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12 Sep 2014

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Rachael Gurney - I am very pleased to be working with Uberbike components for the remainder of 2014 and 2015! This is another brand whose products I have used for years so I am so stoked to be working alongside them! Uberbike will keep me supplied with the wear and tear components on my bike, brake pads, cables, hoses etc and as things wear out on the Roubion we will be steadily colour coding it – its going to look even more beautiful!

 

Rachael Gurney - August's Round Up

 

Written 12/09/2014 by Rachael Gurney

 

Well August and the beginning of September has certainly been surprising and eventful! First off a massive thanks to Uberbike for having me on board, I am very excited to be part of the team! Since my initial introduction things have changed slightly. I was due to take part in the final round of the UK Gravity Enduro, the X-Fusion Enduro in Devon and then the Rachel Atherton Redbull Foxhunt but as you are about to find out I broke my hand last weekend so plans have changed slightly! I’m now setting my sights on healing up with a view to do the Mini Enduro at the Forest of Dean in November. Last month for me has gone a bit like this – enduro race, epic enduro in the Alps then more UK enduro racing, it’s been a busy one!

 


Just prior to the UKGE race, I was offered the chance to take part in the Trans Savoie, an epic 6 day, multi stage enduro race from Val D’Isere to Chamonix at the end of August – I couldn’t say no! Only a month away from the event itself I was plagued by worry, as I spoke about in my last blog I was a bit apprehensive about being back on the bike post collar bone break. Nevertheless this wasn’t something I was going to pass on. The Trans Savoie has six days packed full multiple timed stages, with an incredible 24,302m of descending and a total of 302km of riding over the week. It is organised and run by Ali Jamison, owner of sister company trailAddiction, a guiding company based in Les Arcs. Ali is innovative in the way that this race uses the ski lifts available in the Alps to assist riders in the liaisons between stages. Sounds easy doesn’t it, lift up and ride down? There is an average of 4000m descending a day for 6 whole days, unimaginable to most! This race is still a demanding test, with approximately 900m climbing under the riders own steam a day, this is on top of all that amazing downhill action. With a different base camp almost every night racers make their way to each camp which is moved for them by race volunteers and set up ready again for their arrival. This means all the riders have to think about apart from racing is finding the correct tent at the end of the day and eating the food ready prepared for them! As I knew I would, I had an awesome week, the Trans Savoie has helped me work on some key riding skills, most importantly looking up and reading the trail, things I will be able to take home and apply to everyday riding. Racing blind is a different skill altogether than racing normal ‘enduro’ and one that needs to be taken with a slightly more relaxed approached. I will forever remember the feeling as I cleaned a trail section I previously thought of as unrideable and the cheer from the ever exuberant marshals or media guys as I raced past, awesome feelings and ones that will stick for a long time. 

 

Photography by Mick KirkhamPhotography by Mick Kirkham
Four days after returning from the Trans Savoie I was packing the van again to travel to round five of the UKGE. I was ready for this race and ready to challenge my closest competitor for the win. The Trans Savoie had helped my riding massively and I felt relaxed and confident on the bike. Friday and Saturday practice session were the best two days I have had on the bike possibly ever! Apart from riding well, I was surrounded by my ‘enduro’ race buddies, the sun was out and there were five absolutely mint tracks to be learnt! Riding down stage 3, a rocky walker’s track, I was reminded of the Alps and was pleased to feel right at home as the bike danced about. Unfortunately the high was soon to come to an end, with the thought of winning in my head I clipped my bars on some metal barriers on an uphill fire road sprint in seeding, catapulting myself over the bars and unbeknownst to me at the time, breaking a bone in my hand. I got up and carried on with seeding only crashing once more as I now couldn’t brake that well and came down in fourth place! Later at hospital my worst fears were confirmed and the dreaded cast went on my left hand. I was indescribably upset, I was once again due to my own clumsiness missing out on a rad weekend, missing out on a possible win and a series podium place, not to mention upcoming events. But less about that, it’s done now and I can’t un-break it however hard I try. Apparently there is good blood flow to the hand and they mend well, I hope I will be back on the bike in less than five weeks. In the meantime I have some exciting bike journalism to get on with!


 

Stuart Ganderton Race Report – UK Gravity Enduro Round 5 2014 – Grizedale

The final round of 2014 UKGE series was held at Grizedale in the Lake District. I had only ridden the area once before, which was at the PMBA Round 2 earlier in the year. This was predominantly a pedally affair, but knowing that Charlie and Steve had been given permissions to build 2 new stages it was going to be interesting.

