This year is a big, big year for me. I am currently sitting exams for 12 GCSE’s and it feels like, if I get this wrong I will screw up my chances of getting into a good university. I am hoping to study Engineering at Cardiff. Firstly, because it is a Russell Group University and secondly because it is located near some super sweet bike parks. So with all of this on my mind, I have been a little distracted from my riding and I went into this race under prepared.
The race weekend started with my parents picking me up from school, straight after my English Literature exam; which I am confident I nailed, but it was poetry, so I might have failed (see the nice rhyme there). We then drove up to the race, which took about 6 hours and I revised for GCSE Biology exam on the way. It seemed like an obvious choice of subject to study on the way to a race, physiology and nutrition goes hand in hand in a race. When we arrived, we were treated to glorious sunshine for the second race in row! Summer 2k16, you rock! After setting up setting up the tent, I did a little more GCSE and went to bed early.
Saturday morning was foggy and warm. At 7am, I went for a track walk with my dad and it was so humid, I think I lost about 2 litres in sweat. Bala is one my favourite tracks in the entire world. It is fun and allows for creative line choice. It is cool watching the elite riders do lines, that I can only dream of.
When practice started, the fog had made the roots a little slippery, which was surprising because the rest of the track was very dry. Bala has a very quick uplift and I was flying through the runs. I joined Katy Curd (World 4x Champion and a current top 10 Elite Women in Downhill World Cup Series) and Jess Greaves (another Elite rider, who looked after me when I first race in the BDS), for a few runs. I tried to follow Katy down, but she is a lot quicker than me and I lost her very quickly. After Lunch, Will, from Hammoon Cycles, finally turned up and we went to do a few runs together. Awkwardly, Will had forgotten his Transponder and Race Plate. So I had to go down and get them for him. It made me feel good, because usually it is me who forgets stuff and other people have to race around and get stuff for me. A nice role reversal.
After practice finished, dad and I played perspective photography with the Monster inflatable can.
Race day, started with a nice breakfast of fruit and a chocolate twist. My warm up runs were solid and I did not crash or have too many problems. Qualifying was a different story. I went into the woods too hot and ended up taking a short rest on my back in the wood section i.e. I crashed. The rest of the run was mixed. I ended qualifying in 7th out of 13.
Practice run, feeling confidence (Photo: David Price).
After my practice run, I was a little down and I went to chat to my dad/coach/mechanic/finance guy. He told me:
“Not to stress and just go out there and have fun. Just ride hard, if you crash it does not matter. It is better ride hard and progress, than it is to play it safe and not progress.”
My race run was going well and I managed to get through the woods without a rest stop and things were looking really good... Until ¾ the way when my chain bounced off my chain ring (I had forgotten to put the clutch on my dérailleur). So when I come out of the woods, into the pedally section, I just had to roll. I pumped as hard as I could and quickly realised I was no Aaron Gwin (he won the Elite Downhill World Cup Series in Leogang chainless last year). I ended up finishing just over the second from the podium.
Having fun on the mini bike during race day. I came 3rd in the mini bike race, behind dad and Will.
Finishing line.... everyone screaming pedals!!! But I was Aaron Gwin-ning it!!!
Overall, it was so nice to take a break from the stress study and exams, to do some riding. I may not have got the result I wanted, but I had a ball; I had my personal pit-crew (aka, mum and dad) and the Hammoon Cycles pit-crew (aka, Alex and Pickles).
Mum helping Pickles having a go on the mini bike!
Now onto exams… English language, German, Biology, Physics and my personal favourite Mathematics (I am half Asian after all).
- Will, Alex and Pickles, Hammoon Cycles, for the support, it was lovely camping chilling with you guys.
- And Hi5 to the parents!
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