Round 1 of The British Downhill Series
Round 1 of the BDS was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. I don’t know about but this year winter has felt like it’s dragged its heels and I’m ready for some warmer weather. So on Friday morning I packed the Burgtec van, which was being bathed in some glorious spring sunshine, and DC and I headed off to North Wales, chuffed we were back on the road.
Nant G was a new venue for the BDS and it’s always nice to see different scenery when you’re on the road. It always perks me up when you see the coast as you do when you pass through Conwy. We arrived to a sunset lazily falling out of the sky illuminating the Irish sea like a warm fire in an open hearth you couldn’t ask for more than that.
DC parked up the Burgtec van and we headed up to the track for a quick look before the light disappeared. The top of the track was a mixture of tight trees and roots with fast rocky shoots. We were amazed at how wet the track was with small puddles filling ruts. The ground was visible damp and muddy under foot. We were suffering sunshine amnesia, common to British folk who when they see the sun for a day forget about all the bad weather that went before it, from our afternoon drive through Wales in the blue skies. One day of sun doesn’t dry out a track that’s has had some heavy winter abuse.
The Bottom of the track was characterised by a good old pedal section, which didn’t do justice to the top of the track. This part of the track would show up any rider who had not been training over the winter. Already without a tyre hitting the track thoughts were drifting to a Steve Peat victory. You just felt that Peaty would be a contender for the top spot of the podium. His ability to pedal and carry speed would make him in my honest opinion the man to beat.
But would this be the year for the Brit brat pack? Brendan Fairclough Josh Bryceland, Sam Dale, Joe Smith, Matt Simmonds to challenge the old guard. With the likes of Gee Atherton away in New Zealand, it was even more of a chance for the young elite to shine in the Welsh springtime.
That evening the pit area slowly filled and the excitement grew in equal amounts. The great thing about British race scene is the social side. Catching up with all the people who share the same enthusiasm and passion for riding as you. As soon as you hear the unmistakable tap on the side of the bodywork of the van and the sound of the cargo door sliding open, that’s the sign for the banter to start exactly where it left off from last season, good times!
A cold night gave way to a cold morning but again the spring sunshine lifted spirits and soon the peaceful costal morning was broken by the sound of the Monster Energy PA system.
The major concern of this event was the uplift, set on a freshly laid single-track road as steep as the Furker Pass in Switzerland. The good thing was the road was shut and was only open to the uplift coaches and tractors.
Rough time for a round trip was 1 hour in the morning but the transport sped up to about a 45 min round trip. Not the fastest but a good pace and enough to get a few run in.
It was great to see the elite riders back on track eating up rough, steep terrain as gracefully as a mountain goat running down a mountain after he’d forgotten to turn his iron off. As you can see from the picks the weather was holding steady.
There was a real field of stars out there with the CRC team lighting up the track. Matti Lehikoinen (pictured below) made an appearance and is always exciting to watch his flat out style.
There was a massive field of elites with 40 in total at last count. It’s a real testament to the talent that resides on the British shores. The top 10 riders at this event would be sure to pepper the top 20 of any World Cup race standings.
Joe Smith now with the backing of Chain Reaction Cycles and team manager Nige Page can only go faster this season. (pictured below)
Matt Simmonds a solid rider but can he break into the top 10 in the world this year? I hope so. (pictured below)
Slugger Beaumont full of confidence at the moment and it’s showing in his riding. (pictured below)
Peaty, showing no signs of relinquishing the crown of being the one to beat. (pictured below)
What a difference a day makes
On the Sunday the rain and wind took the place of sunshine it crept in under the cover of darkness. I know this because the awning was making all sorts of noises at daft o’clock in the morning keeping everybody in the van awake.
As you can see from the pics the weather was very cold and very wet. ‘It was that fine rain the one that gets you soaking wet’ to quote Peter Kay
In the morning most people managed a run, 2 if you were on it. This gave way to qualification, which ended abruptly with a junior smashing himself up pretty bad on the track. Qualification had to be cancelled and racing started at 2pm. Just want to wish the lad a speedy recover, hope you get better soon!
Now racing always throws up something to talk about and Nant G was no exception. Al Bond came out of nowhere it seemed and posted a time that nobody could beat. Rider after elite rider came down but still nobody could turf him out of the mud-lined hot seat.
Peaty came close if it were not for a spill over the rock garden hump (The very one pictured above on practice day). He over jumped it landing in the bottom of the dip which spat him off in the wrong direction.
It was a bad day for Brendan finishing 15th.. He is too good a rider for that position (pictured below)
Good day for Burgtec rider Sam Dale finishing 6th. I’m really excited to him ride this year with the backing of the Sunn team. He’ll do big things this year I’m certain. (pictured below)
A solid start for Burgtce rider Josh Bryceland who is showing signs of becoming as consistent as his Syndicate team mates. Finished in 4th. (pictured below)
One rider left with Bond still in the hot seat. Marc Beaumont’s spilt was only 2 hundreds of a second faster than Al’s. It would make for a nerve racking finish. Unbelievable when Marc crossed the line he had put 4 seconds into Al Bonds time. I guess we found out who’d been training over the winter months and Slugger must have been to the same training camp as Rocky before fighting Ivan Drago.
Pos Name Speed Spilt 1 Spilt 2 Race Diff
1 Marc Beaumont 26.63 1:28.113 48.585s 2:16.698
2 Al Bond 24.68 1:28.359 52.546s 2:20.905 4.207s
3 Steve Peat 24.77 1:28.145 54.258s 2:22.403 5.705s
4 Josh Bryceland 24.34 1:31.642 51.017s 2:22.659 5.961s
5 Joe Smith 23.99 1:30.728 52.071s 2:22.799 6.101s
6 Sam Dale 25.07 1:31.383 51.890s 2:23.273 6.575s
7 Matt Simmonds 25.56 1:33.491 50.653s 2:24.144 7.446s
8 Matti Lehikoinen 25.68 1:33.547 50.752s 2:24.299 7.601s
9 Tom Braithwaite 24.31 1:31.557 52.878s 2:24.435 7.737s
10 Bernard Kerr 25.51 1:31.061 54.949s 2:26.010 9.312s
Overall a good start to the British season with some exciting racing. A great-organised event and it’s exciting to see a load of new sponsors on board including ourselves for biggest winning margin.
The speed trap and spilt timing is definitely a welcome edition. I feel British racing is going in the right direction.
Shame about the weather on Sunday but you have more chance winning the Lottery than having 2 consecutive days of sun in Wales in March.
Can’t wait for the next race, Moelfre BDS round 2, 9th/10th April.