British Downhill Series – Round 1/Antur Stiniog

The first round of the nationals has come around real quick this year and soon enough here we are last Thursday packing up the van ready to head up to the first race at Antur Stiniog all the way up in North Wales in the mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Check out some of the photos of our trip with a little insight as to how I got on.

The track was an all open hillside covered in loose slate and was real slippery early practice on Saturday after rain Friday night. It consisted of a real windy fast top section, then dropped into a steep turns all the way down to this level photo section pictured and finally into a pretty nasty flat sprint to the finish.

Ash demonstrates one of the corners in the middle section, pretty gnarly with varied line choice.

This was easily the most challenging part of the course, the line to the left was the easiest/rollable way but the fastest line was to buck off the rock to the right and land on slippy slate rocks. This was increasingly more difficult as the weekend went on as the hole in front of the rock got deeper and deeper. A few wild moments were had on this one and judging by the amount of times I heard “Red flag marshall point 4”, this was were all the chaos was all weekend.

Stunning views of the Welsh mountains from the top of the course.

Race plates and back plates ready to go for seeding and race runs.

So national format is broken down into a seeding run and then one final race run that all counts. The seeding run gives you a good idea as to where you are and sets the order for the finals to run as smooth as possible. I  had a good seeding run, feeling comfortable and smooth. On the bottom sprint I sat down and spun instead of sprinting to save myself for the finals. I crossed the line in 6th and ended up seeding 15th/44 in my category, I was proper stoked with this result as it was were I was aiming to be and I knew I could put more into the final run.

After a long nerve racking wait at the top for my final run due to a few delays on the course from previous riders. I was up in the gate ready to drop in. Mixed emotions of nerves and excitement as I knew I could get a good result. I dropped in hot and started to pick up the pace in the fast top section, it was really windy up the top all weekend and I thought it had died down for the race runs. Unfortunatley I took off this gap landed where I wanted too but in the air the wind had pushed my bike from underneath me, lent sideways I carved right off the track and rolled down a bank. This point was the worst as I had thrown it all away in the very top section I was gutted. I scrambled back to my bike, jumped on and rode the rest of the track pretty aggressively in my own annoyance.

I finished 25th in the end which isn’t all bad considering the crash but still gutting knowing I would have been on a good result having not crashed. We quickly packed up and got out of there as my travelling buddy Ash Mullane also had a crash. Still all is good for confidence leading into the next big one at Fort William in May.