Well at long last I have plucked up the courage to do the top road gap at Caersws DH Park, it isn’t so much the jump but the immediate right hand 90 deg corner as soon as you land, I have to admit I was totally buzzing after I had done it.
The Saturday was cloudy and dry, as always things seemed to start quite slowly nobody in a rush to get sorted and get the track live, nobody was in a rush but I was ready and raring to go, the up lift started at 10 am and I was on the first one up the hill the track was mint if a little dusty, Martin the track owner had altered some jumps for the better.
All day it looked like rain but came to nothing at all the track was fast and a little sketchy in places but great fun, I think One Giant Leap Llangollen is one of my favourite tracks and Martin had done a really good job of preparing it for the race, I think I had done around 5-6 runs by dinner time without any problems, so I had a drink and a quick bite to eat before round two.
Quite few local people were riding this weekend on Saturday Rhys, Brad, Matty, Jamie and Jack were here and James and Thomas are riding on Sunday, I rode to around 3.30pm with just one small slide off, so it was home for dinner and dad could prep the bike for Sunday, up again early on Sunday and back to Llangollen, the Met Office said on Saturday that Sunday would be the best day of the weekend, but guess what it’s raining yet again on race day.
Dad was a bit worried that the rain would make the track slippery but there was plenty of grip, it seemed better than Saturday to be honest, the rain and low cloud on top of the hill kept coming and going all morning I did around 4-5 runs and then it was time to get on the uplift for my first race run and guess what the heaven opened and cloud came rolling in, fantastic.
I was first rider down which is something I always hate, the count down beeps started and off I went, the track was like a river in places and I slid off in 2 places but got straight back on and went for it, I was gutted to slide off but was amazed that on the first run I was 8th out of 16 and not that far behind the leader the bike was covered in mud, so dad washed it ready for the next run we had two hours to wait.
The rain kept coming and it was nearly time for round two everyone coming down kept saying it was like riding on ice so we thought we would change to a spike in the front, so quick change of front wheel and here we go, the tyre gripped well with no offs but my gears kept jumping every time I pedalled for a jump I cased every double going across the top section, I gave it everything I could and bugger it was 3 seconds slower than the first run I was gutted and that put me down to 12th.
Dad washed the bike at Llangollen and it was still filthy so we washed it again and get it ready for the next outing, time to get more practise and try to get faster.
Well that’s Conquer The Cliff done again, it started off a little stress full the gravel on the tracks was like riding on ball bearings, my brand new Mountain Kings seemed to have no grip at all and then to make it even worse as I was coming off the tram at the top of the hill my front tyre hit something on the steeps and blew a hole straight through the side wall, sealant went everywhere and I had to push the bike all the way back down the hill, dad got the remaining fluid out popped a tube in and off I went back to the top, I managed another two practise runs and then it was race time.
When I arrived at the top for my race run you could see the rain rolling up cardigan bay, oh no last year when it rained a few of the corners became skating rings, I think I was lucky as I got to the bottom without any problems the rain got heavier but didn’t affect my run and I was 10 seconds faster than last year, I had another hour and a half to wait until my next run so time for a chat and a chill, by the time my next run came the track had dried out but still had a little moisture which seemed to help with grip and knocked another second and half off my time which left me in seventh in my class, not to bad with the class of rider that was in it.
A race weekend at Antur Stiniog, when we arrived it was raining and the forecast said it would rain until 2pm and rain it did, thinking about it now I think it might have been better to wait it out but I was on the first up lift and away up the hill, the top of the track which I’ve ridden before was no problem, but the new part on Bendy G track was horrendous wet, sloppy, snotty and like a skating ring, there was zero grip people were coming off every where including me, I had my Conti Kaiser’s on and I couldn’t stay upright, so dad put my Conti Mud King on the front which did help a lot I managed a few complete runs, then some offs again, people were complaining every where, but as dad kept saying “it’s the same for everybody ” the pic below is after one run.
It did stop raining around 2pm and things did start to dry a little but by now it was time to head for home and get the bike prepped for the race day, all evening at home it stayed dry, we got up a 6am and looking out the window it looked like it hadn’t rained, but as we got to Antur it was black and cloudy, talking to the people who stayed the night it had bucketed down most of the night, bugger.
I had a walk of the track with dad and it was a sticky, slimy mess oh no here we go again, practise wasn’t the best coming off on nearly every run the Mud King didn’t seem to be helping as much as yesterday, I did my first race run with the Mud King on and I came off twice, as soon as I came off I picked the bike up and got back on so I didn’t hold anyone up, I was very disappointed in my time but thought I would have to try harder on the second run, my second run would be at 3pm so around two hours to wait the sun was out and the wind was drying the track, so I asked dad to put my Kaiser back on to see if it would make a difference to my times, I was a little nerves on the grip front, on the top sections the wind was blowing very strongly but the Kaiser seemed to be rolling faster and then it was the super slippy section and I managed to sail straight through it and knocked 30 seconds off my first run.
Great day if a little of an early start 4am out of bed to go to the Onza Mini Downhill series in the Forest Of Dean, we did get there a little early but it made parking easy and could chill before the races.
Dad went and signed on for me at 8am and then we pushed up to the start of the course but still had to hang about for a short while as the first aid people hadn’t turned up yet so I had a bit of a walk of the track, eventually we could start to ride the track, it was a bit of a shame as we only had one and three quarters of an hour to practise which by the time you had pushed back up amounted to two full runs so not a huge amount of time to session the track.
Racing was supposed to start at 11am and my first race run at 11.42am but some more delays and some sitting around at the top but eventually I was away the top section was quite pedaly with some jumps, then down a bank onto a fire road and into a lot rougher/techie/rooty section, then into a slippy turn down to the finish, this turn had caught quite a few people out and gone straight through the tapes, the run went well if a little slow I had a 1min 16sec run I was slightly disappointed but thought I would try harder next run.
Time for a chill and something to eat back down at the car, they said my next run should be at around 1.30pm so we pushed back up to the top a little early so I could have a blow before my run but yet again some more delays and I think it was around 2.30pm before it was game on, this run seemed a little smoother and I managed to knock off another 2 seconds which put me in 23rd out of 26 riders in my class, not as good as I would have liked but it could have been worse and I did beat 25 other riders in all the other catorgries, it was quite an eye opener how fast some of the riders are in juvenile mind give me something to aim for.
Dan Cartwright enjoyed his very first downhill race at “Conquer The Cliff” at Aberystwyth. He even managed 2nd in Rippers category which was great for his first race and he got a lovely trophy. He was the very first rider to start of the whole event and the first run was a dry run and he was just 5 seconds behind the first place rider but as there were thunderstorms rain and lightening just before his second run he didn’t manage to improve on his time. The first place rider in his category fell off hard on his second run so didn’t complete the lap. A lot of riders took part in the event and Caersws had a good representation on the day with 3 x 2nd place in categories and one 4th place, not bad for a small village in Wales (boys pictured above). Dan saw his hero Rachel Atherton who was also riding but was a bit quicker than him on the day ! An enjoyable event to start his downhill racing career off and a great first result.