Visit to the Nicolai Factory, Germany. 22 Sept 2016
We joined forces with Nicolai bikes for 2016 and things have been just great. We worked with them and Chris Porter at Mojo to create the Geometron G19 from the G16 ,which was their newly created trail bike for 2015. We’ve raced the G19 throughout 2016 on the world downhill circuit and had some great results. Therefore we decided it would be awesome to finish the season with a visit to their factory where they make our awesome bikes! We were super excited to see the place and it didn’t disappoint! Everything is handmade from start to finish, with sheets and rolls of aluminum coming in the door and just 4 weeks later finished bikes leaving to customers! The attention to detail was great to see and everyone who works at the factory is super cool and so passionate about what they do. Nicolai is a real riders brand that’s for sure! Nicolai are a company making bikes designed for function and high performance, to the highest quality. They can produce custom frames to meet specific buyers demands such as special geometry or sizing, and from first placing an order a customer will receive their finished bike in just 4 weeks’ time if they live in mainland Europe!! This fact blew me away as I know how slow and unreliable most bike manufacturers are! So if you want to join this awesome crew and start riding one of our great bikes, give Nicolai a shout and get your bike ordered! Simply give them a ring, they all speak English, or give Chris Porter a ring at Mojo. And don’t forget to mention us at One Vision Global Racing when you place your order! Join the ♯Geolution
Llangollen - BDS 6 - 17/18 September 2016
BDS finals at Llangollen, one of my favourite venues and after qualifying 1st at Moelfre and finishing 2nd in the race, I was keen to better that and win this weekend! I hit practice hard from the start, and on my second practice run did a 2.07. I played with a few settings on my Nicolai Geometron G19, making changes to my Fox/Mojo suspension and I tried both cut Schwalbe Dirty Dans and Magic Mary tyres, deciding to run the Magics. I was doing everything I could to make the bike as fast as possible! By the end of the timed practice session I was fastest on a 2.03. Things were looking good! Sunday started on a slippery track because of the dew on the slate rock, but I had some good runs and was ready to go fast in qually. I decided to give qually everything and try to take the win to give me confidence going into the race. I did just that, and feeling like I could go a little bit faster in my race run, qualified 1st on a 2.00.7 almost 2 seconds ahead of the rest of the field! I was so up for it going into my race run and I desperately wanted to go under 2 minutes and take the win! The run was wild and a real blur I was pushing so hard! I crossed the line feeling like I’d gone faster and waited for the commentator to confirm the result as I slowed to a halt… He went mental shouting that I’d done it and I was absolutely buzzin’! Ten years after I started racing as a 17 year old dipping my toes in, I’ve now achieved a world cup top 20 and a BDS victory! Standing on the podium above downhill legends Steve Peat, Mark Beaumont and Matt Simmonds was just unreal. Then to make the experience even sweeter, my best bro and One Vision team mate Willz Jones was in 5th for his first BDS podium! What a day and what an end to the season on my awesome Nicolai Geometron G19 which wasn’t even thought of this time last year!
'Longer, Lower, Slacker....LONGER... The Nicolai Geometron Trail bike'
The one good thing about the end of the world cup season is coming home to get back on the local trails and put in some solid time on the trail bike! This time was particularly exciting because I was coming home to a brand new Nicolai Geometron trail bike!! I’ve spent the season training on a ‘Longer’ Geometron which is essentially the medium size, and is bigger than all my previous trail bikes. According to the Geometron sizing charts, someone my height at 6’1” should be on the ‘Longest’. When I tried to ride the ‘Longer’ with the Pacenti PDent stem and bar system the bike was then far too small. The PDent is a 25mm stem and a handlebar with an indent for the steerer, this brings the hands closer to the steering axis for better bike control. So I’ve switched to the bigger size, and to what effect…? I’ve now done a local training descent, that I’ve ridden over 20 times on the ‘Longer’, 6 times on the new bike, and on the 5th attempt I got a PB by 2 seconds. I then went straight back up and did the same time again on the 6th attempt, and I must add in questionable conditions (a bit moist, and windy). All of the testing I do is against the clock, not based on feel, and this has proved that going bigger was faster! It is by far the biggest trail bike I’ve ever had! After a few rides adapting to the size increase, I do feel more comfortable on this size bike for general riding and climbing. At first it felt long on the descents, but after relaxing into it, leaning forward and using the slack Nicolai geometry to allow me to get over the front and ride the bike aggressively, it now feels easier to ride fast and more stable, and I am less tired at the bottom as a result. And before anyone thinks, ‘but what is it like in tight stuff’, there are some crazy tight corners on this test track, as well as some fast sections and some steep stuff. It has a real good mix, and here is a link to a video of me riding the track: http://www.pinkbike.com/video/452611/. Keep an eye out for an end of season review I’m going to do covering why going bigger this year has been better for my results and my riding!'
