Pic: Colin Robinson (www.colinrobinsonimaging.com)
Andy Barlow: Scottish XC Round 1Andy Barlow is a Whyte Racing UK supported rider in Scotland. He is now blazing a trail on a new Whyte Race 19 competing in the toughest UK cross country events. He rides hard and fast. With the infamous Wolftrax he opened his campaign in the Scottish XC championship with a podium place. This is his report from Laggan.
The infamous Wolftrax at Laggan played host to the opening round of the SXC for the second year running. This year, however, the weather on the day couldn’t have been better. Blue skies were a welcome change from last year’s washout and the course even threatened to be dry in places!
I still had to hose my bike down after one practice lap though! And with the Expert/Elite category doing seven laps, this was going to be a tough start to the season.
The course was the same as last year’s with a couple of diversions through some barely rideable, muddy fire breaks. For the most part though, it was a wet, hard-packed, fast-paced course (if a little muddy).
I set the pace from the gun, my new 19 Race making light work of the fire road climb, and only one guy managed to get past me and beat me to the top. I glanced over my shoulder as I caught my breath before the first technical traverse and saw that the field was spread out over the climb. No time to hang around.
I kept the unknown rider in sight for the first three laps or so, but started to feel cramp coming on at about the half way mark so eased the pace a little on the climbs in order to finish the race. It was around this time that I was also caught and passed by the eventual second place rider.
The Whyte performed brilliantly, and the XTR/Reba WC ‘makeover’ complimented the carbon-stayed 19 perfectly, taking over two pounds off my previous model. I wish it was that quick and easy to upgrade my legs for these events (I’ve heard you can buy L+R carbon fiber femur kits on eBay!)
Another few laps later I was crossing the line (covered in filth) in third place. Not a bad start to the season and no mechanical issues from the bike. We found out later that the unknown rider in the lead (who won by eight minutes) was none other than Paul Rowney, three times Australian National Champion and top ten Olympian. My girlfriend, Karen, assures me that having my arse kicked by a pro is somehow more noble.
A HUGE thank you to the guys at ATB Sales for sorting me out with such a sweet bike this year. Next race is down (or up depending where you’re reading this from) in Dalbeattie. Bring it on.
Billy Whenman: National Series XC1/Thetford EnduroBilly Whenman is a talented 16-year-old from Gravesend in Kent who is supported with a Marin Indian Fire Trial and a new Mount Vision bike. Over the Bank Holiday weekend “Billy The Whizz” got on to his first ever National Series podium AND got an amazing third in the Thetford Enduro despite two ‘over the bars’ crashes and a chain failure. These are his reports:
We arrived in the forest on the Friday basking in Thetford’s sunny weather and we set up our camp for the weekend. I was soon off around the 9.8km circuit to get a feel for the racing to come. I was well happy when I completed the circuit, as it was full of fast-flowing singletrack, so I set off on another to perfect my racing lines.
Saturday saw the start of the racing. I was gridded second on the line and got a good start position. We were underway but I got the worst start ever, missing the pedal (doh!), and ended up in 10th position.
However, I knew it was early days so I set about getting to the front on my Indian Fire Trail. After a big effort I was soon in second spot, rolling along the fast open fire track. Once we hit the singletrack I took the lead, powering through, pumping into all the bumps. As we come out of the singletrack a group of ten of us was away, but no one wanted to continue the speed.
I sat on the front and kept the pace high, and soon there was just five of us in contention. Then the pace dropped and I was recovering in third spot, with two laps to go. I put in an effort but was chased down so sat back and waited.
On the last lap, the pace picked up, and it became pretty much like a crit race, attacking out of every corner. Everyone was watching each other like hawks. I knew where I wanted to be and that was second wheel into the last bit of singletrack. I was in the right place only to be put into third spot by another competitor cutting the corner and taking my spot.
We were all together still but the lead two had a gap of around 30ft. Out of the singletrack and on to the fire road I put in my last dig, closing the gap down to a second on 2nd place and just four seconds on the leader, but it was all too late.
I finished in third spot, and found myself up on my first national series podium.
