New Blonde on the Block: The Muddy Catwalk - 07/05/2015
So this is now my second blog post. Might as well go full steam ahead.
Last time I touched on the matter of lady riders and how I am all for women doing men's sports. We should be showing them how its done frankly! I shall make a smooth transition now, onto the matter of style.
As with many sports, fashion is a key point in the participation of said sport. If the uniform appeals, the activity appeals.
In the disciplines of off-road motorcycling, I have learnt that there are vast differences in what is stylish and what isn't. This being something I have learned from day 1 in horse riding. The show-jumpers would never been seen dead in dressage type kit and god forbid you wear anything with a little show-jumping bling around the eventing circuit!
But as I discovered on my very first outing to an Enduro paddock the very same concept applies.
All around me where the muted, subtle blue, black and grey Klim kits associated with function over vibrancy. The well worn but cared for Sidi boots which are as comfortable as they are hard wearing were pacing around, watching other riders take different lines at a corner, while the Shoei crash helmets sat ready on the side lines, in anticipation of the long hours of riding ahead.
There were bladder hydration packs being filled and spokes being tightened. The variation of the pro's having a last minute pep talk with the coach, to the “not quite so pro” doing a last minute flap about because he has the wrong number on!
All of these paled slightly in comparison to the bright colours surrounding you at your local motocross meeting! Bling is the word of the day for these folks, from their intricate graffiti style graphics to the latest in fluorescent motocross shirts and pants.
Neither is the lesser in style or function. Both display the best quality in kit that their finances will allow given they intend to spend the majority that they can on their bike!
The next bunch of riders I visited at a meeting where the trials riders. Here are your dressage riders of the bike world. They focus on the slow and steady power along with skill to achieve their feats. These include massive hill climbs, logs, steps and nasty jagged rocks to negotiate. And to do this they wear, for want of a better word, lycra. Is it the manoeuvrability, is it less wind resistance, or is it purely comfort? Either way they must have a decent amount of confidence in themselves to straddle a bike wearing it. Let alone face the sheer rock face that a pro tackles on a daily basis.
Even though it is not a fast moving sport to watch it isn't without its danger by any means!
The dramatic crashes you see in the fail videos online these days are a standard example of the smash ups that happen on the motocross track.
Take away the mass of other riders and add trees in their place and you can recreate the obstacles experienced in an enduro lap. And believe me, many a rider has hit an unsuspecting tree in their day!
Then add on top of that a few sharp rocks, streams, waterfalls, vertical climbs, logs and maybe a metre high step or 2 and you have trials. Also apparently its not only the riders which face the danger, spectators should stay on their guard too because you never know when Sam Connors is going to throw his bike up a hill, let go and have it bounce straight in your face and knock you to the ground! No I did not appreciate it, I will be standing well back next time I see you in the vicinity!
I may well be describing here just the one type of enduro/motocross/trials rider and of course there are always exceptions. We all have our own taste and as ever there is always the “All the Gear, No Idea” chaps who wish to go out and have fun and look damn good while they do it.
Frankly if you are comfortable wearing something and it fits its function, why the hell not!
So slap on your diamonte studded helmets and add tassels to your handle bars. Flames down the side and “Go Faster” stripes always help too!
With sponsored riders in all of these disciplines, we cater for all obviously and the wide variety of clothing, parts and spares and all the little fiddly bits baffle me. Thankfully we have our highly trained and experienced sales staff on hand to answer any question a customer (or I) has.
As you can probably tell the garden machinery customers are an entirely different ball game altogether. At least one thing can be for sure though...they wont be wearing lycra!
My BEC at Helmsley by Rhian George - 06/05/2015
"Day one after the first test I had a good lead. Then disaster struck when I missed a marker and ended up getting to the check a different way than I was supposed to. I was sent back to ride what I'd missed only to find myself riding what I'd already done again. I'm pleased to say I was not the only rider to make this mistake. So the 6 min lead I had was lost and put me in way behind. I carried on and one by one I caught all the girls in my class to take the win for day 1.
Day two spelled bike problems. It kept stalling and being on the camber meant that when the bike stalled I would fall off so I was picking the bike up a lot on Sunday. I got to the Enduro test but again the bike stalled before the first corner. So with the clock ticking I pushed the bike back to the start of the test to get my bag and decided to change the spark plug. I got back into the test dropping another 10 minutes on my test time and 8 minutes on the check. So I was at the back, again. I carried on for points and caught the girls up again. I saw Glesni at the bottom of the camber and knew she wasn't getting back up so I had the lead again. I think I won the second day by over 25 minutes in the end. So it wasn't a smooth running weekend but I got the result. Also got a very good extreme test time which would put me up with the top clubman riders! So the bike is now fixed it was full of water but all sorted now ready for the MX this weekend.
