Saturday morning dawned bright up at Atherton HQ – the snow was melting, the sky was blue and a light breeze blew– an unbelievably good start to the day after the atrocious weather of the last 3 weeks!
After a hearty breakfast up at Lake Vrynwy Hotel we welcomed the competition winners to Atherton HQ for a tour of the workshop and gym and to choose their rides for the day. Rachel’s mechanic Andy Lund was on hand to help with the set up and Team Chef Tim brought the lunch – with some awesome chocolate brownies!
The four winners were:-
Matthew Wells from Leeds.
Matt’s been riding for 6 years, Mainly Downhill with a bit of road for training. He usually rides a Banshee Legend.
Lukas Fels from Germany.
Lukas has been riding for 2 and a half years, he rides a Kona and his favourite tracks are Winterburg, Boppard and his home trails but he hasn’t been getting out much – this would be his first ride since October!
Chris Johnson from Halifax.
Chris has been riding for 17years – he’d never ridden an uplift before but he confessed that the scariest part about the day for him was not the tracks we had in store but phoning his missus to tell her how much he was enjoying her birthday! At home he rides a Commencal.
Filip Vaessen from Belgium
Filip got his first mountainbike aged 16 – but it was stolen just a few months later! – A spell on the roadbike followed, then injury, but at 21 he reverted to MTB. For the last 15 years Filip has spent most weekends riding with Mark Maurissen (Marc Beaumont’s mechanic) so he’s heard lots about Atherton Racing – and still wanted to come!
Before we let the guys loose up at Caersws we put them through the Max power test on the turbo – our competition winners all smashed it – Cor and Rudy from Shimano MTB had a go too!
But the highlight of the weekend had to be Saturday afternoon in the sun riding a dusty Caersws. Matt described being chased down by Dan and Gee and feeling really comfortable hitting some tight corners at speed. He said “The bike handled amazing in both the loose and tight corners, keeping grip when you’d think there was none there. A great day full of surprises from start to finish.
Chris agreed, “… absolutely perfect! I gained confidence that I can go to other downhill tracks and not be too out of my depth. As for the Athertons, they made lines and rough tech parts look so smooth and controlled, very impressive to watch. I also admired Filip for stepping up and doing the first road gap at the top of the track as the landing was straight into a tight berm.
Having never ridden a downhill bike before it was amazing how you could change your line choice a little and attack the tech root sections with confidence knowing that the bike would suck it up and spit you out the other side with speed and a huge grin! The last run I committed to the last smaller road gap jump before the trees and albeit with a slightly sketching landing, it took it really well and I managed to hang on – the Fury inspired confidence to just have a go!
Lukas said “Gee, Rachel and Dan are very likeable they got right in with the group and were really encouraging. It was brilliant to get more flow in my riding and improve my technical skills. But probably the best bit was for me when I jump the first big road gap, I crashed but the airtime was amazing – I felt (excuse this word) fucking fantastic!”.
Filip sent an amazing report which you can read in full over on our facebook page but we’ll also let him have the last word here as he seems to speak for everybody…
“The entire concept was spot on. It reflects perfectly how seriously Shimano take this industry. There was no time-table pressure so
every activity flowed in another, bottom line, I want to thank everybody who made this possible, but in particular Gee, Dan and Rachel and last but not least Dan Brown, Cor van Leeuwen and Rudy Bouwmeester,for all the gift’s and the hospitality for these 48 hours of fun.
Number “44” will always bring back great memories.
You made the boy in this man very happy!!”
All photos copyright Irmo Keizer.