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SDA Round 1: Ae Forest

  •  Reportage, SDA

What a difference a year makes – this time last year Britain was in a mini heat wave and the course at Ae had dust on it in sections. Fast forward to 2017 and things could not be more different yet despite the weather and some other minor problems doing their best to upset 250+ racers, one thing remained a constant – big smiles, a great course and a field well chuffed to be out pushing on between the tapes.

The SDA once again have to be applauded, this tireless bunch – all volunteers, and one of the few volunteer race organising groups left at that – know how to make a great track work year after year.

Fraser Mccubbing and crew put in some wonderful alterations to the track, giving the seasoned riders a few challenging sections when tackled at pace and still allowing the newcomers to the sport, of which there were more than a few here, a chance to race DH without being petrified.

Fraser Mccubbing – great rider, great course builder, great guy.

As ever there were many topics of conversation flowing through the pits – not least the FC handing out parking fines with a ruthless efficiency that was almost admirable in its application. All those extra £25’s aside this was a track where grip was in abundance – if you were prepared to push those tyres to an edge where they suddenly come alive.

Jack Tennyson is a rider with great all round skills. The double above the step down, where generating speed on the steps on the run in was key, did’nt pose a single problem for Jack.

The big double saw plenty of nasty sounds and a snapped crank, while the elevator drop was as exciting as ever, with the finish line turning into a comedy sketch later in the day.

So without further ado, feast your eyes on all the action on one brilliant race that reminded us just how awesome DH is!

Here’s a little anecdote. I was at Hamsterley Forest a few months ago when a rider on a Cube 180 stereo told me with utter conviction that his bike wasn’t suited to the DH tracks. I held my breath – let’s get real folks. You can race DH in Britain on a hardtail, and as Julia Ferguson (And Christo Gallgher too! )shows an Enduro bike will see you just fine.

There was plenty of this….

and a bit of this too……roots, mud and rock make DH what it is.

Craig Howie, a staple of the scene and just a wee bit buzzing to get back on the horse.

Another critical point on the course, that did resemble a set of traffic lights at times. Letting the bike move underneath you was key.

Cameron Chisolm working his way through.

Cameron Penman took a 9th in Juvenile behind winner Logan Wilcox who looked very comfortable and fast on track.

Did we mention it rained?

Kai Bremner has a future. Here he is, mid crashing and mid way through getting his thumbs up as he spots the camera first. 2nd in Youth.

Lewis summers took 8th in Elite, not a bad start for the rookie elite.

He also threw a cheeky toboggan over the double, get up them steps son!

Becci Skelton took a fair old digger just above this corner and took a while to compose herself. 1st win of the year for Becci.

The 2 metre uphill after this berm embarrassingly caught a few folk out on their first practice run, with an impromptu hike a bike called for but by Sunday no such issues were present.

Darren Wilkin – He “builds dykes and rides bikes” – 10th in senior, with a crash, for this dry stone waller from Alston.

Eyes on the prize!

The Dudes of Hazzard latest recruit, Lachlan Blair testing the full capabilities of his Canyon Sender by being a sender. #hucklife

Euan Thomson and his 29’r DH bike. Good number board too.

Henry Kerr walloped the junior field and his brother George, seen here, slashed his hand but should ok for their first world cup in Lourdes. Henry Starting where he left off putting 5 seconds into Jack Tennyson.

Like a fine wine, Shill gets better with age, a commanding win in the “still young enough to care” class. Rumours are abound that a certain former top UK elite rider might be making a comeback and it would be great to see Shill and the famous Mr Big do battlw down a few slopes.

Chris Whitfield taking another win. It’s hard to say that Chris gets better as he gets older, as he was a top ten UK elite rider in the ’00s but he still knows how to pull out a stonking run when the gate drops.

So close. So close. 0.58 seconds from making it 6 on the bounce but Cathro couldn’t quite best the pace of a flying Kestrel.

No messing around here. Brayton has bigger fish to fry but he knows the importance of keeping your own house in order before you head away on expeditions. On a track that was flat out for nearly it’s entirety, putting half a second into a very fast Ben Cathro is no mean feat.

You can find the full results from the race by visiting Roots and Rain.

Make sure you check back tomorrow for the official race recap video!

Big thanks to Keith Bremner for the additional images.

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