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Team Hard – Dean Reeves; My 2013

My 2013 – Dean Reeves

My 2013 season was my biggest one yet with ups and downs along the way but by far my favorite and best, so here it goes.

The year started off well for me, managing to get a sponsorship with Team-HARD I had a good support system in place and was getting up to Cyclopark twice a week to get practice in on the pro section and get used to the size of the track. I knew most of the tracks on the calendar were big so I made this a priority. With training going well and the racing season about to kick off, I set myself goals of making the finals at regionals in regional Elite and also at nationals in Junior men. Before the series kicked off it was announced that Junior men would be dropped as a class and it’s replacement would be Championship men, which instead of 16-18 like Junior, is 17-29 and we would be mixed with the Elite men from the second national onwards. This was pretty exciting for me as it meant I’d get to see how far I was off the Elites and still be able to race everyone in my age group at the same time.

So the first race of the year arrived, which was a Regional at Merton in the South region, which was basically a home track of mine being only 20 minutes from my house. I wasn’t feeling great at all though, mainly because I crashed at Cyclopark the night before and had been getting headaches and couldn’t sleep. So I got there on about 2 hours sleep and felt surprisingly good in practice considering my head was still pounding. So two moto’s in and I’ve got two 2nds, which I was happy with and I’m sitting in 2nd in the 3rd moto and then down the 3rd straight it all went blank and the next thing I knew I was on the floor with my head banging. After I got off the track and spoke to some of the people there and the medics I was advised to stop racing as I had concussion symptoms, after thinking about it I made the decision to carry on for the day. I then had to rush to get on the gate again as I had a runoff! I narrowly got through it and had semis to go, and then to my amazement and a bit of luck I made it through to the final after a move on the last corner paid off. The final was a good race where i was just happy to be in it, I ended up 6th and was looking forward to the next race at the indoor at Manchester. So on the back of some good training I was headed to the first National of the year and with me racing on a Sunday, practice couldn’t of gone much worse crashing on both Friday and Saturday in practice. On race day I decided to not go in with expectations as my weekend hadn’t gone to plan so but just to race at the best I could, this seemed to work out as I had a good 3 moto’s and qualified for my first national final! It was a big thing for me to make the final and I was just happy to be in it. The 3 hour wait was a bit daunting between moto’s and the final but  lining up on the gate I thought to myself “just go as fast as you can and don’t worry about anyone else”. My advice to myself worked as I got a good gate and came out the first turn in 4th with enough momentum to get into 3rd over the pro section, into the 2nd turn there was a crash in front of me and I came out 2nd and just wanted to get to the line. Coming out of the last turn I think the nerves of being in 2nd got to me a bit and I got the last straight a little wrong and someone overtook me in a lunge to the line. I ended 3rd and was more than happy with that and couldn’t wait for the next National at Cyclopark.

I crashed 9 times in 4 weeks and was feeling the effects from it.

