I thought I would combine a bunch of recent events/session into one post. I’m not going to re-live a blow for blow account of the events (largely as I have forgotten what’s happened) but instead list the things that stood out most to me and what I have taken away.
Urban Rider Games
The Urban Rider Games is a charity event organised and run by ATB Shop at the ATB Shop Skate Warehouse, designed to raise awareness of urban sports in Swindon in a bid to refurbish the local outdoor skatepark and prevent developers from building on land that currently has parks, be they skate or play parks.
The day consisted of 10 hours of competition across age ranges in Scooter, Skate and BMX. There was an insane amount of riders participating and my involvement was on the panel of judges. Although we were judging for a very long time, the work we judges had to do was nothing in comparison to the extremely hard working ATB Shop crew. As ever, the ATB Shop team went above and beyond in putting on an exceptional spectacle, working incredibly hard not just on the day of the event but in the days building up to it and afterwards.
The format used was a head-to-head format where two riders had one minute on the park (together) to put down tricks, after which the judges voted for the rider that should go through. An excellent format which made the judging much easier than trying to score runs for later comparison. It also saved time (on the face of it anyway) and reduced the amount of waiting time between runs for the riders as each session had two riders on course at the same time.
The quality of the riding was extremely high across all disciplines and, though the format made the judging easier, largely the decision between the two riders was very tough. What I was most impressed by was the sportsmanship of the majority of the riders – shaking hands before and after the run and being very gracious in victory or defeat without any intervention. I expected it from a few riders, but certainly not from as many as there were and certainly not from the younger riders. Everyone had a great attitude to the competition and after seeing the depth of quality, action sports are in a great place.
I was very proud to be a part of the event, and would like to extend my thanks once again to ATB Shop for running such an excellent competition and for inviting me to be a part of it.
Check out the highlights video below:
A few weeks ago saw the first round of the RhythmX series – an experimental series taking multi-rider racing to pump/bmx tracks. The first round was a more formal repeat of an event which happened late last Summer (the Guerilla Downhill Jam) on the Willington BMX track which, uniquely, is probably more suited to mountainboards than to bmx’s. There is a big gradient change from the start to the finish of the track making it quite ideal for us gravity addicts.
Numbers were anticipated to be in the teens and so, the competition was run as an open with any category splits to be made from the final results – one experimental element to the series. This worked well as it meant that riders who tend not to race each other were battling it out and it meant that riders got more racing as a whole as there was a wider pool of riders compared to being split into categories initially.
Another experimental part of the first round was the use of the ‘Dove-Chew Solution’ – a racing system developed by Leon Dove and Jack Chew. The fundamental piece of their solution is an attempt to remove gate bias from qualifying by running four qualifying races and assigning riders to a different gate in each race, ensuring each rider races from each gate only once. Another feature is that riders run the same race twice but from different gates.
I quite like the idea of removing gate choice from qualifying races and ensuring each rider races from each gate once as it removes any ‘bias’ that can come around from randomising gate choice and it makes it is easier to organise the riders as they don’t have to make any decisions before the race. In fact, I like the idea so much that I made a mock-up spreadsheet of how I’d do it the day after the event (but with four random qualifying races instead of two random repeated races, as I feel there are more benefits in four random races than repeated).
From the first flag drop to the last (we weren’t using a drop gate), the racing was intense! Almost every race saw riders side by side in the first corner and second straight with many races seeing action the whole way down the track. Riders quickly began to learn that it was all about your line in the first corner, and with a plethora of lines to choose from as well as three other riders and their lines to consider, it didn’t make it that much easier.
Here’s a few things I took away from the event:
Knowledge has to be applied with experience. I spent some time giving advice to Dom Brown about how best to ride the first corner, and a couple of options for lines depending on where other riders are in relation to him (including some runs to simulate potential occurrences). From watching his races, it seemed like it was tough for Dom to apply what I had said which, after reflection isn’t particularly surprising. For all the ‘knowledge’ I share, knowing when and how to apply it is just as important. The latter only comes about through repeated application. That’s not to say I won’t be sharing knowledge in the future – providing knowledge that took time to learn and formulate enables accelerated learning (as the listener does not have to spend the time and effort developing and learning the ‘knowledge’), it just needs to be considered in the whole package instead of expecting a huge difference to happen immediately after hearing some words.
Lack of sleep affects Andy more than me. We did the trip in a day again, which meant a 4am start for Andy and I. I normally drive the early shifts but this time Andy did – driving the 90 minutes of so to Roger’s. From there, Roger once again very graciously drove us to the event and back. Both Andy and I tried to nap on the way up and had little sleep but I think I was able to focus and think a little clearer during the event. In my opinion, this was one of the reasons Andy was a bit slower than expected and made a couple of questionable decisions during his races which cost him positions, especially in qualifying. Regardless of who is effected more, we should work to negate the effects of lack of/poor sleep as it has obvious and potentially large negative connotations.
Don’t forget your shorts. Another lesson learnt from Andy – he forgot to bring his riding shorts and had to ride in his jeans all day. Not only did he get crazy hot, but I think the jeans were more restrictive and prevented him from getting the maximum out of his pumping, slowing him down. The margins are very tight at the top.
Plan your food better. Having done the trip in a day, and shopped for food for the day upon arrival in the vicinity of the track, Andy and I really didn’t eat properly from the start to the end of the day. This would have had an effect on both of our performances and is something to consider in the future, especially at events which run over multiple days, as poor nutrition with have a compounding negative effect.