Val Nord, Andorra - World Cup 7; 1/3 September 2016
With a blink of an eye the season was all but over and we were heading out for the final World Cup of the season in Andorra. It goes faster every year! I was heading to this one with my lowest ever world ranking sitting 29th, and motivated to top the season off with another top 20. After being ill with a bad cold for the two weeks leading up to this event, I was happy to be feeling healthy again and looking forward to attacking the race! We walked the track and it instantly excited me! I’d loved it in 2013 when I raced the last world cup at this venue, and since then the track had been modified, and for the better! Practice was awesome on Thursday. It was such a wild track and super dry and dusty, but so much fun. I put a smooth timed practice run down at the end of the session, but was sat further back than I thought I would be on a 4.36, 17 seconds behind the fastest man. I knew I was going to have to push much harder in qualifying and get out of my comfort zone. Qualifying day wasn’t one of my better days at a world cup that’s for sure. I really struggled to relax in practice and to let the bike go on the loose blown up track. Big holes were developing and the dusty chutes were crazy loose to ride fast. Going into qualifying I really wanted to push hard and give it my all in search for another top 20 qualifier, but it just wasn’t to be. I think I was so worried about how easy it would be to get carried away and crash and throw away my ticket into finals, I just rode far too within myself. As a result I was 47th on a 4.32 and a long way back. However moving into finals I could relax and step things up. On finals morning I did some timing to compare with my timed practice run to make sure I was making time up and pushing harder. After two wild runs and some analysis, I knew a time between 4.20 and 4.25 was on the cards. I went into finals very nervous, knowing how hard I was going to have to push to achieve what I was after. Unfortunately the run didn’t start well, slipping a pedal out of the start gate and not being able to pedal the entire first straight. From there I pushed as hard as I could and minus a few mistakes the run was the wild, committed effort I was expecting of myself. I managed to squeeze into my target time zone with a 4.24 which was good enough for 21st place. My Nicolai Geometron G19 was on point all weekend and huge thank you to my mechanic, friend and sponsor Ben Harrison, owner of Mango Bikes for all his hard work! This result has pulled me up into a career best finish in the world cup overall of 27th which I am absolutely over the moon about! Huge thanks to all of One Vision Global Racing’s amazing sponsors, my friends and family, and especially my Dad Phil – my achievements this year wouldn’t be possible without your kindness and support and I couldn’t be more grateful! I can’t wait to start a new winter training program and build towards another career best season in 2017!
