Once again Northern downhill returned to Kielder to host another fun TT race.
The weather was kind given this was early March; the most recent Hamsterley Enduro saw prolonged heavy snow and freezing conditions all day, but Kielder, despite it’s fairly exposed nature, proved to be milder on the racers than expected.
Personally I love the drive to Kielder; long straight Roman-roads, great scenery and some pretty awesome blind summits along the way. The behemoth that is Kielder reservoir soon appears, and only when you are driving along the side of it do you really appreciate the size of the reservoir. The forest itself is utterly huge, with extensive, graded, trails for miles.
It’s got a mixed reputation amongst the racing crowd but it’s definitely worth a look. While most of the riding is fairly tame and suitable for beginners there are some hidden gems, especially if you’ve the time to seek out some of the trail’s built for racing, but keep your wits about you as these are in huge contrast to the flowy, easy official trails.
A well organised sign on, and an atmosphere of expectation could be felt right from the go
On arriving at the sign on you could feel the atmosphere, a lot of riders have high praise for this trail and it’s a great starting point for those looking to get into racing. It is a man made trail but to go fast on it you have be prepared to work the bike and nail your exit speed on the turns – There’s no space for a breather!
Dan Smith flying out of the top jumps
Some of the jumps have to be treated with caution as the sharp and steep lips can have a tendency to send the uninitiated heading towards an OTB – “Dude, I got bucked” is a common phrase!
Towards the fire road crossing there’s several jumps, that require concentration and controlled speed, not only can they send you heading off the course to the right, but land too long and you’ll find yourself landing in the next take off.
Matt Green doing the first race run keeping it under control on one of the middle jumps
The crème de la crème for Sundays race was a brand new section to the trail lower down. Again, this was trail centre bliss (or hell?) and still no time for breath, no time to lose focus. Flat out jumps, drops and a three step down obstacle. There’s been some crafty trail builders at Kielder of late.
Ben Chipchase dropping into the lower section in only his 3rd race, but coming a very respectable 6th
The race itself was completed by 88 keen mountain bikers, all having practiced in the morning, then each rider had 2 chances to set their fastest time.
Overall, the fastest time of the day was in a blistering 1:34.300 by the mad dog that is Damian Groves with Dan Smith only 2 seconds behind. It was great to see Damian, a pretty decent downhiller for a few years, make the trip up to race.
The fastest female rider was Angela Foster, continuing a comeback to racing, in a superb 1:54.440 followed by Melody Fife in the girls 14-15 yrs in 2:04.620.
Racing for the first time was Josh Hunter on his Orange 5 and coming in first place out of 5 riders in his category. Kudos. As we’ve said before, these TT races are a great starting point for anyone interested in having a go at racing, once you start, you’ll never get rid of the bug!
Josh Hunter racing for the first time and coming in first place in his category. The future’s looking bright
Sharp berms thoughout the course, this one within the new lower section. Here’s James Purvis, fresh off the Dirt team looking relaxed and ready to race.
Here’s Wesley Fife finding a cheeky short cut over a berm nearer the top.
The next race will be the Hamsterley Transmission TT race. This one is always well attended, and on one of the best trail centre trails in Hamsterley, be sure to get entered. It will be hotly contested as it’s a very popular and well known trail.
3 close drops in a row with the middle one sending riders further, but control is always essential unless you want to overshoot
For the official race results and more pictures, head over to roots and rain here.
A big shout out to Start fitness and Carl and his team. Talking to Carl at the race, you could tell this race is one of his favourites of the year. His passion for the race and love of everything MTB was really showing this weekend. Keep up the excellent work!
Here’s a few more images to wet your appetite and hopefully coerce you into entering some of the upcoming races.
Tom Mellows taking the win in his category seen here gapping one of the doubles
Not all races go quite to plan as Liam found out, that wheel’s not going to rotate very smoothly
Tom Greenstreet negotiating the tight and steep slippery berms at the top
Alec Wray took a bad off trying to negotiate the crafty shortcut line. Fortunately Alec and bike were OK to try again and complete the full race. I bet he’s aching now though
Dan and Damian giving it some….what a hotly contested race they had between themselves
I’ll see you next time, destination Hamsterley.