Pearce round 3 took me to a track I had never ridden before, Rhyd Y Felin, and it was a scorcher!
I never really look at photos or videos of tracks before I go to them, I don’t know why but I think I like the surprise. That and it never really does it justice.
Track walk Friday evening was definitely the most picturesque track walk I’ve ever done with the sun going down on a beautiful evening with amazing views across the valley.
From what people had told me I was expecting a steep technical track, brutal on the arms and rewarding to the brave and it didn’t disappoint. I’d heard about the conditions last year and felt really blessed to be surrounded by dust!
It’s fair to say I wasn’t feeling at my peak leading up to the race, work stress, a house sale, sleepless nights and a few big crashes, 2 shoulder injuries, an ankle injury and a stick through my leg meant I’d had limited time on the bike and the time I had had I was scared and couldn’t ride anything even a little bit bumpy because it hurt, and my mind was elsewhere. I really needed this weekend to get some of the love of riding back.
As much as the track scared me I absolutely loved it. I am still buzzing from riding what has become one of my favourite tracks.
A fast top section sweeping berm to berm through rocks and wooded sections, with steep chutes on and off the fire roads, in to a tricky step up just after the speed trap then in to the technical tight relentless open section, with tree stumps and roots everywhere and plenty of line choice! A few hero lines that were beyond my abilities but a good test of concentration and ability to manoeuvre the bike. The bottom section was a drop into a grassy field with what people told me was a couple of new jumps before hitting the finish line.
Saturday practice with the girls felt like we were just having the best time on track. My hay fever was causing me all kinds of breathing problems, and the practicalities of trying to stop my nose running were beyond a joke, I may have looked like I was crying but I was actually having a really good time riding! I promise!
Teammate Becca was absolutely killing it in practice and as much as I was gutted I was struggling to keep up with her it made me really happy to see her back on pace after a nasty injury last year and months of hard work clawing back her confidence and strength.
One rather impressive off for me trying to scope out a new line, left me with a fat finger but actually reminded me that the size of the crash really doesn’t necessarily correlate with the injury and I began to get a bit of confidence back.
First race run I was nervous and cautious and made a few silly mistakes and felt completely exhausted. A quick nap between runs because I couldn’t stay awake and I was back up for run 2. I didn’t expect to go faster but I felt more relaxed on the bike and managed to take 9 seconds off from my first run leaving me in 4th place, a decent result considering the competition and my form going in to the race.
I didn’t ride how I know I’m capable of riding all weekend, my knees were gripping my bike and I was tense and too much braking, playing everything too safe but I had a really good weekend and although mightily achy and bruised I feel like over the weekend I started to get more confident and positive about racing again, and I’m desperate to go back and ride the track again.
2018 team sponsors: DHaRCO, Corley Cycles, MTB Instruction, Decade Europe, Glower Clothing, Dexshell UK
The Pearce Cycles Downhill Series is a British Cycling Regional A Ranking Series. There are 3 women’s categories at the Pearce DH series; Junior, Senior and Elite. The Pearce series sits one level below the British Downhill Series (BDS) so is a good introduction to downhill racing. Find out more pearceevents.co.uk