British BMX National Series – Rounds 5 & 6
After the postponement of rounds 3 and 4 of this year’s British National Series at Leicester, it had felt like an age since Manchester Indoor and the whole of the Twisted Concepts team had got together, as the UK team are spread across 3 different regions. Rounds 5 and 6 were hosted at Cyclopark in Gravesend, a formidable track with a reputation for hard racing, lippy jumps and changeable weather conditions, especially the wind, which have lead it to getting a few nicknames such as 'Psychopark and Cyclonepark'.
The BMX track is located in the middle of a large cycling complex on the edge of the A2, complete with a large outer perimeter road racing circuit suitable camping and overflow parking, a cafe, changing rooms and many other facilities, which makes it the perfect venue for a national (other than a small matter of the M25). The track itself was originally built by Clark and Kent, it's been slightly altered over the years, some would say mellowed out, some would say tweaked, but it still has their trademark lippy jumps and deep rhythm sections, making it the ultimate challenge to race on. The start hill is reasonably steep, not quite as steep as Manchester Indoor, but still steep enough that you're going absolutely flat out when you hit the sizable first double and it's one of the only tracks you'll see young kids sending jumps of that size. For the older riders the second jump, a lippy triple, is a real test, with the fastest route through being a double manual or just send it, if you have the room and the nerve, then finally a step-up triple most can jump onto or manual up. The first berm is massive, with plenty of scope for gaining and loosing places, and greatly improved now there's no longer a step with a split for the second straight pro section.
The second straight amateur side is a nice long flowing straight of step-ups and doubles, big enough for the small ones to pedal through and the older ones to regain their composure after the roller-coaster first straight. There is room for passing in turn two, but you have to be quick and judge your line right as you're unsighted of the apex coming over the last step up into the corner and if you cross the tight inside line you're in for a DQ.
The third straight has seen a bit of mellowing out, with a mid-way bomb hole being filled in, which certainly seems to have worked as there were considerably less big crashes and injuries this year. Turn three is the real game changer and not everyone’s favourite, it's steep and tight with a pretty low/mellow exit, so you have a choice if your trying to get though the pack, you can rail it for exit speed and make the pass on the final straight, but that leaves you vulnerable to the rider behind coming under you, but if you go for a swoop it's easy to get tangled up and the rider behind can easily pass you then.
The final straight is tight and the jumps quite small, compared with the rest of the track, a technical run of step ups and step downs in a rhythm section, with a table top thrown in right at the end for good measure and if you’re feeling tired coming out of the last turn it can really feel to the older riders like your racing over a bar of Toblerone.
The Twisted gazebo was, as usual, in prime location just by the first double at the bottom of the start hill giving the riders, families and guests a great view of the first straight action. This national the Twisted team area was even busier than usual as we were giving away team posters, something no UK team had done for years to our knowledge, we also had an Instagram booth with the opportunity to win some Twisted Concepts gloves which will be arriving in the store any day now. It was just as well that we had brought both bike racks and managed to put them across the road circuit from the tent because most of the weekend out the back our team area was the place for teenagers to hang out! The weather forecast for the weekend was changeable, but apart from the Saturday wind, which got pretty scary at times and the overnight thunder storms which got pretty scary too (for the campers) it turned out dry and sunny for a majority of the time. All the riders on the team have very different opinions on the track and certainly had very different results on it, as you always expect from Cyclopark it was an emotional rollercoaster and a completely mixed bag for almost everyone.
Ben Hallett, 9-12 Cruisers.
Saturday was a struggle for Ben, with the constant windy gusts pushing against him, occasionally almost bringing him to a halt. Unfortunately, he didn't get past the Motos.
Sunday and Ben felt more determined. In his first two Motos, he got pushed wide on the first berm, losing places. However, by the third Moto, he was ready for another battle and fought from start to finish, overtaking right up to the line.
Ben is looking forward to Glasgow where a completely new track means all riders have lots to learn.
Harry Kirby, 11 Boys,
Morgan Haslam, 13-14 Girls.
Callum Clancy, 12 Boys.
He likes Cyclopark and settled into it nicely after having not been here since last year's rounds. First moto on Saturday was from gate 8 and he had to battle hard to finish with a fifth place from fellow country man Danny O' Gorman who is riding very well. Moto 2 and he got the hole shot from gate 2 but left the door open a little in the first berm and two riders nipped in, he couldn't close the gap on them and the dreaded Cyclopark wind was starting to pick up at this stage so he had to take 3rd. Moto 3 from gate 5 and an average gate left him in 4th on the second straight, he had to dab his brake as the boy in front came across him and another rider got past him too, so another 5th.
Then dreaded quarter time and at this stage the wind was blowing fiercely. From gate 6 he didn't get a great start and manualed the first double but Sonny Flavell, who jumped it, landed wrong and into his path, they both came down really hard. Callum knew he’d hurt himself badly as he went into the face of the second jump with his left elbow first. He thinks Sonny was knocked out cold for a few seconds too, so a nasty crash all round.
They both ended up in the local hospital. After an x-ray he was told that he’d broken the end of his elbow. He took the news fantastically well, saying ‘as they say, that’s racing..!’ He would just like to thanks all his teammates/members and friends for all their well wishes. Also, he found sitting and watch Sundays racing from the Twisted concepts SCR gazebo was more painful than his elbow...!
