Todtnau IXS Cup + German National champs

The last time I had the fortune to come to the Black forest town of Totdnau in Southern Germany, it was for the final race of my first ever European season in 2012 and it’s fair to say that things didn’t go down overly smoothly, operating out of a 3 door car in the rain with no tent meant for a pretty sodden weekend. This coupled with the fact that my cardboard back protector didn’t really cut the mustard with the officials meant I had a hell of a time even getting to the start line, however the track had been fun and I knew that I could do well there given the chance, so this time around it was time to make business happen!

Course walk took place under the summer sun that I had been both looking forward to and dreading so much. If any of you don’t know, I have the skin tone of a ghost who hasn’t been out of the cupboard for a while, so while I love being in the warm I more often than not end up sunburnt…ah the joys of continuous summer, bring on skin cancer… Anyway, the track, much improved from 2012 I liked it from the outset, fast and rough, some pedalling and a fair few line choices I knew that this would suit my style and couldn’t wait to get my tires in the dirt!

Credit: Raffi DieWaldfee

After the flat tire disappointments of Schladming and fort William I was trialling a new system this weekend to keep the air on the inside of my tires, unfortunately due to my inexperience it took a little while to get everything set up which meant that I only managed to get two runs in on the Friday. That being said they were both good runs and the lines I had looked at in track walk were working well which gave me confidence for qualifying the next day.

Qualifying day started out great, I got four runs in during practice and was getting up to speed well, riding confidently, I could feel the off season training paying off and was really excited for qualifying later that day. I should point out here that with this race being the German national champs/IXS Cup there was no top 30 “Super Final” nonsense and everybody who started a seeding run had the chance to race for the same prize come Sunday afternoon.  But before that, and more importantly, we were once again going to be at the mercy of the afternoon thunderstorms that were forecast. Watching the clouds roll in, I hoped for the best but when I jumped onto the chairlift in what I thought was a gap in the rain bursts the clouds rolled in and I arrived at top sodden and cold, lovely.

Not letting this get me down and knowing that the forecast for the next day was for hot sun, I was sat in the start gate as the first Elite male down the hill after a race entry mix up. Happily the rain had abated by this point but I knew that the track was going to be ultra slippery. This turned out to be spot on, sliding all over the place; I managed to keep myself on track and came down with a good time of 3.53. After this, the sun popped back out and promptly went about drying out the track but my time held up quite well and I finished in 7th knowing that on the dry track the next day I had plenty of time to gain.

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Credit: Raffi DieWaldfee

Thankfully the weather forecast held true and the sun greeted me as I turned up to the track, wasting no time in getting up the hill, sneaking in two good runs before just missing out on a third. However I still managed to get up the lift so I took the chance to cruise down beside the track and look at how it was drying out and how hard I could push without sacrificing grip. With everything looking bone dry again it was all systems go and I couldn’t wait to get racing.

Sitting in the start hut I felt really confident, I knew where I was going and how fast I could go. When the beeps started I wasted no time in getting out and off down the hill. The run itself was a bit of a blur, I remember getting super sketchy a couple of times but I was carrying enough speed that my tires found grip and kept me going. One thing that does stick out in my memory from my run was about halfway down when I somehow managed to pop my top brace off my teeth, not quite sure how I managed that but it came as a hell of a surprise mid run!  Getting myself back in order, I knew the run was going well and after clearing the final corner I put in a big sprint for the finish line to be rewarded with a time of 3.33.47, 20 seconds up on my qualifying run and putting me into First place by 1.3 seconds.  I was pumped, that was a really good run and I felt confident I could jump up into the top 5 on the day.

Credit: Raffi DieWaldfee

Watching the other riders come down when you are sitting in the hot seat is such a nerve wracking time and this day was no different, as rider after rider came down and failed to go faster I found myself looking at a top 5 and then a top 3 finish. When the top qualifier Johannes Fischbach came into view it was still a pretty close though by the time he crossed the line he had just edged me into 2nd place by just .6 of a second. Nonetheless I am super happy with the result; to get second place at any National Championships is super hard as everybody goes just that little bit harder. Also the first podium of the season and to be so close to the win is a great feeling; it is so nice to finally get a reward for all the hard work that gets put in during the off season!


Now it’s time to take the confidence from this race and head into the next world cup in Lenzerheide this weekend ready to go and looking to improve on the 60th from Leogang a couple of weeks ago, see you all there!


Schladming IXS Cup 2015

#Notleogang , this hashtag has been used over the last few years by riders who have, let’s say “disapproved” of the nature of the Leogang World Cup track and the fact that just down the road lies one of the best downhill tracks that most people will ever ride. Even with the changes made to Leogang this year, there is just something about Schladming that just makes it rad and gets you excited to ride the infamous Planai trail long before you arrive. Driving into town this year was no different and we wasted no time in getting up the hill and laying our own fresh skids down the well worn trail.

