Here at TAGRide, we love bikes, all sorts of bikes.
Road bikes of course, but also mountain bikes, ones made to go up and ones made to go down, we even love bikes with motors(but don't tell anyone)! As long as they have two wheels we are good with it!!
So over the last few days, we’ve been enjoying some great mountain biking at both ends of the spectrum; Olympic xc and Red Bull Hardline.
So what have we learnt from the boys in lyric pedalling hard and the boys in full-face helmets hucking off cliffs?
Well at the Olympics we learnt Tom Pidcock is the real deal.
Was there ever any doubt?
Road cycling, cyclocross, World cup and now Olympic xc - the boy can do it all.
Aged 21 he has won the CrossCountry Olympic Gold medal after a superb performance amongst a stacked field.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider, who hails from Leeds and will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Friday is an incredible talent.
Even breaking his collarbone back in May in a training crash couldn't slow him down and he was back on the bike after a week. Who knows what he may have produced if he cycled in the Tour de Suisse and then the Tour de France as he was meant to?
To the race,
and as one would expect for the Olympics the competition was top class with a host of experienced riders with a shot at winning gold, including the formidable Swiss pair of Nino Schurter and Mathias Flueckiger, Tom Cooper, Koretzky and Andre Sink. All excellent and very experienced riders.
However, it was Pidcock who surged ahead of the two Swiss riders with 3 laps to go and made a concerted effort to gain some seconds and put some time into them.
Only Flueckiger was able to give chase and hold with him for a while but a slipped pedal would cost him time and from there, Pidcock never faltered.
He kept his cool and rode hard but safely to the finish. He even had the presence of mind and time to grab a Union Jack Flag from a spectator and drape it over his shoulders as he crossed the line!
The course was tough with serious climbs, tricky rock gardens and technical descents and a large jump. This jump ended Matthieu Van der Poel’s chances as he fell here and eventually pulled out of the race with a lap to go. He was obviously hurt and was holding his hip at the finish.
Andre Cink from the Czech Rep had a flat tyre on the last lap ending his hopes, which was unfortunate as he was going well.
A late surge from the Spanish rider Valero Serrano earned him the bronze medal. The silver was claimed by Flueckiger with his compatriot Nino finishing in 4th place and his first time out of the medals in 4 Olympics!
A phenomenal ride and huge congrats to Tom.
And from the boys going huge at Red Bull Hardline?
For those who don't know, Hardline, now in its 7th year, it is just as the name suggests. The toughest, hardest downhill course that trail builder Dan Atherton could conceive. Then, instead of just surviving it, he decided it should be raced against the clock! Lyrica and xc bikes are swapped for moto lids and the downhill rig(unless your Lewis Buchanon and a beefed-up enduro bike will do)
Dan has created a tortuous track in the Dyfi Valley to test the best riders in the world in the invitation-only event. With huge features, high speeds and tech sections that make some of the new breed of flow DH tracks look like a footpath. If you’ve never watched a run down the toughest race track in downhill mountain biking, jump on board with this year's winner Bernard Kerr!
This year's event was a classic and saw flat out, committed racing, a few hairy moments, no serious injuries(thankfully) and another win for Hardline specialist Bernard Kerr. Instead of us telling you what happened, watch how the action unfolded yourself.
At Red Bull TV
Now, going all a bit Hippie on you but….
for us, what is really unique about this event is the spirit the riders approach it. It's pretty clear to see what the consequences of getting this track wrong are.
There is a level of comradery between the competitors that you rarely see in an individual sport.
Like any other race, come finals, everyone is pushing to win and wants to be the fastest man down the hill.
But unlike most races, during the practice week, the riders work together and share all their knowledge and experience to get everyone not only safe and comfortable but up to speed on the track and the massive features.
Did no one tell them this was a race? (With a little prize money to be won)
I am guessing there's a lot to think about when you hit a 65 foot step down (I can only imagine). How much pop is on the lip, where's the sweet spot on the landing, how fast to hit it?? It’s a lot easier when that poor soul who first guinea pigged it will share all of that knowledge with you and will tow you in the first time you hit it!
Everyone knows downhillers don’t share line choices; we’ll at Hardline they do!
There are not many events where you would see the veteran and race favourite (Bernard Kerr) explain to the new wave of rookies, via a translator (once local to us, Morzine boy Kaos Seagrave) who also happens to be racing, how best to tackle the course they will all be racing each other on!
And the result of all this co-operation?
We got to watch 20 or so guys have an amazing race, lay down some wild runs and all with a massive smile on their faces! As happy for the run their mates laid down as their own. And remarkably, nobody died going over the berm at the bottom of the step-down or on any number of the other hideous parts of the track. So almost a race where everyone won.
So what have we learnt from a bunch of worryingly young, millennials with a disturbing disregard for their own safety?
Well, riding bikes is one of those, ultimately pointless things we are lucky enough to do in life, that actually is really important to us.
And like most things in life it's always better to do it with friends, do it with a smile on your face and whether you are first or last; at least you had a go!