Descent World – Scottish Mountain Biking | Film Production | Photos | Adventure Stories

Northern Downhill goes north of the Border

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  •  Enduro, Reportage
Just 2 months into  2016 and already Northern Downhill have put on 3 great races, all of a different style. January saw the Funduro aimed at race novices (it still attracted elite riders), then came the awesome 3 stage Hamsterley Enduro on valentines day no less, and finally 2 weeks later a time trial (TT) race in the forest of Ae in Scotland on 28th February.

Robert Proudlock trying to keep it low near the end (JWDTphotography)

Robert Proudlock trying to keep it low near the end (JWDTphotography)

I’ve never been to Ae, but having ridden the trail on the Saturday to have a look about and get a feel for the place, I’m already planning on my next road trip there. The official race was on the Sunday, the format was a leisurely sign on and the trail went live for riders practice at 10.00am.

Already people, like me had turned up on the Saturday to get a sneaky practice in……but event organiser Carl did wise up to this and put in a couple of crafty minor diversions along the trail, so practice on the day was essential….. “let’s face it, you’re racing, you should walk the trail” were the words of the Forestry Commission guy I was chatting to.

Ross flying towards the finish (JWDTphotography)
Ross flying towards the finish (JWDTphotography)

The weather for the race was perfect, a little chilly at -2 Celsius the night before, but crisp and cold most of the day, with glorious sunshine for prolonged periods of time.

Tony Kay taking on the rocky straight fast section (JWDTphotography)
Tony Kay taking on the rocky straight fast section (JWDTphotography)

This course was fast and furious, with jumps and drops all over the place and long stretches of straight. For the fastest riders the trail was barely over 1 minute and 30 seconds……those guys must have barely touched the trail!!

Philip Grimes airborne (JWDTphotography)

Philip Grimes airborne (JWDTphotography)

The start was a quick peddle along fire road and into a sharp left turn onto the trail people call Omega Man. The very top was pretty lumpy with loose rocks, causing a few punctures for some, plus a sneaky little diversion Carl added.

Next the trail went through some woods with swoopy turns and small table tops then into an excellent wood drop that could launch you miles down the trail without care. This feature was popular with a few finished riders and spectators, but heckling was pretty subdued.

Ski jump anyone? (JWDTphotography)
Ski jump anyone? (JWDTphotography)

Most riders took on this drop, taken at speed it felt like you were in the air for an eternity.

Ben Green launching (JWDTphotography)
Ben Green launching (JWDTphotography)

There was a chicken run, but for the sake of loosing a few seconds, it made sense to go for the drop.

Sarah Vayro opting for the fastest route down the course (MTBChix&Trails)    (JWDTphotography)
Sarah Vayro opting for the fastest route down the course (MTBChix&Trails) (JWDTphotography)

The time trail (TT) takes on a similar format to full on downhill races, 2 times down the course and the fastest time is your race run.

Overall winner was Lewis Buchanan (elt) in an amazing 1:37.65, followed by Blake White in 1:47.20.

The fastest woman down the trail was Helen Gaskell in 1:54.54 followed closely by Natalie Sleeman in 1:58.69.

Cameron Steele.....riding the tape???   (JWDTphotography)
Cameron Steele…..riding the tape??? (JWDTphotography)

I hope that it’s not wrong to say this with such an immense field of riders, both elite and amateur, but for me Jonathan Morley aged 8 years of age stole the show this day – taking on every big feature and giving his guide and Dad a run for his money.

Jonathan Morley stealing the show at the Ae TT (JWDTphotography)
Jonathan Morley stealing the show at the Ae TT (JWDTphotography)

Next stop for Carl and the Northern Downhill team is the Kielder enduro, a forest huge in size and reputation.

A huge shout out to all the marshals and organisers who braved the cold, and Carl for taking the racing to Scotland for the first time. To quote Carl the evening before the race “It’s a bit fast this course isn’t it”

Lewis Buchanan, sublime skills and speed (JWDTphotography)
Lewis Buchanan, sublime skills and speed (JWDTphotography)

 

Chris Bell negotiating a peddley section (JWDTphotography)

Chris Bell negotiating a peddley section (JWDTphotography)

 

Ben Green nearing the finish line for the final time. (JWDTphotography)
Ben Green nearing the finish line for the final time. (JWDTphotography)

 

Helen Gaskell needs no introduction. Fastest woman of the day (JWDTphotography) Helen Gaskell needs no introduction. Fastest woman of the day (JWDTphotography)

 


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