If there is one thing you can count on in Europe, it is that the weather will play absolute havoc with both the state of the trail and (if you prefer to ride in dust like me) the state of your sanity. The rain that came down the day before practice meant that we were going to be in for a hell of a weekend as the 500 plus enthusiastic riders turned the track into one of the roughest rides on the circuit.

Practice went well for me, I have done a decent amount of riding in Schladming over the years and I had a fair idea where I was going from the start. A couple of runs in, lines picked and it was all about picking up the pace and riding consistently. The intermittent rain throughout the day helped to keep the roots nice and greasy but that only added to the fun! Finishing the day in high spirits, I was particularly glad for the off season training which was definitely helping to keep myself from wadding it into the numerous trees and chairlift poles that were scattered around the course.

Photo credit: Boris Beyer @maddogboris

Qualifying day, it seems weird to be saying that for an IXS race but for the 2015 season the organizers have made some “interesting” changes to the format of the races. Normally at an IXS you have a seeding run whereby the riders start in numbered order to get an idea of who is fast and who is struggling so that for the final run riders start in an order that better represents their speed on course.  Where you finish in this run isn’t normally super important because if you have a bad run you can figure out what went wrong and sort it for finals. However this year they have introduced something called the “Super final”, basically what that means is that they split the field into the top 30 qualifiers who get to race in the “Super final” and the rest of the pack who get to race in the “Small final”. Seems basic enough to understand but the problem is that if you have a crash or a mechanical and don’t make it into the top 30, no matter how good your run is in the finals the best position you can finish is 31st. This has certainly had its teething issues, at the first race, one of the top ranked riders who crashed and missed the cut for the top 30 promptly went and set the 2nd fastest time of the day but due to the way this system works he only finished 31t. I guess it promotes faster qualifying times but if you are going to allow everybody to race anyway (unlike a world cup where only the riders who qualify race) then at least allow everybody to race for the same prize.

Anyway, anxious to make it into the Super Final, I lined up on a rapidly drying track looking to have a smooth, clean run  that should hopefully see me through to the main show. I started as I had planned, hitting my lines cleanly and pretty smoothly, but after a reasonably complacent middle section  I got the feeling that I wasn’t quite going fast enough so started to push towards the bottom. This worked well until my back wheel squirted out of a rut and had me losing speed and pedals all over the show, I got going again and knew that mistake had cost me dearly after the cruisey middle section. Crossing the line in 7th, I knew that with 57 riders still to come I was going to be cutting it fine to get in the top 30. I slowly dropped down the order, eventually finishing 35th, 1.5 seconds out of the main event. Cursing myself for being too complacent in the middle section (even as I write this I am pissed just thinking about it) I reset my goals to at least being the fastest loser and taking out the small final (hopefully) with a time that would have me top 20 in the main event.

The steed ready for action!

Race day started out the same as any, 3 practice runs in the morning which were way too much fun, followed by a decent period of waiting around  before it was up to try and make the best of a bad situation. Surprisingly sunny and warm at the top, I was feeling surprisingly good myself and was keen to make a good go of things. Getting out of the gate well, I carried great speed through the first few sections and was feeling good for a decent time until disaster struck again. I felt the rock when it flicked up and hit my bike, I hoped for the best but unfortunately it was not to be and after losing the bottom part of my chain guide I felt the dreaded tire wallowing and within 5 seconds my rear tyre was, once again, flat. Furious at this, I kept on going for a bit until logic took over and, realising that I wanted to make it down the hill on my bike rather than walking, I relaxed and made sure I wasn’t in the way of the other riders coming down.

So, two flat tires in three races, both coming in crucial runs having not had any issues on both weekends beforehand, it’s time to bring out the tricks and put a stop to this flat tire bollocks! Check back in next week to see how that worked out for me at the German national championships at Totdnau!

Leogang World Cup 2015

Arriving in Leogang for my second race of the season to bright blue skies and warm temperatures was a far cry from cold and wet Fort William which left me in a much better mindset from the get go with things only getting better once we started our track walk. Gone were the boring  bike park turns and blown out trail, replaced instead with fresh lines waiting to be ridden which, After years of running the same bland and boring track  was a sight for sore eyes and would make for a much more enjoyable race.

Unfortunately though the sunny skies were about to disappear under the imposing cloud formations of your typical European thunderstorm, normally these systems blow or rain themselves out in about half an hour or so and this one didn’t last much longer but the amount of water that came down was seriously impressive. The photo below shows the aftermath of the rain and the lake that I found myself stranded in the middle of having hidden in the caravan to stay dry. Luckily while the amount of water that came down was ridiculous, the storm itself was short lived and having moved on we were in for three days of almost perfect racing weather.

