Since Round 1 back in November, a fair few things have happened in my MTB world, one of which was hooking up with the new Southwest Syndicate team set up by Velo-Smith and RSF Suspension. Although concentrating mainly on racing enduro this year, teammates Lawrence and Nick, as well as Lawrence’s bro, Nick and I couldn’t resist entering Round 2 of the local DH series for some grassroots DH action.

With snow covering most of the UK during the week and this being the southwest, we were left out of the fun and had to put up with Southwest Snow. Aka cold drizzle.

I arrived early to sign on and get a track walk in on Proper Job, the track at Gawton Gravity Hub being used for this race. It’s a fun track with flow, jumps and big steep berms and to make it a touch different, at the end of the track, a Strava straight line option down and across a rutted right-left set of tight corners was taped in to allow some line choices.

With 2 hours for practice I squeezed in 5 runs to get more familiar with the track. Every time I ride Gawton, I love it and wonder why I leave it so long in between visits and it takes a couple of runs to remind me of how it weaves its way down the steep Tamar valley. With each run though, I struggled to get some flow going over the first half of the track. Whether the muddier and wetter conditions near the top were a small factor, I’m not sure but rocking a new Maxxis Shorty up front as well as a new Mudhugger FR mudguard, I had no excuses!

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Although I’m liking giving DH racing a go again, I’m not liking the waiting around for your first run,and it was a cold day today…brrrr. After practice ended, I had an hour and a half til my first run. Plenty of time to rustle up some finest just-add-water-and-boil lunch but also plenty of time to cool down and start to get cold. Lawrence, the Nicks and I went down to the rock garden for some encouragement/heckling…it turns out the cowbell app on my phone wasn’t a worthy substitute for the real thing. BUT!…how many real cowbells also make a mooing sound as well eh!

Eh??!

So, dropping in to my first run, again the flow wasn’t there for me in the top half and by the time I hit the second half, with some nice jumps and big berms, I was starting to feel like I was getting into it. A time of 1:34.484 put me in 20th of 44 in Masters after the first runs which I wasn’t overly content with but not hugely disappointed either…but I felt like I could make up 2 or 3 seconds if I attacked it more for run 2.

Photo: Dark Fairy Photography

For my second run, that first half felt a little quicker and I was hitting the jumps further down the track  faster so feeling a little more confident of a better time. But then…pffffffft!  Nope, not an involuntary sphincter release from overcooking a take-off, but a heavy landing on a larger drop-off caused almost all the air to be burped out of my rear tyre. With an “awwww!” from the crowd, and a “Ahhhhhh bollocks!” from me, that run was over and I rolled down the second half of the track cautiously so as not to damage my wheel rim. Some guy did shout “do an Aaron Gwinn!” which is all well and good when you get wheels for free like he does, but not so good when it’s the only rim you have and you’ve already splurged your month’s disposable income on this and other enduro race entries.

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Photo: Oliver Cox

I dropped a few places to 24th in Masters in the end. The field was more competitive this time round throughout so I would’ve been pleased to be top 15, but that’s the way racing goes!  According to Roots & Rain, I was a similar percentage away from the category winner as I was last time, so maybe it wasn’t too bad after all.

Still…could’ve been quicker 😋

Regardless, it was still a good day out on the bikes and was great to see teammates Nick (3rd) and Lawrence (6th) get top 10 results in Seniors for the Syndicate.

Round 3 is alleged to be a combo of the new Rattler jump line and Super-Tavi, which could be pretty damn interesting.

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2 thoughts on “Race Report: Woodlands Winter Downhill Series, Round 2 – Proper Job, Gawton

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