19 Oct 2011

RAF DownHill Coaching day a gr8 success!

2010 RAF DH Champs/Discovery Day held at Aston Hill on 3rd Nov 04/11/2010
Report From Barry Fenton RAF DH. See Video...
The leaves have just settled on the 2010 RAF DH Champs/Discovery Day held at Aston Hill (www.rideastonhill.com) on 3rd Nov. The day was a resounding success with a good turn out (given that most of the DH regulars seem to be out of the country!) of 21 riders. In a huge boost for the event, Ian Warby and Richard Abbott (CTC and Firecrest Mountain Biking) were on hand to provide top level coaching for the participants. As coaches to world class riders and experienced racers, they were able to provide an impressive insight into the skills essentials and mental focus required to shave seconds off a downhill run.

Rather than using a normal downhill race format, the participants were coached in the morning before completing a timed run on a section of downhill track. After lunch, the techniques learnt in the morning were developed with the aid of more coaching and to finish the day, a second timed run was completed on the same section of downhill track. A quick glance at the results from the second run quickly confirmed that the coaching had clearly paid off with the vast majority of riders being anything from 0.5 to 26 seconds faster than their first run.
All participants took home extra skills and techniques to use and develop on all future rides and races which was the main aim of the event. The RAF DH Champs results are below but they are very much of secondary importance to the main outcome. Hopefully this event is the first stepping stone on a path to improvement for all RAF riders next season.
There were many highlights and stories from the day so I won't cover everything now
- Most importantly, there were no serious injuries despite the slippy conditions. There were plenty of crashes and a few grazes, cuts and bruises but the First Aid kits remained unopened which is a result!
- Special mention goes to Nicole Way who was on parade at RAF Benson at 0830 on the day but was still able to turn up and shave almost 3 seconds off her first run time (and beat her husband by 0.84secs!) taking the Female DH Champ title.
- Best Newcomer Award goes Matt Verrier (RAF Lyneham) who came 4th on a borrowed bike but could so easily have been on the podium if he hadn't crashed on his second run in fading light conditions!
- Most Improved Award goes to Craig Jenkins (RAF Benson) who was 12.22secs faster on his second run demonstrating that smooth is quick.
- Henry (the Hungarian Vizsla) posted a blistering first run time of 35.64secs but was subsequently disqualified after allegations of course cutting!
- Well done to the RAF Halton XC riders who gave it a go and posted some very respectable times. Si Taylor is now the (un)official RAF Halton DH Champ and I'm sure Joe Owen still has a sore bum after a spill on the 4X track!
- Despite attempting a "just clipping into my SPDs" rolling start, Jon Gates could only improve by 0.52secs securing 2nd place.
- It was good to see a strong turn out from the Army and quite amusing to watch Tank sprinting the last 50m of the track with his bike on his shoulder after crashing on the last drop off (still 4secs faster than his first run though)