Blackpool is usually synonymous with kiss me quick hats, stag and hens parties, fun fairs and donkeys on the beach, but for one weekend it became host to rounds 9 and 10 of the British National BMX Series. It would be the first time the Go Ride club have hosted a round of the national series, so none of the team had raced there before and didn’t really know what to expect. The track is housed in tranquil Stanley Park, right next to the zoo, so for those of us who were camping we were treated to some very strange sounds at night, the sounds of Lions roaring is something your average British BMXer really isn’t used to and took you by surprise when it woke you up in the early hours of the morning! The beautiful park was designed in 1922 to link the towns growing holiday attractions together and is a registered national heritage site for it’s historic gardens and monuments, but there is nothing historic about the BMX track. The modern national standard facility was opened in the summer of 2011 and Blackpool BMX club was formed with the aim to get new riders in from the local area, as well as benefit the immediate local community. At around 500 meters long it has to be one of the longest tracks in the county, so a real challenge for a double header, fitness would be key ans well as skill to tackle the technical rhythm sections. The track has a pretty high and steep start hill, leading into a power house first straight, a long table step up, followed by a roller into a step up double, step down with plenty of chance to lay the power down and get the legs spinning in between. The final jump into the first berm had plenty of options for tackling it, jumping in, jumping out, manualling through and trying to gap the whole thing, so practice was really interesting to watch from the team tent which was situated right before the first berm overlooking the decision making obstacle. The first berm was big and fast, and the moves would come thick and fast on the exit where a tricky roller was situated just before the track spilt into two sections, an amateur and pro section with a small strip of grass separating the two which would see its fair share of riders being sent straight up the middle. As the pro section was a bit smaller than we’re used to seeing and didn’t have any grass in the middle the chief referee made the decision to let the 20” class riders above 17 years old choose which section the wanted to take, this was certainly a decision which caused some contention behind the scenes. Some loved the idea, saying it made for a better choice of mid race lines, some said it was dangerous as riders would come into the second berm full on the gas and would be unsighted to other racers doing the same thing on an opposing line from effectively another straight, others were just annoyed as the decision was taken late in the day and they’d already practised and set their bikes up for the armateur side. Opinions aside one thing was for sure, it was going to make for very interesting viewing come racing. The third straight was composed of steep and deep doubles triples and step ups, no room for pedalling, but plenty of opportunity to make a costly mistake. The last berm is tight as you like at race speed and a few people managed to put themselves over it, or off the side of the exit coming in too hot, or just couldn’t get ready for the last straight rhythm, which from the side looked like an endless sea of rollers to the line.
Friday practice and Saturday racing saw beautiful summer sunshine at the seaside town, with a bit of a coastal breeze blowing dust around and drying the track surface out, but Sunday saw clouds, rain, which got torrential at times, hitting the asphalt so had the puddles appearing to bubble like a jacuzzi. So with greatly varying conditions on a track which could throw up all sorts challenges how did the boys and girls in black and orange get on?
Elizabeth ‘Maggie’ Bown.
Maggie loved the long track, it suited her style and dogged determined attitude, if she couldn’t get past someone the first time there would be plenty of chances to try and try again until it happened. Saturday she set out in the motos with solid performances of second, second, third and tested herself on a new track against the usual World and European standard opposition, those results saw her through to the semi’s where she pulled a third and a place in the A final. Maggie gave it her all and managed a very satisfactory fourth place, a result which would give her confidence a real boost for Sunday’s racing. Day two saw even better moto results with our girl wonder smashing out a couple of moto victories and a third, this gave her an even better draw in the pick sequence and she came away with a storming second place. The A final gave us a great duel between our Maggie and Decade Europe’s Lucy Simpson, after the whole pack entered the first berm more, or less together Maggie came out just behind Lucy in fourth place, our Maggie just got level with Lucy into the second and third berms after some great spinning and pumping on the straights, getting extra cranks in where ever she could, but she just couldn’t get the moves in the corners. So it all came down to a last straight showdown, again Maggie got a great drive and pulled level for a photo finish, but Lucy just got the last podium place by no more than half a wheel. It’s easy to forget that this is the first season Elizabeth has raced at national level and is now fighting for podium positions at every round with some of the fastest girls in world of her age!
9 year old boys.
Harry ‘The Rockstar’ Kirby and Ben Hallett have struggled at national level this season in a super tough age group, where every moto is almost guaranteed to have a European ranked rider, former British, or national champion. They both have put in performances at smaller meetings, like regional races to show they can do it, they both just need to get confidence up on the larger stage. This weekend saw the change we all knew was coming. Both riders are loving their new CrankBros Stamp pedals and the extra grip seems to have done the job, I know Harry loves his and they feel great on his massive size 5 feet, they defiantly helped both boys put in their best performances of the year at national level so far! Harry rode out of his skin pulling in some mid pack moto finishes and made the quarter finals on both days, something he’s never managed before. Then Ben got in his first national quarter final on Sunday, something we’re really proud of him for doing and we’re sure it’s the first of many. Harry especially loved the track saying ‘it’s sort of mellow first two straights and massive mental jumps and rhythm sections in the last two’, the longer track suiting a boy who excels at triathlons and cross country running. The boys are both now really looking forward to Telford and trying to keep the momentum going now they’ve kick started their seasons.
Ethan Cremin struggled over the weekend in the mammoth 17-29 class, he just couldn’t get the results he wanted, although there was nothing wrong with his riding he just could get through the pack. The long straights into tight berms didn’t suit his style of racing. Ethan enjoyed riding the tough track, saying it had a nice layout and lots of interesting lines to experiment and play on. However, He was frustrated that he didn’t find out that he could race the pro line until near the end of practice, so he’d spent the whole session riding on the amateur side. Next time we visit Ethan hopes to get chance to dial the pro section in and he’s sure with practice and more track time he can improve on his results. He’s also looking forward to the next round at Telford where the track should hopefully suit him better.
