2002 Midlands Specialized Super Series
Finals | Eastridge | 24th August
Paul, Jim and I packed up the van for the last Midlands of the year and headed over to the outskirts of Shrewsbury for one last time. Past the now familiar landmarks that subconsciously let us know we are off for a good weekend of riding in a great area. Under the mad railway bridge. Past the oh-so tempting Michelin banner that is screwed (we checked) to the garage wall. Past the garage where the brother of Jim's little van is parked (sans Leopard skin ,I guess) and past the mad houses that look like they wouldn't pass a survey but look cool. We were nearly there...
If you aint been or read the other reports, Eastridge is a wicked, short course with a rocky top section, swoopy rooty middle bit in the woods and a great fast field with choice of lines to split the air-men and fly-boys from the mortals into the last berm. Sweet. And then it pissed it down! Real heavy. First run times stood and Junior and Master had by far the best run. Some people were far too serious (and rich - I paid £10 per run!) for their own good and naffed off home at lunch time. Wusses - the 2nd run rocked!
Transport was appalling and the BC decided to extend practice. However, that didn't kill the boredom of waiting - simply prolonged it. Is this report making sense? Probably not. In that case, you'd better read what an altogether more literate Graham Moore thought instead....
Report | Words | Graham Moore
Once again the MSSS team have chosen a good venue for the finals of the series. Eastridge, which was previously the venue for rounds 3 & 4, had a lot to offer for all the riders. Over all good venue that was easy to find and good parking all the way up to the race HQ!
I entered the first field at 7:45am and not a lot of cars in sight so parking was very easy, and quick… no parking fee for me for some reason as I didn't send my SAE with my entry!? Oh well…must have been luck on my side. I unloaded my bike and prepared it for good days racing, as I was on my new Bullit frame I had a feeling I was going to have an enjoyable day.
The finish line was in front of race HQ, which made everything nice and convenient. The usual suspects were in the trade area: Stendec, Rocky Mountain, HQ and the trusty burger van!! The course was very similar than previous rounds but till rocky and rooty in most areas but had the potential to turn into mud if it had rained.
The start of the course was fairly flat for about 100 yards but soon turned into roots and rocks, with so many different lines to take you don't know which on would be the quickest, so aiming and pedalling was the option for most of the riders. Within 25 seconds the rough and rooty terrain turned into a fast-flowing, smooth section where you could have a chance to catch up if u had lost any time on the way down. Halfway down the course there was a break in the trees as a fire road appeared out of the blue where paramedics stood on stand by. This fire road was quickly followed by a 3 foot drop onto rocks, which then immediately turned left back into the darkness of Eastridge wood. Were after a number of trees were separating the track from one choice of route to many different options including a big tree which saw many people take wide and for those who saw it a nice quick bypass of the obstacle. If you got through the trees safely another rock garden awaited on the other side of the bark, which started to descend quickly into a right handed drop of about 3 foot. There was a chicken run that was slower but a few people couldn't help but to take the chicken run as gravity forced them to slide into place. This small drop threw you straight into a muddy and very rooty section of the lower end of the forest but the best was yet to come. As you wound through the trees and mud the track got harder and faster as a small family of switchbacks, bends and curves entertained the minds of the whole entry list.
Once you were happily 'entertained' by the fast flowing section, your eyes were forced to look onto the most crucial part of the track.
The bottom field consisted of a 6 foot step down followed a small 25 metre straight line into a lump in the road which landed you into the right hand berm. This set you up for the pedal towards the tabletop and the double or the monster triple.
|Many people took the double and the chicken runs and a handful of 'nutters' attacked the triple. If you landed, it was a nice hard pedal to the right hand berm then the finish line.|
My first run started badly as my MRP copy C/D failed to keep my chain on but I stopped to put it back on whilst losing a lot time. Gradually I got back into the swing of things just as the works section hit me, the mud! My Tioga treads weren't the right choice but they kept my tubes on my rims. The whole track ate my grip as I tried to descend but there was no telling whether I was going to stay on the bike or not. My eyes lit up as I entered the flowing section part as it was my favourite, but my biggest task was to get over those doubles as most of you know they didn't like me last time! I hit the step down with as much speed as possible. I landed safely. Pedalled hard to the berm to gain speed, braking hard to keep your line then pedalling hard to get to the table top then setting your speed to whatever you though was possible to get over in once piece. I had thought of going on the chicken run but thought 'that's slower' I hit the table top then the double, held my breath and felt the earth beneath my wheels so I opened up my lungs and gave it everything I got to the finish line. Not the best position but I finished and that was my aim. To finish the race, not win it!
The second run was ambushed, as the seniors were about to race. The ambush was caused by a small thunderstorm but with a lot of rain. The rain caused the track to be a stream and forced all entrants to trade in their bikes for dinghies! It was impossible in my eyes to beat my first run so I took it easy and got muddy for a laugh, dogging all the lakes and ponds on the way down. I managed to get 15 seconds slower than in the dry!! What's going on? We will never know!
Nevertheless the rain didn't stop elite riders beating the 2-minute mark Ed Mossley first then Gareth Hopkins. They must have been on red bull all night!
All in all despite the bad weather I had a great day, met some new friends and some old ones! I hope the winter series is as good fun as this one!! If so I'll be there!
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