In-between the first and second national I felt I was getting faster and said to myself I could win the next National but was crashing way too much, I added them up and I crashed 9 times in 4 weeks and was feeling the effects from it. I decided to have a more relaxed week up to the national and recover a bit. I got to Cyclopark and actually felt quite good in Friday practice and was looking forward to getting in the mix with the Elite riders over the weekend. After another good practice on Saturday I had a time trial to look forward to. I was excited but nervous at the same time as everyone is watching you and I didn’t want to look stupid. In the end I finished 16th out of 32 riders and had a solid lap, which I was happy with. I felt good and was eager to get racing and when the 1st moto came round I had 4 elites and 4 championship riders in it, I ended 5th right behind the elite riders and took a lot of confidence from it as I was closer to them at the line than I expected to be. I got 4th in the next 2 moto’s which boosted me up a lot and I was disappointed when I found out I missed out on making elite semis by only one point but I had qualified for the championship final with second pick and was telling myself I could win. There was a horrendous rainstorm after the moto’s, which made the track real soft for the remainder of the days racing. I lined up in gate 2 feeling confident to go for the win and was just waiting for that red light to pop up. I didn’t get a very good reaction to when the gate dropped but got a clean 1st straight to come out in 2nd and lined up for the pro, I got the pro okay but had to really pop the 3rd one due to how soft the track was. The guy in front of me didn’t jump it and I thought I was going to jump in to the lead but he had the inside line and just held me off and I found myself battling down the 3rd straight but I tagged a jump and fell back to 3rd and stayed there for the rest of the lap. I wasn’t happy with the result as I thought I could of made less mistakes which would of been the difference but hey that’s racing and I had the next day to look forward to and improve on it. The next day the track was in a much better condition with it being dry overnight and it was time to race. I had a good 1st moto getting 4th but got cut up into the first corner in the second moto and didn’t have the speed to get jump the pro and finished 6th because of it. I knew I needed to race well in the 3rd moto as it was stacked having 4 of the guys on the BC program in it, I had my best lap so far of the day getting 5th and quite close to those guys so I felt good coming across the line. I didn’t make semis again because of my second moto but had third pick for the championship final and once again I wanted the win and put pressure on myself to go and get it. I was in gate 2 again but let the pressure get to me and went well before the gate went and struggled to regain my position as the gate dropped and I got closed down straight away. I did my best to get back into the pack into the first corner and took it tight to go from last to 4th but I didn’t carry enough speed to jump the 3rd pro jump, the rest of the lap was good but I stayed in 4th the rest of way and felt really disappointed coming across the line as I knew I felt the nerves and boiled. Driving home I took a lot of positives away from the weekend such as my track speed whilst up against the Elite boys and for the majority of the weekend I raced well. Thinking about it I realised I was way ahead of my target of a top 8 finish for the year as I was sitting in 3rd. I was now looking to the hardest of the tracks in the series Birmingham for the next national and felt like if I continued my form from Cyclopark with some polishing I could get some good results so it was time to get into some good training.

In between the Cylopark and Birmingham Nationals I got to visit Birmingham twice for practice sessions, with the second  time being a week before the National. It was a real confidence booster as I was riding with a lot of top riders and bouncing off them and felt good going into the race. Five days later and it was time to get it on. I ended up just doing a few gates on Friday practice as the pro section was closed due to the wind. The next day it was warm up time, the wind was ok and the pro was open, after getting a few first and second straight efforts done I decided to cut practice and wait for time trials. In my time trial, as I came round the 1st corner I got hit with a big blast of headwind and nearly didn’t make it through the pro section so I took that into account when thinking about my race lines for later on as the wind was starting to pick up. When racing came round it wasn’t actually a problem and had died down quite a bit so I just got on with it getting a 4th, 5th, and a 4th in my moto’s. Everyone was through to quarters that day because of people dropping out before racing so I knew I needed a good lap to at least make the championship final and I got one. I had a hard quarter and finished 6th but I thought I rode a real good lap with no mistakes and I’d made the final. I was feeling confident for the final and even though I had 5th pick managed to grab gate one for the start. That didn’t make much of a difference because I ended up with a shocking gate and came out of the first corner 5th and stayed there for the rest of the race. I wasn’t happy at the line and felt like I’d let myself down big time. I couldn’t wait for the next day to come round and to try and get a better result.

The start of day two couldn’t of gone any worse as on my first time jumping the pro set I heard a massive clunk from my bike and on further inspection found I’d cracked my forks and stem!! With no time to find replacement parts I ended up borrowing Daniel Sturgeons bike as he wasn’t racing the second day. Now I was scared. With only two laps of warm up and on a bike I’d never ridden before (even though it was the same frame as mine) with a longer frame but shorter cranks and bars that felt way too high for me it was time for the first moto. I decided to not concentrate on the gate and just try and get some jumps in down the first straight to get a feel for how the bike would jump, coming out of the corner I was kinda scared but thought to myself “just put some pedals down!” and I did. To my surprise I managed to jump the whole pro first lap on the bike and held a decent 4th to the line. The nerves had gone a bit for my second moto as I knew the bike a bit now, I got a decent gate and came out of the first corner 4th and set myself for the pro. I got the first jump good but felt my bars drop move back a bit and adjusted my lift for the second one and they moved back even more on landing. I decided to lean back and lift for the third one and by the time I landed My bars were practically touching my frame! Somehow I managed to stay 4th and got some time to adjust my bars for the third moto. Once again I got a good gate and came out 3rd but I pedaled too far up to the first pro and unclipped as I took off, which resulted in me crashing and hurting my leg. After getting the all clear from the medics it was once again quarter time and I was feeling the pain in my left leg but knew if I wanted to make that final I had to leave it for now. I got a horrible gate where my leg folded on reacting and knew I had to do something. I went diving for the inside into first corner and it got a bit messy from there as the move caused a few of us to roll the pro and I ended up 5th at the line, which put me in the championship final for the second day. Come final time I had no expectations and just wanted a good lap seeing as how I’d had such a bad day so far. The gate dropped and I got what I wanted as I got a great gate and came out the first corner 4th, I railed the berm and managed to jump past and over some of the carnage as two of the guys in front of me rolled it. I jumped past them and was now in 2nd with Jacob Roberts all over me and trying to get to the line and I got the best third and fourth straights of my weekend to hold him off by about an inch or two for a 2nd place finish! I almost couldn’t believe I got 2nd as that was my best result so far and I’d done it on someone elses bike!

