National Series – Round 4 – Dalby Forest

National Series Round 4 – Dalby Forest, Yorkshire - Robert Bates

Preparation for this race started about 3 weeks ago with my training programme which was scheduled around revision for my AS exams which were taken over the last 4 weeks.  As we couldn’t book a hotel near to the course we decided to make the trip to Dalby Forest and back on race day.  We spent some time on Saturday getting ready for the early start on Sunday by preparing the equipment and food etc that we needed to take with us.

We had an early start on Sunday, my parents got up at 2.30am to make the final preparations and then got me up in time to leave at 3.15am.  The journey took about 4 and a half hours, fortunately for me I managed to sleep for most of the journey.  When we arrived I signed on and got changed ready for a practice lap.  We then met up with Iain Webb, another HMTBC team member who had ridden a couple of practice laps on the Saturday and he gave me an insight into some of the technical sections of the course.  He told me that there were some sections where there was only an A line and no B line and after riding the course I agreed with him that maybe there should have been an option of a B line.  The course was good, very wet and a lot of it was technical.  Conditions were not good as there had been quite a bit of rain during the week before the race and it was quite muddy.  After my practice lap I got changed and had my breakfast whilst my Dad cleaned my bike.  Then my friend Kieran Jarvis and his parents arrived and Kieran went out on his practice lap at the 10 am practice slot.  It’s good to see friends at these races as they could be a lonely event otherwise and a little bit of Eastern rivalry is always fun as there were not many Eastern region riders at this event.  It was good to see Andy Sampson up and around and making a good recovery supporting his family racing for Sussed Out Suspension

Iain’s race was after the Youth race and my Mum helped him out with his bottle changes in the pits. I went out and had a look at the course to see the lines that the Vets were taking, to see if I could pick up any changes in the course conditions.  After Iain’s race we settled down to relax for a little while whilst we waited for my race.

It was then time for me to get ready and warm up on my rollers.  My race was delayed slightly as the previous 2 races had over-run due to the conditions.  As a result the Elite and Expert races were reduced by a lap, however the Juniors were given the choice of reducing their laps from 4 to 3 but decided to stick with 4 laps.  We were then gridded and set off, first the Elites then a minute or two later the Juniors and then a minute or so after us the Experts.

I had a good race, conditions deteriorated after we started as it poured with rain making the sections that were not in the trees very slippery.  I was glad that we had made the decision to change my tyres from Scylla’s to Hyperion’s as they gave me the extra grip I needed.  The field spread out quite quickly and I settled into a good rhythm.  I finished in 18th place which is my best finish at a National event and made the long journey worthwhile.

After the race I got changed and cleaned myself up whilst my parents packed up and cleaned my bike.  We then set off on the long journey home.  We stopped to eat on the way and finally got home at 11pm, nearly 20 hours since we left, it had been a very long day.  We parked up and decided to put all the equipment away the next day as my parents had taken the day off work.

Next morning we got up and my parents unloaded the car, my Dad cleaned my bike and put everything away and I prepared my new set of Scylla tyres ready for the next race on Sunday.

All races take a lot of effort and planning not just by me but by my family who give up a lot of their spare time to support me, however the National races take even more effort because they can be quite a distance away as well.  It was great to see Carl Harper at the event marshalling representing HMTBC, thanks for your support.  I would like to say a big thanks to not only the team sponsors, Hardnutz, Cyclewrap, Mitas and Scimitar but also to my parents, without them my racing would not be possible.  Also a big thanks to my coach, Loose Cannon’s Conditioning for my training programme and continued support and advice, it’s really making a difference to my results.

Rob Staines