After Fort William it was straight to Leogang for the next round of the World Cup. With a new top section to the track it was nice to have a change, but to be honest the track is still dump! Nearly the whole track is bike parked in hard gravel with some akward man made rock gardens thrown to spice things up. Despite this I tried to make the most of it to enjoy it.
Just before my qualifying run I decided to throw on some new brake pads and rotors to try get better braking, as they werent working too well in practice. I didnt have much time to bed them in but thought they would do….bad mistake. I got to the first turn and realised I had pretty much no stopping power, leaning in and hoping for the best to not crash over the top of the turn. The rest of the run was spent dribbling down trying not to crash out on every turn.
I ended up missing the qualifying cut off time by just 2 seconds, which was pretty disappointing considering I had next to no brakes!
After missing the first 2 rounds of the World Cup series due to budget restrictions I was excited to get back racing at round 3 in Fort William – one of my favourite race tracks.
We parked the van in Germany and flew up to my dad’s in Aberdeen on Tuesday. I had a nice day to chill out and get things ready before heading to Fort Bill on Thursday morning for sign on and track walk.
Practice started on Friday and I put in 4 runs, feeling fast and smooth on track with some good lines. After practice we were informed of a change to the schedule for Saturday, with the Gondola starting at 6.30 for practice and everyone having to be at the top for 10.30 for their qualifying run in case the lift had to close due to high wind. A 6am start called for an early night!
3 practice runs on Saturday between 7 – 9 am and then up to the top for 10.30 for a 3 hour wait until my qualifying run. After a 2 hour nap and some food at the top I was then onto the turbo trainer to start my warm up. As always with qualifying the main goal is to make the top 80 to get a place in the finals, and with 180 men all trying to make the cut its never an easy task. I put in a smooth qualifying run with only 1 real mistake in the forest but nothing major and ended up in 63rd position, really happy to make the finals quite easily with a steady run and excited for finals to step it up some more!
Next up was race day and after a good practice session I was off for my race run. I put in another smooth run concious not to crash in order to secure enough UCI points needed for the rest of the season. I did just that and finished in 61st position receiving my points and putting in a strong result. A solid start to the year and im now really looking forward to round 4 in Leogang, Austria this weekend!
After Croatia we trucked on up to Winterberg in Germany for the IXS Dirt Masters festival and German DH Cup #1. The DirtMasters festival is the biggest MTB event in Europe with over 30,000 spectators and nearly over 1,500 participants.
It was a really cool experience with the amount of people about, bands playing every night and plenty of action going on during the day. For racing it wasn’t the best as the track was really short and pretty tame – but made for really tight times in the finals!
I had a good day of practice on Friday and then onto qualifying on Saturday. I put in a clean smooth run to see how i faired against the competition and finished in 24th position, only 5 seconds back from the top 10 which I was confident I could do.
Race run on Sunday and I did exactly what I had hoped and went 5 seconds faster, placing me in 12th position – less than a second off 9th place and the top 10 I was after! Times were really really tight and with such a stacked field I was happy with 12th!
Still a great weekend and another good result to add to the list!
After hearing about the race in Maribor the team decided to head to Croatia for the Buzet UCI Downhill race. We arrived on Tuesday night and walked the track on Wednesday morning, the track looked great with some nice jumps,rock garden sections and flat out straights, check out Dan’s head cam for a preview of the track.
The event organisers were offering an uplift service on Friday evening so we decided to take the opportunity to get a few runs in on the track and get used to the dry loose conditions after the wet weekend the team had in Maribor.
Saturday was the start of official training; the guys used the first few runs to get all their lines sorted and get up to speed. By midday the timed training session had started so Dan was able to get a couple of full runs under his belt before qualifying.
The Elite Men were first off in qualifying so it wasn’t a long wait after practice. Dan had some trouble in his qualifying having a crash and an off the track moment and finished in 27th position but luckily uninjured. The guys decided to walk the track while the other categories were going down for their qualifying to see if they could spot any new lines for Finals the next day.