Having had the best night sleep ever after a good race the day before, I woke up only to find my rear brake on my Mount Vision had air in it! And me without a bleed kit… I was stuck without a bike so I had to turn to my trusty Indian Fire Trail once again, hoping for another good day in the saddle.
I was lined up for the 50km enduro, and hoping for a great race. I attacked from the start taking with me four riders. One was a 25km specialist so I wasn’t too bothered about him but the other two were Elite riders, one of them racing off the back of a 4th place in the Elite race the day before.
With two laps to go the race was looking good. Our group had a big gap and I was feeling good. Still just the four of us, and I was sitting on a wheel in the singletrack only to be suddenly thrown over the bars by a unknown object.
I jumped up and was straight on the bike and back with my competitors. I was feeling good and confident so I attacked and kept going. The other two sitting on my wheel, we soon caught the leaders of the 100km race. They jumped on to us and sat in.
With a lap to go, attacks started going. I was watching them and they were just testing each other so the next attack I followed and as he sat up and looked around I kept going, getting a gap but was soon chased down.
Once again we hit the singletrack, I was third wheel. And once again thrown over the bars, this time by a root sticking up out of the ground in the middle of the track! I hit the deck hard and soon found myself looking up at my bike coming down on me and Nick Craig ploughing into me for good measure. It was a spectacular crash.
The others attacked and I was dropped. I jumped up and got on my bike, went to pedal and the chain was stuck fast, so I hopped off and sorted the problem out. With my torn bar tape and bent bars I set about chasing the leaders down.
I still felt good but couldn’t even see the leaders. I attacked every last bit of the lap and had them in sight. I put my last effort in, catching Nick and passing him but unfortunately couldn’t catch the other two. Finishing in third place, 24 seconds down on the winner.
I was well chuffed with my performances, especially after a bad winter of injury and operations. I had to race my hardtail both days – which coped very well – and rode two of my best performances yet.
Hopefully I will be aboard my Mount Vision for another great race at the next round.
Many thanks to ATB Sales for my race bikes, Continental for my tyres and to Tutto Bici for the tuning of my race steeds.
Luke Smith: National Series XC1Luke Smith is a 25-year-old supported Whyte UK Racing rider from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. He is a mechanical engineer by trade for a diamond company ground out a good finishing place in the Thetford national Series race over the Bank Holiday despite starting from the back of the field. This is Luke’s report.
I arrived at the circuit later than I had originally planned on the Friday due to not feeling too great in the morning. Once I was there, however, and signed in I was feeling a lot better and decided to go for a practise lap. The course was superb and with the dry weather it flowed superbly. I was running Panaracer Razor XC tyres on my new Whyte 19 Race. With around 50psi in the tyres front and back they were really rolling great.
Saturday morning dawned and again it was a lovely sunny day. The race commenced at 12 noon and people were trying to hit the start line at about 11.30! Not that it made much difference as most of the guys were gridded based on UCI and ranking points gained last year.
I was not gridded and started on the second from last row with just one person behind me on the back row! I couldn’t have been any further back if I’d started from the car park.
The start was hectic. A cloud of dust engulfed the course and, as could be expected under these tense conditions, one rider crashed badly causing a split in the field. By the time we hit the first section of singletrack the leaders had already broken clear.
I was in the main group of riders, probably mid pack, so I’d managed not too bad a start. But one rider had a few problems in a section of singletrack and let a gap open and by the time we hit the fire road a significant gap had opened and the group had split in two.
We tried throughout the race to close the gap but I think we were all travelling at a similar pace and the gap remained throughout the race.
Gradually as the race progressed various riders dropped off the back of the group and as we entered the last lap there were only three of us close together. I went to the front just before the race’s only climb and upped the pace and this reduced the group to just two of us – going up the climb for the final time the race was taking its toll but I managed to find a little extra and attacked gaining a small gap on the other rider.
I finished the race in 19th position which I was very happy with considering the bad start conditions. At least this position means that I’ll be gridded at the next round, massively increasing my chances of gaining a better position.
Many Thanks to ATB sales for the Whyte 19 Race – a lot of other racers were definitely jealous of my steed!