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Northern Downhill TT | Ae Forest

  •  NDH, Photography, Reportage

Northern Downhill has kicked off their early race season in good style with a TT race across the border in Scotland. The TT races, aimed to cater for both novice and experienced racers, tend to use the easier trail centre type terrain, but as they say – when the gate drops, the bullshit stops! Racing, is racing.

Ian Briggs taking on the wood drop half way down. Ian’s first race and he’s showing no fear. Kudos

Having watched the weather all week, from gales, snow storms and torrential rain, we were very lucky on race day. Mostly overcast with light rainfall, but not the biblical rain that was predicted, the course had the occasional puddle caused by melting snow from the week before the event. The mud guards were out, and the Magic Mary’s, despite their slowing rolling speed, were the tyre of choice between the sitka spruce of Ae

It was a pretty wet affair, but not as bad as had been predicted.

The TT race format stands for “Time Trial”, but in short it’s similar to a downhill style race that is aimed at any style of mountain bike. This is where the TT races really get interesting as there was a small group of hardcore hardtail racers to those riding full on downhill rigs – think back ten years and this is what DH was. It is true that you can race DH on any bike, but this TT format helps those who feel a bit intimidated by the bright lights of DH or need another starting point into the sport – In short the TT race is the very platform we should be encouraging as a pathway for those who want to race!

Lewis Gregory on his Orange P7

Ae forest, one of the near original 7 Stanes was the venue for the race, and the trail itself was Omega Man, a purpose built red graded trail. The trail itself was not particularly technical, but is super fast, relatively straight with some cheeky tables and drops if you are riding with pace. Carl, the man behind Northern Downhill, always puts in a sneaky detour in the trail, so that those getting in an extra days practice have to rethink their lines come the race!

“Rodders” giving it some shapes on the rock drop near the top

The format of the day saw the experienced walking the trail first thing – there is no substitute for start line visualisation of a race track and knowing your lines perfectly! With a ten minute push up, the vibe was friendly with racers trying to get in as many runs as possible. Then straight after lunch it’s game on. Riders have 2 timed runs down the track and the fastest time goes forward as the result.

Push up is a leisurely affair Tom Mellows and Zech Walker head up top during practice.

One really encouraging aspect of this race was the turn out of women racing. A total of 124 riders completed the course and out of that number there were 22 women. The fastest woman Cairn Bell was in the U31 category and recorded a superb time of 1:53.060. The fastest rider on the day was Lewis Summers in 1:34.789 with Lee McIver literally a split second behind him in 1:34.870. What a race these 2 guys had.

For a full rundown of the results head over to roots and rain here

Sarah Vayro always seems to be airborne when I see her on her Santa Cruz

This was a great first race for Northern Downhill of 2017. The riders were buzzing and the atmosphere and camaraderie around the forest during the race was electric. Even the frequent punctures and chain snapped mechanicals didn’t dampen the atmosphere – but as always caused a few expletives!

Yvonne and Amelia showing respect and camaraderie before their 3rd and 2nd place podiums

The next race in the Northern Downhill calendar will be the very popular and highly sought after Hamsterley Enduro. The date for your diaries is 12th February. Without giving too much away, Carl often uses some of the downhill trails that are now under the management of Danny Hart at his Descend Bike Park. So don’t hesitate, if you want to enter then click here

So that’s the first race done, a sell out at Ae forest and well supported by the riders and sponsors (Start cycles). Northern Downhill looks set to have another great year ahead.

I’ll leave you with some more images from the day

Joe Cox racing for the first time in a few years, some of you will know Joe as he’s often working at Danny Hart’s Descend Bike Park

If there was any more snow, then this could have been mistaken for a ski jump

Adam Wilson nearing the final straight

Lee nailing first place in the 17-18 mens category

Lee Lynch smashing the wood drop

Jonathon Morley wooing the spectators, the future looks bright for this young lad!

See you on the trails.

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