As luck would have it, this year I managed to get a spot at Peaty’s Steel City DH and racing it was absolutely awesome.
Me and the missus arrived at the race venue for about 8:45am, the location – Greno woods (well worth a visit by the way if you like flow trails and jumps). We were greeted by Farmer Jack, a nice sloppy field and thousands of people raring to get racing and heckling.
I was itching to get parked up and riding. I wasn’t even bothered about a track walk, so I registered for the race, attached my race number and off I went for some practice runs.
The queue of riders was long and colourful. I finally got to the front, ready for my first practice run and the dude in front was just pointing at my tyre. “You’re joking aren’t you!!!!” The inner tube was bulging out of the tyre, it wasn’t seated properly on the rim “noooooo!!!” I asked if anyone at the top had a pump but nobody did, they were all in the zone and ready to go. So I stashed the bike next to a marshal and legged it back to the car for a pump. Eventually I fixed the bulge of doom, distraught that I had wasted about half an hour of practice time.
Three practice runs later and a couple of near misses due to the chain getting jammed, I was feeling like I knew the track. My race bike was a borrowed Dialled Alpine hardtail, a small, fun and arm juddering weapon of choice.
My first race run couldn’t come soon enough. The bulge was under control now and I was back on top of the scaffold start ramp, ready to drop in for real this time. I was so excited, the feeling of racing is hard to explain. 5, 4, 3…I’m off, pedal-pedal-pedal!
Not a bad first run. The crowd lined the track and were going mental. I heard a few Dirt Factory shout-outs and comments about the hardtail. Sending it into the bomb hole got the best response, I remember the announcer’s call of “we have a hardtail hero!” just as I crossed the finish line. Top fun and down in 1:31 seconds with plenty of room to go faster.
My second race run soon came round and all I wanted to do was beat my first race run. I changed one line and tried to pedal more, simple strategy really, it didn’t make much difference though. Some big shouts outs this time from fellow Dirt Factory team members who had lined the track, not that I heard any of it… I was totally in the zone by this stage. I managed to take 2 seconds off on my second run, 1:29.
All in all a top day, I didn’t realise how much I’d missed racing. I soaked up the atmosphere in the finish area for a while, nicked some pizza off my mate and then walked back up the hill with only one thing in mind – Peaty’s Trail Ale.