Downhill is dead. Long live downhill.
As a series the SDA used to sell out in minutes – crashing servers and causing heartbreak for a few riders who couldn’t get in. It was the premier dh series in the uk for a while.
While the BDS rightly takes that place now, the SDA is back and firing on all four cylinders, with some octane boost thrown in for good measure. 330 riders of all abilities but mainly wearing large grins is testament to that.
What a track to start the year. While it might have looked straight forward on Friday evening, come Sunday it was anything but.
Heading across the hill for large sections and following generally one line meant that it got rough and rooty amongst the Stika Spruce. Coupled with a healthy dose of classic Borders, or Tweed Valley as it is these days, weather gave us a platform that let us see who’s been out in the mud, and who’s been in the pub with a few too many Guiness and log fires for comfort.
As usual the carpark was full to the brim and the adjacent field was a mixture of a slip and slide, tents that resembled pontoons and some perversely happy campers.
A big entry across all categories, it was particularly encouraging to see 18 juveniles and 16 women competing in what was a first dh race for many of them. The SDA is both a open and inclusive gateway to racing and a practice ground for WC riders.
With the added spice of split times and a speed trap, things are certainly looking good for the series ahead. We did hear a rumour of a spot prize for slowest rider through the speed trap – so get of those anchors!
News at the sharper end of the field was the number one plate being ran by Ben Cathro on his 29″ Tallboy, as he doesn’t have a DH bike. Trek’s Greg Williamson was back from a winter in New Zealand to race, along with Adam Brayton, Lew Buchanan on board his Banshee and of course Ruaridh Cunningham who is still getting up to speed. Scotty Laughland also made an appearance on his Cube along with World Cup XC race winner Kenta Gallagher….eclectic or what?
We sent along the one armed bandit to take some polaroids for posterity….enjoy.
Juvenile men top 5:
Jamie Edmondon puts in a stormer of a run to take a clear win over second place Luke Mumford:
Youth men top 5:
Luke Birkett puts just over a second into Jack Tennyson – expect this to be a good battle over the coming year.
Junior men top 5:
SPS domination but expect the top 3 to be slugging it out after the full 12 rounds….
Junior women top 5:
How cool is this – 9 riders! Rona takes a commanding win and fastest female time of the day…
Master men top 5:
Alan Blythe. Former Scottish national champ, uk elite rider and rumour has it better than Ben Reid on a Giant ATX ( Research that…) 5 seconds on the field this time around.
Adam SMITH (mas1)
Veteran men top 5:
No longer the category where the coffin dodgers hang out to discuss the state of the nation and the balance of their annuity schemes….Whitfields time was FAST.
John YOUNG (vet)
Alastair MACLENNAN (vet)
Senior women top 5:
Hope’s Rachael Walker takes another clear win aboard her tricked out Nomad.
Senior men top 5:
Endurists take out both Senior cats with Scotty Laughland getting some EWS practice in on his Cube – Best looking kit in the field?
Expert men top 5:
With the Elite category seeming to get bigger each year, these boys will be hoping to do some damage. Big news is Kenta Gallagher with a time that would have placed him 5th in Elite – Could we see him at a DH world cup in the next few seasons? It’s been a while since we had a WC XC winner racing a WC downhill…As for the rest of the experts, they have some head scratching to do.
Elite men top 5:
Not a daft field when all said and done. Greg would have hoped to win here but Brayton might have been expecting to be a little closer with only two weeks till Lourdes. Lew Buchanan hoping to stay injury free and get back into the WC top twenty – he suits big tracks so it’s not unrealistic. As for Ruaridh…expect form to hit when it counts. Cathro needs a DH bike but is still the fastest 29″ rider in the world.