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Race Season 2014 – SDA round 2 – Dunkeld

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Our practice runs confirmed all of the possible nightmares about the course. All of the very steep bits were still present. All of the smashy face rocks were still present. The only notable additions to the course was foot deep mud for ¾ of the track which was getting thicker and deeper with each set of tyre tracks.

After a few practice runs, Nics confirmed that she still did not like Dunkeld and would not be racing. She wasn’t the only one. Men, women and kids from all categories were calling it a write off due to the brutal nature of the course.

The course got worse over night with more rain coming down before race day.

I got there early and my friend Debs, who proved at the last round to be quite speedy, was keen to meet up for a practice run. She hadn’t managed to find a way down parts of the hill and was looking to practice some lines together. We went up for our first practice run, and sat there for over an hour due to a red flag. We barely had time to put in a practice run, having to rush down the hill. When trying to get through one of the trickiest sections, Debs had an off. It was the final straw and she decided that her health was more important than racing this course. The women’s field was getting smaller and smaller as the time went on.

Nerves or excitement?

Nerves or excitement?

I fired back up the hill for my first race run and got there just in time. I was super smooth but felt horribly slow down this run but managed to lace together my first and only clean run of the hill for the whole weekend. The course was getting worse, the weather was dry so the course was getting sticky, huge sloughs of deep mud glooping and sticking to everything. It was very physically punishing.

By the time we got on the cattle truck for the 2nd race runs, there were only 6 women left and of those 6, only 5 would complete the final run.

Clean run! Clear Shirt!

Clean run! Clear Shirt!

My 2nd race run was better to start, I was flying down the steep top section and carried far more speed in the super sludgy drop/corner of doom. However, I didn’t carry any speed through the next section, went over the bars from a complete stop (which is pretty embarrassing – there are surely photos of this somewhere as well L ). I got over taken by Jess Stone, the super fast elite rider but even the elites weren’t protected from the crazy nature of the course. As I went over the next drop, I came across Jess on the ground, just starting to get back up – I managed to ride around her and continue down the course. It was still a slow rubbish run and I was smeared with mud but totally delighted to have made it down the course twice safely.

Knowing the two extremes of what the Dunkeld race course is like, I now know that I would happily race it in either, although I much prefer the dry.

 

Waiting at the top in the sludge

The official times have finally been posted and I placed 2nd in Senior Women (my first podium of the year J) and am now sitting in 2nd for the series. Unfortunately, the podium photos will need to wait until the next round as due to timing problems, they were postponed. Here’s looking forward to the next adventure which will be my first stab at a British Downhill Series event.

Well done to the organisers and volunteers of the SDA who kept the race going despite the weather playing mayhem with everything from the buses to the timers and thanks to Grease Monkey Cycles for fixing my bike up so it can hit Fort William in two weeks! – Sandy


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