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Race Reports

Twisted Concepts BMX

Birmingham - Rd 3&4

 

Twisted Concepts Race Report Birmingham National.

Birmingham National is always a highlight of the race calendar and one of the most anticipated races of the year. The challenging European standard track favours the brave, with it’s steep 5 metre start hill, big lippy jumps and massive bowled out berms. It’s a winner with the fans of the Elite too; the pro section is big and technical and requires a good run in to make it through, even in ideal conditions. The weather report wasn’t exactly ideal either, with strong gusts of wind and rain showers predicted all weekend, which could make for exciting racing and unpredictable results in all classes.  Friday saw the team arrive and set up the amazing new team gazebos, which looked highly professional and perfect for a squad entering the team pit area for their first season. With the team sponsors logos printed proudly across the front and sides for all to see, we looked every part the real deal, with a seating and refreshment area, the amazing looking factory race bikes lined up out front absolutely glistening in the sun (when it shone), then most importantly for the older riders and Pros, a roller area for warm up and warm down.                    Now could the riders back up our polished image with some gleaming results? Everyone got through a hectic and very busy Friday practice session without disaster, which is always a relief, but it was cold when the sun went behind the ominous looking clouds and windy, which would be a precursor of what we had in-store for the rest of the weekend.  Elizabeth “Maggie” Bown (with definitely no ‘r’!) 8 year old Girls.The 8 year old girls class is becoming one of the best classes to watch as the season starts to progress, the standard has gone through the roof this year with numerous ‘W’ and ‘E’ plates racking up in every moto and our Maggie is starting to prove she’s a real force amongst them, taking on and beating most them as often as they come in ahead of her. Saturday’s moto’s were all pretty tough, seeing Elizabeth having some great battles with W7 Esme Brook of Bunnies Bikes, some going our girl’s way, some Esme’s, So with a 2nd, a win and a 4th in the motos it was on to the semi where she got the job done with a 3rd putting her into the A final, where she put in a solid lap, mid pack, getting into 3rd for a while, but just getting out pumped down the last straight ending up coming 4th. After Saturday’s successes Elizabeth was on a high of fortitude and mettle. She smashed out her motos with a 1st, a 2nd and finished off with another win to get through to the semi’s. The semi was a tough race, but there’s no such thing a an easy semi in the 7-8 girls and Maggie came home in third putting her into the A final for a second day running. The final was going to prove to be a hard fought affair, Maggie got squeezed a bit into the first jump, but rode a great roller and made up a few positions over the step up and step down, after riding a great corner line she managed to exit the first berm in 4th place. The race was then on for a podium finish, getting extra cranks in down the third straight she gained on the the girl in 3rd place and hooked a sharp high low, pulling her level for a last straight pump race to the line for a photo finish. All the team held their breath and Elizabeth was given the 3rd, giving her a national second podium of the year. It’s hard to believe this is Maggie’s first season of nationals as she’s becoming a real force in the 7-8 girls and giving the big Euro and World ranked riders a run for their money on every encounter.

9 Year old boys.Harry Kirby and Ben Hallett were both out this time in a real age group of death, an age group which contains probably more ‘E’ and ‘W’ plates than any other nationally, even if your at that level the standard is so high you can’t guarantee getting in the A final, so Ben and Harry always have their work cut out, but it never stops the boys from trying. After some great results coming into the the event Harry was feeling good, but complete disaster struck in practice on Saturday morning, he jumped the first step up from lane one, where the lip isn’t as steep and caught his front wheel straight into the landing, sending him and his bike cartwheeling over the top the top of the jump, he got up unhurt, protected well by body armour, a moto cross helmet and neck brace. It was a good test for his Epik rims too, the carbon stood up well to a big impact, unlike H’s confidence, which took a rather large knock. Harry rode very cautiously at the first jump, only really getting any conviction into his riding in the 3rd moto where he managed to beat a couple of other riders. Ben didn’t have much luck either.  Feeling slightly overwhelmed by his first National event, getting some really tough moto draws and seeing your team mate have a really big crash on a jump he was a bit nervy of anyway didn’t help his cause. Both boys went out without getting the results they’d hoped for. Sunday came round and saw both riders drawn next to each other on the gate in the same moto, which sent a feeling of ‘please don’t crash into each other’ through the camp.  The gate dropped and Harry got a pretty good gate and he took the first jump well as he went down the first straight just ahead of Ben, then disaster struck, a boy at the front crashed out on the roller and Harry collected his bike and had to monster truck over it. Ben passed Harry and went into 5th place avoiding bikes and kids flying everywhere and Harry came out of it in one piece too and the race was on, Harry chased Ben down the track and caught him out of the last berm, so they had a drag race to the line, elbow to elbow, seeing Harry pass Ben on the line, but both riders stayed composed and kept it straight and a rather eventful moto passed without any more mishaps. Harry had another reasonable second moto, but got taken wide in the first corner in his third qualifier and he nearly went into the pro section, something which happened to a lot of other riders over the course of the weekend, he fought back, but only managed to pick up one more place. So Harry just missed out on a quarter final slot, but it was definitely a step in the right direction after Saturday’s disappointment. Ben got a couple more harsh moto draws and failed to progress any further as well, but the boys still finished with smiles on their faces and are looking forward to better luck in Scotland.

