Braintree BMX Club, the nationals hosts were established in 1984, the track is situated on the outskirts of the town in a beautiful rural area. The club are now a massive BMX power house on the British BMX race scene, boasting multiple national series winners, British champions, even European and World top 8 riders. The venue and track set up looked amazing, the usual car park had been set up with the traders, a few teams and the pre-staging/pens. The first straight viewing was the team straight and our gazebo was slap bang in the middle with some of the best viewing possible. The first corner was split between team and club gazebos, then the second straight had club gazebos all along. The second corner was taken up with a grandstand for general viewing, so the whole track was rows deep in 1000’s of families, fans and rider, which created an amphitheatre of noise and atmosphere. Braintree don’t have the luxury of as much space as most national venues have, there’s enough, but it took some genius planning to fit everyone and everything in and I don’t think I heard a single person say they couldn’t see the action all weekend. The track had been groomed to perfection for the weekend. The start hill isn’t that steep and tall compared with tracks like Birmingham, but it’s tall enough, I think it’s good thing too, it shows who’s got the real horse power, the best snap technique and the best cadence, the barrel gate looked fantastic with it’s new cover and was dropping super fast. The first straight has a long set of doubles, space to pedal, then the stepped up triple into the long first corner. The first berm is nearly as wide as a motorway with a set of small tarmac doubles in the bottom, half way round, making it a real decision maker, do you risk stopping peddling to go over the doubles, or do you rail it high for the big second straight and risk people going under you? The second straight has a long low table top, best picked up by the older faster riders, then a medium sized step up double, which is the game changer for a lot of age groups, you have to get it jumped as it’s too deep to manual and you can’t pump it smoothly at race speed, then finally there is ‘The Big One’ a big steep double into the next berm which in the older classes is a massive bonus if you can jump it as it’s so steep and deep. It more than made up for the lack of pro section at Braintree as it’s pretty much a big as a pro double, but it rides though, and provided us with what will be the craziest moment of the season, Mad Ady and the rebel run! The penultimate berm is a pretty standard big bowled out affair underneath the grandstand, giving plenty of chances for moves as people try and get the right line and set up for the third straight rhythm section. The rhythm straight consists of a well thought out, but tricky combination of roller doubles, step up step down and raised doubles, with multiple combinations of ways you can get through the straight gave us some great viewing in races as riders searched out the best method of getting through. The final turn is a perfectly formed tight right hand 180 under the commentary tower where all the big moves were coming all weekend, into the final straight, a ‘traditional’ style step up, double, then triple with a short sprint for the line.
Another great weekend was had by Maggie in the 9-10 year old girls and her Dad didn’t have to do one frantic gearing change, which was a relief to all of us. Things were tough with 16 riders, so that meant 8 rider motos and a straight A and B final split. Maggie pulled out all the stops, getting 3rd, 3rd, then finally winning her last moto, these were her best moto results of the season at a national and it gave her 3rd pick in the final. Maggie went for lane one with her pick in the final, she got a good gate, but had to ride round the bottom of the first berm and over the tricky little double, she came out and onto the second straight in fifth place, which is where she would stay until the line. Sunday also went well for our European number 6, she got a steady 3rd, 4th, then 2nd in her motos and transferred to the final again. This time Maggie went for lane 2, she didn’t get her best gate of the weekend, but rode a very smart inside line round the first berm, kept her speed and exited onto the second straight in 4th place, unfortunately she couldn’t hold the position and got taken into the last berm and had to settle for 5th again. All in all Maggie had a fantastic weekend, she looked one of the smoothest riders not to jump the second jump on the second straight. Her Dad put it down to all of the Wednesday nights she’s been putting in on her park bike at Adrenaline Alley in Corby.
In the 10 year old Ben and Harry were still struggling with confidence over the first jump in the pack. Their track speed is fine, they just keep getting squeezed out over the first jump and aren’t assertive enough in the corners. Harry has been riding very well at club and regional level, he’s just found it hard to hit form at nationals, the same has been happening with Ben. They’ll keep smiling though, neither of them get too down about things, they know they have great support and have amazing weekends with the team. They’re both still young and enjoying the sport is the main thing for them and we can work on the problems for next season. Both boys have their disc break set up fully dialled in now and can feather them nicely, they’ve got the hang of it fantastically well and we’re really pleased with the bikes and we’ve had no issues at all running the disc’s. If your interested in the disc set up we’re running please come and see us at the team tent and we’ll talk you though the options, it really is the way to go.
Another mixed bag for Morgan Haslam in 13-14 year old girls. After attending a regional at Braintree a couple of weeks before Morgan had the track dialled and was one of the smoothest riders in the age group at jumping the tricky doubles on the second straight and we were hopeful for some great results from her. Saturday Morgan’s motos went well and she managed to get through the semi into the A final, but she was stuck with an outside gate. Morgan got a good snap and got across into to the middle of the pack, but half way round the first berm she was pushed right to the top by the mid pack riders and ended up loosing her places and speed. She couldn’t get the second double on the second straight jumped because of it, so she was left fighting at the back, Morgan kept battling away, but she had to settle for sixth over the line. Sunday’s motos went well again and Morgan was jumping well, looking super smooth, but she didn’t have the best semi, struggling to get across and getting caught wide in the first berm again and ended up finishing in the dreaded fifth spot. She didn’t let it get her down, at least this time there were crashes, and she responded in the best way possible by winning the B final. Morgan said she had a great weekend on a challenging technical track and said she was pleased to get some jumping done, it’s ideal preparation for the Worlds and Cyclopark national.
