Manchester Outdoor Nationals Rounds 7&8
The latest stop for the team was at Platt Fields Manchester, or ‘The Outdoor’ as it’s also known. We arrived on Friday for practice in glorious sunshine, after most of us had sat in traffic jams on the M6 motorway for most of the afternoon.
The outdoor is a completely different beast to the gnarly unforgiving indoor facility we visited for rounds 1 & 2 of this year’s national series. The track is a great example of a classic BMX track, with a relatively shallow start hill by modern standards. There was talk from a fair few riders of the gate being slower than usual, and others saying the traffic lights didn’t sync perfectly with the ram and gate dropping and there was nothing wrong with the speed, then more riders were saying that there was no issue at all. One thing’s for sure though, more riders hit the gate than usual.
The first two jumps from the gate are standard not too lippy doubles, then the third and final jump of the first straight is a triple, which isn’t too deep. This gave us some seriously fast racing, the power mongers were pulling though and you could really see who had the horse power in the legs. The first berm is a pretty big 180, it’s relatively sharp and the moves came thick and fast, so did the spills. The second straight consists of a similar set up, two sets of doubles, then a step up step down, again giving plenty of track speed. Berm two saw the biggest crashes, the most moves and a lot of the action on both days of racing, lots of riders were going down under their own steam trying to carve it too tight, too quickly and plenty were put clean over the top. Some riders I spoke to said that the mud was really slippery where it had been dragged off of the straight and onto the tarmac in the less than ideal conditions on Saturday, which left it soft for Sunday too. A couple of riders told me they thought the exit for the berm wasn’t high enough or steep enough, so when someone came in fast underneath you at the exit you were left with nowhere to go and if you tried to ride a tight defensive line quickly your tyres would let go. The third straight in dry hard conditions is a treat, a pure ‘trails’ style straight with four sets of steep doubles increasing in size, in many ways reminiscent of the legendary third straight at Cheddar around 10 years ago, a real jumpers favourite. A tight steep last berm lead into last straight rhythm chaos, a seemingly endless sea of doubles and rollers to the line, when I asked some riders what they did, they just told me they jumped the first two, then did a manual, then just tried to hang on as they couldn’t remember how many rollers there were! The finish line got a fair bit of action too, not just the usual photo finishes, but quite a few riders went to double the last set up, but the track was sticky and they didn’t get the pop they wanted and nose bonked the last jump, so quite a few went over the bars and chaos ensued quite a few times with finish line pile ups.
The team’s three gazebos were again in prime position halfway down the final straight, giving the riders easy access to the pens and all of us great viewing for the racing. The weather however didn’t hold out and Saturday morning we awoke to pouring rain and totally different conditions to Friday’s sunny practice, so during racing a lot of time was spent by riders and parents frantically cleaning bikes between the motos and finals. I know I did a fair few trips to the stand pipes in the camp site to fill the hand pumps up, the grit from the track was getting everywhere, Harry was complaining about it getting in between his calliper and rotor and it needed washing out after every lap, but there was never an issue of the effectiveness of the brake, and with the majority of the team on disc brakes stopping and speed modulation was still on point all weekend.