July 13 brought us not to a brand new track but one that has been missed off the series for about four years, the Edge in Bridgnorth! The track had a brand new first straight with a double that was proving a challenge to every rider. This weekend has been a double header, which is racing on both days. It has been action-packed, full of fast, hardcore racing: definitely a weekend to remember!
Saturday proved to be a challenge for all riders with the temperature reaching as high as 32 degrees, weather that we are definitely not used to, but I wasn't complaining. I love the heat as it really brings out my best riding - and it showed.
My gate practice was better than I could have ever imagined. My racing has stepped up a level, winning my first two heats and coming second in my third heat, giving me a great result going into the quarter finals.
Quarter finals brought a tough race. After making a small mistake in the first corner and being pushed out wide I settled for second to make the semis without any mistakes.
Semi-finals brought yet another fast race to the track. With an awesome snap out of the gate I took the lead all the way to the last straight; I cut the last corner and had a fight for the win with second place. I was through to the Elite A main final.
Second pick put me in gate 2 giving me a good line into the first corner but not the closest inside line. I hit the first double with a nice smooth line but was pushed wide into second place. I chased on down the track, but reaching the last corner I lost control in the sand and came off the bike. As well as losing my bike I had another rider hit me hard, putting me back on the ground, but after coming round and getting back on my bike I took fourth at the finish line. Disappointing, but still a good result at the end of the day - considering the fall!
Sunday brought the national championships, a few track changes to make things more interesting and a different format of racing to the day before.
The day starts with a timed run for each rider to give them their qualifying result and from that there are knockout stages. The top two riders from each knockout stage go through to the next round. Thirty-two riders are then brought down to quarter finals of sixteen riders, eight qualify for the semi-finals and the day finishes with either the A main final or B main final.
A fair few riders had their timed run before me which gave me a bench mark to ride against. My run was fast, making no silly mistakes and not stopping pedalling until I crossed the finish line, which I did in first place. I was the first rider to break the 40 second mark with a 39 second run. I qualified in fourth, my best result to date!
Knock out stages are one of the hardest to race in as any mistake can cost you and have you packing up early. In round one I took the win with a smooth race down the course keeping everything tight. However, round two put me up against two of the fastest riders who I have been competing against for years. It was a battle! Not starting from the best gate meant having to make a do or die move in the first corner just to keep second place. I kept my nerve all the way to the line and cruised into the semi-finals.
The semis couldn't have looked any harder! I started from gate 2 but was boxed in on the first straight and was in third coming out of the first corner. Readying myself for a move further down the track, in the third corner I took the inside but collided with second place. Staying on my bike, I made it stick, but unfortunately I lost my balance in the same corner as the day before and hit the floor hard with my head, really losing my senses.
But I soldiered on and rode my B final, coming third in the end and finishing my day seventh overall.
This weekend has been an amazing experience. Big thanks to Nurishment Active for all the support. Nurishment Active has become a vital part of my diet, training plan and racing schedule. It's got the right amount of protein and carbohydrates to make my recovery the best it can be before my next training session. See you guys at the last round at the end of August!