2016 Season Review - Ellen Flewitt
Here's my little Race Recap for 2016, enjoy!
I started riding and racing downhill back in 2015, doing a mini downhill here and there and a couple of local races. It was in July that I started to take it more seriously and raced at the National Champs at Llangollen; it’s fair to say it was probably the gnarliest track I’d ever ridden, and I absolutely loved it! However, my race run didn’t go to plan; I got stuck behind someone half way down who crashed and I couldn’t get past. I still managed to take 2nd place but not as close behind as I’d have liked to be.
Here’s where it gets really interesting... believe it or not, at the same event, I had a pretty freaky podium accident in which a bottle smashed and severed right through my tendons on my index and middle finger. Two days, two hospitals and three hours of surgery later, I was all fixed and excited to ride my bike again. The rest of my race season was mostly spent strengthening my tendons in my fingers, but I also found time to accept the offer to join the F-Riders Race Team; a good choice on my part!
2016 has been a season ranging from soaring highs to rock-bottom lows for me. I decided to focus on the Pearce Cycles Downhill Series as a sort of entry to ‘proper’ racing and what can I say, it was a great decision. The uplifts were smooth; the competition tight but it was the chilled atmosphere that won me over. My results weren’t quite to match, and entering these races were a pretty steep learning curve for me, yet I was really enjoying myself.
One of my favourite races of the year has got to be Steel City DH in April. The F-riders team met up for a gathering and we couldn’t have picked a better spot. The weather was changeable, to say the least, but nobody really minded, the crowd were buzzing with tipsy joy and the riders were pinning it. I came third in the adult women’s, just 2 seconds off the win, which was a huge achievement for me. I even got handed my prize by Steve Peat, what could be better?
By June, I had found myself a mountain bike coach which had brought my skills on a lot. I competed in two BDS (British Downhill Series) races this year which was a completely different experience to other races. The racing was a lot more intense, and with a lot more competition, which was a pretty good thing in my opinion. The Bala race didn’t go quite how I wanted – after qualifying first in timed practice I crashed out in my race run putting me almost last. Naturally, at Moelfre, I HAD to avenge this, and put in my best performance yet with a 4th out of 14. In an age category that didn’t necessarily favour me, I was “well chuffed!”
Then, my lowest point of the year so far. Just a week after my race at BDS, I crashed pretty badly and dislocated my shoulder. This was probably one of the worst outcomes and imaginably I was pretty pissed off. After feeling as fast as I ever had done, to not being able to ride except on a turbo trainer, felt like a kick in the teeth.
I moped around for several weeks, going to France and Italy on what was supposed to be a riding holiday yet I spent most of my time getting a tan - which I’m not complaining about. Rehabilitation on my shoulder was pretty hard, it felt pointless and my gains were pretty small, but I knew I had to do it to get back to what I loved; riding my bike.
Blood, sweat and angry tears later, I was finally allowed back on the enduro bike. I was told to try some gentle forestry path so I went to ride Swinley cross country circuit. Not my sort of riding (too much pedalling if you ask me) but oh my God did it feel good to be back on the bike again.
Fast forward to now (October) and I’m back on the downhill bike: I’ve competed in my first race back. I managed to win by 11 seconds and finished in the top third of the overall, which was a pretty awesome first race back. I’m now looking forward to next year; I’ll be racing the full BDS and National Champs, and I’m incredibly excited to see what I can do.... injury free.