Sam Dale – 3 weeks in Portugal

3 weeks in portugal,

I left home without riding downhill for 6months, I managed to get my new Transition TR450 built up early and had a good day uplifting a local track with James Stock.

The van was packed and we set off to pick up Gareth Brewin and the trailer, another part to our home for the next 3 weeks! We drove down to Portsmouth that night and parked the 11metre convoy up waiting for the ferry to leave the next morning.

After 24hours on the boat,where i managed to do a small amount of training but spent a good 22hours flat on my back because i felt so sea sick we arrived in Spain, with only a 7hour drive to get to our destination, Lousa.

We got there pretty late and had what seems to be a common Portuguese meal, one slice of bread, a lump of steak, a few hotdogs, some slices of ham, another slice of bread, covered in cheese, surrounded by chips and drowned in gravy. Not the healthiest meal ive ever eaten but it did its job!

The next morning we were all up early, sat around the van in the sun having breakfast when Jim noticed a rat running about, he shouted me to get my gun and bam! got the bugger, i saw it do a flip through my scope then dart back down its hole. We never saw it again so its either popped its clogs, or just doesn’t want to get shot again!

Jim and I had put together a good training program for the trip, with plenty of Downhill Planned, we didn’t mess around too much and got uplifting each other on the TTR pretty much straight away, It was a shock to the system to be back on the DH bike again, 8 runs in and i was done for the day!

The next few days went well, training, riding and a chilled day at the river before the first race, We parked the convoy up and had many Portugese gawping in the trailer stoked on the fact we had a GasGas’s with us! The race went pretty good, I qualified 4th i think, but crashed in the axel deep dust and ended up 7th in the final, When i say axel deep dust i mean it! It was like nothing ive ever ridden before, the track looked pretty smooth from a riding point of view, but every hole was filled with dust, Id say it was as rough as Fort William on a World Cup weekend and i think Jim and Garry would agree..

After this race i had i good idea of what needed to be done with my set-up on the bike. Harder springs front and rear, different settings etc, the next fortnight flew by with hammering 10 timed runs some days testing every little thing there is to be tested! We also spent alot of time on the Trials bikes, going on a 5hour enduro one day, finding some big wall-rides, and riding up some singletracks you would only expect to find in the Alps. Training continued and we also had a few good days relaxing down at the 2 different spots on the river, one with a few cliff jumps, and the other with a few diving boards there, which lead to some comedy backflips lessons thanks to Rob Williams who was also out there with us! He got the dialled in about 3 goes, where as Garry, Jim and myself struggled massively, Jim got halfway there, and Garry and myself didn’t get close.

The last weekend of the trip we spent in Gouveia, They had a new top section on this well known track, and we were all loving it, with 2 days practice before the race we were all up to speed with bikes feeling good, i Qualified well with a steady run but in my race despite going much faster up top i had a mechanical and had to push my bike down, It was no ones fault just one of them unlucky situations. I was happy with the speed i was riding at and cant wait for the next race! Neko Mullay won that race so good on him!

Im now lay down on the return boat home, the weather looks good, and im keener than ever to get riding at home and get to the next races!

Big thanks to all my sponsors that are helping me out this season,

Transition, S.I.Sealy, WD bathrooms, Sporting Minds, RidersRefuge, Fox Europe, Renthal, Schwalbe, Shimano, Fox Shox, Burgtec, Gamut.

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