Dan got 3 runs in on the morning of finals to fine tune any issues they were having on track and both felt confident they could improve on yesterday’s times. Dan was 1st up after his issues in qualifying and came down with a time of 2.35 and straight into the hot seat, his time was good enough to secure a great 9th place on the day in a stacked field!
The team would like to thank the event organisers for putting on a great race and an amazing show. Theatmosphere from the crowd was worth the trip to Croatia and we are already excited about coming back next year.
The team are now traveling to Winterberg in Germany for the IXS German Cup which is a part of the Dirt Masters Festival. Keep checking on our page for updates from the weekend.
The first round of the IXS EuropeanCup series kicked off in Maribor, Slovenia at the weekend. After trucking fornearly 3 days (over 2,000km) from Fort William BDS Scotland to Slovenia, theteam arrived on Wednesday evening and went straight into a track walk to getthe legs moving again!
Practice started on Friday with Danand Chris putting in 3 runs to learn the track and find the lines. With somerain the night before the track was slick but not too muddy so they stuck withtheir favourite Schwalbe Magic Mary tyres.
Saturday morning and the rain wasstill falling so a quick tyre change to spikes and they were ready to go. 3more practice runs put in before seeding and both riders were feeling great;really enjoying the wet, muddy and technical track. Messy seeding runs left Dan back in 160th after 2 crashes.
After 3 days of rain the sun finally came out on Sunday morning causing the track to begin drying out rapidly. Dan was off early in race runs after his nightmare of a seeding run and came down into 2nd place with a time of 3:41 with a smooth and steady run,staying on the hot seat for over 45 minutes!
When it was all done and dusted Dan finished in 32nd, a solid start to the series for the team in a stacked field of 260 Elite men!
Next up the team hit the road to Croatia for the UCI International race in Buzet.
After being cancelled earlier in the year, The Irish National champs was held at the very end of the season in early October. The race was changed to Fairymount Farm, an amazing venue with a brilliant track, so it was lined up to be a great event. The weather was amazing all weekend making the track really dusty, a strange affair for a DH race in October!!
Below is a headcam run I did a week prior to the event.
The track was very short, with the winning time being 1.28 which made for insanely tight racing. First up was seeding runs. I ended up having a massive crash which I was lucky not to destroy myself on, so for race runs I stepped it back a notch to get a safe run in. With the track being so short and tight there really was no room for error, especially if you wanted to secure the amount of UCI points to race world cups.
I put in a safe and smooth run and finished 3rd, only 0.3 of a second off the win!! I believe the top 7 was split between 1.5 seconds, so I was happy to have put in a safe run to secure the UCI points I needed for the WCs next season. I know I could have won, but as I need the points I couldn’t risk any mistakes!
Huge thanks to all my amazing sponsors for the great support this season!
After less than 24 hours at home after Norway I was back on a
plane headed to Austria for the final WC of the year.
Thursday was spent prepping the bikes, registration and then track walk. As it turned out cycling Ireland forgot to enter me, so after a bit of panic I managed to get a late entry and with that race number 320!
Friday was practice which went well for me. I spent time checking out lines and felt I had most of the track dialled, even though I must admit it’s really not one of my favourite tracks – it’s too easy and bike parky. After a short break we were back on for timed practice, which got cancelled – nice one UCI!
Saturday was qualifying and with some rain in the morning the track was riding great. I got 2 runs in and was feeling good. The sun came out after practice and the track was drying out quick!
Without knowing how dry the track was I left my cut spikes on from the wet morning practice. After a nearly 5 hour wait I was back on track for my qualifying run. Due to cycling Ireland forgetting to enter me I was one of the last riders down, the track was destroyed! After nearly crashing a few times at the top due to the destroyed track and having the wrong tyres on I backed off and got down safely. Ended up missing the cut off time by 2 seconds which was pretty disappointing.
Not a great end to the season but ive certainly learned alot and improved my racing. Ive become a lot more consistent with far less crashes and with a bit more of an edge I think I will be right up there as I have showed at some races this season
Huge thanks to my amazing sponsors for making my racing possible!
