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Race Report – Round 3 Mini Downhill, Forest of Dean – Rebecca Smith

Flow MTB riders Corinna, Kate, Rebecca and Anita entered the third round of the 2017, Onza Mini Downhill at the Forest of Dean

The mini downhill series is now in it’s 10th year. On a bright sunny morning in March on a dry dusty track the team joined 19 other women entered across 4 race categories, here’s Rebecca’s race report.

My final winter race, the Onza Minidownhill, was at the weekend and for the first time this year the track was bone dry and dusty. I had thought the previous weekend was nice but this was beautiful. The sun shone, the sky was a bright blue and the trees were finally starting to grow soft new leaves.

To join in with the tropical vibe I donned my flamingo jersey and bright aqua shorts Saturday morning so I could get a couple of hours practise in before netball that afternoon and the race on Sunday. I drove over to the Forest of Dean feeling super excited at the sunny fields and forests I was driving past. My social media feed was full of people wearing sunnies and travelling to various biking destinations across the UK. It smelt like spring, looked like spring and new calves and lambs pranced about in the fields in an annual display of spring joy.

I pushed up the hill to be greeted by friends and the track was already full of people whooping and hollering in the sunshine. Today was going to be a good day.

A section of the track had been changed with new features that remained a little boggy but otherwise the top section was running fast if you had the leg power to pedal fast! I joined in with various groups of friends for different runs mixing and matching who I was trying to catch on each run. As time passed I got less and less confident on the track. I just wasn’t enjoying it and didn’t feel like I had any speed. I was slower than people I was normally faster than and the bright shiny feeling had lost its sparkle as my confidence in my ability dwindled. Netball was similarly frustrating and by early evening I was well and truly miserable. I’m normally pretty resilient but today I was tired, grumpy and lacking my usual bounce. It was supposed to be a good day!

I took the dogs out for an evening stroll hoping to gain some perspective and as the miles stretched out my sore legs the most stunning sunset I have seen in sometime stole my attention. Absorbed in the bold changing colours and evening glow I finally found the peace I realised I had needed all day. It had been a tough week at work, well few weeks really, I had been very busy outside work and I had missed Pilates due to being busy. I had forgotten the number one rule for sanity in busy times…..time out! Soaking up the serenity of a quiet peaceful evening I found my bounce and carefully stowed it away for the following day! Strolling down the hill with my eyes on the horizon I felt renewed, relaxed and ready to give my bike Miranda some TLC before an early night.

Sunday dawned misty and cold with the promise of another warm day once it cleared. My stiff legs didn’t want to walk the dogs but the sunrise was almost as spectacular as last nights sunset and this spurred me to the top to get the best view.

FOD was bathed in sunshine when I arrived and I was itching to get on track, get my practise runs in and sit in the sun. My practise runs felt good and the normally bouncy lower track felt smooth and fast. Spectators were already starting to line the track and there seemed to be photographers behind every tree and round every corner.

The familiar beeps floated through the forest from the start line and my stomach flipped with nerves, oddly this also felt familiar. I realised that racing was beginning to feel a bit like a normal weekend activity! My winter racing had done its job and hopefully when the main season started I might not suffer so much from the crazy jangly nerves that normally result in a crazy first run bouncing off every obstacle in sight whilst struggling to find that focus!

My first run down felt good. I was composed and steady, enjoying the track and hit all my lines other than a pesky one at the bottom when I took a liking to a tree stump….AGAIN! I was sitting in 5th with a pretty good time and felt I had another second or so in me for run 2.

A long wait in the sun gossiping and larking about with friends meant that going in to run 2 I was super chilled, probably a little too much! A bit of prancing on the spot, which I had perfected at the cold winter races, warmed my legs up and got the blood pumping again. I got on track, hit all my lines, pumped and pedalled spurred on by the crowd who were making an absolute racket and sprinted for the line taking 2 seconds off and moving in to 4th place. That sounds really cool but in reality I started to slide on the 90 degree corner at the bottom onto the fire road sprint and came across the line squealing like a girl with my heart jumping out of my mouth much to the delight of the commentator. Boom, I am so cool!

I learnt some important things this weekend about my head game. I needed to remember to find time out in my week no matter how busy it was and I recognised how far I had come to feel race ready this season. I took 16 seconds off my last race time down this track and although the track had changed a bit and the conditions were good I couldn’t help but feel pleased at that difference. It doesn’t sound a lot but when you realise the run is only 1 minute 3 seconds long taking the 16 seconds off from 1.19 makes a huge difference!

Ladies racing in general has come so far with the slowest times today equalling some of the fastest times at previous races. More people completed their first ever race and left grinning like loons having made new friends and risen to the challenge. What does the rest of the year hold? I don’t know but I hope it is fast, dusty and whoop inducing fun!

I got bought a mug by a friend recently and I couldn’t agree with the statement more. Grab that bike and get out there. Go to new places, try new lines and tricks, take a picnic and a basket if that’s your thing or spin out the road miles. Whatever you do you should do it on a bike.

RankNameRun 1Run 2Best runDiff
1Rosy MONAGHAN57:41 (1)58:07 (1)57:41
2Corinna BRISBOURNE1:06.44 (2)1:01.58 (2)1:01.584.17s
RankNameRun 1Run 2Best runDiff
 1 Sarah CRELLIN 54.31s (1) 53.21s (1) 53.21s –
 2 Franki Evans 57.02s (2) 56.11s (2) 56.11s 2.90s
 3 Abbie SLOAN 1:00.86 (3) 58.95 (3) 58.95 5.74s
 4 Natasha BRADLEY 1:01.61 (4) 1:02.42 (4) 1:01.61 8.40s
 5 Anna PARKER 1:06.65 (8) 1:05.34 (5) 1:05.34 12.13s
 6 Penny ROWSON 1:05.41 (5) 1:14.97 (11) 1:05.41 12.20s
 7 Chloe BUYS 1:06.64 (7) 1:05.94 (6) 1:05.94 12.73s
 8 Emily BECKETT 1:06.53 (6) 1:07.18 (8) 1:06.53 13.32s
 9 Erika EXELBY 1:10.81 (10) 1:07.11 (7) 1:07.11 13.90s
 10 Katie PERKIN 1:09.98 (9) 1:09.02 (9) 1:09.02 15.81s
 11 Hannah PRESTWICH 1:35.47 (11) 1:14.32 (10) 1:14.32 21.11s
RankNameRun 1Run 2Best runDiff
 1 Erika McDERMOTT 58:54s (1) 59:35s (1)  58:54s –
 2 Ellie DEWDNEY 1:01.03 (2) 1:00.15 (2) 1:00.15 1.61s
 3 Brittany LITTLEWOOD 1:03.31 (3) 1:00.88 (3) 1:00.88 2.34s
 4 Rebecca SMITH 1:05.62 (5) 1:03.96 (4) 1:03.96 5.42s
 5 Kate GRIES 1:05.16 (4) 1:04.18 (5) 1:04.18 5.64s
 6 Abi CROWSHAW 1:10.49 (6) 1:12.31 (6) 1:12.31 11.95s
RankNameRun 1Run 2Best runDiff
 1 Rene STENT 1:04.75 (1) 1:03.24 (1) 1:03.24 –
 2 Anita HARTLEY 1:26.80 (2) 1:19.76 (2) 1:19.76 16.52s
 3 Susan DIGGES LA TOUCHE 1:28.03 (3) 1:24.30 (3) 1:24.30 21.06s
 4 Claire DASHWOOD 1:36.05 (4) 1:30.81 (4) 1:30.81 27.57s

@flowmtbapparel / @becca_itd