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Race Report – Round 2 Racers Guild Summer Series, Stile Cop – Kate Gries

Flow MTB rider Kate picked up 1st place in the second round of the Racers Guild summer series at Stile Cop

Racers Guild is a West Midlands based club with a focus on Downhill MTB who organise downhill races and events at Stile Cop, Cannock Chase. After missing the first round of their summer series due to a broken hand Kate was buzzing to be back on the bike, here’s her race report.

After flying over my handlebars and doing the finger splits on landing I was awarded with just over a month off the bike and a broken hand. Not really what I had in mind for the start of summer riding so you can just imagine how excited I was to heal up just in time to be involved in the second round of the Racer Guild Summer Series at Stile Cop in the Midlands. It was great to rock up to that race buzz and the friendly faces I had missed, the weather was being kind to us all too! Happy days!

The track to be raced was CDL. It’s a really fun short track. I especially loved the top section – dropping into a smooth right hand bend over a small jump you then split off left down into a nice single loose weaving track through the trees where you can really let the bike move under you. Coming out from the trees there’s a small flat ready to drop into the next section which is steeper and even looser with a few sharp turns thrown in for good measure. There’s a well placed tree on the first sharp turn that I kept reminding myself not to look at as we all know what happens when we focus on an obstacle we don’t want to hit! Coming out of the last sharp turn and over a tree stump the ground flattens out into a double followed by a rooty and stony s-bend. I can lean in and carry my speed through the first bend but tend to loose some speed and flow through the second. I managed to pin it on my last practice run but not so much on my race runs, smoothness and keeping off those brakes are what I need to work on. The roots rattle through you on this section so trying to keep your speed up ready for the small gap jump can be tricky. The course then joins up with the end of red run with more tight turns and some monster speed sapping roots to finish!

With my practice runs going well I was pretty confident at the start line, my hand was reminding me of the recent injury with a few pains but it wasn’t going to stop me and I certainly couldn’t wipe that smile off my face. I set off on my first run- the first left to split onto the CDL track was quite slippy so I kept my speed under control into the twisty woods. For once I didn’t tense up and the bike moved freely underneath me, dropping into the steeper section and over the stump I hit the first part of the s bend with speed but still lost some momentum on the second. Cranking the peddles I rattled my way towards the gap jump to the end of the course and over the line. I came in with a time of 1 minute 7 seconds which left me in a good first place with 8 seconds gap. Pretty chuffed with that!

I spoke to my team mate Rebecca who was at home recovering from her biking injuries watching the UCI World Cup. It was strange racing without Rebecca as she has been ever present on race days so I was missing her. Her advice was to keep my second run smooth and steady as your always faster trying not to go fast. Good advice that I have kept stored!

My second run wasn’t quite like that, I tried too hard and had a few close shaves! I came in at 1 minute 12. But the other girls also came in with slower times so I kept my first place.

It was so good to be back racing my bike and I couldn’t think of a better event to get me back into riding. Thank you to Mick, Harry and the team for a cracking day I can’t wait for the next one!!

@flowmtbapparel / @griesey82