Poor weather in the run up to the event and rain overnight before race day meant there was plenty of moisture about! Kev and the PMBA had put on 4 cracking stages to test us in ever aspect.
Stage 1 was a short and sweet flat out blast with a short punch climb and some tricky steep turns with a couple of cheeky 'INSIDE's if you could hit them. I loved this stage and made a decent stab at it apart from overcooking the first turn, DOH, I managed to take 2nd in class on this and was feeling good after this 1min blast!
Stage 2 started with a full on pinball woods section that was utter carnage for me (I must learn to do this stuff better). That lead into a stump field that turned into something like a Vale Of Rossendale MX track used to look like in the 90's... a bog! This was so hard to keep your speed up on and I got cross rutted and the rear end over took me and I came to a complete stop. I later realised I'd rather stupidly left my Fox X2 shock in climb ...oops. One clear of the stump field we dropped into the Grizedale Black (bike park tyoe thing) and I could get on the gas. My brother from another mother James spannered himself in practise on the narrow ledge like right hander just before you turn and drop down towards the tripple jump (for some). Washing his tyres off the narrow edge and falling some 6ft onto piles of cut down trees with a sickening crunch. He'll live but missed the race lap, heal up Jimbob! Anyway, down into the tripple I opted for the low and pro (Ha) outside option and got a bit of a deadsailer going and bike swung back completely the other way, it was a bit of a moment (I'll try post up a clip from just after it you can hear me swearing). Silly mistake and having the shock in climb hadnt helped with an 8th in class for the stage.
Stage 3 was the epic Viking all the way down to Coniston with a nasty uphill fireroad just when you're gassed out to flip. I'd ridden this the best I'd ever managed it in practice and was hoping for similar. After cranking my ribs in this stage a couple of years ago its not been my favourite hehe. I set off full of hope but within 50 yard found myself wedged inbetween the rear wheel and seat tube, bu££er! I got up and got going and rode the rest well and was happy to get through the off camber root infested sections with a few courtesey dabs here and there. 6th in class and my best race run down there despite the crash, its a killer 4min stage!
Stage 4 after a colossal climb from Coniston back up and over started with some radged woods then dropping onto a killer mainly uphill fire road sprint for what felt like 1min! Then though the nasty muddy rock/root drop section and onto the big pedal back to the sign on area.
Spot on day and I managed a podium in third a ways back of two very fast old buggers, Chris Dixon and Martyn Alderson.