After the excitement of Birmingham I got my bike back up and rolling with a new frame to boot as I wanted to try the new FTB with a slightly longer back end for more stability. Just around the time I got used to the bike it was the next national at Manchester outdoor that was coming round and I didn’t feel great with a quite a few crashes under my belt since Birmingham. One of which broke two of my fingers as I crashed into the fence at Mitcham as I couldn’t stop in time after the finish line but I was now sitting 2nd in the National standings and wanted to climb that extra spot up the ladder at the outdoor. So with that in mind heading up there it was time to see where I’d end up and I was looking forward to seeing how I’d race on a track with no pro set. It looked pretty bleak when we got there as it was raining hard and Friday practice had been cancelled to keep the track ridable for the next day so we set up our tent got some food and hit the sack. The next day I headed to the track and it was in pretty good shape considering how bad the weather had been the previous day and racing was going to be more fun than I first thought. With practice going okay and me getting a decent position in the time trial I was feeling good for racing. I started the first moto off ok but nearly sliding out on the second corner put me back to 5th and I stayed there to the line. After a tyre change, which was needed, the next two moto’s didn’t go well with me getting two 6th places and scraping it into the final with 8th pick. In the final I got my first decent gate of the day but hit bars with someone and got stuck in 7th for the rest of the lap. I had a really bad lap and I wanted to put it behind me and look at what I needed to improve on for the next day. The next day I felt optimistic about racing and was desperate to improve on it. My first three moto’s were better this time round getting a 4th, 5th, 5th but we had quarters this time round and I drew a quarter with 6 elites! I was in a hard spot here needing to get a good position to make the final and when the gate dropped I got a brilliant snap and was in 6th before I got pushed up the second corner and my race was over, finishing in 7th. This was the first time I hadn’t made the final this year and I was gutted. I couldn’t wait to just get home, train and get better for the last national as I was now in 3rd but still fighting as the standings were going to come down to the last race.

In the run up to Gosport National I felt ok in training but kept just crashing in dumb ways and at this point, was wondering if I was destined to smack the floor twice a week! So I headed up to the last National feeling ok and then I crashed (again!!) in practice by wheel spinning and going over my bars on Friday. Saturday came and I was riding a lot better in practice and felt ok in the time trial. Every time I lined up for a moto though, I had a few top elite riders in there and knew I had to be at my best to reach the final with this level in the moto’s, I got a 5th, 4th, 5th in the moto’s putting me in the final. The final was coming up and I knew if I didn’t get a good position I was out of the running for a top 3 series finish and was feeling the pressure. I got gate 4 and knew I needed the start on the short first straight to do well and I got it with a real good gate, but I couldn’t shut down Jimmy Orena and had to settle for 2nd into the corner. I was sitting behind him when I noticed Taylor Andrews on my inside so closed the door into the second corner and before I knew it, Braden came flying past me on the outside and put me in 3rd where I stayed for the rest of the lap. I was ok with that as although I was in 4th for the series I had Sunday to put it right and get back in the top three, I just had to race a little better the next day. Little did I know this would be my worst race of the year getting a 6th , a 7th and crashing due to wheel spinning on the gate in my third moto! I was completely gutted with this as it meant I dropped to 5th for the year and more importantly I melted big time when it mattered. Overall I was very happy with my National series with me exceeding my goals set before it began for a top 8 finish getting four podiums along the way. This was also the first time I did a whole National season without getting injured and it was my best finish to date, so couldn’t complain with that either. There was just one more big race to look forward to…the British Championships.