European Champs, Wisla,Poland; 27/28 August
This weekend was always going to be a tough one. Traveling back from Canada on Monday/Tuesday, having only two days at home with one of those being spent at work, before travelling out to Poland on Thursday all while having a stinking cold. Not ideal. With Andorra next weekend, making sure I was leaving Poland feeling healthy and fit, was strongly on my mind coming into this event. We were here last year and I really like the track! The weather was great all weekend and we had a blast smashing runs out in the dust! As ever our Nicolai Geometron G19s were on point and I was feeling fast going into seeding. My cough and bad chest weren’t making things easy for me but I was going to give it a good go. I had a really smooth solid seeding run with no errors and seeded 4th on a 2.18, 1.2 seconds back from 1st. I knew I could go faster but felt I only had a couple of seconds in me as I wasn’t prepared to ride too wild with Andorra next weekend and world cup finals. I pushed harder in my race run and things got a bit wild! I made a couple of mistakes but still went faster and did a 2.16.6. Times were crazy tight and I finished a disappointing 9th, but only 1.4 off the podium. Funny that 1.4 faster and I would be 3rd and really happy, but as it is, wrong side of the second and I’m a bit annoyed. However a solid result considering I’m still not well and crossing my fingers I’ll be healthy at Andorra this weekend and ready to smash it!! Big shout out to my bro Willz who finished a great 12th and brings home enough UCI points for the whole 2017 world cup season, and young Jim who had a really solid result of 26th and also brings home 20 UCI points towards 2017! Onwards to Andorra!
Crankworx, Canada; 16-20 August
After such a great weekend at MSA, I was super excited to carry on my success in Whistler for Crankworx. Unfortunately I got over excited during the first week before the events started and tired myself out! By the time the Garbanzo DH came around I was starting to get a cold. In this one I went off track at the top, through the tape and the wrong side of a pole. I had to stop, push back up round the pole, and get going again. This was in a really fast section so I lost loads of time. Finishing only 15 seconds off the podium in 11th with that massive time loss was annoying. ALine or ‘Air DH’ was the day after. Having not raced this one for 5 years I was hoping to hate it a little less than last time I raced it, but it wasn’t the case. Pedalling for 4 minutes, mixed with landing jumps to flat and hitting blown out berms isn’t my idea of fun or good racing. 30th in this one and I won’t be doing it again. I should have been saving my energy and focus for my main event, the Canadian Open DH, which is the only UCI points race at Crankworx. However by the time it came around I had a full blown cold and was exhausted. I had to miss Friday practice because I had zero energy, and thought about missing the race entirely, however I love the track, the spectators at Hecklers Rock, and I was on the live stream, so I decided to just cruise it and enjoy the race. I had a smooth run and finished in a respectable 20th having loads of fun on the way down. I’m leaving Whistler fit, despite this cold which I have 4 days to shift, before we land in Poland for European Championships this weekend.
MSA, Canada - World Cup 6; 5/6 August 2016
Every year I get to MSA and after the first practice run find myself surprised about how scary fast, loose and wild the track is. I must delete it from my memory each year or something. They’d made the track even faster this year with a section down a ski run that was just the next level in terms of speed on a push-bike. In all my years racing I’ve never felt a Fox 40 flex anywhere else! I loved practice and my Nicolai Geometron G19 was just amazing on the track, making the rough sections feel smooth, and technical sections easy to maintain flow. In qualifying I had a smooth run with no mistakes and finished in 16th place with a 4.11 which was great as it meant more points on the board towards my overall standing! When I saw the splits it was super exciting as I’d gone through the first split third fastest!! The names went Gwin, Hart, Reading, Bruni… That was cool and exciting to see! I was so up for race day! After narrowly missing out on my first top 20 result in Lenzerheide, I was determined to push as hard as I could for my whole run and do my best to get into the top 20 for the first time! I had a great race run and I pushed that hard I was at the bottom before I knew it. I finished in 19th place and grabbed my first top 20 and was so happy!! When I saw the split times and saw that at the third split, so after almost three minutes of riding I was sitting in 8th, I was shocked. I then lost a lot of time in the bottom minute or so and dropped to 19th. I think this must have simply been fatigue setting in after a hard week, as I made no specific mistakes. Organising everything, mechanicing for myself and Jamie, who was doing his first world cup, and racing had taken its toll. It’s great to see my times starting to enter the top 10 at the splits, and gives me even more motivation to keep working and giving this everything I can! I’m sat 29th going into the final round in Andorra. Wouldn’t my first top 10 just be great!!
