This past weekend, I got together with Alastair ‘Keen Bean’ Keen for our first ride as Wideopen team mates at the new Royal Leamington Spa (RLS) 4X track, to check it out before the first round of the ‘Schwalbe British 4X series’ in two weeks. There were riders from ‘up North,’ Bristol, Chicksands and all over the country checking out the track and generally blowing out the winter cobwebs.
For those of you who haven’t met him yet, that’s ‘Chewy Wonka’ on the left (Apparently Keeny looks like a cross between Chewbacca and Willy Wonka…)!
Nathan Parsons and the RLS crew have made a number of changes to the track since I rode it last year, all for the better. The track is now slightly longer with a lot more flow, four doubles and some rollers in the first straight before a big, loose, fast corner into the big triple.
Most riders were trying to double it up and land in a manual, but the big boys were clearing the whole thing. Then there’s a left hander, double, right hander, two doubles, right hander, table and then the option between a big pro-line (two long tables) or a smaller rhythm section.
(the double in the bottom of the above photo is at the exit of the triple, there’s a right-hander out of shot on the left and the pro-line/chicken run is out of shot on the right!)
The movie shows Keeny hitting the bottom section of the track. Alas all the pro photographers and videographers were off enjoying themselves at the BDS so you have to contend with me and my mate James Lancashire for the photos. Quality will improve throughout the season!
The track has a gravel surface on it akin to a BMX track; if it doesn’t rain heavily before the race, it’s going to be INCREDIBLY loose. A bit of rain should settle it down nicely. We were testing out the Continental X King race tyres over the weekend, with Keeny’s 2.2″ tyres providing impressive amount of grip with a lower rolling resistance than the 2.4″ I was running. The 2.2’s are my tyre of choice for this season. Keeny spent the weekend getting used to the new kit from sixpack – so new he didn’t have time to cut his bars down. This ghetto setup took some skin off my elbows in our many pump races – not sure he’ll be allowed it at nationals.
Here at Wideopen, we can’t wait for the start of the 4X season, I highly recommend you head over to Leamington in two weeks to see the country’s finest battling it out on what is going to be a very open race. Being smooth is going to be the name of the game!
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