Val Di Sole

I always enjoy going to Val Di Sole, the track always produces some of the best racing all year and the place itself is stunning. After a long truck down straight from Fort William we had a couple of days to chill before practice which was good to just relax.

After a few days off the bike I was more than ready to get practicing. The track as usual at Val Di Sole was super loose and unpredictable. It’s why I love riding there, you always feel like your pushing it to the limit, fighting for grip in every turn.

I was a bit nervous for qualifying as I knew how important gate pick was on this track. I started my run real steady and cautious but I picked up a lot of time as I was the only women to hit the pro line. I started to relax a little in to my run after the pro line and came across the finish line in first place but only 0.2 in front of Céline Gros so the times were tight.

As I won qualifying my first heat was fairly easy, I wanted to get a good snap and just try to get all my inside lines dialled and practiced ready for the final. As the gate dropped i had a good battle to the first corner but pulled ahead out into the lead. I pushed hard to stay in front with a consistent run and I came across the line in first place placing me through to the final.

My final heat I knew was going to be though, I had the inside gate but I knew anything could happen I that first corner. I had a fairly bad gate and really battled bar to bar down the first straight, as we hit the first corner I snuck inside, foot out and drifting! I held my line and pulled ahead out in front. I could hear Céline on my tail for the entire run, I knew if I made one tiny error Céline would be there to take the lead. I kept control for the race and led all the way to the line to win round 3 of the Pro Tour. I was so happy to take the win there making it 3/3 rounds in a row.

Fort William 4X Pro Tour

Fort William holds some good memories for me, i competed in my first international event there in 2007 for World Champs picking up silver in juniors and have been racing there every year since. Not only is it the UK’s home soil World Cup race it is by far the best event on the circuit, the atmosphere, the crowds and the track are one of a kind and its a big race to win for any rider.

This year more than any winning Fort William 4X was a massive goal of mine. Its been my first year training full time so i am coming in to the race stronger and fitter than ever but looking at the competition i knew it was probably going to be the hardest race of the year. The track remained the same as the previous year just freshly groomed making it loose as anything. The surface of the track is like riding on marbles so you really had to trust in your tyres to stick it round the corners.

Qualifying went well for me, i had a good run only making one mistake nearer the bottom of the track but it was good enough to cross the line in first place ahead of Caroline Buchanan and Anneke Beerten. Just Winning qualifying gave me a big boost of confidence knowing i was up to pace.

Race day came around and to say i was nervous was an understatement! I was trying to keep busy all day to try keep my mind busy and away from thinking about the race. Practice time came around and i jumped straight to it. I was feeling good in practice so tried to keep riding to a minimum to save my energy for racing.

For my first heat i got the snap and led down the first straight, i could hear the girls on my tails though so i tried to keep it smooth and maintain the lead. i crossed the line out in front placing me straight through to the final. For the final i was up against olympic bmx’er Caroline Buchanon, Lucia Otjen and Celine Gros, one of the hardest heats i had in a while. As the gate dropped Caroline got the snap and led down the first straight, staying close to Caroline’s back wheel in 2nd position i backed off a little to try go wide in the first corner to gain some speed. As i hit the first corner i saw my chance to make a move as she drifted wide, we were neck and neck down the entire of the 2nd straight but as soon as we hit the last jump i saw my chance to make a move. as we hit the 2nd corner i drifted wide as Caroline darted inside, i felt my rear wheel drifting but i managed to make it stick and shot out in to the lead just before the rocks.
As i jumped of the rocks i tried to calm myself down as focus on the rest of the race. coming in to the last corner i could hear the crowd going wild, it was mad just how loud everyone was. I dropped of the last drop and pedalled for the line, i crossed the line out in front and couldnt quite believe i had just won. It was wild, the crowd were going insane. Winning a World Cup on home soil in front of thousands of people racing against some of the worlds best riders, it was a pretty special night and one i wont be forgetting in a while. 964348_10152245614622203_435397899_o

Harthill Double Round

This weekend saw a busy weekend of racing, Saturday was round 3 of British 4X Series and Sunday was round 2 of the Euro Series all at Harthill, Cheshire.

Saturday saw 16 elite female riders turn up for racing which was great to see. I wasnt feeling 100% Saturday after a hard weeks training but i new i had to up my game with so many girls entered.

In the morning i managed to win all my motos placing through to the knock out heats. Getting straight through to the semi-final i had a real hard heat up against some of the top UK girls. Out of the gate i got the snap and shot in to the first corner out in front. I managed to stay focused and kept the lead until the finish placing me into the final.

With 2nd gate pick i knew i had to get a good snap to get the lead. As soon as the gate dropped i felt like i was already over it and in the first corner before i knew it. I could hear the girls right on my tail through out the race so i tried to keep it smooth and just ride all my inside lines. I was pushed all the way to the finish line but happy to ross the line out in front to take the win on day 1.

Sunday i was feeling myself again and real hyped up for racing. Sunday was ran in a different format as it was a European round which meant everyone had an individual timed run and then went straight into knock out rounds.

