Mark Neal sending it big off the bottom drop #JustPullUp
Around 18 months ago, Danny Hart and his crew (Including Mum, Sue and Dad, Paul who run the park day to day) took over the reins at the Descend Bike Park at Hamsterley Forest, transforming it into Danny Hart’s Descend Bike Park. The park is the only dedicated and official DH venue between Sheffield and Edinburgh, so plays a vital role in the Northern scene. Easily accessible and with increasingly improving facilities, the park has started to reshape its appeal and really is becoming a destination venue for riders from further afield now.
During the break for lunch at weekends, the enigmatic Joe Cox looks after the riders with great BBQ burgers and is well worth spending time with. It also runs a great uplift service, which can often get fully booked. All in all, it’s a place well worth visiting.
The new start ramp – solid!
Hamsterley forest isn’t the biggest hill around, but what trails they have put in really make up for that. The upper sections of trail are super-fast with sling-shot berms that the bike can really sink into, step downs, cheeky gaps and the ever popular tabletop.
Nick’s first full on downhill race, flying high above the tabletop
But once you’ve crossed the fireroad and into the lower sections of the trails, this is where the limits of both bike and skill can be pushed. With steep rock sections, roots, drops and a plethora of line and trail choices, you could easily ride here for a day and find a different line down each time.
Descent-World has a hotlaps leader board also running each year, where you can pitch yourself against friends (or foes) in a pressure free format. You can easily get entered by signing up for the day and grabbing a free “free lap” watch. More information can be found here
Who would have thought in November you’d be racing on loose and dusty trails?
This race was a one-day, King of the Hill, winner takes all race. With an early sign on, the track was live for practice from 9.00am for practice until 12.00.
Then, once the gate drops, the bullshit stops.
2 timed runs down the trail and the fastest time counts. With the forest not having the biggest hills about, the course was only about 90 seconds long for the faster riders, and there was literally only 10 seconds that separated the top 20 riders which made error free runs crucial.
In the elite category Chris and Jonathan Philogene were racing in the UK for the first time, but by no means strangers to racing, having both been seen at UCI races around the globe. On the day only 0.16s separated these two lads! What a race they had, both getting their fastest time on the second timed run and Chris taking the win.
However, the fastest rider on the day was Reece Langhorn, winning the expert male and getting the fastest time of the day, closely followed by Chris Cumming (15-16) and Anthony Robson (17+) both by under 3 seconds.
Reece hard on the peddles and heading into the dark forest and lower section. Reece won Expert men and took the fastest time of the day by 2.37s
Rosie took the top spot in the women open race by 9.02s
This was the inaugural King of the Hill race at Danny Hart’s Descend Bike park. There was a total 100 riders signed up, with 98 finishers in total. Not massive numbers but this was capped deliberately due to the difficult winter months and ruthlessly short day light hours. The atmosphere around the hill was amazing, with great banter and heckling.
Danny himself having a course walk and chatting to the riders throughout the day.
The course itself could not have been predicted leading up to the race. With the tape and course winding from top to bottom on and off the normal trails, the course had been well designed and really levelled the playing field. The local lads weren’t going to just turn up and smash it!
“Sunday’s zig zaggy track was mind bending!! I went through the tape about 3 times and had several more close calls” Nicola Young on the course.
Choosing the fast line had high consequences. Morgan Webb nose diving through the narrow tree gap. He saved it!
For a full run down of the results and loads more pictures head over to roots and rain here
This was one hell of a great race. It had a great atmosphere, was run extremely smoothly and I’m already hearing people talking about racing it next year, so let’s hope this one gets into the yearly calendar for sure.
The infamous Mondaker banner, will it be there next season?
Zech during practice (a sneaky preview on Saturday) riding a more than capable Enduro bike
Loose and dusty berms towards the lower section of the course
Katie Purvis racing on one of her new bikes
The weather had been superb all week, unprecedented for this time of year, dry moorlands nearby as far as the eye could see