Big thanks to Freestyle for their support and all my sponsors. Cant wait to get back out there again asap!
By Rhian George
British Enduro Championship round 3 & 4 by Wyn Hughes - 05/05/2015
"Friday morning and Wyn Hughes was headed for Helmsley in Yorkshire,for the British Enduro Championship round 3 and 4. The weather was looking glorious. Having walked the track we were feeling confident. The lap was approx 25 miles long with 2 special tests, one 5.5 minutes and one 3 minutes long.These included all sorts of logs, stumps and roots just to make it that much more challenging.
We had two Freestyle riders competing this weekend, Joe Wotton and Rhian George. They spent most of the day walking the special tests to get their heads in the game and stay focused. Late afternoon they both got their bikes through scrutineering and signed on.
Saturday we again awoke to nice blue skies and a 10am start. The day had 4 laps and 8 special tests in store for Joe in the championship class and 3 laps for Rhian.
Joe posted a class win on the first test and 7th overall. He then continued his day as he started with a class win and 5th overall. Rhian also posted fastest lady and went on to finish the day with a class win, even after making a wrong turn out on course!
Sunday was a wash out with a 9am start. The championship riders were doing just 2 laps today and Rhian had just 1.
Joe was second in his class after test 1 but managed to find his momentum and finish the day with a win and 6th place overall, behind 3 World champion winners and 2 European champions. Rhian added to the success by posting some fantastic times to bring home the win again in the Ladies."
By Wyn Hughes
Many thanks as ever to all our sponsors and supporters and always a thank you to everyone who helped organise and run the events.
Maxxis ProMX at Canada Heights by Mitch Lewis - 04/05/2015
"Saturday afternoon we arrived at Canada Heights with the Freestyle team to setup camp for the weekend. That evening we got our bikes scrutineered, noise tested and signed on ready for Sunday. Having walked the track we were pleased to find despite the last few days wet weather the conditions were perfect. We then had more rain over night but it didnt dampen our spirits. I went to the line for qualifying Sunday morning for the pro mx2 class feeling nervous with excited energy. After qualifying 23rd I was pleased but the track had turned mildly moist with some soggy areas. These would eventually dry up later in the day so I wasnt worried.
Lining up for race 1 we welcomed the sunshine which would stay with us for the rest of the day thankfully! I didnt get a great start and got boxed in at the first corner but I knew I had work to do. It was a good hard race and I had a final finish of 19th.
A mid pack start in race 2, worked my way to finish 14th which I was quite happy with and the bike was running brilliantly. Went to the line feeling a little tired for race 3. Arm pump was starting to take its toll and I realised I need to up my training and strength to run with the pros. But after another mid pack start I finished 14th.
This gave me a final result for the day of 15th which for my first MX2 class I was very pleased. After each race it was great to return to team camp, as my base for the weekend. Huge thanks to the team Colin, Sue and Joe from Freestyle who kept the bike tip top for all races. At the end of the day, we packed up camp to team banter all a little tired but buzzing. Im very much looking forward to the next round at Hawkstone Park."
By Mitch Lewis
We would like to thank all our sponsors as usual and of course everyone who helped out and organised these events
New Blonde on the Block: First Toe in the Water - 29/04/2015
So I started at Freestyle 2 years ago now. I may have grown up with a bike obsessed father but to me, the thrill was on four legs. With 2 daughters both inheriting the love of everything equine, my father soldiered on alone with his sport of motocross, not in the slightest bit downhearted. My mother spent her mornings and evenings “playing horses” (as he liked to call it) with my sister and I while he was left to his own devises “tinkering” (as we liked to call it) and working on his plans for a new age of off-road motorcycle shopping.
We watched from our own high horses as he raced his bike around the fields, our ponies were always completely nonplussed about the roar of engines and the smell of exhaust fumes which where the norm around our place. He would take us both on the front of his bike with him and zoom around up the steep hills and over man made jumps all before health and safety got the better of us.
He eventually delighted in watching us compete our horses, finally succumbing to the fact that a beating heart always won over a thumping engine in our minds but that was no reason why he couldn't get stuck in to winning.
As we grew up we took our separate paths with both horses and life in general and I found myself in the world of horse racing. The sound of the pounding hooves, the thrill of the excitable horses both young and experienced took hold of me and soon I was riding in races with my father on the sidelines screaming his lungs out cheering!
As much as I loved the lifestyle of getting up at the crack of dawn in freezing weather and the pitch black of morning it wasn't something for the rest of my life. So when my father came to me offering a position in the family business of Freestyle, I was intrigued.