My qualifying run went well, i was a little nervous so i tensed up a little when riding but i crossed the line 3.7 seconds up on 2nd place so i was pretty happy with that. Jumping straight into semi finals i had a fairly easy heat because of qualifying 1st and managed to take the lead from start to finish to jump straight into the final.

I got the snap in the final and managed to sneak into the first corner out in front but i could see and hear the other girls in the corner of my eye. darting in the inside of the 2nd corner i almost came to a stop but knew i had to put the power down to try keep the lead. Coming down the 3rd straight i knew i was gaining a bit of a lead so held back a little to just try stay 100% in control. Coming into the last corner i looked back behind me and knew i was safe, i railed the outside line and kept my speed to cross the finish line in 1st to top of a great weekend of racing.

Next race is round 2 of the 4X Pro Tour in Scotland next weekend so keep up to date with info on my twitter @katycurd

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Winterberg Euro 4X

It’s my 4th year running now I’ve been coming to IXS Dirt Masters in Winterberg. I love the event, always buzzing with people who all just love to ride or watch people riding. The crowds and atmosphere always get you excited to race. The 4X track here is not one of the most technical of tracks but still creates some amazing racing with passing opportunities all the way until the last corner. It’s good to see so many girls racing too, we had 14 license women racing with 8 racing in the hobby category, it’s a great event for first time racers to attend.

I wanted to get a good qualifying run here as lane choice can make a real difference on this track for racing. I had a good run for qualifying, it was hard to know how hard you could push for grip in the corners as the track had been changing all weekend because of the weather. I crossed the line in first place 1.2 seconds up which I was happy with going in to the final for Sunday.

Sunday the weather had changed again the sun had come out making the track real dry. The inside lines needed for racing were real loose. As I qualified first it gave me some fairly easy heats to start with, I wanted to get out in front at the start to try chill out a bit and save my legs for the final. I managed to get though to the final where I knew it was going to be a hard battle until the end. Sat in the gate for the final, I missed the gate and tired to snap to early meaning i crawled out the gate last but knew I had to pull it back before the first corner. Racing bar to bar with Helene I just managed to cut inside into the first corner and take the lead. I could hear and see the other girls close behind so using every inside line I could and using everything i had to power on i kept the lead until the finish line to take the win.

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Poland Pro Tour

Poland holds some great memories for me, I won both my first World Cup win and the Euro champs there in 2012 so i was more than excited to be heading back there for the the first round of the Pro Tour. It felt like I’ve been waiting and training for this race all winter, with my last major race being world champs back in September I was more than ready to get stuck in to racing at World level again.
Practice was meant to start Friday but the weather in Szczawno Zdroj soon put a stop to that. It had been raining pretty much non stop since we arrived which meant the track was pretty soft. Practice was delayed until saturday morning to allow time for the track to dry up a little. This just meant everything was down to one day, practice, qualifying and racing all on Saturday.
I was feeling good in practice, concentrating on trying to find the fastest lines for qualifying. Practice seem to come and go before I knew it and it was time to put a qualifying run together. I was feeling pretty confident but with it being the first major race of the season you never really know what level you are at, or even what level anyone else is at so the race nerves were kicking in a bit. The gate dropped for quali and that was it i was off, I had a strong first straight but then started to ride a little cautious just to try put together a steady mistake free run. I crossed the line and looked back at the times seeing a number 1 next to my name which gave me a big boost of confidence heading into the race.
With some stacked heats for racing I knew I had to give it anything. For the first heat I managed to get the snap and lead into the first corner and all the way to the finish line taking me in to the final. This was when the nerves really kicked in, I felt like I had a target on my back and just couldn’t focus when sat in the gate. With 100 things running round my head in came out the gate 2nd, as I dropped of the first jump on the start straight I gave it everything I had to try take back the lead. Just before the first corner I managed to cut back in front and take the lead, I could hear the girls on my rear wheel so I kept pushing hard and just didnt look back. With the finish line in sight I was smiling before I even hit the last jump! I crossed the line in first to take the win! So happy to get the first major win of the season and in a place with so many great memories.

British 4X Falmouth

Round 2 of the British 4X kicked of this week with a brand new track down in Falmouth, Cornwall. Will Evans, elite level 4X racer, had spent the last 4 weeks crafting the masterpiece that was Falmouth! So much talk about the track leading up to the race, it certainly had a lo to live up for and it certainly didnt disappoint.

The level of tracks in the UK are good but we have reached that point where the tracks are comfortable, not easy but to progress our level of riding we need bigger, faster, more technical tracks and thats exactly what WIll had in mind when building Falmouth. Straight out the gate the track got people thinking, multiple lines, drops, big jumps, rock gardens, flat corners and a super loose surface just to keep you on your toes from top to bottom.

I arrived down there on Saturday ready for practice and as soon as i saw the track i feel in love with it! Wasting no time i jumped straight on my bike and got riding. It rode just as good as it looked. After spending a few hours riding the track i called it a day to save my energy for the race on Sunday.

