Starting a fresh can always be daunting experience and that’s how I felt when I relocated to Cardigan to begin working at howies. It takes time to meet new faces, find people to ride with etc, so I thought what better way of introducing myself to the Welsh mtb scene than entering the Urban DH race in New Quay.
Practice began on Saturday so I turned up around mid-day to be met by riders hurtling across the car park and onwards towards the town, looks fun!
After assembling my bike and having a pre practice snack I headed up to start line. First run is always abit nerve racking as you never quite know what to expect, or how much speed you’ll need for particular sections. My plan of action, take it steady!
Dropping in off the top fire road and onto the field was ace as there was a muddy rutted berm, that if you hit right would shoot you out the other side, and then continue into another muddy drop in. From here the course ran along the field, which was like riding through a clay pit with an added tabletop jump to contend with. Legs beginning to burn,
Once out of the clay pit, it was then over a wooden volcano style obstacle and down two grassy banks, this section was so much fun! You could really go fast down these and launch of them, love having all that suspension!
Out of the grass and into the streets, this is where the race really started to get interesting. With sections of flat out pedaling and slight inclines it would be the fittest that could gain the most time, and though I consider myself fit trying to sprint stood up on my full suss bike near enough killed me! Wish I had lock out on my triple clamps!!
One particular section had my heart in my mouth; this was the steep narrow set of steps with a hairpin turn into it. Each time I would hit my hip on the railing as I came into the steps too tight, but you also had to stay off the brakes due to the mud. So basically I just held on and hoped for the best!! Out of the steps it was then into two grassy banks that were just so fast to ride, loved these! This shot you back out onto the road where it was a head down and pedal for you life to the finish.
I ended up doing lots of practice laps, not because I checking lines out but because I was enjoying it so much.
Sunday was race day! First run went well but felt quite laboured, my time was 2:12. So I decided for my second one I would just take it easier through the corners and try flow through each section rather than attacking them. This paid off because I managed to knock 4 seconds off my first run time, which I was pretty stoked about. It also meant that I came third out of the women, being beaten by Manon Carpenter and Aimee Dix. Both absolutely amazing riders!!
After each lap I thought my lungs had blown up but the pain was soon replaced with a smile the size of New Quay harbor. I met some super people and must say thank you to Dave and Dan who supplied me with hot tea though out Sunday!! (As a northerner this was better than winning the lottery!, well maybe not).
I also felt very privileged to be stood next to the current junior World Champion Manon Carpenter on the podium.
This was the first year that Mij racing have put on this race, I hope it’s not the last as it was bloomin mint!!Thank you to the organizers and Si!
Image courtesy of Ian Ramsbottom