Originally starting out running the new coffee shop, my role has grown and evolved into marketing manager for the entire business including the garden machinery and both branches. However this obviously has not in any way been without challenges and stumbles along the way!
So this is my blog all about the journey of learning the bike world from an outsider where I discover the ins and outs of the social circle of off-road bikes, the racing, the shopping, the engines and the speed bumps along the road. Even though I have yet to give in to the weekly jibes of “When you getting on a bike then?” which I then give a quick return right hook with “When you get on my race horse”, I do my best to take in what I can about the “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow” engine routine... Speaking of which, they might be doing their best to dumb down the intricate systems of the inner mechanisms of an automotive engine, but they could have come up with something with a little less innuendo...
As a young woman used to competing in a man's world it still surprises me sometimes by how many still believe these sports are for men. Horse racing is a tough sport which many understand as being dominated by the male gender but it is one of few sports where men and women are able to compete on even ground.
Motocross, Enduro and Trials are similar case's where men and women are put on the line next to each other, both ride the same course and the fastest/best score is the winner. End of. Although there are classes and championships taken from women's results the actual competing is done alongside the men.
In my opinion there should be no question as to whether women should be included in the final scores. In many cases I've seen us girlies beat a lot of the top competition but when we do there is always amazement. There may be fewer than us, but why should there be?
So I urge you ladies, get yourself a bike! Its fantastic exercise, apparently its good fun although I am not up for finding out for myself just yet, and damn girl those men find it sexy! What's more irresistible than a girl who can kick your a** at such a manly sport.
Especially one where you can incorporate the phrase “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow”...!
Job Vacancy at Wales branch of Freestyle - 24/04/2015
Due to the success of our Wales branch which opened in July 2014 we are currently looking for a new member of staff for part time hours to possibly go full time eventually.
Based in Newtown, Powys our store in Wales has had massive success in its 10 months of being open. Managed by Wyn Hughes, 9 time British Enduro Champion and this wife Tracy we are looking for a new member to join the Freestyle team to handle admin and sales.
South Eastern Centre Motocross Championships round 2 by Mitch Lewis - 21/04/2015
"This weekend was the South Eastern Centre championship round 2 held by GEST MCC Club at the Iden Circuit situated near Rye.
Gest was the first club I raced for at the age of 6 years old, so it was nice to return to where it had all started and see some familiar faces in the paddock. On arrival the weather was bright and fresh. We signed on and were scrutineered for hopefully a great days racing.
Practice/Qualifying - Me and my Freestyle FC250 Husqvarna were feeling as one and ready for the challenge. Qualified pole position in the expert class. Happy and looked forward to the first race. The Course was prepared to a good standard, even though it was a little tight and twisty.
There was a slight delay for race 1 due to a previous accident but we eventually set off. I didnt get a great start coming around in 6th place. But I made some good passes and went into the lead. Finishing a winner.
Much Better start for race 2, coming round in 3rd. Unfortunate back brake locking on issue, held us back finishing 3rd.
I got the best start of the day in race 3, finding the holeshot. Pushing hard to break the pack, but had an unfortunate off and finished 2nd.
The day was finished with a 2nd overall, with some good points and we are now leading this championship.
I would like to thank the team at Freestyle Bikes and Husqvarna for there continued help and support. I would also like to thank HM Racing for there suspension setup which was working well. Thanks to a strong family unit this would not be possible.
Onto Blaxhall Pitts this weekend, but can’t wait for my first pro MX2 race in the Maxxis British Championship held at my favourite track Canada Heights."
Many thanks from us to all our sponsors and those who helped officiate and organise these events
Freestyle Motocross rider
Freestyle at the British Enduro Championship by Wyn Hughes - 13/04/2015
"Easter weekend was the first round of the British enduro championship, held in Lossiemouth Scotland. After a mere 9 hour drive we set up camp for the weekend. Friday morning we woke to fine drizzle.
Our two Freestyle riders for the weekend were Joe Wootton and Rhian George who were both recovering from injuries but were raring to prove they were back in business. Joe had only been back riding for two weeks after partially dislocating his shoulder, and Rhian had a mammoth crash 2 weeks ago knocking herself out and suffering some back injuries. We spent a lot of Friday walking tests and making final adjustments to the bikes. The course was a 22 mile lap with a 5-6 minute test. This looked a very demanding course and rumour had it that it was going to be tight on time. Both riders were concerned as to how their injuries were going to hold out but were looking forward to it nonetheless. Saturday started at 10am with Joe facing a six hour day and Rhian slightly less. Today was a day they both needed to get under their belt. A tough day even for the fittest of riders. Joe posted some steady times and finished the day with a 1 minute time penalty, bringing home a finish of 2nd in the E3 class for the day and 14th overall in the Elite class. Rhian however had a 4 minute time penalty but easily won the ladies class despite this. Early to bed to rest there weary bodies Saturday night ready for an even earlier start on Sunday. We woke to fine sunshine Sunday morning. One lap less for each class but the check times were still very tight for all. Joe scraped through the day with no penalties holding on to his 2nd in class for day 2, and 12th overall. Rhian getting a second wind and boost to her confidence brought home the win again for day two. Well done to both riders for getting through the exhausting weekend. On behalf of Freestyle and our riders we would like to thank all our sponsors for their continued support."
