The ATBA-UK competition season through the eyes of a new rider

Dale is new to the scene but has become a regular rider at comps and is getting himself known for his night riding. Let’s find out what he thought about this year’s ATBA-UK comps.

Dales mountainboarding season 2013 atbauk series 42013 was my first competitive season and it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I started Mountainboarding on a flimsy scrub board (skate trucks) in March 2012 and after a couple of months bought a MBS Comp 6 with Matrix Channel trucks and that’s when I started to love the sport. After about 9 months, just solo free riding Cleeve hill, and only really hearing about a couple of riders from videos, I decided to do a bit more digging and came across the ATBA-UK who were putting out event videos that looked gnarly.

When 2013 came around I was introduced to a few local riders by Roger Swannell, these being: Rhys Cowe (Former NoSno Team Rider), Mark Childs (Famous on Surfing Dirt for the Channel truck mod) and Clayton Coleman. These riders were very friendly and helped me learn lots of different techniques for Downhill! To this day we still do the occasional night ride, in the nearby area, and I love it.

Round 1 – Head Down

This leads me onto the start of my competitive season at Head Down in Hampshire. This was the first time I’d even seen a competition, let alone rode in one. The track was gnarly and steeper than I’d ever imagined. Despite coming last, I learnt the importance of hands down slides, what setups to use for technical downhill and more than anything, it scared me so much that ever since I’ve not been scared of any other track, which counts for a lot when competing, in my honest opinion.  This comp was also an amazing experience to watch Matt Brind vs James Wanklyn absolutely tear down, with only 1 second separating them, brakeless and fearless. I left this event feeling like a better rider but also anxious of my first ever Boardercross.

Round 2 – Hales

Dales mountainboarding season 2013 atbauk series 3Hales Superbole (Round 2) came around and I saw and rode the track and immediately fell in love. Before that I’d only ever rode the slow in comparison Bugsboarding track (my local). The night before the Boardercross, I got out my helmet  torch that I usually only used for free riding, and went down the track about 10 times to try and learn it. I also met Helena Baker & Matt Dougal at the bottom as they were taking a light trail exposure picture (think that’s the correct terminology) which looked incredible.

My first racing experience was so intense and despite 1st, 1st, 2nd in the qualifiers, I went out first knockout round. I knew I had to work on my pumping over rollers to keep up with the seniors and also learn to jump certain parts. I also met some more amazing riders, that I’d only ever seen in videos before. Watching the level of freestyle the following day was also mind blowing, especially Andy Brind getting down the ‘AB Flip’. I took a lot away from that weekend, especially high speed cornering and what lines to take during racing.

Round 3 – Badbury Clumps

Sadly I couldn’t make Round 3 because it happened to be on Father’s Day, but from the footage, I can see it being a yearly downhill, what with its gnarlyness and boardercross inspired berms! Can’t wait to ride it in 2014!

Round 4 – Ironsides

Dales mountainboarding season 2013 atbauk series 5Ask anyone about Ironsides Round 4 and they’ll say it was HOT. 31 degrees and rock hard ground as a result. I had my first ever go at a foam pit on the Friday which was a lot of fun but the Black track was riding incredibly fast and a little above my level if I’m honest.

Saturday came around and whilst practicing the black track (2nd run of the day) with Flavio (amazing Spanish rider I met at Cleeve hill for world Mountainboard day) I took the wrong line on the second main berm, fell, span and bashed my head. Mild concussion and a rock going through my hillbilly ass pads meant a badly bruised my tailbone. My weekend was over. That moment was quite scary, as it was the first time I was unable to get up from a fall and couldn’t even undo my own bindings. Apparently I also asked the first person to me where I was (I have no recollection). Fortunately five watchers rushed over and helped me down, then Roger watched over me for a few hours, what with the mild concussion, couldn’t be more thankful for that and the people helping me down/fetching things for me (you know who you are). Most riders commented ‘should of worn ass pads’, god knows what would of happened to my tailbone without them. Leaving Ironsides early that weekend was annoying but had to be done, I mostly learnt the importance of how bad you can come off from not knowing/using the correct racing lines. Every rider category except the Groms (crazy kids) then chose to race the less groomed and slower Orange track by vote, which was definitely a good decision for the majority of riders.

Round 5 – Bugs

Dales mountainboarding season 2013 atbauk series 2Round 5 was at my local centre, Bugsboarding. Only a 20 minute trip after work meant I got a bit of night riding in, even though I already knew the track like the back of my hand. Another amazing light trail picture was taken by Helena Baker and its always awesome hearing “who’s that rider riding the track at night?!”’. Yep, always me, more people seem to know now!

Boardercross on the Bugsboarding track was fun but still not a great track in comparison to the others. For the first time, I got through a close knockout round, with an overtake that had the rider I overtook hit the side of my board, on the second to last berm, I stayed up which was such a thrill. I saw this as progress! Being the last Boardercross of the season was a bit sad but next year I’m going to be even more excited for racing!

Round 6 – Dunkeld

Round 6 was in Dunkeld, Scotland and props to all the riders that went, a family event kept me away! That track reminds me of Whinlatter, Cumbria, which I mean to ride with Team DAD (NoSno Night Riders I mentioned earlier) later this year.

Round 7 – Llangollen

Dales mountainboarding season 2013 atbauk series 1The final round of the season was a Downhill in Llangollen, North Wales. Whilst a lot of UK riders were at the World Championships in Serbia, the turnout was quite small at around 20 riders. I wrote the report for this round, which you can also view on Remolition. In short, it was a great brake board track and required a lot of guts and endurance, something I need to improve via free riding this Autumn/Winter. I enjoyed this event the most because it felt more personal with fewer riders and less pressure. This round was also the first time I’d even used a brake and I knew the NoSno riders would have a nicer ride down. I learnt a bit about good braking points, such as not during a corner, and felt so much more relaxed riding it compared to my only other Downhill at Head Down, Round 1.

This concludes my personal season, I could write a tonne more about the awesome ATBA-UK events and other riders that I watched and competed against, but that’s probably best left for another time.

Overall my first season was enjoyable, I learnt more about riding in a short space of time and met most of what has to be the friendliest sport community in the UK. As a side note, Roger has now made me ATBA-UK South Central Representative and I’m excited about what that could lead to! I ride Cleeve Hill on an almost weekly basis and am always up for non solo riding/teaching etc. I leave you with this recent video of Breakers, one of the birthplaces of Mountainboarding and my favourite spot!

See you next season. :]