Credit: Mother Nature

Having woken up and gone down to the track for practice, I couldn’t wait to head up the hill and start riding. Once I got into it, the first thing that became clear was that the track rode much, much better than the previous years and also that the new sections were really bloody difficult! I can only compare that first run to making dinner; you do everything you think you should to make it work, but at the end of the day the best option is to just chuck it all in and hope for the best. Luckily with the drying conditions the woods got easier throughout the day and after picking my line quite early on, I focussed on riding consistently in as many sections as possible so that when qualifying came around, I had no doubt in my mind about where I was going  or how I was going to get there.

Credit: Raffi DeWaldfee

Qualifying is always the most important day of the weekend. The pressure is huge for riders like me, the competition just to make it to Sunday’s race is outrageous and Leogang is the toughest nut to crack. A central location to most of Europe, the highest numbers and the tightest racing mean that nothing is certain until the last rider is down.  After good practice runs in the morning, I knew that I could make the top 80 cut and nothing less was going to satisfy me no matter how many riders were there.  My run started well, I had a good top section which helped to calm the nerves and by the second split I had made my way from 87th up to 65th and pushing hard in the bottom section. 10 seconds before the finish line I came across a red flag and slowed up a little to make sure nothing was in my way, theoretically I should have stopped but having seen clear track in front of me all I was thinking about was the finish line and that top 80.  Crossing the line in 67th, I knew I had lost a second and a half to the red flag and so was asked by the officials if I would like a re-run.  This gave me a huge dilemma. If I took the re-run I would have lost the run I just completed, leaving me open to missing the top 80 if I was to have a crash or a problem, but on the other hand, if I missed the top 80 because I didn’t take the re-run that would be a hard pill to swallow.

Credit: Sebastian Scheick

After discussing my options with a several people, I chose to keep my time and not risk crashing out of the finals. This resulted in one of the most nerve wracking waits I have ever had, however when it was all run and done I was lucky enough to slip into 78th position and into the finals the next day!

Credit: Sebastian Scheick

After all the excitement of the Saturday,  going up for Sundays practice seemed just like any other day riding, I was enjoying myself and having fun, the sun was gone but the rain was holding off and the track was fully dry which made life much easier. I did three practice runs before heading back up the hill nervous and excited for my start. Sitting in the start gate I was ready and as soon as the beeps started I was out of there like a rat up a drainpipe. Dropping in, my first thought was how much rougher the track was compared to practice and the second was why don’t I ride like this all the time!  I had a good top split followed by a few issues in the woods, but a good middle section and feeling fit coming into the bottom so things were looking good! After one very near miss near the bottom I came into the section where I had the red flag during qualifying only to see a red flag waving at me again. Luckily this time I could see that the track was clear and so after a quick dab of the brakes to double check I dropped in across the line and completed my first ever clean World Cup finals run. It seems ridiculous to say that it took me 3 ½ years to complete a clean run but that is the truth and I was more than glad to get that monkey off my back.

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Credit: Gianluca Vernassa

As the top guys came down I would eventually drop down and finish in 60th position, a good improvement on my qualifying of 78th and a result that is a good start, but certainly something to improve on and work from for the next races. This weekend we stay in Austria to head to Schladming for an IXS cup before the German National Championships the following weekend. Stay tuned to keep up with everything that is going on and see you at the next one!

Fort William World Cup 2015

The first race of any World Cup season is always a nervous one, especially when you are thrust into the unforgiving world of the Scottish highlands, namely Fort William and its rugged weather.  This is a track that is certainly not for the faint of heart, 5 minutes of fast, rough and muddy trail that has seen more than its fair share of drama during the last 15 or so years that it has been a World Cup venue. 2015 was to be no different with its fair share of ups and downs but that is getting ahead of myself a little so let’s take it back a couple of months or so.

After sorting out my ride for this year with Team Racing Dudes, I was anxious to get a chance to ride my new downhill bike (the YT Industries Tues) before I headed over to the Scotland and the World Cup. Luckily for me, Erik and the guys at YT were more than accommodating in getting a complete bike sent out to me in no time at all leaving me with a huge smile of my face when the boxes arrived and I got a chance to put everything together!

From the first ride I felt comfortable and knew that this was going to be a bike that I could ride fast on. Matching my riding style, the bike likes to pop around the trail and yet is both a good pedaller and can more than hold its own in the rougher sections of even the toughest tracks. It is quite hard to find a bike that has all these characteristics together and so I knew I was onto a good one from the get-go!

