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The next race I had on my agenda was the BDS National at Fort William .. now, I have a few issues with this track, the first time I “raced” it was last years BDS. First practice run I got half way down the top open section, hit my front wheel on a rock and went straight over the bars landing on my head and both wrists. I got up, shook it off, found my bike, but as I picked it out of the soggy marshy bushes I realised I’d completely folded my front wheel. It wouldn’t even turn though the forks, the Marshal at ‘point 7’ said I’d be better off taking the bike back up to the gondola rather than pushing it to the bottom. It was one HELL of a push to the top, took just under an hour and I kept tripping over my feet. I couldn’t actually push my bike as the front wheel wouldn’t roll. I tried rolling it on the back wheel keeping the front wheel up, but the ground was so boggy and uneven it was proving to be an extremely hard challenge indeed. So I ended up carrying my bike to the top.

When I got to the bottom, the Leisure Lakes Bikes crew built me a new wheel a sap so I could head straight back up. On my second attempt of a first run, the rocks were shaking me about to the point where I lost my vision. I stopped at marshal point 7.. again as I couldn’t see anything. I’d clearly got concussed when I hit my head and it was getting worse. I walked down with the medics to the ambulance and waited for my vision to come back. By this point it was time for seeding runs so I was already out of the game with not even managing one complete run.

So this year it’s safe to say I was fairly nervous, a little fearful of the track and in the Elite category. I looked at the start list and pretty much crapped myself, there were 11 girls in Elite, at least 5 of them were the top 5 in the World, and all 10 of them competed seriously in the World Cups.. then there was little old me, Eeeeeek!!

The weather was awful, I only had 2 race kits and wanted to save one for the Sunday as I was camping with Mr Shmouse (Jon Stout) and his lovely Mum, who both looked after me with food and mechanics. However, I spent all day Saturday soaked through and shivering. I wasn’t feeling the track as my nerves were getting in the way of just having fun. 

Seeding run was on Saturday afternoon, there were loads of red flags which made the whole of the masters category rerun their race. This put the times back by an hour, as the girls were after masters we were already at the top waiting for our runs. I was so cold and kept my helmet on for warmth. I was the first Elite down and just wanted to get it over with. There was a minute gap after the senior girls, then I set off, I just didn’t want the girl behind me to catch me up. As I was riding I felt my helmet wasn’t actually done up, I’d been so cold and desperate to get down it completely slipped my mind. I thought it would be ok, kept going, then the wiser side took over and said ‘stop you idiot, this is not the track to ride without your helmet done up!’ So I listened and pulled over, did it up and cracked on. After that point I was pretty much laughing at myself the whole way down and finally relaxed and actually loved the track. I got to the woods and stumbled across one of the senior girls in a heap, so waited for her to get off the track because I couldn’t get round her.. This clearly wasn’t a winning run so I was in no rush. Just before I got to the motorway I caught up with another senior girl, she was only 13 and a hero for racing this track, so I didn’t want to startle her and just held back till there was room to pass. With all this happening I still beat all the senior girls by quite some time, and my time was up there with the Elites. I was stoked and couldn’t wait to ride it again on Sunday.

As soon as I got to the bottom I had a nice hot shower at the venue, it was like a dream!! Finally got warm again and spent the rest of the evening chilling with a cool bunch of Scots. Come bed time I piled on the layers, including: Knee high socks, fluffy socks, jeans, t-shirt, 2 jumpers aaand my onesie. Only thing that was cold was my nose.

Race Day
On Sunday Shmouse and I did a few runs together then I went up for my race run, Craig Munro was a star and came up with a drink and a jacket to keep me warm. Come race run I was more with it, did up my helmet and set off. The run felt good, no massive mistakes, felt heavy coming out of corners and on the motorway but I had so much fun and smiled the whole way down. When I hit the woods I could feel my arms and legs burning but soldiered through. Ending up with 7th place, and beating the senior winner by over a minute.

As the seeding runs were done on Saturday, all racing was over by 2pm. I helped the GT team start packing away and then jumped in Gee’s van to get a lift back to Shrewsbury. Bryceland over took Gee on the little Scottish roads, so Gee retaliated and I was stuck in a battle. It was hilarious, weaving in and out of traffic on tiny roads, oddly I felt safe through it all, and got home in record time.

I’d raced Fort Bill, and was tucked up in my nice warm bed before 11pm on the same day.

After having so much fun at Fort Bill I decided I would race the World Cup in less than a month. So now I need to do a lot a push ups and squats, and heaps of riding on the hardtail. Bring it on!
 


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    Traharn (Arnold) Chidley
    Simply informing you of my racing experiences.