The 5th round of the UCI DH World Cup was in Hafjell, Norway. After one of my best World Cup qualy results here last year (54th in Qualy) I was excited to get back and improve on this result.
Unfortunately the race didnt go well for me. I struggled to get into the flow of practice and just didnt feel great on track. With a very short practice session I only got 4 runs in on the first day of practice, which included 1 puncture and 2 big crashes. I was sore and not feeling great on track, but focused on getting my shit together during practice before qualifying.
Friday morning I was feeling sore but got up the hill to attack it. I finally got my lines sorted on my final practice run and was starting to feel good on track, just intime for qualy. I pushed really hard in qualifiying, possibly too hard as I was getting really loose and making lots of mistakes but felt fast. I put in a good top split but then at the last rock garden near the finish I went off line into some of the massive boulders and came to a stop. I had to run myself through the rocks and then keep going which gave me barely any speed along the last finish grass section. I ended up loosing 6 seconds in the bottom split due to that mistake and with that my chances of qualifiying went out the window, finishing 104th!
Annoyed to have made the mistakes which left me out for race day but was happy how I rode despite them, and think im finding a good pace to race at.
Big thanks to my sponsors:
After a good result at the Bringewood BDS I decided to try keep the ball rolling and race the IXS European cup in Chatel. I flew out on Thursday morning with 2 other Irish riders, Ewan Doherty & Joe ward and arrived to the pretty alpine village of Chatel.
Friday was track walk and practice. Track looked great and the weather was amazing, so practice was going to be fun. I had a great day and was really enjoying the relaxed racing atmosphere, with plenty of time for runs it was a chilled day.
Saturday was practice in the morning followed by a seeding run in the afternoon. Seeding went pretty well, my goal was to put in a smooth run to see how my pace was while aiming for a top 20 result. I finished in 19th, only 2 seconds from the top 10 and only 6 seconds from the win. I was pleased with this as I knew I could easly shave 5+ seconds off that time.
Just after seeding had ended the heavens opened and an alpine thunderstorm rolled in, and stayed in for the rest of the night and throughout Sunday. The track was destroyed come race runs, picture below shows how muddy it was!
Unfortunately I had a big crash in my race run, falling down a steep bank which took me a few minutes to get back on my bike! Race over, annoying to finish with a crash but due to the conditions it was going to be really tough to stay on!
The 5th and final round of the British DH Series took us to Bringewood, just outside Ludlow. I had a pretty hectic week leading into this round as I arrived home from Canada on Thursday, got half a nights sleep due to jet lag and then back on a plane Friday morning to fly to Liverpool where my dad picked me up! I was really looking forward to this round as I had raced the same track earlier in the season at a Pearce Cycles round and absolutely loved it! After some good results in Canada, I felt ready to put in a great result!
After some heavy rain on Friday night the track was wet and very slippy come Saturday morning. This soon changed as it dried out quickly and after lunch the track was perfect – with dust coming up in places!
I got 7 practice runs in on Saturday and was loving the track! The Nukeproof felt amazing and I really had the track dialled in – knowing exactly where and when to change gear/ brake/ pedal ect! I was really excited to for race day!
3 practice runs in on Sunday morning then straight into seeding. I put in a smooth and steady run for seeding and placed 20th, only a few seconds back so not too worried as the times were insanely tight! Confident for race run I headed back to the pits and got my stuff together.
A few hours later and I was back on the uplift for my race run. I put down a good warm up at the top on the turbo trainer with the music banging and I was ready to go! I had a pretty perfect run, certainly on the edge with plenty of loose moments! When I crossed the line I went into the hot seat with a 2.03 time, 4 seconds faster than my seeding run. Even being such a short track I was done at the bottom, really had given it 110%!
Photo credit: Paul Cram/Aspect Media
I finished in 13th position, only .04 off a top 10 and less than 3 seconds from the podium which is a great result for me considering the standard of the UK Elite scene! Very happy to finish the series with my best result to date, just wished I could have shaved off that tiny tiny .04 of a second to get into that top 10 I have been chasing! But that’s racing, you always want to do better no matter how good you finish!