Northern DH’s North East Champs Hamsterley
For the weekend of the 22nd/23rd October, Northern Downhill takes us to Hamsterley for the North East Championships and also the final round of the series. To mix things up a little bit the track included the whole 4 cross track, not a universally popular choice but enjoyed by the majority. As a rider who likes to keep my wheels on the ground I thought I’d struggle with it but went with the flow and was making the most of it by Sunday afternoon.
After the playful 4 cross track we crossed two fireroads by the Hamsterley Cabin before dropping into the woods and down Mainline. This was largely a fast track with little to spoil the flow, a small but awkward jump of the fireroad had to be scrubbed to avoid jumping out of the tapes. The next few corners had slight inside lines to straighten them out a bit, the last of which was important to get right as it led you into the main rock garden, get the corner wrong and it sapped all your speed making the rocks slow but get it right and you could sail over the rock garden effortlessly. Passed the rocks, a small drop and into the only slow section with a real tight left which brought many people to a complete stall (including myself on more than one occasion). Round this corner and speed was soon gained as you went off two drops, into a right hand berm, a few pedals before the next rock section. Two options here, either safe, smooth and high or there was a middle line that was direct but a little rough and narrow. There was a low line but this was only used if you failed to find either one of the other options. A very sharp left followed with little support towards the exit so care was needed, all the speed from here was carried onto short straight section but then scrubbed again before the last section of tight switchbacks, small drop, quick pedal and a table-top to finish.
Friday evening and the wind threatened to cause issues for those going big on the 4 cross track but thankfully it calmed down come practice on Saturday morning. The weather on Saturday was relatively good with little wind and no showers, not bad for the time of year. Practice went with without major incident, only a couple of accidents requiring medic attention, on my late afternoon track walk I came across two riders on the floor in the middle of the last berm on the 4 cross track. This was the last action for Saturday and I hope they are now both ok.
A little rain overnight had little effect on the track but did make some of the entries into the rock gardens fairly sketchy. Getting on the first uplift allowed for plenty more practice before race runs. More rain threatened and the wind grew throughout the day but didn’t amount to much.
Racing got underway with after a small technical delay, Juvenile’s got us started and Brad Swinbank took the win with 1:33:22, followed by Andrew Dorritt in second on 1:35:72 and James Purvis in third – 1:36:83.
Youth was won by George Gannicott on a very good 1:26:22 but only just as Dan Farley was close behind in second with a 1:26:62. Third spot was taken by Liam McDermott on 1:31:32.
Angela Coates won the women’s category with 1:46:47 over Sara Rennie on 1:53:00. Gina Robertson’s 1:56:53 won her third place.
Two entries in the grand vet category and in second was Alan Turnbull with 1:52:98, leaving first for Aidan Harrison to take the win on 1:47:46.
The veteran category had lots of entries and first was hotly contested with Pete Hoggan taking the win on 1:34:05, Lee Podmore was close behind in second on a 1:34:53. James Nicholls did what was needed for third with his 1:40:18.
Masters was another busy category with thirty entires, Russ Clark did enough to take the win with 1:29:42, ahead of Tomas Reed’s 1:30.45. Mark Weightman got third on 1:31:62. The following four places separated by less than a second, Tom Fryer, Phil McLaren, Chris Lazenby and Colin Williams not managing to come up with the goods and all missing the podium.
Junior was won by an on form Matt Stuttard with a 1:24:81 – a time worthy of winning expert as well as his brother. Jordan Doig managed second on 1:25:09, less than a second behind in third was James Shaw with 1:25:53.
Thomas Pollock’s 1:24:75 was enough to win senior by a second, ahead of Andrew Kipling with 1:25:72. Third spot was taken by Reece Langhorn on a 1:27:17.
Top three places in expert was separated by less than one second, the top spot was won by Liam Little with 1:25:19, less than half a second ahead of Joe Young’s 1:25:56, Simon Stuttard further back in third with 1:25:92.
The elite field were on another level with Scott Mears in third on 1:22:12, Peter Williams in second on 1:21:51 but first and fastest time of the day was Danny Hart on a flying 1:20:31.
Thank you very much to Carl and his northern team for a year of fantastic racing at some awesome venues with some real challenging tracks and some really fun tracks. Looking forward to more Northern Downhill racing in 2012.