Credit: Matt Silcock/ Digital Flight Productions
Credit: Matt Silcock/ Digital Flight Productions

Fast forward to Fort William and having this practice time in New Zealand made bike setup a breeze, simply transferring the settings from my NZ bike to my European bike was a piece of cake and soon I had the steed feeling exactly how I liked it. An hour or two later and I was ready to go and tame the mighty Aonach Mor (Scottish for the mountain that the race track is on). Upon first inspection the track looked to be exactly the same as years before, and short of a few quick (but tricky) changes in the woods and some more height on the jumps down the bottom it was largely unchanged. This turned out to make life easier as the inclement weather would cause havoc with the practice sessions later in the weekend, but more on that later.

It is worth mentioning here that in the previous 3 years, Fort William had treated us riders well with the weather but it appeared that our luck had run out this week with freezing temperatures, high winds and cold, cold rain……all week. Not to be deterred we saddled up for practice day, and despite the freezing temperatures, I managed to get up to speed quickly on the track and felt really good by the end of practice having been able to ride most of my lines based off the previous years racing. This was a much needed confidence booster and I was looking forward to riding my YT into qualifying the next day.

Credit: Sebastian Scheick

This is the point where Fort William decided to throw a rather large spanner in the works and give us 100 kilometer and hour winds and torrential rain, which, after much deliberation, left the organizers with no real option other than to pull the pin on the qualifying run to keep everybody safe and postpone qualifying to the Sunday morning with racing in the afternoon. This was met with relief from most of the riders as the weather was truly miserable and nobody wanted to be out on the hill in that mess.

Credit: Sebastian Scheick

The downside of this decision though was a 5am wakeup call on Sunday so we could get to the track for group B practice at 6.30 for Erik. With the winds slowly abating it left a wet, but certainly more manageable track for everybody and after a short 45 minute practice session, it was back to the van to get ready for an unusually early qualifying run of 11am.

Credit: Sebastian Scheick

The warm up at the top of the hill was one of the coldest I have ever experienced, the winds hadn’t fully dissipated and temperatures not much above zero made the turbo warm up even more important. This was followed by a very quick ride to the start hut and couple minutes of sheltering before the familiar beeps started and I was off and into my first qualifying run of the season looking for a top 80 result to get me into the finals later in the day.

The start was solid, strong pedalling out of the gate and smooth through the first turns, I took some time to have a quick rest on the bridges and then it was into the rocks. Going through the first split in 75th meant I was taking things a bit cruisey but I picked up the pace in the middle section and was feeling really good coming into the wooded section.  Having had at least 200 riders through it between my last practice run and my qualifying I should have anticipated the change in conditions probably a bit better than I did but after seemingly going halfway home to New Zealand and back through some of the larger holes littering the track, I somehow popped out the other side of the woods with a smile on my face and only 1 ½ minutes of track separating me and the finals!

Credit: Sebastian Scheick

It was only once, then twice while pushing through the corners that I noticed that something didn’t feel right at the back of my bike. After this it only took a few seconds and my rear tyre was completely flat and, with a minute and 15 seconds of pedalling to go I knew this was going to be the end of my day.  I’m not sure which place I was in when I crossed the line , all I knew was that after a solid run I was going to miss out on the finals due to my own mistake in incorrectly fitting the tubeless tires (which, for the record, is NOT happening again). Ending up in 124th place is not where you want to finish at the first WC of the season but with good split times and confidence on the bike,  I know that next weekend in Leogang is going to be different!

So with the first race done and dusted, I have to make a special mention to thank Erik and Harriet for making the long drive up to London from Germany to get me and to Erik and YT for getting my bike and gear ready for the first race with no stress involved whatsoever. Also I have to say a big thanks to my coach back in New Zealand, Adrian Armstrong, without him I would not be anywhere near as ready physically for these races so thank you to him and everybody else involved back in New Zealand (Mum, dad and Alex too!)  for getting this season up and running, let’s go racing!

The Blog is back for 2015!

Hi there!

After taking an extended leave of absence, I am very happy to say that for the 2015 international racing season, Racing for my dinner is back in action bringing you race reports and other adventures from my travels as a downhill mountain bike racer.  For the 2015 season I have been lucky enough to secure the comprehensive support of Team Racing Dudes. A German team, it is run by a friend of mine called Erik Irmisch and we are supported by a whole host of great companies and people who you can (and should) check out on the support page on this blog.

To keep this short, I will be posting race updates/reports after each weekends racing and also the odd media post. For real time updates you can follow us on Facebook (TeamRacingDudes) and myself on instagram (@bryn_dickerson) and #teamracingdudes.


So come along for the ride and let’s see where this season goes!