Sunday morning i rocked up early mega excited to get riding again. I spent all practice testing out different lines and getting up to speed. I was feeling real good on track and had everything dialled, i even managed to send the pro-line which i didnt think wuld be happening when i first arrived.

All my motos went well, and i got through to the semi finals. With in the 1 hours break between motos and the semi finals, the heavens decided to open and the rain came down. Riding my semi-final heat i couldnt believe just how much the track had changed, the wind was so strong, the track had gone from loose to riding like an ice rink! I found myself sliding all over the place, out of control! After a pretty shoddy run i made it to the finish line in the lead making the finals. With out a second thought though i darted back to the pits to change tyres, upgrading to Continental rubber queens for that little bit extra grip.

Finals, i was up against Manon Carpenter who had been looking strong all weekend but i felt confident and more than ready for a good battle. Out of the gate i got into the lead, i could see and feel Manon on every corner coming at me on the inside lines. I managed to hold her off and stay in the lead but i knew she was close. Both jumping over the pro-line and into the next rock garden i darted inside to try maintain the lead, i felt my wheels starting to drift and unclipped to correct the slide but coming in to the next jump my shoe was so full of mud i couldnt clip back in. Thinking to much about my feet i left the inside line open for Manon to come sweeping in to take the lead. I tried to chase her down but with my foot still unclipped i just couldnt get the power down enough to make a move. I crossed the line in 2nd a little gutted but also pretty happy as i havnt had a race that pushes me to the limit like that in ages. Although 2nd wasnt what i was aiming for i had a real good weekend racing and im feeling more than ready for round 1 of the Pro Tour in Poland in 2 weeks time.

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British 4X, Round 1 Afan

It’s that time of year again, Winter training is complete, 6 months of hard work has all been gearing up towards this weekend, the first round and first race of 2013. In all honesty I’ve never looked forward to the start of the race season so much. This has been my first winter training full time thanks to Frank Heijne and Rose Vaujany so I’m coming in to the season 100% prepared and ready for it.

On arriving to Afan I was shocked to see how many people there were, the field was packed, team tents were lined up as far as you could see and riders were already on track. 4X is far from dead. After quickly setting up the Rose pits I was eager to get riding. The track is one of my favourite tracks, real rough, flat corners, loose rocks and guaranteed to produce some of the best racing every heat.

I was feeling good in practice but I knew I had to up my game. We had a stacked field of elite women riders, including DH World Champ Manon Carpenter, British 4X Series Champ Suzanne Lacey as well as a new field of bmx racers. I was feeling the pressure to say the least, a lot of people had there money on Manon but I was there to try prove them wrong!

Each moto went well for me, I managed to win every round and make it through to the semi finals. I had a hard heat in the semi finals up against some of the more experienced 4X girls. I managed to get out in front from the start but I could hear them behind me on my back wheel pushing me to my limit. I was happy to cross the line first and make it through to the final.

Manon, Cara Murray, Renee Diwell and myself had made it through to the final. I had a good snap and entered the first corner in front, I could here the commentator going wild about Manon and Cara battling it out for 2 place, I wanted to look back and watch the race it’s sounded that good! Trying to stay focused i snapped back in to race mode and battered my way through the rock garden still in the lead. Coming in to the last corner I had no idea who was behind or how close they were so i was taking every inside line I could and stomping down the power when I needed. I crossed the line in first and was so happy. First race done, training had paid off and I’ve started the season exactly how I wanted.

The next round is in 3 weeks time which I’m now more than excited about. I will keep you informed so look out for any updates.

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Gawton

Last week i got the chance to head down to Gawton to test out the new uplift service. Fly-Up uplift is already well established for the uplift at Forest of Dean so when i heard that Fly-up is now operating down at Gawton as well i knew it could only mean good things.

We pulled up at Gawton for dead on 10am, simple and straight forward we signed on, got our wrist bands, kitted up and headed for the hill. Unlike most uplifts when you arrive you are already at the top of the hill which lucky means no waiting around, just arrive and ride.

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The tracks shoot you out right next to the uplift point so there is no big pedal or push, its just straight down the hill and straight on the bus ready for you next run. With only a short drive back up it means a quick turn around, allowing for at least 15 in a day (if you can last that long!).

Gawton has four tracks to choose from ranging from red to double black trails. All the tracks have mixture of everything thrown into them, rock gardens, roots, jumps, drops, fast flowing corners, tight twisty turns, steep gradient, enough to test even the best of riders and also with the 2 red graded tracks it makes it a perfect playground for beginner riders too.

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Within the 2 full days i was down there i rode all of the 4 tracks and not once did i get bored. There is so much down there to test you and keep pushing you to your limit i think its the perfect place for progression. I have to say think Gawton is now up there on the list of my favourite places to ride DH in the UK. Challenging and fun and a great test ground to try get back up to race pace before the season kicks off again.

Need to say a big thank you to Simon from Fly-Up Downhill for 2 great days riding, and needless to say i will be back soon.

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