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Race Report – Round 4 Racers Guild Summer Series, Stile Cop – Kate Gries

flow mtb rider kate gries 1st place in the 4th round racers guild stile cop ridge run

Flow MTB rider Kate picked up 1st place in the fourth 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. Racking Ridge Line Kate managed to pick up her third first place of the series, here’s Kate’s race report.

Looking out the window on Saturday watching the hail pelting down, the trees dancing in the wind, listening to the thunder cracking overhead, I was preparing myself for a wet and wild day of racing. However, Sunday race day proved to be a mighty fine day for the 4th round of the Racers Guild Racing at Stile Cop. With the sun showing its face early in the morning I trotted over to sign in and grab my race plate. I noticed a few new names from previous rounds so it was nice to have a few more girls for us to mingle and banter with.

Today we had the pleasure of racing Ridge Line. A fantastic sweeping track with a scattering of rocks near the top and some small jumps and drops to keep you on your toes. You can really gather some speed pushing into the smooth banked corners heading over the gas line, there’s a nice poppy jump, banking left then right dropping your bike down as much as you dare over a drop into another fast corner, you line yourself up for a rather large jump. It made for great entertainment watching riders throwing whips. As for me, I managed a few bar tweaks and back end twitches but I haven’t quite mastered the mighty tail whip yet! Anyway… you then drop into a steep berm leading to tighter weaving corners and plenty of roots to keep you on your toes and catch you off guard to the finish line. I can only describe this track as, well very playful indeed!

Pip and I cranked the pedals over for our last practice run, and we were certainly making it a fun one hitting the jump hard and dropping into the berm I finally nailed the more direct line through the first set of roots, I let out a cheer much to mine and the marshall’s delight only to end up over the bars in a heap – it’s a good job Pip was on the ball, a pile up would have been on the cards! I think hitting the more direct line I’d carried too much speed into the next loose sharp corner, better to get it wrong in my practice runs hey!! Lesson learnt – I hope!

Practice runs were over and those sudden pre race nerves got the heart pumping as the five of us lined up to the sound of the start beeps. I set my pedals at the ready trying to convince myself it was just another practice run. It didn’t take long for that grin to take over my face as I popped off the jump across the gas line, I kept low into the bike on the fast sections pedalling where I could. Pumping into the jump with my grin extending further I managed my line through the start of the roots and controlled my speed to avoid another lay down in the middle of the track. Picking my way through the uneven ground, stumps and roots I was soon popping out into the open and over the finish line. Coming in with a time of 1 minute it left me sitting in first and it left me wondering if I could reduce that time to less than a minute for my second run. Feeling confident I set off pedalling hard, I was feeling faster as I dropped the bike low into the bends and cleared the jump nicely keeping my speed landing on the down slope. I was thinking I must be heading for less than a minute – one glance down fumbling with my gears I was eating dirt taking another tumble, dope! That’s my first crash in an actual race run, actually it kinda felt good to get it out the way – it’s not so bad! Scrambling back onto my bike I managed to get back into it down the roots and over the finish line coming in at 1:05 seconds. I was pretty chuffed at that – would I have finished in less than a minute? I don’t know! I’m hoping we get the pleasure of racing this track again over the next year and maybe I can find out!

This track reminds me why I love riding my bike, it’s amazing how much you let yourself and the bike go when you’re feeling confident, it feels good. That feeling can soon disappear when you’re not so confident or have a fall, but that’s biking for you! Swings and roundabouts!

Thanks to Mick, Harry and the team and thank you to Flow MTB for their continued support, on to the next one – my first Pearce race this weekend coming, looks like it might be a muddy one!

@flowmtbapparel / @griesey82

Photos: Martin Hill, William Hook and Prospect Visuals