As the 2014 season draws to an end it’s time to reflect on another great season supported by Wheelbase.co.uk and the Kona Super Grassroots programme. It’s been a season of highs and lows with Andy on the road to recovery following his serious double breakage of his wrist in 2013 and Dan in his final year as a Junior.
The season really took off in June with two World Cups and two rounds of the British Downhill Series (BDS). Dan was coming into form having smashed the field by eight seconds at the Bala round of the Pearce series and Andy was still struggling to fight off his injuries. Ae Forest BDS proved to be a difficult race with Andy finishing 19th from a field of 50 Seniors and Dan a disappointing (by his standards) 18th in Juniors following a crash.
From Ae it was a relatively short trip North to Fort William for the World Cup round where Dan had the honour of wearing the GB jersey once again. The atmosphere at Fort William is something else and the site and sound of thousands of spectators cheering Dan into the finish arena is something I will never forget. Andy was providing much needed tech support and Fort William loved up to its reputation for smashing wheels which kept him busy. Dan placed 12th just missing out on a top 10 finish. The Leogang World Cup round followed straight on from Fort William and Dan put in a great qualifying run to place 8th and couldn’t quite match that in the race with a 15th place finish from 72 starters.
From Leogang it was the long drive back to Cumbria followed by round 4 of the BDs at Llangollen (5th), and a brilliant 4th place finish at the National Champs at Innerleithen. Andy had been suffering injury issues and so missed out on those two races.
By now the season was in full flow and it was time for a euro road trip taking in Pila ixs European Cup, Meribel World Cup finals and the Portes Du Soleil. Pila in the Aosta valley in northern Italy turned out to be an amazing setting for a race. Dan finished 9th in Juniors against a field of World Cup riders while Andy decided not to race while his wrist was still healing.
The road from Pila to Meribel was short but eventful, taking in the St Bernard pass, one of the roads used in the original Italian Job! Meribel was a stunning location for the climax of the World Cup season; the unanimous verdict amongst the riders was that the French had delivered a track with a near perfect mix of natural and groomed features. Dan had ridden well in practice but a crash in his qualifying run meant that he missed out on the race, not a great way to end the World Cup season but a brilliant experience nonetheless.
After Meribel it was off to Bike Park Wales for the final BDS finals. Andy put in another solid performance finishing 27th while Dan went off track ruining his chances and ended up 40th.
Andy has been gradually recovering all year and so took the opportunity to go to Fort William at the end of September for the final round of the Scottish Downhill Series. Despite catching and having to overtake two riders he managed to finish 15th in a field of 79 Seniors, a good result and one that took him over the 100 British Cycling points needed for 2015 BDS qualification.
Dan will be moving up from Juniors for 2015; he is sitting in 7th place in the national rankings with the season finishing at the end of October. Dan has a filming project in progress with Robbie Giles Media showcasing local trails and both have a lot of training planned over the winter. The van has covered nearly 10,000 miles going to races this year so will be getting some much needed tlc over the winter too!
Dan and Andy would like to thank Toby Dalton at Wheelbase.co.uk and Ben Gaby at Kona UK for providing the brilliant Kona Supreme Operators that have worked faultlessly throughout the season.