planted and stable on the fast rough track. It’s amazing the difference the correct tune can make to the feel of your bike! By the end of practice I couldn’t wait for seeding. My Intense M9 was feeling incredible and I felt like I was ready to put some really good times in down the track.
My seeding run went well and I came through the finish and went into 1st place by 4 seconds with a time of 2.46.31, and with only four riders left on the hill. I didn’t think it would hold considering who those four riders were (Pardal, Ferreiro, Dale and Simmonds) but it did and I qualified in 1st place going into racing which was very exciting!
Our team mechanics Gery and Gavin did an amazing job looking after us all weekend and going into race run I couldn’t have been feeling better. My bike was in perfect condition thanks to Gery building me a fresh rear wheel for the race run and I couldn’t wait to get on with it! I pushed as hard as I could from the start gate and all the way to the finish. I knew the others would be doing the same and to win I was going to have to give it everything I had. I crossed the line and knew I’d had a great run. I finished in 2nd place with a time of 2.46.06 only a mere 0.18 of a second behind Matt Simmonds who took the win. I wasn’t disappointed at all, I felt like I ridden so well.
I feel strong moving into the world cup and IXS cup races and losing to Matt by only 0.18 who is an amazing athlete who finished 5th at world championships last season is certainly something I’m proud of! Home time now and back to hard training!
2014 is GO – Ponte De Lima Bike Park Race - 9 March
After a long off-season training hard to prepare for 2014, racing was finally underway, and as a bonus, in sunny Portugal. I met up with my new team SC Intense on Thursday, and was welcomed with my new bike and all my new kit, which was very exciting.
Practice started on Friday at the Ponte De Lima bike park and the race track didn’t disappoint. It was unreal! Fast at the top, then very twisty lower down and very very long! After more practice on Saturday my new Intense M9 was feeling great and I was so excited to get racing started!
We’d had excellent weather all weekend and apart from a bit of wind, race day was no different. Seeding was first and I had a good run with only one small mistake towards the end of the track in a loose left hand corner getting a bit too wild! I seeded in 5th place with a time of 4.19 behind fellow Brits Bryceland, Simmonds and Dale, and Spaniard Pardal in 4th. I was 8 seconds off the pace of 1st place and this was out of reach. However I was only 2 seconds off 4th, and 5 seconds off 3rd, so I knew with a great run I had a good chance of moving up into one of these positions.
I did just that and had an awesome race run! I pushed as hard as I could and only made one mistake which didn’t really cost me much time, although if I hadn’t saved it, I would have had a HUGE crash and been in lots of pain! I came down with a time of 4.15 and finished in fourth place behind Simmonds in 1st, Bryceland in 2nd and Dale in 3rd. Again I was 8 seconds off the winning time and I was really pleased with how I’d raced and my result. I now had 3 days training in the bike park before we moved onto the next race, which was a Portugal National Series race and more point up for grabs!
6th - 12th March 2014 Training Camp and Media work
After a really good start to my 2014 racing campaign with my new SC Intense team, I had three days to relax and do some fun riding on the new bike. We also had some media work to do with our awesome camera man Benny Klose to get a load of stuff for the SC Intense website (and not to mention my website!). I spent Monday morning filming with Benny in the bike park and we got some fabulous shots in the sun and dust. I then spent the afternoon having some good fun ripping the bike park trails with my teammates.
Tuesday was my day off-duty so I got to ride the bike park all day and check out a load of the trails that I hadn’t yet seen. The place is awesome and I’ll definitely be heading back there and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes riding DH! The runs vary between 5 and 8 minutes and it offers everything from smooth berms and jumps to crazy fast rocky sections. I loved it!
By Wednesday I was knackered and well in need of a day off the bike. We did a short photo shoot in the morning and then called it a day so we could head back to the villa for a relaxing afternoon.
On Thursday morning we headed off in the vehicles to Pampilhosa and the next event. Not however before a quick team trip the Viana Go Karting track! This was a real blast and the perfect way to end the first half of the trip.