UK National Championship; 16/17 July 2016
Going to Revolution Bike Park for National Champs must have had most people feeling confident. Most of the elites ride there a lot and know the lines, so I wasn’t expecting too much and was just aiming to do my best. I had finished 4th last year narrowly missing the win and even more narrowly the podium, so anything similar was going to be good. Practice was great fun with the guys. The Revo trail builders had done a new section which was tonnes of fun and we did 11 runs on the Saturday! We just couldn’t stop riding! The Nicolai Geometron G19s were on fire all day, and with a bit of moisture on the track, from rain in the week, we were finding confidence with the Schwalbe Dirty Dan tyres with the Procore system fitted. I was feeling good on race day and ready to push! I went well in qualifying and surprised myself finishing 3rd. In the last three national champs I’ve done I’ve qualified 3rd! I pushed even harder in my race run and made one mistake up top that didn’t cost me much, and one mistake at the bottom slipping a pedal coming out of the final fast berm and my leg went under the bike, costing me more time. I finished 6th, and without the pedal slip would have definitely been 4th as I was only 0.5 back. However the podium spots were a couple of seconds in front of me. So once again not quite a national podium, but another top 10 finish! We head to MSA next for the next World Cup!
Lenzerheide, Switzerland - World Cup 5; 9/10 July 16
I was super excited for this one. The track suited me the year before, and I knew that whether they had made changes or not, the terrain suits my riding style well. We got there and the track was identical to the year before, which meant we could get up to speed quickly at the start of practice. It was the first world cup with me, George and Will all being in the same practice session, so it was awesome to have all three of us riding together! I had two good timed practice runs on the Friday, so was feeling confident moving into qualifying. I was riding well on Friday morning and just wanted to get on with the qually run. I had a good run not making any mistakes and qualified in 16th place feeling like I had more to give come finals. I spent Sunday morning trying to find a little bit more time for that all-important finals run in the search for my first top 20 result! I was lucky enough to have good friend, team sponsor and owner of Mango Bikes Ben Harrison with me as our team mechanic for the weekend. Ben had worked tirelessly keeping my Nicolai Geometron G19 running perfectly throughout the weekend, so I was 100% confident the bike was going to the be perfect for my race run. I had a wild race run! I pushed so hard it was a blur to be honest. I made a couple of little mistakes but only because I was trying to go so fast and maybe rushing a few things. I was 7th at the first split so it was looking good! I held things together but narrowly missed out on my first top 20 by 0.5 of a second and finished in 22nd place. A great weekend and I can feel it happening!
Moelfre - BDS 4 - 25/26 June 2016
This weekend became the turning point of my season. Before heading to Moelfre I looked back on the first half of the season, had a long think about how it had gone, and then what I wanted to achieve in the second half and how that was going to be possible. I went to Moelfre with a new mentality and to say it worked was an understatement. I rode hard all of practice and kept pushing all weekend to find more speed. As a result I was first in timed training on Saturday, I then went on to qualify fastest on Sunday morning, which is a career first for me at a BDS. We’d seen the weather forecast and we knew heavy rain was going to roll in after the qualifying which would leave us racing in the wet after no wet practice. I’d decided to prepare for this by running my cut down Schwalbe Dirty Dans in my final practice run and in qualifying, so that I’d be familiar with them when the rain came. When racing came around me and my Nicolai Geometron G19 were ready to get up the hill and tackle the new conditions and try to get that first BDS victory! I had a great run and pushed as hard as I could leaving nothing on the hill! I was beaten narrowly and finished in 2nd place by less than a second! It was my first BDS podium for a number of years and my best ever result, so I was thrilled despite missing out on the win by so little! The race was definitely the turning point of my season and I’d like to think the start of the next phase of my career!
