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Debut: Cyclocross…. Megan takes on the CXNE at Hetton Park

Photo copyright of CWhat Photography

It was a little while ago when I introduced the team’s new kick ass cyclocross and criterium racer to you all, Megan Hopper.  Last weekend she debuted for the team on the CXNE’s Hetton Lyon Park cyclocross event, sadly the Frank The Welder frame had not arrived in time, and on the eve of the second round we’re still waiting for it, yes, I’m looking at you Parcel Force!  But anyway, let’s cut to the chase, here’s Megan with her run down of the day……
I wasn’t nervous that morning, I didn’t know who or what I was up against and my off-season training had gone really well, fitted it all in perfectly with my recent exams and work so I was feeling fresh and raring to go.  We arrived at the venue noting there were more female entrants to the previous season, this is good because it meant I had more competition but bad for the very same reason and this is when my pre-race nerves kicked in!

Photo copyright of Ed Rollason

With no time to waste I jumped on my bike and rode a few practice laps of the course, I was feeling pretty good.  It had a few hill climbs, tight right corners and some tough terrain but of course these are the markings of a well thought out cyclocross course.

Photo copyright of Vicky Hopper

My expectations for the race were to just do what I could and stick with who ever I could as this was the first race of the season and I didn’t know where I stood in my category.
The race kicked off, my adrenaline kicked in and I aimed to sprint forward until I was the first woman. With hindsight this was a bad idea, as I soon needed to even out my pace.  It wasn’t long before I caught up with another woman rider though and I stuck with her until the second lap where a second woman joined the ranks.  As I tried to make my move past her I skidded off around a corner and came off the bike, damn!  Back on it within a flash though however I reckon some mud had found its way into my bike’s cassette as the gears were really messing up and making it harder for me to pedal smoothly thankfully they soon corrected themselves and so the race went on!

Photo copyright of Vicky Hopper

I stuck with the two other ladies through to the end of the race where I came third. I was really, really happy with my result because the woman who came second, Michelle Caisley, is a rider who I was nowhere near to last year and there was never a race where I was able to keep up with her. This was reassuring that my training had gone well and that I was improving.

Photo copyright of Vicky Hopper

Everyone that is part of CXNE, all members and spectators, are really supportive no matter what the result, you really do feel like you are part of something.  Because of this my motivation is to train even more over the coming week so I am prepared for the next race.

Photo copyright of Dean Reeve

I’m really excited for what is to come and hopefully I will creep up to first place woman as well as first place junior.
See you all in mud!
Megan
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Lost on the High Road…….. the photo journal

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Angie: The Lake District is the perfect training ground for the forthcoming Orange Bikes Tour de Ben, having got a group of great friends together we came up with the plan of riding along the High Street.  Well that was the theory anyway as despite our maps we still managed to get lost.  On returning some seven hours later our bodies were utterly spent however, let’s face it, the epic Cumbrian scenery speaks for itself.

We started from Staveley in the South Lakes with the aim to ride the High Street to Pooley Bridge in the North, through Haweswater and past the Mosedale cottage bothy and then back to Staveley.  Well that was the plan anyway.  Somewhere along the trail we ended up in Patterdale over the eastern side and were forced to take a longer route back.  It was epic…….

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Here’s a roll call to my fellow biking heroes of the day:

Helen Gaskell
Sarah Newman
Lucy Bell
Gordon Foster and
Matt Robinson

You guys rule!

Bring on the next epic day out!

The future is now.. @hayescomponents old vs new #Dorado forks, @rosco_p_coltrane’s M1 meets @nickdevelopment’s FTW and compares…. #TheDevelopment #Hayes_Life #MTB

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Nemesis…… Scottish Downhill Series, Innerleithen, 17th August 2014

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"Well after not racing since breaking my wrist I have realised that today was a shower of shit!" - Nick Turner, Innerleithen SDA 2014

Nick: Tom and me were back up at Innerleithen for the fourth round of the Scottish Downhill Series, we both had scores to settle with Plora Rig!
 This was supposed to have been my comeback race after breaking my wrist earlier in the year and indeed with becoming a new dad, with that now in hindsight…. ha!

