NorthernDownhill Rd5 Alwinton
For this fifth round in the Northern Series we return to Alwinton in Northumberland, the venue that also hosted the first round. Carl and the Northern Downhill have earned a reputation for providing us with varied and often technical tracks, Alwinton definitely lives up to this reputation.
Upon track inspection it seemed to be similar to last time it was used earlier in the year apart from an extended top section through a newly felled area.
This latest addition was very new and to begin with quite slow going but thanks to some early morning work on Sunday (thanks Phil) it was running well, leaving you plenty of energy for the rest of the track. After this it dropped previously added tight top section through small tress, this was quite tight with little room for error. This took you to the original start line, through some very narrow lines and then the steep switchbacks.
These switchbacks are where most people were caught out, they got a lot rougher and holed out during the weekend causing issues for many. As the main lines got rougher through the weekend other lines became the choice for those chasing a fast time. After the steep switchbacks came the the dense woodland for a long series of greasy corners littered with rocks and roots, these became more pronounced and awkward as race runs came around. Then comes the run-up to the bridge which has claimed many in it’s short history (Smithy). This needed to be hit flat out in order to get up the bank on the following side, a few more pedals and down the final steep back to the finish which also ruined a fair few race runs.
A few injuries on Saturday with poor Zack suffering a shattered collarbone early one but the medics had a fairly steady weekend. Sunday morning and the track had dried out a fair bit over night making grip easier to find and times quicker.
Juveniles kicked off the racing with Andrew Dorritt taking third spot with a 2:54:4 just behind Bradley Swinbank with 2:53:7, James Purvis managed the win on a 2:50:3.
Jordan Byers got third place in in youth on a 2:54:9 less than a second down on Peters Hook’s second place 2:54:1 but Rory McRitchie took the youth win by nearly ten seconds with 2:44:8.
Juniors was won by Matty Leggett on a very good 2:30:5, enough to take a top ten overall on the day. Just over three seconds down was Jordan Doig on 2:33:9 and Ben Stanley a little further back in third with 2:34:2.
It’s a shame but only two women competed in the ladies category with Esther Sands taking the win over Gina Robertson.
Third place in vets was taken by Michael Strangways on a 2:59:1 and second by Peter Hoggan with 2:53:8. Shaun Kelly took the win by almost ten seconds though with a 2:45:4.
Grand vets was a one horse race with Alan Turnbull taking the win on a 3:16:9.
Russ Clark did what was need for third place in masters with 2:40:8 but missed out to Chris Lazenby and second place who was four seconds ahead with 2:36:8. This would have been enough to beat Weightman’s first run time but unfortunately he went six seconds faster to get a well deserve 2:30:9 and first place.
Senior was a busy category as usual but the top three were Jamie Scott in third with 2:32:9, Michael Coup in second on 2:27:8 but Calum McRitchie did enough for the win on 2:26:3.
Joe Young got 2:26:9, good enough for third in expert, not far behind Steven Turnbull’s 2:24:2. Top place in expert went to Liam Little on a 2:22:3.
Alisdair MacLennan got 2:24:5 for third place in elite and a top five place overall, Peter Williams in second with 2:15:6 but fastest man on the hill with a blistering 2:13:6 was Adam Brayton.
Thanks again to Carl and his usual helpers who make Northern Downhill races possible and one of the most fun race series’ around. They are also hosting the North East champs at Hamsterley on the 22nd/23rd of October, double points on offer for this chasing top places in the overall rankings.