Three weeks after a challenging weekend in Glasgow the team were almost at full strength for the closing rounds the HSBC National BMX Series in sunny Bournemouth (more on that later). Adrian Scott was back on the bike after 8 weeks out with a suspected wrist fracture and Izzy and Chris were looking to finish their seasons with strong results after sitting out the Scotland rounds. Zara had wrapped up her season at the World Championships in Belgium and was on holiday for the final rounds having already secured qualification for the 2020 Worlds in Texas. Also missing was Chloe Foster, who, despite returning to light training recently, has been sidelined for the whole season with a knee injury sustained in a February training crash.
It's been over a decade since the last National at Bournemouth and the resurgent host club have been pulling out all the stops to make the last National of 2019 one to remember. Many were looking forward to camping in the famously sunny seaside town and enjoying the live music, entertainment and support events the club had arranged. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas. A storm front moving in from the southwest on Friday brought with it a weather warning and winds of 60mph. With no sign of abating on Saturday, the officials made the call to protect rider safety and cancelled Saturday's racing just 15 minutes before the gate was due to drop.
BMX racers are a hardy bunch though and with no racing the team took the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the town that the weather couldn't spoil. What followed was probably the best bike free day of the season with lots of laughs on the impromptu day off. Whilst it might not have been planned this way, the wind brought back the fun of a one day National weekend.
Sunday was back to business and the stakes were higher as the organisers decided to run the race as a double points round to make up for the Saturday cancellation. Going into the round the Gate 8 team were sitting in fourth place 87 points off third and out of the top 3 promotion spots. To close that gap would take something very special...
Normally we'd have a report of Saturday's racing here, but as there wasn't any, we headed into town instead! Here's a collection of photos of what we got up to in Bournemouth. It's fair to say that rain didn't stop play!
So it all comes down to this. After a long cold winter of training, broken bones, crashes, wins, losses and everything in between the season would be decided in single double points round...
First on track were the cruisers. Right from the off it was clear this was a track that suited Izzy and Adrian who were immediately on the pace. George, Jey and Miguel who prefer a more technical track, took a little longer to settle. Jo decided to ditch the cruiser and focus on the 20", a strategy that paid off as she progressed through to the semi final of the combined class but trailed her 30+ rival on points. She was joined by Izzy, who, despite crashing in her third moto was looking strong. Struggling with race fitness in his first event back, Adrian elected to focus on the cruiser after the second 20" moto - (unfortunately a last straight miscalculation saw him out of the cruiser final on count back).
On the 20" George held, lost, regained and finally lost fourth place ending his 20" challenge in the quarter finals. Haydon (who must be the fastest rider not to win a round this season) looked rapid again in the motos taking an early inside gate pick for the semi final. With no room for error in the ultra competitive class, a touch of bars with eventual winner Josh Moore saw him shuffled back to fifth and out of what would have been his sixth consecutive A final.
The layoff has suited Chris (who's been hitting the gym hard) and he took two wins out of three to progress to the final as favourite. Miguel also joined him but Jey would have to sit this one out after two painful crashes (and a nasty finger injury) put him out of contention.
The knockout rounds left the team with six finalists and needing four wins to secure promotion to the top flight elite competition in their first season, it was a just about possible...
First up was George on the cruiser, a strong lap, fifth. Jo was next and she duly took her third class win of the season. Next up Izzy and BOOM! The ride of her season saw her take her first National win since 2013. Awesome! Jey was next and for him it was second place behind the reigning National Champion (and Haydon's coach) Nate Parsons. The last final featured both Chris and Miguel. Miguel has won the series but today Chris has been on top. The final didn't play out as Chris hoped and he regretted an inside gate pick that saw him boxed and despite a late fight back he concede the win to his team mate.
Three wins and two second places meant the team finished the day on top and took their maiden National win. Bravo! With one win short of the target though, promotion was no longer in their hands and it would rely on their rivals dropping points to see them elevated for next season. We await the official results for confirmation but it looks like they have missed out by a hand-full of points after a Herculean effort to overhaul a seemingly impossible deficit.
It's been an amazing debut season and we'd like to thank all our riders, sponsors and partners for their help. 2020 will see a departure from Mongoose Bikes and a new frame sponsor along with an extended deal with Puls Race Wear. If you're interested in joining us for next season and think you've got what it takes to challenge for National Podiums, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for details of our supported rider programme.
Rider Rating: 8/10
Best race of the season so far, happy to come away with the win especially because it was done at the last round, ended up being double points & first season back. Finally felt myself on the bike, but still want that 20" main.
Rider Rating: 9/10
Had a wicked weekend as per usual. Felt good all day but didn’t go to plan in the final but it’s a learning curve.
Rider Rating: 4/10
Felt the best I had all year but a few mistakes cost me from getting into the final and fighting for a podium position and not the way I wanted to finish my season.
Rider Rating: 5/10
I missed training due to the crash in Zolder. Either way I won my class in the 20" wheel final which was good for the team points and that was the main goal in this race. First year national champion in UK makes me happy.
Rider Rating: 9/10
Gave it all till the end. Besides crashing twice on 20" and not making the main, I felt good fighting for every spot. Lost one spot on the 20" to finish 5th overall. Gained one on the cruiser to finish 2nd.
Rider Rating: 7/10
Felt a lot better today and good to concentrate on just one bike. Pleasantly surprised to be battling so closely with the younger girls. Great battle with Vanessa and happy to take the class win in the final and on the track.
Rider Rating: 6/10
First race back after injuring my wrist and felt good to be mostly pain free. Two bikes was a step too far in fitness terms and dropping the 20" was the right move. Gutted to miss out on the cruiser main on count back when I thought I'd done enough.
Rider Rating: 7/10
Frustrated to get boxed in and knocked out on the 20" when I was feeling good on the bike and not sure where I was losing time. The cruiser was solid and happy with fifth against a strong field.
Photo Credit: Billy Wright / BMX Talk / Riders Own