 

Ethan Cremin 17-29 Men.The biggest class of the weekend containing over 60 riders was the 17-29 men, featuring former and current British champions, former Elite and Superclass riders, as well as up and coming riders heading towards the Superclass ranks, along side riders who are as quick as the Superclass guys, but prefer not to have to do the big pro sections. Ethan has been training at Birmingham quite a bit recently and has a good grasp of the track, so results would be down to a bit of luck on the track and with moto draws. Saturday Ethan had a nightmare, slipping on the gate, like many other riders did all weekend. He had to play the game of catch up in every moto and with the standard as high as it was it was an almost impossible task and he didn’t progress any further. With a front tyre change over night to wider rubber the issue was rectified by TM Paul and Sunday went a lot better rolling on Maxis rubber. He started getting better gates and was well in the pack and had a much better fight, unfortunately he still didn’t progress any further, but he was much happier with his performances and he knows what he needs to work on for the next rounds in Scotland in a few weeks time. The ‘Quality Street’ bike is now well dialled in and running pretty much exactly how it needs to be to be competitive at National standard, so his hopes are much higher for a quarter final place in the land of Iron Bru. Richard Ayles.Richard started off the weekend racing two classes, 20” Masters and 30-39 cruiser as he had in Manchester, but it was proving to be a bit of issue, so a tough choice had to be made after a couple of motos on Saturday. Rich was finding jumping from one bike to another in quick succession through the motos was causing him to get back tyre bum buzzes from the cruiser and things weren’t working out at all. This hadn’t been an issue in Manchester because of the block racing, there was no bike swaps between motos he could concentrate fully on one machine throughout the block. So the decision was made to drop the cruiser all together and concentrate on 20” for the rest of the season. That decision proved to be beneficial to his riding and he started really flying, pulling out some impressive moto results seeing him through to the semi final. The semi was going to be a hard fought affair with 7 of the fastest 30-39 year olds in Britain and a few international standard 40+ legends going down for a harder competition with the ‘younger’ 30+ers all thrown in the top 16 cut. Rich gave it his best shot, but came in 6th after a big mid pack tussle and had to settle for a place in the B final, which is still pretty good considering the competition out there. Rich got a good gate and hit the first berm near the front and came out in 3rd, which after a good clean lap would be where he finished. Sunday, with only one bike Rich was feeling good and making good use of the rollers in the team tent, keeping warm between motos as he now had a much longer wait between races. He, again, made some great starts and really has the first straight on lock down, coming in 4th, the snatching a emphatic moto victory in his second, then finishing off with a well earned 3rd in his final qualifier, seeing safely through to the semis again. Things were going great down the first straight as he entered the first corner in 4th place, but the trouble with being in the bubble spot is that your the first target of the chasing hungry pack, he was pushed wide by a rider diving in from 5th and was sent up into the start of the pro section, which really isn’t where you want to be and his race was over! After the disappointment of missing out on the A final for a second day running Rich was really fired up for his B final, regardless of his low down gate sequence pick he gave it his all and made made the best of it coming in a highly respectable 2nd, which is a great ride from an outside lane and an improvement on Saturday’s result. We’re sure that with a bit of better fortune and with just one bike to channel his efforts into he can make the A finals at the next rounds.                 Spencer Cremin.The machine that is big Spence was going for it on both 20” in vets and 45+ cruiser and in practice was looking quick on both. Big Spencer stared down the first jump from the gate so hard that the lip seemed to slacken off just for him, such is the ferocity of his glare! Saturday saw Spencer progress through the motos to his quarter final without any problems at all, only to get a really tough quarter final containing more than it’s fair share of A final regulars, this proved too much of an ask and the big man didn’t get any further. The 20” racing proved more fruitful though, he blitzed through his motos with some strong mid pack finishes in some packed races, getting through to the semi’s, but unfortunately he failed to make a top 4 finish, so he would have to make do with a B final. Spencer had a great gate and used his formidable build to drag himself to the front of the pack, no slip ups and a strong lap Spencer crossed the line in 2nd, so a pretty good result in a stacked class. Sunday came round and our man was hoping for a better day on the big wheels, no quarters today, but the cut was going to be big for the semis, so good qualifiers would be a necessity in a class containing former pros and top class national riders from back in the day. The first moto didn’t go quite to plan, with a 5th place finish, but he dug deep and pulled out 3rd and a 4th, see him through to the semi finals, but not a good enough draw in the sequence to pull an inside lane. Spencer got boxed out and pushed to the outside and couldn’t claw back enough to break into the top 4 and would cross the line in 6th, so it would be the B final, where he finished up 7th. On the 20” the ‘S Unit’ was hoping for more final action after reasonable results on the little bike the day before, the first moto had some real talent in it, so he got stuck in and pull a 5th, the next moto didn’t go quite to plan though with a couple of mistakes and chaos in the ranks he rolled across the line in 7th. It was all to do in the final moto, needing probably a 1st or 2nd to make the cut Spence went all out, but could only manage a 3rd, so his day was over. Racing 2 bikes in at least 10/12 races over a weekend is incredibly hard even for a gym fiend like Spencer and is something only the very fittest people can do successfully at national level, when asked how he found the challenge the reply was ‘2 bikes was a bit tiring, but the cool weather made it easier’! Our action madman will be back with a full frontal attack on the Cumbernauld track, so I hope it’s been freshly wackered we don’t want him damaging it with trademark manuals!