Leogang, Austria - World Cup 4; 11/12 June 2016
My least favourite world cup track. In fact the only one I actively dislike. I like technical, hard, challenging tracks, and this one in my opinion is pretty boring and all about flow and carrying speed through relatively easy sections. The race is always super close so tiny mistakes can cost you 10 places which you can’t seem to make back by finding any ‘big’ lines. Practice was wet so quite fun. I qualified comfortably in 31st place and as usual felt like I had a lot more to give come finals. Finals day was a weird one because it had rained over night so the morning practice session was super wild in the wet slippery conditions. The sun then came out and the track got drier and drier. It was back to dry tyres for race runs and I just didn’t push hard enough as well as making a couple of little costly errors. I slipped back into 38th place and again feeling like I hadn’t given everything I could have at a world cup. Changes were definitely needed moving forward, but I was now down to 43rd in the overall.
Fort Wiliam, Scotland - World Cup 3; 4/5 June 2016
The one we all look forward to as British racers! And the weather was turning up for us as well, with high temperatures and sunny skies forecast for the entire week! After such a great weekend at the BDS I was feeling very confident and excited to see if I could finally get that first top 20 result I’ve been after! Practice went really well and we had Chris Porter of Mojo Suspension helping us do some testing with our Nicolai Geometron G19s to get the setup dialed in for racing to make the bikes as fast as possible down the fast rough track! Qualifying went well and I was 28th with a smooth run feeling like I had much more to give come finals day! Big shout out to my team mate George Gannicott who smashed it and qualified 10th!! Finals morning went well and I was feeling great and ready to give my all! For some reason the run never really got going and I didn’t find myself pushing as hard as I wanted to. I did go quicker than in qualifying, but only by a little bit which left me in 28th place. After evaluating I was obviously worried that after such poor results in Lourdes and Cairns and being down in the overall, I was riding for points rather than the result I wanted. This pulled me down to 49th in the overall and in the right direction!
Bala - BDS3; 28/29 May 2016
Definitely a rider favorite in terms of track and venue. The uplift works well so we can always get lots of runs in during practice, and the track is loads of fun and a good challenge. The weather was great and we all had a blast on the Saturday during practice. I was just loving smashing out the runs on my Nicolai Goemetron G19 and did over 10 runs by the end of practice. My best timed practice time was a 3.20 a bit off the pace, so I was going to need to turn it up come racing on Sunday! After more good practice runs on Sunday morning we were ready for qualifying. I felt like I had a really good smooth run with no mistakes, and was pretty angry when I came down to see the same time that I’d done three times the day before in timed practice. I really couldn’t understand why the time wasn’t faster. I had a long think about the run and how I’d been riding, and decided I was just being too smooth and it wasn’t fast enough, and for the race run I was going to have to get back into the habit of pushing as hard as I dared through every section. I was pretty fired up at the top before racing after massively underachieving in qualifying. I set off like a bull after a red rag and was half way down before I knew it. I made a huge mistake in the open section, having to go the wrong side a big tree stump and losing at least a second. I pushed on regardless and crossed the line 7 seconds faster than my seeding run despite the big error, and dragged myself up to 10th place. It just shows that smooth isn’t always fast like people say! So two good BDS results left me feeling positive moving forward into the next two world cups at Fort William and Leogang.
Fort William - BDS2; 14-15 May 16
I was only home for 3 days from Cairns before travelling up to Fort Bill for this one. After such a disappointing start to my world cup and BDS seasons, due to the leg injury I picked up at Ae Forest at the first BDS, I was intent on getting a good result here to kick start my season again! I traveled up on Wednesday so that I could do two days on the track before the BDS started and get comfortable. The weather was fantastic with beautiful clear skies and high temperatures so we had such a good time blasting runs and testing settings on our Nicolai Geometron G19s. By the end of Friday we’d already done 12 runs! Saturday was another good day and the whole trip was proving to be such a good confidence boost for me. In qualifying on Sunday I had a good run and finished in 6th place which was a really nice surprise and meant I was back on pace moving forward for the rest of the season. In finals I wanted to push as hard as I could and aimed to go 3 seconds faster. I did just that and it was good enough for 8th place, my best ever BDS result at Fort William so I was super excited to come back for the world cup. Great to have my season back on track and get a really good result on the new bike!