It was my first race using the Stan’s No Tubes systems and my new Michelin Wild Rock R2’s on the Sun A.D.D. PRO 27.5 wheels …..yes I know the tyres are being marketed for enduro racing, but trust me, they are amazing for downhill!  As you can now tell, I’ve turned to the dark side of the force with the 27.5 set up.
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Home grown team pits or bust!

The track walk was eye opening, the course left little to be desired.  Out of all the routes they could have used they chose the one with complete lack of flow and a tonne of flat sections. As I got to grips with it over the weekend it became marginally better, but not by much.  What did you think Tom?

Tom: Racing at Innerleithen never goes to plan for me having had a run of bad luck up there in the past, crashing, getting flats and catching people up.  Have to back Nick up with what he’s just said, the SDA came up with some strange ideas in regards to the course’s design, just no flow.

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A brief respite from the pedal fest…

The weather thankfully held together on both practice and race days with just overcast drizzle to contend with, the forecasted rain thankfully held off.

Nick: Track conditions remained pretty consistent and I was feeling confident on the course as the day progressed however like many other riders I was also trying to follow older sections of track and ducking under tapes, it took a while to put the course together in my head.

Tom: But ducking under the tape was kinda fun though, I had a few moments of wondering where I was going in practice…. Where’d the tape go? ….Oh!

I was following Nick on some of my runs and he was picking up a fair whack of speed as the day progressed, it wasn’t long before we were both catching people up which is both a blessing and a curse.  Both of our FTW bikes were totally on it, couldn’t fault anything, my Michelin’s were simply railing, all was good.

Nick: I got one full run in on Sunday morning, scoping the changes in the course, hitting about I’d say 80% of my lines and my confidence was back.

First race run started well hitting the tricky sections up top faster then in practice when all of a sudden I ran out of a corner and punched a tree with the hand I broke. Thought I was in trouble right there but carried on, however I had wasted quite a bit of time worrying about my wrist and was unable to make it up, completely off the pace.
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Photo copyright of Ian Linton

Tom: My first race run wasn’t going too badly, hit the top section full on and started to get into my stride however overcooked things on the off camber roots further down which lost me a bit of time.  I was disappointed but that’s downhill racing for you, my concentration then switched straight to my second run.

Nick: My second race run was make or break, a bad pun considering, I know!

Out of the gate I went hell for leather, bouncing over the off camber roots one footed into the first corner, Rudolf Nureyev I was not!  In my head I was trying to calm myself down and get back into a flow, which is hard when the voice in your head is screaming “CALM THE HELL DOWN!” and keeping your concentration away from the job in hand!  I made a fatal mistake and ran out of track again, had to pull over to the side and let the next rider past as I didn’t want to mess up their run too.

I have never felt so disappointed with a race result/performance. Particularly after feeling so good on the bike in practice, it was almost a psychological problem when it came to the race runs.  Gutted, no two ways about it.  I need a coffee, back over to Tom….

Tom: I was back up in the start gate and ready for my second shot hoping this one would be better.  It wasn’t to be, came off on the off camber roots, jumped straight back on the bike wasting no time, despite the crash I was going quicker this time made some little mistakes further down the course but I felt good.  Crossed that finish line in tenth place which although could have been better I was happy with considering.

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Photo copyright of Ian Linton

Our next race is Fort William where we’re both sure the bikes will come into their own.  I’m heading back to Keswick and getting out in the Cumbrian Mountains.  Nick wants to do a shout out, Nick?

Nick: Aye, Innerleithen completely kicked my ass, come Fort William I will be back up to full fitness with a huge thanks to Crossfit Jacana in Durham which have had me blowing out my ass three to four days a week since my wrist was fixed. Their head coach has been a massive help with rehab from my injury, a big thanks going out to them.

See you all on the Aonach Mor.

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Punk ain’t dead!

Quote IconWell after not racing since breaking my wrist I have realised that today was a shower of shit!

Nick Turner, after the SDA Race at Innerleithen, 17/08/2014

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