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credit – Charlie Williams

Leaving Sheffield at a fairly social hour on Friday morning with a plan to ride the entire course that afternoon, I was buoyed by weather reports that the warm sunny weather was due to continue over the race weekend. For this round, no tents were allowed in the arena area due to the cousin of the landowner being a local farmer with a campsite. I rocked up, pitched, had lunch and then left with my riding pals Darren Haines and Andy Emley for a practice lap of the course.

Stage 1. – 35 min transition from arena. Started with a quick flowy single track through the woods. It then met up with a trail centre section which was a massive pedal, but the organisers had left in some line choices. There was a totally pointless boardwalk section that got removed before race day. The final part shot across a field, and then plunged back into the finish arena.

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credit – Charlie Williams

Stage 2. – 30 min transition time. This was one of the new stages. Fresh cut, loamy rooty affair, the only issue being a root drop into a stream crossing that was going to zap all of your speed or have you off if you got it wrong. After this the speed and flow just escalated and had me literally laughing out load and whooping as the bike gripped and roosted through the woods. It was the first time this year I was enjoying myself during a stage. My only major concern was a fire road sprint that had a gate across it. There was a bus stop around the gate, but during practice we were all nearly caught out. More flowy stuff through the woods and you were spat out all the way down by Connistion Water.

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credit – Charlie Williams

Stage 3. – 50 min transition time. A mammoth climb, first half road then fire road took us back up to the top of the hill, and stage 3 & stage 5 started within meters of each other. On the friday we could not ride stage 3 as it was a walkers path and would only officially be open on the Saturday, which we did. A twisty, peak district type, walkers path started this off, strewn with rocks that were just the right height to catch your pedal and have you off. An off camber bedrock slab was the start to eyes wide open, flat out section with lots more bedrock sections. Getting the bike light and carrying these was going to be the only method of survival. My brain was telling me speed was my friend, but at the same time telling me i was going to die if i got it wrong. Then the mother killer of all sprints in the middle, slightly up hill then flat. Keeping the top clean and carrying as much energy into this was going to be key. The finish was again part of the trail center, easy during practice, but when you are blowing after that sprint it was going to be tricky to maintain pace.

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credit – Charlie Williams

Stage 4. – 25 mins transition. This was the second of the new stages and again delivered loamy rooty conditions with jumps/drops over fallen trees. i struggled with this stage in practice and would say it was my least favourite.

Stage 5 – 60 min transition. A re-run of the PMBA stage. Open section that shot you into the darkest woods for tight rooty section. Caution was going to be required here as it seemed to take ages for my eyes to adjust to the light change. Into an open section of felled area, negociating tree stumps and roots, then into the “black” section of trail centre. This was the only jump area on the course, and dumped you onto a fire road sprint, then back into the woods to negociate a stream crossing and a field finish.

Great course, but the general consensus in our group was the transitions were tight, especially the ones up the from Connistion Water.

On friday night, we had some seriously heavy rain. Where did that come from? None of the weather reports I had seen forecast rain. I was going to be another one of those race weekends where I was going to be disappointed and frustrated. I was pleased to see after a gentle roll down stage 5 that the rain had not affected the course too much.

Seeding – 33rd. The first section of woods caught me out. Went in to fast, into dark woods, wearing googles. My eyes did not adjust and ended up stacking it on the first left hander. OTB, and injured my shoulder. Rolled through the next bit until regaining my thoughts at the fire road. Disappointed, and was convinced that this was going to yet another UKGE event I was going to go away from not achieving a thing. I always go in aiming for top 20, which is difficult with a start position of 33.

My mate Andy Emley took a fall in the same place as me, and ended going to A&E in the ambulance with a dislocated shoulder. Being there with his wife and 2 young kids, I took it upon myself to follow him to A&E and make sure he was alright and could at least get back without too much disruption to the kids. Hearing the noises he was making while they tried 3 times to get his shoulder back in made me realise how lucky I was in my off and how close the line is. Getting back to my tent at half past midnight was not the best pre-race prep either. I decided that my aim was to end the next day in one piece, with 5 clean runs, and just enjoying the day. This would mean scaling it back and not being “on it”.

Race Day – It always feels like an early start being in the VETS, the arena area is just starting to come alive and wake up. I rolled out around 10am. On the transition up the legs felt strong. I always climb at my pace, the one that feels comfortable. I had pretty soon caught up with Darren, who had at least a 4 min start on me.

Stage one – Kept it dialled back on the top until i go to the pedally bit, then dug deep. Nearly lost it once on the trail centre gravel, but kept it clean and felt ok. I saw my 20 second guy and knew that I had made in roads. Checking over my shoulder at the finish, and it was definately more that 20 seconds before my chaser crossed. Spirits raised, we set off back up the hill.

