School at the University of Downhill.

Posted by Sov Atkinson at

On the 17th April, I raced in the Falmouth Urban Downhill, run by Carrick Riders.  The course ran directly through the centre of Penryn Campus, the University of Exeter in Cornwall.  Urban Downhill races are really different to the type of terrain I usually ride.  The track was a mixture of footpaths, stairs and other man made obstacles such as a skateboard ramp with a spine. Urban races are not the direction I want my career to go, but this year I am focussing on learning as much as possible, by riding different terrains and events.  I am also trying to learn as much as I can from other riders, so I can be more methodical, like the legend that is Rachel Atherton.

The most difficult part of Urban races is choosing the bike, suspension and tyre combination. When I raced in urban environments in the past, I have gone for less travel and slicker tyres; however, I only had my DH bike.  It was a short course and I was able to get many practice runs. During the practice run, I ran into Orange Bikes Pro-rider Ben Moore.  I noticed that he started the day with an Orange Alpine with 160mm of travel, but then he switched to an Orange Crush, a hardtail and he was much faster. He offered me advice about tyre choice and the course. I quickly realised that my tyres were slow (I had on mud tyres from last race) and my bike had too much travel for the course.  So if I was to do well, I would have to work extra hard where my bike would be quick (stairs), in order to make for the areas where my bike would be slower (foot paths) and there were some peddley bits as well.

The race consisted of two timed runs, opposed to the usual format of a seeding run and a race run. My first run was good, I made a small mistake in the top section, but nailed the stair section. This resulted in me being the second fastest. My dad said I wasn't breathing as hard as Tyde, my friend who came first. The final run I pushed hard and disappointingly I made a similar mistake at the top, so I had to go harder at the bottom.  I felt like I was riding a bucking bronco on the stairs. I was on the edge of control and it was so much fun!!  I was quicker and the fastest on the second run, but I did not do enough to beat Tyde’s first run.

Overall, I am still learning and trying my best to develop as a rider.  Every time I race, I am going to analyse the Pro’s riding and try to see what they do to go so damn fast!  I would like to finish by saying: thanks to Ben Moore for the advices, well done to Tyde and thanks to Carrick riders for putting on a great event.

By Maya Atkinson

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