For the previous couple of years I’ve enjoyed a nice dry Dalby Forest. Camping over the weekend, riding the course, racing and riding the red route all with nice dry trails. How this year would change!
Run & Ride Team Blog
We’d originally planned to travel up on the Friday night, camp over and get some riding in over the weekend. I think it was Tuesday when a read a tweet from somebody….”looked at the weather report for this weekend. Dalby is going to become a pond” A quick change in plans, we decided that we’d be better spending the Friday and Saturday at home in the warm and instead travel up Sunday morning. This turned out to be a great call as Dalby had rain and giant hail for most of the day on Saturday.
I travelled up with Lee Gratton first thing Sunday morning and we arrived at a very damp Dalby about 10am. Lee hadn’t ridden Dalby before but had heard all about the technical sections and was itching to get out there for a pre lap. We had a quick wonder round, lee signed on and watched some of the woman and youth riders go round. First thing you noticed was that it was muddy! Whilst the riders didn’t look too dirty the bikes looked rough, caked in mud... this was going to be fun.
We had to wait a while for practise to open which was just as well as the rain started to come down. We sheltered in the van until practise time came around and Lee headed out for a lap with 45 minutes to the start. Lee should of got round in about 20 mins giving him time to change, clean the bike and line up. Whilst he went round I checked in with the other guys Matt Barrett and Ryan Henry, picked up bottles for the pits and got myself ready for pit bitch duty.
30 minutes passed still no Lee… 5 minutes to go and he returns, absolutely caked in mud. We jumped into action, cleaning the bike down as much as possible before he was due to line up. Lee loved the course but hated the mud and had problems with Chain Suck from almost the first single track. It was too late to change anything and he’d have to just make do.
A quick run over the start to watch the Elite’s start, Matt and Ryan started OK given the fact some rider who started on the front row got pushed the back quite easy. As expected Liam Killeen hit the front early with a number of foreign riders on the wheel and never really looked back. After watching the Elites go off I tried to catch Lee to pass on info about line choice off the start. It didn’t seem to make any difference, from the gun everybody was slipping and sliding around, luck meant they managed to stay upright more than anything else. From the pits we got to watch the guys from the start and then do a 5 minute loop before coming back through the pit area. This was useful having two chances to pass information (and abuse) to the riders.
From lap 1 Ryan had positioned himself just outside the top 30, Matt had a steady start riding around the late 30′s and Lee came through 3rd in the Sports.
First thing you noticed was it was hard going, the guys looked as if they’d been in a battle, gears crunching and the bikes for some failing badly all just 10 minutes after the start. We noticed the GB team offering up water to clean the gears off so we quickly jumped on that idea and it seemed to help.
With two laps completed the guys looked to be settling in and starting to get used to the conditions. Ryan and Matt had both moved up a few positions and whilst 1st place in the sports looked to be going well clear, Lee was locked in a battle for 2nd / 3rd. Much stayed the same for the next lap and the guys looked strong compared to those around them. A good shout at Lee saw him off on the last lap right on the wheel of 2nd place, fingers crossed he could do the business.
Matt and Ryan headed out on the their last lap. Unfortunately Ryan had dropped a couple of places but Matt seemed to be getting stronger and it looked like they may well end up in a last lap battle between each other. Bottles done we waited for Lee to come in for the finish. 1st place came in and finished……would it be Lee or a white jersey next? Unfortunately it was the white jersey with Lee a further 10 seconds down. Shame he didn’t get 2nd but 3rd was still a great result and Lee was chuffed.
Next in was Matt who’d just over turned Ryan who unfortunately picked up a flat on the last lap. Both guys finished just outside the top 30 showing a big improvement on the previous rounds performance.
The bikes… solid with mud. You could hardly push the bikes, I have no idea how they rode them!
Given the conditions it was a good day, the guys (despite the mud) enjoyed it. They team rode well and picked up some great results. If you want to see what the conditions were actually like check out our YouTube video below, courtesy by Jacob James
We’ve got a short break now before the next round of the Midlands series followed by Round 3 of the National Series this time at Hopton Woods. See you there!