Stage 2 – Damn I was feeling really good, really strong. I knew this transition was going to be tight, so decided to put in an effort up the transition. Potentially too much as i did it with 8 mins to spare. I fuelled on a banana and iso gel, and then got myself calm for 2. This was a stage I would screw up if I went hard. As I got to the root/stream my 20 second guy was there with a broken chain, I had ridden clean to this point and I knew the next bit was good fun. Russ gave me a shout as I went past and I picked up the pace a bit. Jesus, I felt on fire. I was laughing out loud and whooping, nailing turns and giving myself a “yeah buddy”. Connected everything…. and then i spotted the guy in front. Didn’t catch him but I knew for me I had done OK. I was riding good and relaxed rather than the tense mess I normally am. Time for the big climb.

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Doc Ward

Stage 3 – This climb was going to be tighter, I didn’t want to get a time penalty by just judging it wrong. I found my comfortable effort/pace that I knew I could tap out and stuck to it getting to the start with plenty of time to fuel, hydrate and get my head sorted. My plan here was to get through the single track clean, then attack the bedrock, then unleash the canons on the fire road. Went to plan, except taking a high line on the off camber. I buried myself on the sprint, and caught my 20 second guy before the trail section, which I cleaned and carried speed. Still feeling good, I knew I was putting in my best performance of the the year so far. It wasn’t podium stuff, far from it, but I felt amazing. I gave myself a break on the next transition, it was easier and I needed to keep some reserves for the last big climb back upto 5.

Stage 4 – This was the other stage I was going to mess up, but I could not remember it from practice. All I knew is that everyone was saying it was their favourite. But I felt as though I was on fire, I was riding good and relaxed, so I decided to do what I did on 2. I smiled. Rode the first bit clean, and then a marshal shouted “you’re catching him”. Was I? Or was this just a marshal playing an evil marshal mind game to ease the mundanity? I didn’t care, it was good enough for me, so i sprinted hard at the fire road. I caught Russ as we came off the road into the single track section. I was shouting at him to go faster, and he did. I could have shouted “Rider” for the pass, but I know Russ is a good rider. So we just hooned down, with me on his back wheel, feeling like kids again, mandatory fist pumps at the end. Now we just had that massive climb. I knew I was getting tired, so focussed  on the rhythm….

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Doc Ward

Stage 5 – I had bumped into Rob “The Box” Cooksley before the race, and he told me to just get clean through the top of 5. Even the elites feel slow through there, so just keep it clean. I had decided that I wasn’t going to run googles or glasses to give my eyes all the chance they could to see. I stood in the queue waiting to go, and closed my eyes, maybe it would help with the darkness of those woods. I found my self squinting as the beeps went. I needed this to be clean through the woods, pick up the pace and flow the trail centre, unload the canons on the fire road, then caution to the stream where everyone was stacking it in seeding, and finally empty everything for the final traverse and into the arena. The woods were dispatched trouble free, one issue on the final root as my rear stepped out, but then I saw Russ. I was on his back wheel after the hip jump frantically shouting “rider” for the pass, but the bastard didn’t move. We were into a bit of single track and our pace was relatively even, but I knew he was knackered so would get him on the fire road. Russ obilged to the shout as we came off the last berm, and I didn’t sit down all the way. 2 big breaths as i entered to the wood, I just needed this clean. The sprogs (Under 18s) were at heckling around the stream as usual, I asked them left or right to which Pete Lloyd screamed in his multi tone voice,”Just send it Ganderton”. I was through, stalled slightly on the way out. Finish arena was visible, my line home was good and I still had  some power. Job done.

I achieved my aim. A clean race, no offs and I had fun. I knew that I had done OK, catching my 20 second man on 3 occasions, but that doesn’t always equate to results. The Vets is stacked with quality riders, and from a start position of 33 I was going to be happy with any position over 30.

24240Stuart GANDERTON Seeding 4:39.76 (33)Stage 1 3:40.03 (22)Stage 2  4:26.60 (29)Stage 3  4:17.24 (21)Stage 4 4:36.19 (19)Stage 5 4:22.80 (25) Total 26:02.62

24th! And 19th on stage 4. More than happy. The crash in seeding had cost me my top 20 finish.

Best of all I made up the deficit over Darren and ended up beating him in the overall.

What have I learned? Not sure yet, I will post something up soon. I do know one thing, before this weekend I was ready to pack it all in.

Thanks to

  • UBERBIKE for the all of race support, belief and faith through 2014 (www.uberbikecomponents.com) check them out, buy some spangle for your bike.
  • All of the marshals, medics and support crew that make racing possible
  • The other racers who make this series what it is
  • Steve, Charlie, Liz and Chris for organising a great series this year, see you in 2015.
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