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Race Report – Pearce Downhill Series, Bucknell- Rebecca Smith

Flow MTB rider Rebecca took part in the final round of the Pearce Downhill Series at Bucknell

At the beginning of the race season Rebecca was fortunate enough to get entry to all 6 rounds of the Pearce Downhill Series but after a summer off the bike due to injury she was starting the series with the last race! Here’s Rebecca’s race report…

Going in to the last round of Pearce was a weird one for me. It felt like the season was only just starting having missed almost all of it so I felt weirdly disappointed that it was actually the last race.

Pearce races are always super well organised and loads of fun, I couldn’t wait for the weekend. The forecast looked pretty shocking so I packed all the kit I owned including all 3 waterproof coats! Arriving to find all the familiar faces looming out of the dark was fantastic, the race scene is so friendly and it felt like coming home.

I woke on Saturday to sunshine with an early dog walk up the track. Kitted up we raced up to get a few runs in before the rain started. After a couple of runs, entering a steep shaley corner a photographer leapt out of the bushes shouting rider down. There was no way I was stopping on the loose greasy rock so the sight of my friend Rene on the floor in the track caused a moment of panic! I tried valiantly to creep between her and the tree, failed, feet down squidding then inevitably joined her on the floor in a gale of laughter!

Then the rain started. Once it started it didn’t really stop and the rain rain rain came down down down! I was feeling a little bit nervous of slipping off. I was very aware that when I race in the wet I always fall off and I hadn’t really tested my shoulder in a big fall yet.

The track started to get slippery and the whooping and laughing really started. We were splattered, soaked and grinning from ear to ear. Calling it a day we retired to watch people getting towed out of the venue by a tractor as the field turned into a quagmire. Muddy kit was piled into a bag and I was feeling smug that I didn’t have to put a single piece of it on again tomorrow…other than my slightly soggy armour! Mmmm lovely haha.

I went to bed praying for rain and was disappointed when I woke to a damp but mainly dry day. Normally that would be great but all that watery mud from yesterday was rapidly turning into claggy slop, tracking over all the roots and turning the field in to a mass of ruts through the S bend. First run down was slidey fun, with my bike sidewards praying to make it to the other side of the roots and back in to the mud. Loam had turned to slop full of sniper roots and the field was more like a log flume than a track. I demonstrated a perfect slide, feet up on my back through the field and figured that was enough practise for me.

Another change of kit (I was beginning to feel like a glamorous movie star) so I at least started my race run clean and then it was up to the top. The dreaded beeps were muted so the nerves didn’t feel quite as bad as normal. It made me smile that the traffic lights didn’t strike the same kind of fear as the dreaded beeps, race mentality is so unlike anything else.

I surprised myself on my first race run as I hit every line and felt relaxed…. for the first 2/3 of the track. Then I hit my line down the steep corner, washed my front wheel and took my first trip over the bars since the Spring. Sprawled face down I was grinning that my shoulder was fine so I tested it another twice before finally managing to get over the line. A whole bunch of the ladies were wearing matching mud coats where we’d been rolling around on track. Everything was still to play for in the next run but I was chuffed to be sitting in 8th with 3 crashes.

A change of gloves and wash of my bike to remove the kilos of mud coating it and it was time for run 2. I took it a bit steadier and managed to stay on with only one major squid moment in the field. This was helpfully captured on camera so I got to see it plastered all over the internet for the entire week and laugh at the fact I looked less capable than a toddler that just had the stabilisers removed.

I managed to finish in 10th, a little off pace but given the year I’ve had I couldn’t have been happier. I piled more muddy kit into the stinky kit bag and waited my turn for the tow out of the field. I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that racing was done for the year. Hugs and promises to catch up for winter rides were left behind as we trailed mud down the country lanes.

I think this is where I’m supposed to say that the hard winter training starts now. Instead I’m going to pour another glass of wine, get in the hot tub and worry about that another day!

Massive thanks to my sponsors, Flow MTB and The Physio Clinic Bristol, for loads of support through what has been a year of ups and downs. Thankfully it’s finished on an up so here’s to next season and more fun in the mud.

@flowmtbapparel / @becca_itd / @corleycycles /@the_physio_clinic_bristol