Rhys Wood.Our Superclass guy has been getting more and more confident on the Birmingham track over the past few weeks and had the pro section dialled in now, which is a huge relief, as it’s one of , if not, the toughest there is on the British national circuit. Could Rhys get it done in racing though? All weekend the wind was blowing in gusts, first in one direction, then in another and sometimes it felt like all directions at once. So it wouldn’t always be a case of if he could do it, it would also be reliant on the other riders around him who were all struggling to get the massive jumps cleared. Saturday Rhys managed to hang with very best, as the Elite had been thrown in the mix too, he got safely through his motos, jumping clean through the pro section two out of the three races, which was better than quite a few others in the class could manage. Progressing on to the semifinal he had a great first straight, but a mistake by a rider in front of him would cost him dearly, he couldn’t get through the pro and his semi was all but over. Sunday saw the wind get even worse and all riders seemed to have trouble, Rhys just couldn’t get any luck, the best he could manage clearing the first two jumps of the pro section, the other motos he got chopped off in the formidable bowled out first berm and failed to get though. Rhys was out in the motos, but with conditions as they were we were happy to see him come out without incident, damage to his bike and most importantly to himself.                 Billy ‘The Butcher’ Luckhurst.Our Elite warrior was on great form in all the practice sessions, making the massive pro section jumps look like his local trails, wowing the crowd and giving the photographers some real eye candy with his trademark over X’s, twisting his arms up like Mr Tickle for the fans and paps alike. Billy is infamous with the huge Birmingham pro section after his backflip attempt at the Brits a few years ago, which resulted in him falling from the sky and snapping his bars clean in half, search for it on youtube! No back flipping shenanigans would be going on in racing this year though, things were getting serious out there. Saturday was to see Big Bill safely progress out of his qualifiers with little incident, getting cleanly through the pro line most times and when he didn’t, neither did anyone else. Final time and Billy racked up with the very biggest names out there making it through the cut. The gate dropped and our man got a half decent gate going up the inside into the first berm mid pack, after a battle with Adam Brazil though the pro line Billy rounded him in berm two and climbed into 3rd place chasing down the lead duo of Isidore and Yess’s Chucky Manaton. The leaders clashed in the final corner, seeing Manaton’s bike go flying and Isadore go grass tracking, Billy pounced, narrowly avoiding the bike and he held his composure down the last straight to take his (and the team’s) first Superclass win at national level. Saturday night saw a great team celebratory meal, but Billy couldn’t celebrate as much as some of the team riders parents did as he had more racing to come the following day. Sunday saw Billy understandably on a high, his moto results were looking good too, setting his stall out with a steady 4th after getting boxed a bit down the first straight, he then went on and smashed the moto with a win, then a 2nd in his final moto seeing him though to the semis as a favourite again. Pulling mid pack into the first berm, disaster struck, it looked like Bill may have pulled out of his clip, then lost it completely on the damp asphalt high-siding himself into his handle bars and bending the bars over with his ribcage! The bars were a write off, but luckily we think our Big Bill is made partly of titanium and got away with just bruising to his ribs with the pattern of his bar end visible in his skin! Which goes to show in BMX anything can happen and usually does, one day your top of the pile, the next your sliding across the floor in a heap! Billy well and truly tested the strength of his Ridea break lever too and it passed with flying colours, coming out of the bar bending carnage without a scratch and taking the huge off like a top quality piece of billet aluminium should. Billy will be back in Scotland to wow the crowd and hopefully get the headlines for all the right reasons!

Thanks to everyone who everyone who came by and said hello and looked at the bikes and parts on display, we look forward to seeing you all again when we make the long trip up to Scotland in a few weeks time for round 5 and 6 of the national series, we hope to see you all again and meet some new folk too. We’ve got some exciting plans and hope to make the factory pit area even better than it is already, so come check us out and see what we’re up to and what we’ve got planned, the kids are going to love it! Birmingham was awesome, exciting, disappointing, emotional, exceptional, radical and absolutely exhausting, just how BMX racing should be in a team aiming for big things and we hope for more of the same next time. We would like to thank our team sponsors and supporters, DoublecrossBikes ,Turn3 Racing,EpikCarbonProducts ,OnyxRacingComponents ,WrightEngineering ,Ridea ,CrucialBMX ,Crankbrothers,RWB builders,Racer Concepts ,Carbon Creative and Wharftside electrical.
Words by Miles Kirby
Photos by BMX widow and Charlotte Green

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