Fin Clarke, 15 Boys
Sunday, race day 2. After dropping a couple of riders from Day 1 it meant no Quarters, so straight to Semis. On Saturday’s moto results that should be no problem, top 4 in each Moto should do it, but the computer gods weren't with us and the motos were going to be a challenge. First moto, 4th, happy days. Then a technical issue occurred with his bike and he had to share bikes with a teammate for a race, but he showed his flexibility and class and smashed out a 5th, ouch. Now the pressure was on, he needed a top 3 to secure the semi-final place, with two 2nds on day 1 he knew it was possible. As the gate dropped it was going to be a challenge from there, by the exit of the first berm the top 3 had gone and it was not looking good, eventually finishing 5th. With all the excitement of the first day it was not a nice place to be for Finn, he was devastated.... Looking on the positive side he experienced the highs of day 1 and proved to himself he can run with the best and we’re sure he’ll do it again and again. He says ‘thanks all for a great weekend...see ya in Bonnie Scotland!’
Martin ‘Smiley’ Brown, 17-29 Cruiser.
He woke up Saturday morning fresh as a daisy and ready to battle. He swapped the stamps for his Malletts and he was ready for business. The motos started and he was on fire! He won all 3 motos and then his semi. He got a bad gate in the final, so he was shut down going over the 1st jump ended up back in 8th! He managed to crawl my way back to 6th, which at the time he was disappointed with, but realistically was a good day on the bike!
Then after a rubbish night’s sleep, being up watching the lightning till 2am on the Sunday morning he was rather tired!
In the motos Smiley had a 1st, then a 5th, followed by a more positive 2ndseeing him through to the Semi where he came 3rd. Not feeling his best, he decided to go with an outside gate for the final. By the 2nd corner he was in 6th battling for 5th, he went into 3rd straight on a charge, picked up the roller and somehow bonked it. Game over. He went over the bars and down really hard. After a good few minutes he climbed up and rolled the rest of the lap to the finish, he was in a lot of pain. After racing he went to the hospital because he thought he'd broken his heel and had a sore side. It turned out his heel is just very badly swollen and bruised but the sore side was a broken rib. His thigh is also black as can be and left arm has some nice gravel rash. So next weekend’s 4x Pro Tour race in Fort William is out of the window, he’s gutted. He said ‘All in all the weekend though was amazing. One slight mistake ended it, but that’s racing! My bike felt amazing all weekend and somehow, I didn't rip my Lead trousers. My helmet not so good on the other hand!!!! The next national is Glasgow on the new Clark and Kent track, I can't wait.’
Rich Ayles, 30-39 Cruiser.
He came away reasonably happy with a 3rd and a 2nd and he was certainly happy to come away injury and incident free ready for the Words.
He said ‘I am now looking forward to getting back on the BMX for the remainder of the season and competing at the 2018 world championships.’
Spencer Cremin, Vets and 45-49 cruiser.
Myles Gault 45-49 Cruiser.
Myles said ‘After a high speed near miss at the regional a couple of weeks ago, this weekend’s mission was to get out alive.
The weather conditions meant the track was riding fast and loose, way too fast for my comfort zone. I had a couple of good battles with some old adversaries but checked out at the end of the motos.’
Miles Kirby, Vets.
Sunday, Miles gave it his best in the moto’s again, but seemed to get the tough draw in every one, qualifying down the sequence with 6th pick and ending up with an outside gate in the Semi. His gate in the semi wasn’t at all what he was hoping for and got shut down by teammate Spencer out of the gate, he ended up back in 8th over the first double, but after some determination though the pack Miles got in 5th place and he was about to try and take Spencer, winding it up in the last berm when again Andy Coryn came from nowhere and any chance of an A final disappeared over the red line and onto the grass again! It really wasn’t Miles’s weekend, but after some very deep breaths he got on the gate for a very special B final, because he was honoured to race Neil Gibson, making his first ever B final at a national, an amputee below the left knee Neil is truly an inspirational person. Miles wanted the B final, he had a plan to jump the triple, but after a storming gate he got caught by big gust of wind and over jumped the first double and he only just hung on to the bike landing it more or less flat. Heart pounding from the near-death experience he tried to cling onto the third place he was in but slipped back to fourth on the line.
Nathan Konggutong, 17-24 Men.
He still enjoyed himself riding and showed the crowd some unbelievable skill throughout the weekend. Nathan may have not got the results he wanted, but the crowd love him and it’s easy to see why, he’s regarded as one of the best technical riders in the country and the things he can do with a bike most riders can only ever dream of. Remember to always check his Instagram to witness for yourself what he’s capable of on his Twisted SCR.
Remember to come and see us at the next rounds in Glasgow, our gazebo door is always open to riders and parents who are interested in what we do and want to see the BMX equivalent to a moto GP bike close up. We’re planning more exiting competitions and giveaways in the build up to Glasgow, so keep a close eye on our Facebook and Instagram for details. Twisted Concepts are proud to be the importers of SCR frames.
We are importers of Onyx hubs, as well as being the European service and warranty centre, using only genuine Onyx parts. If you get Onyx hubs through us you can buy single hubs, not just sets, in any conceivable colour combination and with complementary laser etching.
We have started selling our own amazing looking Twisted carbon rims in the awesome 3k weave, available in a fantastic array of colours and sizes. We lead the way in BMX disc brake technology and constantly working on improving our products.
Twisted Concepts are proud to be supported by SCR Bicycles, Onyx Racing Products, Powers Bike Shop, CranksBros Pedals, Lead Racewear and ENV Graphics.
Words by Miles Kirby
Photo by Bmx Widow photography