Report – Team Aston Hill Lovelo MTB Racing Team at UK Downhill National Round 3 – Rheola

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Rheola in South Wales was the destination for the team for Round 3 of the British National Series. After the success of Bala, the team were in high spirits and looking forward to another dry race weekend.
The track had undergone a large maintenance programme but it still had lots of natural challenging features. It is split into four sections with the top being slate, middle open section, rooty “Star Wars” and the bottom flat out corners and jumps.
It was bone dry and very hot for practice, something that has not happened at Rheola for a long time. With Pearce Cycles doing the uplift combined with riders missing due to being in the Alps you knew you were going to get lots of runs.
Joe, Josh and Jeremy made good use of the rapid uplift but unfortunately Joe, already nursing an injured shoulder, crashed on his 2nd run damaging the other one. After getting strapped up and taking pain killers, he managed to get back on it but with both shoulders damaged it was now all about damage limitation. Josh and Jeremy were on it and couldn’t wait until race day Sunday.
Sunday, it was overcast but still warm but there was a threat of rain in the air and it was forecast for just after race runs.


Unfortunately, there was big injury to a rider on Seeding runs (heal up quick and hope you are ok) and this delayed things for a couple of hours whilst the medics looked after the injured rider.
With this the rain came and caused carnage on the track. Riders were crashing everywhere.

Words by Jeremy Coe Youth category

Rheola for round 3 of the British Nationals was an interesting one. Saturday the track was super dusty and dry. Conditions were pretty good but a lot of loose rock meant the track was a bit slippy in places. I didn’t change my tyres from Pearce Bala the weekend before as conditions were quite similar. So up front I had the Wild Enduro and the rear the Rock R. Got a good amount of practice in on Saturday and was feeling confident for Sunday’s race.

Sunday morning got 3 practice runs in which were pretty good and felt confident coming into seeding and race run. Seeding was ok and ended up 10th but there was room to go quicker so was keen for my race run. Just before my race run the heavens opened and got some pretty heavy rainfall. Not knowing what the conditions of the track would be like I rode cautiously in my race run but tried to keep as much speed as possible. Coming towards the end I had a crash which gave me a mechanical which was bad enough not to be able to continue my run. Not how I wanted my race run to go but looking forward to the next one. Overall a good weekend on the bike with good weather. Onto the next one.

Seeding: 3:21:081 10th

Race run DNF

 

Words by Joe Killner Grand Vets category

Track walk done and it was looking wild and fast, the only thing on my mind was the new step down. A roll down on Saturday and watch a few riders and see how it works out. After getting eaten alive by midges on Friday I was up early and ready to roll for practice. A gentle 1st roll down and boy it was fast and rough. I stopped and watched at the step down and it didn’t look too hard. 2nd run down, stupid mistake and I crashed hard on my shoulder and head. I rolled back down to the pits and got it strapped up and went off to test it out. It was rideable but any slips and it hurt to hold on. I did a few more runs and decided to rest it.

Sunday, I did just the one practice run and the shoulder was very sore. After speaking to the race officials, I decided I would just roll through the start for seeding and save it all for my race run.

After the long delay I and due to my DNF in seeding I was 1st down, which was good as the gaps between riders was now 20 seconds so I knew I would get a clean run.

I set off but all I could think about was the shoulder but it was good, no pain but I couldn’t push as the track was now damp and slippery. I managed to make it through Star Wars clean and into the final section I took my eye off the ball, clipped a root and crashed. I scrambled back on my back and crossed the line annoyed at the stupid crash. Had I thrown away my chance of a podium? Luckily, I had just squeezed into 5th and podium which, after the injuries, I will take any day.

Seeding: DNF

Race run 4:39:272 5th

 

Words by Josh Mead Junior category

Came into the weekend feeling good after my result at Pearce the weekend before. I’d never been to Rheola and was excited to race on a new track. I had an early start on Saturday morning to get to the venue in time to walk the track. I was excited to ride as the track looked really good. After a mechanical in my second run of practice I had to sit out and sort it out which took a while. Annoyingly this meant I missed quite a lot of practice and I didn’t feel very comfortable on track. At the end of the day I felt I had most my lines dialled in but felt like I was riding quite tight all day and found it hard to relax when I was riding.

I got two runs in on Sunday morning and ended up crashing in my second and getting another mechanical. I managed to get it sorted in time for seeding. For my seeding run I was planning on just staying smooth and putting a time down. However, after a two hour wait at the top because of an injured rider, we were told that seeding runs may be counted as race runs as they may have to cancel the race runs. It then started raining about ten minutes before I went down. I started off my run ok but came into the first rocky section too quick and crashed into the bushes. I hit my head hard and my chain got jammed so I sat out for a bit before carrying on. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for my race run so managed to eat something and do a little warm up before going up. Stupidly, I realised that I’d forgotten my goggles half way up the uplift. I stayed relaxed and by this point just wanted to get down the hill. I was first down and my run felt pretty sketchy, especially no goggles. I got to the Star Wars section of the track near the end and had a big over the bars into a muddy ditch. I got winded pretty bad and didn’t have a whole lot of motivation to get back up and go again. I rolled down to the line and went home. Not a lot of positives came from this weekend and I wasn’t happy with myself and how I rode. But I’m excited to rest up and prepare for the next World Cup in Andorra.

Seeding: DNF

Race run 4:57:335 17th

 

Thanks to MIJ for organising a good race and next up for the team will be World Cup – Andorra for Josh, IXS European Cup- Spicak (Czech Republic) for Joe.

 

Photo Credits: Sally Ross, BigMacPhotography

 

Many thanks to all our sponsors

  • ION
  • Ison Distribution
  • Troy Lee Design
  • Mudhugger
  • Lovelo Cycle Works
  • Squirt
  • Invisframe
  • Friction Media –
  • Decade- Europe Ltd
  • 100%
  • Orange
  • Hope
  • Unior Tools
  • 2Pure
  • Michelin
  • Southcoast Suspension
  • Saddleback

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