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James Gould Race Report - Round 6 BDS

James Gould Race Report - Round 6 BDS


British Downhill Series - Round 6, Llangollen

Things weren't looking good for race day on Saturday morning. A long week at work, complete with leaving the office late on Friday, to get stuck in an extra hour of traffic on the way to Llangollen. This meant light was fading during our track walk and the pit was setup in the dark.

Saturday morning brought more problems, with the air leaking from my rear shock at a rate that left my downhill bike without a bash guard and out of action. Through luck, rather than just judgement, I had my Kona Process 153 DL in the back of the van. While it is an amazingly capable bike, it isn't quite enough for one of the steepest, loosest downhill tracks in the Country. I was pushing the limits of the bike, but managed to get in a reasonable number of, incredibly spicy, practice runs.

A quick chat with Stephens Racing, later in the afternoon and they offered to lend me a spare shock they had in their pit area. Unfortunately, this shock wasn't the right size. We tried putting the shock into the 10 inch travel position in the frame to see if this could prop the back end up a little more than it would in the shorter travel position I normally use.

Team Manager Dave turned up late on Saturday with a spare shock for my bike, which meant it would be back in action in time for a couple of practice runs on Sunday morning before qualifying. It was only after the practice runs that I noticed that we had put the shock back into 10 inch travel position. Rushing to get the bike ready and the shop setup in the pit area on Saturday evening we had forgotten to change the bike back to 8.5 inch mode after our experiments with the shock from Stephens Racing.

The revelation that the shock was in the wrong position, explained why the backend was wallowing during the practice runs since the spare shock had previously been tuned to the more appropriate 8.5 inch travel setting. We moved the shock into the right position before qualifying and Dave installed the new carbon cranks, with a smaller chain ring so I could get off the start line a bit quicker. Finally, after 36 hours of bike problems things were looking good.

Keen to put down a good run and put my disappointing results from Fort William and Moelfre behind me, I was feeling nervous waiting to drop into my qualifying run. Our last minute changes worked well as my qualifying run was about 20 seconds quicker than my best practice run.

Happy with my qualifying result, a quick tractor ride to the top and I was hoping to further improve my time, and bring the run home in under two and a half minutes. A fairly uneventful run down the blown out track stopped the clock at 2 minutes 28. After all was said and done with the senior racers my final position was 38th out of 48.

While 38th is my lowest result of the season, I had only managed to beat 7 people at Fort William and Moelfre combined? Moving outside the bottom 10 for the first time in BDS was a way great end to the season - the gap between me and the sharp end of the field is definitely closing. I look forward to capitalising on this success in 2017.

A big thanks to anybody and everybody who has helped me this season - from TMC Team Manager and Mechanic Dave for his infallible support for both me and the bike; all TMC's sponsors: Smith Optics, Schwalbe & Reborn clothing; the guys over at Stephens Racing for beers, BBQs and spares; and of course all my fellow TMC riders. Particular congratulations go to Sarah for her win and to Windley for only just being outside the top 20, even after stopping for a dirt nap in his race run! Finally, a shout out to my parents and brother for not only bringing the campervan to all the races but providing catering services every weekend as well - even the slowest of practice runs wouldn't be possible without your support!!

Let's see what we can do next year!

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