We had two riders at this event: Harry Rayner-Lovejoy & Ciaran King. The race line is taking on FOD's "Corkscrew" course...
Fast and fun. Super fast, jumpy top section leads into a fast rooty bottom section, then swooping through a valley and over the finishing hip jump. Please note: The bottom hip jump has been reshaped and moved back from the fire road after a number of recent accidents - take it easy on your first run through!
Since Harry's previous battle and top 10 finish at Windhill's Turkey Burner, he's been working on a racing strategy. Looking at what he eats, the week leading up to the event, his morning routine and ensuring he keeps warm and is as ready as he can be come the final bleep on top of the course. Although he's been working really hard, Harry managed to forget his riding shoes - only realising when they arrived at the event - meaning he borrowed some from a friend to get the practise runs in while dad headed back for them!
Harry described the practice runs as "going well - each time I was going faster and getting better" he didn't realise the racing was about to start due to having such fun sessioning the course.
I waited for around 5mins before my first timed run, I took off my coat and stole at the start gate - after 5 or 6 good confidence boosting practice sessions I was up for the course and ready to go after the clock. I zoned out focusing on the course, only to be awoken a few times by the crowd who were cheer us all on, the course was great and I enjoyed it - although I felt as if it didn't feature as many jumps as I'd like. I rode over the finishing line to hear the announcer/commentator shout my name and then my time - 1min 7.33 seconds which wasn't as good as I was expecting. I knew others were setting quicker times, but it put me around half way in the pack.
Lining up after a break and a wait - this time the cold had gotten to me and I had a voice in the back of my head unnerving me. But from last race, I learned to push through the limits and give it ago, instead of going out of my comfort zone I decided to keep my coat on, keeping me warm but to hit it as fast as I could. Having lost some of my confidence that the practice sessions had installed, I had the rest knocked out after coming close to an off with clipping a rock. By the time I had got to the bottom I had lost time, but at least the lessons I had learned at Windhill I was now able to apply to this race run.
Speaking with Harry, his dad and reading his race report we could tell he was feeling a bit deflated and beat, so TMC manager Dave will be working with him to keep him progressing, get him out riding with a few of the team - like Ciaran and the rest of our riders will help Harry's development and more importantly ensure he's learning and ultimately having fun at these events, that's so important!
Alongside Harry, we had a very talented rider in the way of Ciaran King. A consistent racer - competing for prizes and podiums in the Elite/Expert category!
Speaking with Ciaran after the racing, he said this:
To start off the year the plan was to carry on from winning the last round of year in December. The race didn’t go as well as hoped, just wasn’t riding that great despite the track being flat out with some cool lines. But managed to put an ok race run together to take 3rd in elite/expert which is always nice. So I've taken my first podium for 2019 and we progress to challenge next time round.
Mini downhill always put on a great event with good organisation and a big crowd getting amongst it! Which is always cool racing in front of a good crowd!! Was good to catch up with fellow team rider Harry, who looked pinned on his Merida One sixty!!!
The next race, for me, is back at Forest of Dean for the 100% Mini DH round 2 on the 17th feb which should be another good race and be looking for redemption - I want the win!
Mitchell Cycles owner & boss man spoke with TMC manager and us on Tuesday, expressing his praise for both riders saying "Progression in this sport and competing in this sport are both main factors in the teams existence - really the main two reason the team is here. We want to help riders achieve their racing potential and giving them the support! Well done to both riders!"
And TMC manager Dave said "both riders are at different stages, Ciaran is competing and challenging at a real tough level & Harry has just joined, riding a new bike and is still learning - so it's great both riders were at the same event together! We're aiming to get out and get a Harry riding with a few more members of the team!
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