Finn Tennant Race Report BDS Rd #3
HSBC British Downhill Series - Race Report BDS Round 3 | 17th & 18th of June
Twenty three months before round three of the British Downhill Series at Bala I finished my last European Cup on a high and was buzzing for the next season. Eighteen months ago, so five months later, I was taken out by a Ford Focus in a hit and run incident. The crash ended up leaving me with two spinal injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a broken wrist and serious ligament damage to my ankle. I spent a nearly a year bed ridden and the six months after that were a gruelling, painful and tiring battle to drag myself back to normal life.
Bala was my first race back and by no means was I back up to full health or ready to go racing. I had planned on doing some regional races beforehand but I did not recover in time. However desperate to get racing I decided to do it anyway just for fun. I expected nothing in the department of race performance, frankly I expected to be no better than mid pack.
I did enjoy it immensely though. By the time it came to riding I was on cloud nine, being back between the tape and catching up with old mates on the uplift slapped a grin on my face from ear to ear. I did however, soon come to realise that my fitness was going to be an issue as the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is still holding me back and I had not even completed a full day of riding before the race. I was a corpse by half way down the track and almost unable to grip the bars tight enough to hold on, but nothing could dampen my mood at that point I just took lots of rest breaks.
Sunday came around and I felt pretty worn out. Sleeping in the nearly converted van, more on that next time, made the quality of sleep very high but I knew I'd been riding all day Saturday! Despite being a tad stiff after getting into it practice was a ball, once again I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat throughout.
Then it came to seeding and I put a decent run down, somehow qualifying fifth. Now the happy go lucky attitude of not thinking about my result or putting pressure on it, suddenly became a lot easier said than done! But I turned to all the mind control techniques I had learnt when beating the PTSD and they worked a treat! I felt calm and collected in the start hut. Again I managed to put down a solid run, it felt fast but I didn't push hard or take many risks so I wasn't sure if it would be enough to hold the podium. My strength had not taken riding in the blazing sun all weekend very well either and I nearly blew my hand off the grip when hitting big holes three times in my race run, I just could not hold onto the old warhorse anymore. So when I crossed the line and could hear the cheers from the TMC pits I could not believe the fairytale ending to the weekend had actually come true.
After being broken both physically and mentally like that and fighting back to health over a year and a half, crossing that line and securing a podium at the first try was honestly the best feeling I've ever experienced. I've never felt satisfaction like it. Nothing I've ever done was even close to as hard as that recovery and finishing 5th felt like I was giving all that adversity and pain the biggest middle finger I could hold up to it!
I'd like to say a massive thank you to Mitchel Cycles, Dave, Andy and the whole team. I signed for them just when I got injured and they gave me unquestioning support throughout the lengthy recovery. They had no obligation to do so as I had never even raced in their jersey. Yet they did, and I am so grateful for it. I also would not have been able to get that result without their help fixing my broken bike and supplying me with new kit as and when needed. It felt great to be able to finally reward them with a decent result too. I was so excited to go racing for the first time and after Bala I think I'm even more excited for the next one! I'm finally back in the game and more gassed about it than a kid is for a toys R us trip!
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