I was majorly excited for it and happy it was at Birmingham, the track I got my best National result at and one of favourites. About 3 weeks before Peckham’s new track was finished and opened and I’d been training there a lot and and getting used to quite how big and technical it was. When I got to Birmingham and rode the track it felt a lot easier than before with me being able to train on a track of the same standard a lot up to it. I felt at home regarding the track and the size of it. Friday practice went well and so too did Saturdays but I only practiced the pro a couple of times as there was big wind and it took a couple of riders down hard. Luckily this problem didn’t arise on Sunday as the wind died down a bit overnight. With practice going well I felt the nerves but was raring to go. Championship and elite men were split for this race meaning that motos would be a lot fairer. When I lined up on the gate for my first moto I felt ready. I didn’t get the best of gates but fought through the pack to be in 3rd out of that first corner. Then as I was in the air over the first one, my heart stopped as the guy in front of me swerved across the pro. I had nowhere to go and then the next thing I know, I woke up on the floor to see the moto after mine going past, I was eager to get up and with the help of Nigel Whyte I tried to stand up but felt too dizzy upon standing so the medics quickly layed me down on stretcher and carried me to the medical tent. Whilst in the stretcher trying to remember what had happened I kept thinking there was no way I was going to stop racing cos of a crash at the BRITS, no way! They told me I had concussion as on impact, my head hit the stand of one of the speakers and actually cracked the metal stand open. I made sure I did my best to cover any signs of dizziness whilst they were testing me (pretty sure I failed lol) and managed to get a very cool medic to not tell race officials to take me out. After getting out the first aid tent Nigel was waiting for me with my bike and helmet and I got to ride about 50 meter’s before I had to line up for my second moto. I knew I had a mountain to climb now as I had a last place finish from a crash I couldn’t remember yet and needed to top 2 finishes to be inside the typical 12 point cut off to still make the final. As I got on the gate I nearly fell over whilst clipping in and was struggling to balance by the time the gate dropped. I got a bad gate but got into 3rd again out of the first corner and was trying to hold it together, I got the second straight pretty well and managed to overtake Braden for a moment on the second corner but on the exit I nearly lost my balance and nearly crashed whilst trying to pedal out of the corner and got quickly put back to 3rd again and stayed there for the rest of the lap. Getting across the line, everything a bit weird as I felt real dizzy again. I drank a lot of water and got some sugar trying to bring myself back a bit but it didn’t feel like it helped all that much as I lined up for the next moto. The pressure was at the highest it could of been for me as I knew if I didn’t win this moto, I wasn’t making that final and I had to do something from gate 7 or I was going out. As I balanced on the gate, once again I nearly dropped to the side but managed to regain my composure and get a flyer of a gate to be banging elbows with Braden who was on the inside going for the holeshot. I came out of the first turn just behind him cranking hard to try and pass. It seemed my elbow into the first turn was enough to slow him down and he didn’t jump the pro set and to my advantage, I managed to jump past him to be first into the second corner and hold it from there to take the win I so desperately needed. I was over the moon as I’d put myself in the final after the worst start imaginable and I got a brilliant lap in to set me for the final. Come final time, I had gate 8 due to getting a last place in my first moto. I knew I needed to get out and get over to the inside if I was going to get the top 3 position I wanted. When I saw the first light I did my best to get out and over, getting a good gate to go into the first turn 4th. Unfortunately I couldn’t get over enough and got pushed right up the corner and this sent me weirdly off the take off of the pro causing me to get a bit messy and have to unclip my foot in the air over the third one to stay on. Whilst trying to clip back in I got passed twice and found myself 6th. Knowing that my challenge for a podium was over but I wanted to race to the line and finish which I did, still in 6th. Coming across the line I was upset with the result but that’s racing and I could take a lot of positives out of the day, how I raced and my year overall. I ended the year national number 5 and British number 6 and made a lot improvements in myself as rider and person. It was time to get back to the lab for winter and see what next year brings for me!

Peace out. Dean

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