James is back to his racing best. Coming into the 2016 UK Championships, I incorrectly discounted James as a Championship threat as he was coming back from injury. Certainly I was mistaken in BoarderX; on the first day of practice, he impressed as one of the fastest and smoothest riders on the track and ended up winning the BoarderX. A similar thing happened in the RhythmX – not known for his pump track ability, when James showed up I thought he would mix it but underestimated how solid and fast he would be. He put in a great performance, out-pumped Andy on a couple of occasions and had some fantastic reactions to the flag drops, finishing the event in second. James is well and truely is back in the racing game and will be one to be wary of at the Worlds and UK Champs – he’s back to his best and should be considered as a favourite once again.
I need to re-learn how to turn heelside. Again. Lastly, as it says on the tin, my heelside turns have left me again. Of course I can actually turn heelside but it isn’t solid and I flick between tucked and standing turns, almost at random. It isn’t all doom and gloom though – typically if I find I prefer one style to another in a specific corner I will adopt that turn and it gets a bit more solid. I also have a great heelside turner to watch in Andy – he had the best and fastest line through the tricky final berm and looks totally solid on his heels so if I can emulate him and take on his advice, I’ll see a marked improvement. It’s a bit of a shame I’ve relapsed on the heelside turns seeing as I worked to dial them in again last summer, but these things happen and the last left in Serbia helped to throw them off again. But, for now at least it isn’t having a particularly detrimental effect to my performance although I will need to sort them out ahead of the World BoarderX Championships as the first berm is a tight heelsider.
Squash is having unexpected benefits. I really enjoy playing squash and I’ve been using it for the added benefit of building my fitness. By fitness I mean endurance. I’m feeling a lot more energetic and I last longer through the day (when mountainboarding) than I have for years, which I expected, but what I didn’t expect was what it would do for my pumping. I found myself putting in levels of power that I normally only achieve in World BoarderX semi-finals/finals and UK Championship finals. At first I put this down to good focus and timing, but having ridden a few more times since and achieving the same levels of power consistently, I’ve realised that this is actually attributable to squash. Squash is very much a game of stop-start, explosive movements and hence has been improving my explosive power which is directly related to my strength when pumping. To try to quantify it, it’s almost like my current 75% pumping power is at the level of my 90-100% pumping power 8 months ago which I’m pretty darn happy about! When all was said and done, this unexpected power gain certainly helped me to end the day unbeaten and take the top spot – I’ll use the confidence of the win as I move towards #mwbc17.
Having been aware of the place for years, it was absolutely criminal that it took me so long to visit the centre. Having now spent an afternoon there, I should have gone much, much sooner. There isn’t a vast amount of stuff there but what is there is well groomed and extremely fun.
There’s a couple of slightly downhill pump tracks which are very flowy and fun, a pump track to step-up section which is great for small and medium tricks, a long 4X track with triple-route straight and a dirt jumps section. All of it is rideable, although I think we need perfect weather conditions (especially no wind) to get around the dirt jumps line.
The centre was recently taken over by two bikers, one a World Downhill Series competitor, and they quickly made a couple of groundwork changes when they took over before opening for the season. As a result, the first and second corners on the 4X have a nice shape but still needed some bedding in. They also made an awesome looking gap in gap out left hand berm near the end of the track – this also needed bedding in but I think it’ll be rideable for us once it and the preceding corner are bedded in.
I had a fantastic session with local rider Jack Atkinson and the Bristol crew (Nigel de Grey, Jamie Chilles, Emlyn Bainbridge) where we rode basically everything and had a great session on the step-ups. It was awesome to throw my first nollie fronts since my ankle injury (they’re my favourite small trick) and even better to find out that they don’t hurt my ankle! Well, if I come in a little under rotated on a switch nollie front then it’s sore, but that’ll teach me for under-rotating! The session reaffirmed the unexpected benefits of squash and the fact I need to re-learn to turn heelside properly (i.e. to get rid of the ‘Euro-hop’).
I’d love to arrange a race there when the track has bedded in. Nothing official or serious but it’d be great fun racing down the track and watching the differing lines riders would take. It could also be a good place to test my variant of the Dove-Chew solution and or my variant of the World BoarderX Championships format. I’m not sure when or if I would run a race there but I’m certainly hoping to start attending the Wednesday evening sessions to a) get some more riding under my belt and b) enjoy riding somewhere new.
Guinness Book of World Records
In one of my first blog posts, I mentioned how the Guinness Book of World Records approached me about being included in the 2018 edition of the book (out in September) under ‘Most wins of the mountainboarding World Boardercross Championships’. My inclusion was confirmed from the first discussions, and I am delighted to announce that they have also confirmed that my entry will also be accompanied by a picture! Namely, this one:
I should find out in the next couple weeks if I’ll be getting an official certificate as well, but either way, it’s pretty awesome to be in a book I used to pour over a lot as a kid. Due to the nature of the record, I’m guaranteed to be in there for the next 3 years at least as well (I currently have 3 wins and Kody is the only other rider with a win so it’ll be at least 2 years until he can match me, 3 until he can beat me). Saying that, the book comes out after #mwbc17 and if Kody wins, it means I’ll be guaranteed at least two years. But hey, by all means I could extend my grip on the record 😉
Wow, I really go on once I get started! Congratulations and thanks to you if you made it to the end of my ramblings!