The Irish Do BMesseX!
Last Thursday night (21 June 2012) Derek Waller and Steve Bell headed off on the ferry with 20 odd bikes, kit bags, a collection of tents, a furniture shop full of folding chairs, a few BBQ’s and two gazebo’s. Twenty kids from 6 to 44 and their minders piled onto a Ryanair flight the next morning, we were heading to Braintree, Essex for round 6 & 7 of the British National BMX Series.
After erecting some tents for the brave people (the weather forecast did not look good) and reassembling our bikes we headed out for practice on the track. First of all it has to be said, the Braintree track is impressive to say the least, a very smooth fast surface, bowled tarmac berms, big aggressive jumps and a very technical third rhythm straight that had all the Irish riders struggling. We just don’t have anything close to it over here and it showed in the speed we went through it compared to the local riders. If you are going to build a track the best thing you could do is go visit Braintree, it’s amazing what you can fit into a small space. For practice most of us probably got in 5 or 6 laps on the Friday. There is no hanging around on berms (unless you are one of the elite riders) allowed, it’s queue up in the pens, get on the gate and go from start to finish. If you want to jump something you just have to step up and go for it. At about eight o’clock the track was closed and most headed back to the camp site and a few to the hotels in preparation for the races.
Race day 1 – Round 6:
Another couple of practice laps for each rider and we were ready to go. There was definitely 1 or 20 nervous riders, some visibly worse than others …
The most impressive thing for me was that none of the Irish riders were left for dead (a niggling fear I had), most were right in the mix in or around the middle of the pack. Even the few who were at the back of the field where knocking on the door and not way behind. In our first year of racing you can’t but help be impressed with that.
Note: Results that follow are based on memory from someone with a bad one so apologies if I leave you out or get some wrong.
The few better performances of the day from an Irish perspective were, Corey Waller (6 and under boys), closer to the front in most of his moto’s than the rear getting him into the semi final but missing out on the ‘A’ Final in 6th place (if memory serves). In the ‘B’ Final he pulled off an impressive 2nd.
Katie O’Neill (13-14 girls) got into the ‘B’ Final after a very nervous start to the day and pulled off a 6th.
Aran Kelly (17-24 male) got out of his moto’s to a run off but missed out on the quarters (he may have even missed the run off?).
Alex Holliday (17-24 male) got to the quarter finals. He was at the back of the field in his first two moto’s but pulled off an impressive comeback in the third moto, 6th or 7th on the first straight to 2nd by the line. In the quarter he fell victim to the third straight giving up his 4th place to a couple of other riders.
Kevin McShane (or Shane as he is better known) was in the thick of it all day in the 40+ Vets. He fell in the semi trying to make up a place, again a victim of that third straight. Not making the top four he went to the ‘B’ Final and got 5th.
Eamonn Wyer had a better day on his cruiser (40-44 Cruiser men) than his 20″. He was right at the top of the pack all day in the moto’s but was deep in conversation and missed his Semi Final and therefore disqualified and not allowed race in the ‘B’ Final. Harsh but lesson learnt!
Alison Murphy was also on 24″ wheels in the 30+ Female Cruiser class. She got to 6th in the ‘A’ final.
Our Elite rider Kelvin Batey was flying all day. The speed and skill of the riders in this class has to be seen to be believed, you just don’t get a feel for it on video. Kelvin made it to the final but got caught up in the tangle of bikes and bodies on the last berm.
While not all of the Irish riders made it out of the moto’s some had some good moto results, Lee O’Sullivan, Morgan Kearney, Sam Murphy, Lar Massey and Eamonn Wyer (20″) got some 4ths, some of them may have got a 3rd and some had had enough after two moto’s and called it a day. It’s tough out there …
So with Day One over we all packed up and headed to our tents or hotels tired but definitely more confident for day two. I’d like to tell you what I heard went on in the camp site on Saturday night but like they say “what goes on tour … “. It did rain hard all night though, a lot of damp muddy people around on Sunday morning.
See HERE for the final positions and how many riders were in each category at Round 6.
Race Day 2 – Round 7:
Surprisingly the track was in amazing shape after all the rain on Saturday night, the Braintree Club have put a huge amount of work into the track. Just a little bit slower than the first day but it got quicker as the day went on.
Both Kevin McShane and Alison Murphy didn’t ride day two, both suffering the rigors of the previous day – old age …
We were all a bit more “together” on day two, kind of knowing what to expect. It showed in the riding.