Wales branch Manager, and 9 times British Enduro Champion
Trials British Championship Rounds 1 & 2 - 23/03/2015
So Saturday was round 1 of the British Trials Championship at Hookwoods.
It was a tough opening round with the rocky course causing a few problems throughout the day but it was a well organised event and an enjoyable day for all. None of the Freestyle riders were in attendance unfortunately but we sponsored a high profile section and had a feature in the programme.
It had a number of the top riders jockeying for first position until the end but it was James Dabill who came out on top, closely followed by Michael Brown and Sam Haslam.
There was a great effort made and some fantastic riding by some of the local boys with Jonny Starmer winning the experts class, Ben Morphett in second and Tom Minta in third.
Sunday was round 2 at Butser Limeworks. It was another tough event with a very well set out course. A lot of riders found the terrain challenging as the results showed.
The Championship class was again won by James Dabill on the new Vertigo bike. with Brown and Haslam bringing in 2nd and 3rd again.
The Experts class was won Dan Thorpe, 2nd was Thomas Hooper and Tom Affleck in 3rd.
Freestyle riders Simon "Birdie" Bird and Ashley Newbery were in attendance at Butser and both had a very good result inside the top 10!
The steep climbs and slipperly banks suited them well and they finished the day 8th and 9th in a very competative class beating a number of very skilled riders.
As usual we would like to thank all our sponsors and all who helped organise and officiate at both events.
The Tough One by Ben Wibberley - 12/03/2015
"Well this isn't called "The Tough One" for no reason. An event of rocks, tyres, logs, cars, lorry trailers, massive uphills and even bigger downhills!! This event is most definitely not for the faint hearted!
Saturday 7th March at Nantmawr Quarry in Wales. The original home of The Tough One after a year at Hawkstone Park last year. Lucky for me is fellow Freestyle rider Joe Wootton lives 20 minutes down the road so this is where we stayed Friday evening.
The race didn't start till 3.45pm on Saturday so there was no rush in the morning and it gave me a chance to watch the Sportsman and clubman race's and see a few different lines for the afternoon. The only trouble is that after 4hrs of racing, the rocks and previously dry, grippy parts of the course where then like ride riding on ice.
At 3.45 I was stood at the bottom of track waiting for the flag to drop. A Le Mans inspired start meant running 200 metres uphill which was seriously hard going. There were a number riders tripping over half way. I just concentrated on staying on my feet and keeping steady. I got to my bike about 6th place and the 2.5hrs race had begun.
It was beautiful sunshine (didn't think this ever happened in Wales) and I got off to a fast start.
The first part of the lap wasn't too extreme with a bit of woods, fast flowing fields and a few naggery rocks. The tough part came when you enter the lower part of the quarry.
The big hill wasn't too much of a problem going up but the dissent was awful, about 100 metre drop and very rooty. Creeping over the edge of it and being as steady as possible was the idea but after the top part there was no option apart from letting it roll and stopping at the bottom somewhere without hitting the trees on the way down. Unfortunately a pro rider hit a tree and knocked himself out for 15 minutes. Luckily he made a full recovery but I never found out any more of the story.
Following this was tractor tyres, man made logs and rock gardens including the main big rock garden. This was energy draining and I'd like to thank a friend Cliff Barnett who helped pull me through when I was struggling. The lap ended with jumping out of the lorry trailer over a London black cab.
After the second lap I was in 2nd place in the Experts and going well, but after an hours riding I started to tire.
Making mistakes and a few crashes dropped me to 6th place eventually and 19th overall. Still a good result but there are improvements to be made. I could see the difference in myself to Jonny Walker and Graham Jarvis. They are so fit and fast and they start fast and can keep that pace all the way through. Both amazing riders and true champions of the sport.
The bike was amazing and didn't miss a beat. Big thanks to Freestyle, my dad and all the sponsors who support me as well as all spectators who helped pull us all through when we were at the end of our tethers! I will definitely be back next year to give it another go! Next stop is Erzberg on the Extreme calendar for me."
Many thanks to Ben for this race report and we wish him loads of luck at Erzberg!