Northern Downhill Round 5 Kidland Forest
Northern Downhill Round 5 Kidland Forest 18th-19th September
It has to be said that the wet opening round back in April ripped the track to bits, but was the track wrecked? By how enjoyable the track rode this weekend I think not. Basically the last of the slippy topsoil has cleared down to more predictably grippy gravels and rock.
The track started just above the fire road and it was on the pedals to drop down into the daylight, cross the fire road before either a squash, manual or hop off the road and onto the roots at speed. The track heads down across the whoops which pump well but I saw riders trying the odd hop in there too.
At the end of the whoops the hill steepened up on good gravel before hair pin right then left into the trees and the darkness. There are a good few roots here which push you wide with a foot off.
The track again steepened with a diagonal weave through the trees with roots everywhere before hitting a left hand rut then a line through two trees leaving a narrow gap full of slick roots which needed to be sucked up without brakes
The next couple of corners were generally non descript shallow with little to catch you out, but as the speed was that little bit faster all these corners just seemed to come at you quicker and were a little tighter and pushed you wider.
Back into good light the stump field was again fast and in the wet on Sunday morning caught even the most experienced out. A nice little cut to the high side was one track change which helped maintain the speed prior to the tight right then left as the hill steepened yet again.
Braking bumps seemed to be appearing in the next section and by this time the first signs of fatigue were in my arms.
One of the next tight corners had again been taped straight which helped the flow although just pushed the braking for the next right unless you spotted the sneaky high left (not many did). Drop down onto the old wall line which was slicker than ever and felt very off camber with roots every time you dropped down off a bus stop.
Off the last bus stop again a tight right had been taped which set the approach to the next shoot into darkness easier. The hill is now at its steepest with the track taped almost straight down onto catch ledges with the fine grippy roots ripped out on previous races the only roots left were big fat polished ones which seemed to be digging down deeper leaving big holes on the lower side, one in particular started to feel like a drop off.
The first catch netting was taped with a new tighter right which spat you out towards the crash netting and pad and pushed you further out right on the left corner into a pile of loose off camber gravel freshly ripped from the new line, off the brakes for the grip and jump up out onto the ledge before dropping down over roots which were floating by the end of the weekend as they had been undermined.
The loose corners above the V tree were as loose as ever but again the grip was there after some driftage.
The V tree was taped with both a left and right exit lines in. I noticed most still went left which I can only assume was habit from the last race. The right was the faster straighter line and a lot of riders missed that.
Another shoot onto 90º right then either a tight left to low or original line to high over the giant tree roots at the bottom.
I can assure you when these were first dug they felt right, but the track must have dropped low and I agree its awkward. If caught right you can still carry the speed well and the final shoot will have your eyes out on storks trying to see and grip the low right berm fast enough to jump out of the bottom across the finish line.
On Saturdays practice the sun shone most of the day and the track was as fast as it has ever been. Come Sunday morning a couple of hours of heavy rain did change the feel up top as the roots were slick and riders seemed to be trying to carry the speed from the Saturday. I witnessed many crashes on my wise walk down whilst waiting for the riders to clear the slickness. Once cleared it was riding as good as the Saturday and the sun even managed to show up later in the morning.
Uplifts ran with no complaints of bikes being scratched and never longer than a 10 minute long wait.
Juvenile win was taken by Andy Dorrit on his first ever race after having a DH bike for 5 weeks. Andy was under 15 national cycle trials champ last season and definitely knows how to ride, one to watch for the future. William Hugill was 2nd and Jordan Byers 3rd. Good to see such a strong juvenile entry.
Youths saw Matty Leggett taking the win with 2.01.32 and old rival Declan Watson in 2nd on the same second and Matthew Downes in 3rd. It’s the 2nd time I have seen Matty on the podium with some sort of bandaging or cast on. I’m told he took the cast off for the race and his wrist is fixing with a bend in it. Dedication? Stupidity? Guts? Probably all three, but well done anyway.
NEFR’s Joe Young took another Junior win with an impressive 1.53.31. Joe has come good this year after his injury nightmare last season. Andrew Kelly in 2nd shared the same second as Joe, with Matthew Stuttard in 3rd.
Angela Coats was the only lady on the hill. I understand she crashed on the roots near the bottom on her first run and was winded quite badly but managed to cross the line to get a time, well done.
Veteran winner was Red-I-racing’s Sean Kelly 2.10.20 with Michael Strangeways in 2nd and Alan Turnbull in 3rd. There is always a good bit of competition between these three and they mix up the finishing positions well.
Jayson Cavill took the masters win 1.55.92 with Mark Weightman in 2nd with a 1.59.02 and James Dallywater 3rd with 2.00.47. I am pleased Mark managed to knock a second off his first run time as James and Mark were on the exact same time and we would have to consult the rule book.
Simon Stuttard took the senior win with a 1.50.17 from a close 2nd and 3rd of Matthew Hakes 1.51.17 and Steve Turnbull 1.51.89
Liam Little took the expert win with 1.48.16 with Nick Turner in 2nd with a 1.53.08 and Tom Kelly 3rd with 1.53.76 The first runs all three were on the same second.
Pete Williams was the only elite rider on the hill and didn’t disappoint with the fastest time of the day of 1.42.97
Instead of hearing the old line “all I need is a clean run with no crashes” which has been common to the previous races. There was more talk of sneaky high lines and cuts. I think most riders would agree their steep course riding skills are improving and the track is generally riding better.
Your Northern Downhill Series Winners are:
1st William Hugil
2nd Robbie Mclennen
3rd Andrew Dorrit
1st Matty Leggett
2nd Matthew Downes
3rd Blake Walden
1st Joe Young
2nd Rowan Buckley
3rd Calum Mcritchie
1st Sean Kelly
2nd Michael Strangeways
3rd Alan Turnbull
1st Paul Rafferty
1st Angela Coats
2nd Helen Gaskell
3rd Esther Sands
1st James Dallywater
2nd Phil Grimes
3rd Lee Baxter
1st Steve Turnbull
2nd Matthew Hakes
3rd Chris Lazenby
1st Nick Turner
2nd Liam Little
3rd Ben Hall
1st Peter Williams
2nd Adam Brayton
The series podiums and top Hope prizes will be held after the regional championships at Kielder 23rd-24th October. Entries are still open and if you can please show your support. This race is a bit of a ice breaker at Kielder and fingers crossed it could lead to bigger opportunities next year.
Again if you enjoyed the weekend please pass on the good word. We need to pull more riders together to better the series.
Many thanks to:
The usual gang of Carls family and friends!
Trevor and all marshals many of whom are regular.
Rich Easton from www.moto-photo.co.uk for the photos check his site for more.
Thanks to Michael Strangeways for the headcam footage. Next time I think we need to rig you up with some lights!
Sponsors: Hope and Switchbacks for there top prizes.
Lookout for uplift dates at our Alwinton track on 2-3rd October
We are always looking for new tracks, if anyone has any leads on potential hills the lure of cash that our races can offer is always a good bargaining tool with land owners.
Remember we are always looking for sponsors, if anyone can bring anything to the series even if it’s a one prize for one category we would be happy to give you a mention.