Richard Ayles has been flying in 30+ Masters this year and he was hoping for more great results over the weekend, but he just couldn’t get the luck in the semi finals, missing out on the A final on both days. His moto rides and results were strong and consistent all weekend, he was getting firsts, seconds and thirds. The problem he was having was coming together with riders in the second berm as the split second straight joined back together, a prime example of this was his collision with bmxtalk.com‘s TM Matt Allen, neither rider could tell where the other one was, or where they were coming from. One of Rich’s crashes was so hard it tore his elbow open through his padding and he needed sticking back together, not for the first time this season. Richard’s best result was a emphatic B final win on Sunday, distancing himself by some bike lengths from some other A final regulars who had also fallen foul to bad luck in the semi’s. The weekend’s ill fortune will give our man in the Masters a greater determination to do well at Telford, on a track he prefers.
Spencer Cremin wasn’t really looking forward to this weekend in the vets class if he was honest, he visited the track about a month ago and found the straights a bit long and he didn’t think it flowed that well. So the ‘S Unit’ did his best to rectify that, by trying to flatten it out a bit with his own physics defying style of manualling! He then changed his mind a bit, saying the club had done a fantastic job of preparing the track ready for racing and he got stuck right in. Saturday the motos went well for the big man getting through to the semi final, only to come in the dreaded fifth spot, so it was the B final for him. The B final didn’t exactly go to plan either, Spencer was at the front of the pack coming into the first berm, when out of nowhere came team Identity’s TM Jools Allen flying in, foot out and flat out causing chaos, this pushed Spencer back into the middle of the pack, which is where he stayed to the line. Sunday went better, Spence blasted his way through the motos again and into the semi’s, even with the rain trying it’s best to ruin everything making the start gate wheel spin central for a muscle machine. The big guy got his top four finish he’d just missed out on the day before and made it though to the A final, where he finished seventh. So all in all a better weekend than he expected and a good result at the end. Watch out for Spencer at Telford, he’s ideally suited to the short straights and big berms and he can’t wait.
Rhys Wood started off the weekend on great form in the motos with a couple of third places, Rhys loved the track, saying the long track and ‘small’ pro section just make for some tight and exciting racing and he was putting in some of his best laps of this years National Series. Billy Luckhurst was riding well in the pack too, getting similar results to Rhys and no catastrophes, so both our top guns were through to the Semi’s. Rhys unfortunately didn’t get any further coming in sixth in his semi, but the Butcher rolled across the line in third place securing himself a place in the main event. The class was stacked again, with some of the big names from the British national squad making the trip to Lancashire, as well as the Dutch rider Mark Link filling out the field. The main was stacked, Bill fought hard, but there was no way through the pack as most of the fastest riders in Britain battled it out . Saturday night on the camp site Billy did win, in style too. There was a flash back to the old school and a campsite hop off had been organised, Billy was itching to test out his new CranksBros flat pedals he’d just received and he’s loving his new Doublecross 23” top tube frame, so he entered, winning in the dusk in front of tens if not hundreds of cheering kids (and adults)! With Sunday came the rain and tougher conditions for our fastest riders. Billy made a great early showing winning his opening moto from lane 7 and things were looking on the up for the Butcher, his second moto was stacked and he had to battle to finish mid pack, the third moto went pretty well with a photo finish for second, which would be enough to see him through to the final with 10 points. Rhys however didn’t get any luck at all, he got caught on the outside of the berm in his first two qualifying races, then after another rider hit the gate and some talk of gate movement Rhys blew his gate completely and it would be the end of his day, disappointing, but then BMX can be cruel. Rhys is one of the most popular and approachable top riders and the fans still love him, with all the kids still wanting to come up and chat with him regardless of his bad luck on the track. Semi time and Big Bill was feeling confident despite the tricky damp corners and rain storms that were hammering the track. He picked lane 8, hoping to get the big drive down the outside, he got a pretty good gate, but was back in the dreaded fifth as he exited berm one, driving on hard through the pro section he drew level with two other riders into the forth place and ran out of track crashing out just before the second corner. So his day was done too, not the result he and the team were look for, but nothing broken on himself, or his awesome new race machine, so we can be thankful for that. Both our top dogs will be back and fighting strong at the next and final rounds of the British series at Telford.
Also in action over the weekend was Twisted Concepts supported athlete Charlie Green, riding for the Crucial BMX team. Charlotte had another stormer of a weekend, taking a couple of moto victories and a win in her semi, finishing her day with the second spot on the podium in the final. Sunday was even better, coming out of the qualifiers with only 4 moto points she won her semi final and took the big cardboard cheque to the top step!
Twisted Concepts are the importers of Onyx hubs, the best drive system on the race scene as well as being the European warranty and service centre, Turn3 cranks, Epik Carbon Products and Doublecross frames.We also supply Ti upgrades for all bolts and fixings for bike. Please come and say hi to us at Telford to see how we can upgrade your race machine so you can fulfil your potential with the lightest and stiffest bike possible. If your interested in warm up/warm down posts for you kids that fit a mini seat and a mini/junior frame we are the people see, our kids love them and we know yours will! We would like to thank our team partners and sponsors Wright Engineering, CrankBrothers , CrucialBMX.com, Racer Concepts,Wharftside electrical wholesalers and RWB Bespoke Builders.