Big Spencer Cremin was his usual crazy self in the Vets class, making shapes and doing things on a bike that Physics Professors couldn’t explain. He said it’s ‘The Big One’ that he doesn’t like, but we think it could be the double before it, every time he wrestled his bike airborne he tried to knock the landing down with his back wheel, some of his rimmers could be heard above the cheering, across the track and in the team tent. We think Doublecross make the strongest frames on the market, there can’t be another frame that could stand up to the impact testing that muscle bound ox puts his through. His motos were good on Saturday, unleashing his huge power and pulling second places into the first berm in just about every one. Spencer got though a big cut in the field and made the semi final, after not getting a top four finish he was in the B and managed a very respectable fourth. Sunday saw Spencer get a second in his first moto, but he could only get fifths in the following two and shockingly didn’t make the semi finals on 12 points, a number your usually safe with. Spencer said he really enjoyed the weekend, he thought the atmosphere was excellent and it was the best national of the year so far.
Charlotte Green was taking care of business as usual in Championship Women, she was one of the only few female riders to get ‘The Big One’ done time after time in racing. She was looking smooth, stylish and totally in control send the massive double, which made a huge difference in racing. Like it has been pretty much all season the battle continued between Charlotte, Beth Shriever and Blane Davis. Braintree was going to be the same again, Charlotte consistently worked her way through the motos on Saturday, getting a 3rd in her first moto, then winning her second race and coming in second in her final qualifier. Her final went pretty well, coming out of lane 3 she got a great start slipping into second behind Shriever with Blane Davis chasing her down the three girls pulled away from the chasing pack, Charlotte rode a very fast and smooth third straight and pulled away slightly from Davis to come in a solid second. Sunday saw more solid motos and a good pick in the final, Charlotte came from the middle in lane 4, she was elbow to elbow with Davis down the first straight battling for the second spot again, Davis was on her inside and, so Charlotte cut back in a smart move, coming up the inside on the second straight nearly level with Blaine, who moved over shutting Charlotte down just before ‘The Big One’ forcing them both to ride it though and not jump. The game plan didn’t quite work and our top girl had to settle for third, but still another podium finish, a pay cheque and more great points for the team.
The big guns of the team Billy Luckhurst and Rhys Wood were both out in Superclass. Rhys has some of his best national moto rides of the season over the weekend, but in the top class every moto needs to be your best one to make the cut into the Final. Rhys had the track dialled, given the room he was as fast as anyone, he just lacked a little consistency. He was really close both days to the getting though, but sadly missed out. Rhys can take massive positives onto Cyclopark and we’re sure he going to break into the top 8 soon. Billy Luckhurst has had a great season so far, getting Superclass podiums and making final after final, but Saturday was one he’ll want to forget. Saturday morning practice went well, Billy was busting the big over X’s out for the cameras over ‘The Big One’, the kids were going nuts. He was looking and feeling good in the first moto, even pulling by Haro’s Cal Strickland on the second straight, something that doesn’t happen very often, to pull a second over the line. The second moto didn’t go quite as planned, with a bit of a problem out of the gate, Billy got pushed high and wide in the first corner and came across the line to the back of the pack. Moto 3, Billy had an inside gate, taking in low through the first corner he emerged in 3rd place and on the back wheel of local lad Identiti’s Oli Cutmore and he held that position until the line. Billy ended up with lane six in the final and got a good snap, pulling into mid pack he railed the first berm, pulling to the outside of the track he was flat out and hauling, he was looking good. Then it all went wrong on the second jump, things all went sideways and the big Butcher had to dismount mid air, he came down on his hip on the landing and was bounced down the straight collecting a couple of other riders on the way. We were all pretty worried, but to everyone’s relief he got back up and limped off. Billy wasn’t too badly hurt, miraculously just cuts and bruises. He sat out the Sunday, too sore to race, but he should be fully recovered for his Worlds adventure in a few weeks time.
Also out in action was Twisted Concepts supported athlete Nathan Konggutong. Nathan has really impressed us with his amazing skills, training ethic and determination in racing. Nathan owned the third straight in Friday night practice, he was the only rider I’ve ever seen manual the entire straight flat out. He jumped the ‘The Big One’ for the first time, like he’d been doing the monster double all his life, railed the berm then picked up before the first roller on the third straight, then held the manual through the whole super technical straight, we really couldn’t believe he managed it at that speed! Nathan races in the highly competitive 16 year olds class, he’s been getting better and better all season, he’s right on the verge of making the A finals at nationals. Nathan just missed out both days with 5th pace in the semi on Saturday and a 6th on Sunday, but his B final rides were A final worthy and the big results are not far away. We gave him a Doublecross frame back at Birmingham national and he loves it, you can see by his Instagram updates @nathan_k_bmx_29 , go follow him you wont be disappointed. Nathan impressed us so much lately we’re sorting him out with a new wheel set with Onyx hubs to take back to his native Thailand, where Nathan is going to compete for a few weeks over the summer. It sounds like an awesome adventure to us.
Remember to call by Twisted Gazebo and say hi at the next round of the national series in Cyclopark, Gravesend, Kent. We can show you some of the nicest kids bikes you ever likely see, the real mini bling and some fantastic disc brake set up adult race machines. We can do full custom on paint, decals and frames, custom lazered Onyx Racing hubs. We offer the slickest set ups you wish for from Doublecross, RideMisc, Onyx, Turn3, Epik Carbon. We’d also like to thank our team partners Powers Bike Shop, Crank Brothers, Racer Concepts and RWB Bespoke Builders. Also remember that if you want your Onyx serviced we are the European warranty centre.
Photo credits to BMX Widow photography and TT BMX Pics