14 Aug 06 / Posted By Mat
Much to my annoyance this year, I've been unable to make it to any of the BMX Nationals. But with Decoy being just 20 minutes from my parents' place on Dartmoor, it just had to be done.
It nearly didn't happen though because, not having raced all year, I didn't have a British Cycling license. Luckily though and much to the credit of the BC, they managed to sort one out in 2 days with the offer of paying only for the rest of the year, rather than the full 12 months that would expire in December. Nice.
Decoy. I love Decoy. As I mentioned before, we go back a long way so it's always nice to get the opportunity to ride there. One thing I particularly like is that, from my infrequent and irregular point of view, it's always changing slightly and keeping itself fresh.
This year the main spectator area has been landscaped a bit so it's easier for everyone to see. There are now two little sets of techie doubles after the first corner rather than the slightly awkward one before. And the second to last corner is now a veritable mud wall (with VIP spectating on top), which when railing fast requires you to crane your neck back and to the left slightly, just so you can keep an eye on the exit. Sort of like this:
Anyway, it's fun and fast to corner and I like it.
Racing began promptly at 10 and a nice lady at the finish gave me a marshal bib so I could get on the track to take photos. This proved quite knackering though in the end as taking pictures and racing means a lot of running around and little time to sit nervously in the pens looking serious and jiggling my legs.
Also this method of coverage and participation means it's hard to keep track of who's doing what and coming where (but I'm sure the BC site will feature a good report like that), so as far as I'm concerned, here's how the day went.
Currently there seem to be more women racing than I've ever noticed before. Whether this is due to having Shanaze as a role model or the presence of BMX studs such as Luke Gamble, I'm not sure. Either way it's good to see so many women riding at such a competitive level.
Just plain going for it! Rebecca Vaughan was flying all day. Just check the expression. She meant business.
The other category that also seems better these days is the kids - again, seeming focused, competitive and well up for it.
Remember, they're the future of BMX, and if they keep at it with support from parents, and training programmes from legends like CK Flash at Peckham, then I reckon the future looks good.
Talking of parents, the old guys were mixing it up too...
I only wish that each season when guys like CJ Butler (below) make a comeback, that they'd stay around a little longer and not fade away again as seems to keep happening season after season. Come on you Old Schoolers. Where's your staying power!
For Dirt Bike Supply it proved a pretty good weekend, with Digger and Adam Stevens both making the A main in Junior Men.
Well done to them both.
As ever though, the highlight of any race was the Elite Men and this weekend was all about Marcus Bloomfield. He was untouchable and won every race he competed in, by a good couple of bike lengths.
Here in the first corner, already with a comfortable margin, he leads out the likes of Luke Gamble and World No.4: Ben Forward of Dialled Bikes.
Anyway, nice one Bloomy.
Two other impressive Elite men, coming at times pretty close to taking it from Bloomy, were Stass rider Kevin Sprengers:
And the ever entertaining Warren Bancroft:
(See, look, right on Bloomy's tail).
Also noteworthy on the day was Calum Strickland who rode with power, style and clear enjoyment:
And of course, Shanaze Reade:
Here leading the 19+ Mens final, start to finish, she killed them... or should I say 'us'! Whatever. She performed well and rode amazingly.
Despite the USA race top... hummmm.
So, why was I watching the 19+ Men from inside the first corner you might ask? Well, after a good set of motos, 1 - 1 - 2, I lined up in the semi and got my worst gate of the day, putting me well within the pack by the step-up; double; step-down (anyone got a better name for that?).
Above: Not me, but the jump that saw my demise!
My plan was to manual in and out as I had all day, but I went in where there wasn't any room and got a bump to my bars from Dan Clifford, that sent me spinning and falling backwards from the top of the double to the bottom of the step-down. Ouch. Arse. Day over.
Managed to pick myself up after a while though (nowhere near as fast as Luke Tamblyn mind you who totally flipped out in his final, then got up and walked away). Now, 24 hours later, I sit here rather uncomfortably, with a cut butt, sprained wrist and whiplashed neck.
Still, thinking of Jeff Dovey, I suppose I was lucky.
Well done to everyone at Decoy for putting on another fine National, and special thanks to the first-aid lady for asking everyone to leave while she nursed my arse!
For the full results visit www.britishcycling.org.uk.
And to see more DBS photos from Decoy, go toFlickr.