Corey Waller did better in his moto’s (2nd, 3rd, 4th) easily making the semi’s but again missing out on the ‘A’ Final. In the ‘B’ Final though he went from close to the back on the first straight to first by the finish line with some nice passing moves on the berms.
Morgan Kearney did well in his moto’s on day two getting into the quarters but his day ended there.
Alex Holliday again made it to the quarters (despite injury) but missed out on the Semi’s.
Lar Massey did well in the moto’s with a 2nd, 3rd and 5th making it to the Semi Final in the 40+ Vet class where he had an impressive crash trying to make up places after a bad start. Too dazed to ride the ‘B’ Final he was classed as 8th.
Steve Bell in the 40+ Vets had the result of the weekend making it all the way to the ‘A’ Final with a fourth in the semi. Steve cements his place as an Irish BMX legend!
Eamonn Wyer again had an impressive day in the 40-44 Cruiser class at the top of the field in the moto’s. He even remembered to turn up for the Semi but got tangled up on the first jump and ended up on the ground. He made up for it in the ‘B’ Final leading all the way to the last berm and ending up second.
Again in the moto’s we had some great results, Adam Davis was on his way out of the moto’s with 2nd and a 4th but crashed in his third which ended his day.
See HERE for the final positions and how many riders were in each category at Round 7
As you would expect we had the best track side support all weekend which the commentators picked up on leading to a few funny interactions. The commentators also realised that the three ‘question marks’ beside the names (where your club or region should be) on the commentator sheets meant you where from Ireland so we all got our fair share of shout outs.
Over all it was a brilliant weekend of racing, everyone needs to get in on the act! The event was run with military precision, the music was great, the commentating was spot on, the things going on around the track where entertaining. British Cycling and Braintree BMX Club put on a great event. Even the biblical down pour on Sunday afternoon couldn’t dampen it …
The list of injuries is impressive too, Alison Murphy – sprained wrist from “thumping” a jump, Katie O’Neill – hurt shoulder (maybe collarbone), Adam Davis – possible broken finger, Alex Holiday – nasty over the bars on the first straight, cut elbow, you could see the bone by all accounts, Kevin McShane – pulled back muscle and may have re-broken a finger, Eamonn Wyer – another over the bars trick resulting in multiple cuts, bruises and an impressive perfect imprint of a micro knobbly tire on his side, and finally Lar Massey – a spectacular over the bars face plant leaving him a bit dazed and grazed and out a few quid for a new TLD visor.
So there you have it, our first mass excursion to a UK National in 25 years, what a fantastic BMX racing weekend. So what have we learnt … well for one we now know (well we knew it already) that if we want to compete at the top level we need bigger more aggressive tracks, we need to be better out of the gate (go to the practice nights people), most or our riders were playing catch up all weekend and a bit more confidence would go a long way …
Plans are being hatched for the next one in Derby.
UK National Series Table after 7 rounds HERE (you can see the overall rider standings and points achieved at the weekend).
Irish Riders and overall points achieved (there have been 7 UK Nationals to date):
Abby Steacy (9 Girls) - 10 points from 2 Nationals.
Kate Larkin (11-12 Girls) – 7 points from 2 Nationals.
Katie O’Neill (13-14 Girls) – 14 points from 2 Nationals.
Alison Murphy (30+ Female Cruiser) – 32.5 points from 1 National.
Corey Waller (6 & Under Boys) – 43.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Lee O’Sullivan (8 Boys) – 9 points from 2 Nationals.
Morgan Kearney (9 Boys) – 10.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Cian O’Sullivan (9 Boys) – 3.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Jack Larkin (10 Boys) – 6 points from 2 Nationals.
Adam Davis (12 Boys) – 8 points from 2 Nationals.
Sam Murphy (13 Boys) – 10.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Aaron Edwards (14 Boys) – 6.5 points from 2 Nationals.
John Ward (16 Boys) – 11.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Aaron Steacy (16 Boys) – 7.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Alex Holiday (17-24 Male) – 15 points from 3 Nationals.
Aran Kelly (17-24 Male) – 6 points from 2 Nationals.
Steve Bell (40+ Vet) – 34.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Lar Massey (40+ Vet) – 16.5 points from 2 Nationals.
Kevin McShane (40+ Vet) – 15.5 points from 1 National.
Eamonn Wyer (40+ Vet) – 11 points from 2 Nationals.
Eamonn Wyer (40-44 Male Cruiser) – 27 points from 2 Nationals.