Race Coverage

100% Mini Downhill Forest of Dean 1/12/2019

A cold December morning greeted a sell-out field of 292 racers at the last race of 2019 for 100% Mini Downhill at PedalaBikeAway, Forest of Dean. A challenging track was chosen for this event in the form of Ski Run, running prime today thanks to hundreds of riders practising the day before and mercifully no rain overnight. This did not help all riders however with plenty of crashes and skids due to the loose muddy conditions, but all riders showed their capability with even first time racers showing the track whose boss. As per usual, 100% Mini Downhills drew a crowd with 320 riders competing at this sell out event.

               

Pre-race day saw keen riders, and supporters, brave the crisp winter conditions to learn the track and eye up their race lines. Following an arm-burning push up, the track put the racers through their paces providing false security with a gentle flowy entrance soon followed by rutty, slippery roots and a steep chute onto the fire-road, a few heart in throat moments here. The racers then had to navigate their way through tight berm corners eventually allowing them some fun and to show their style on some table-top jumps with a road gap and a sprint to the finish-line.               

With 2 hours of practice up for grabs on the morning of race day, the hill was buzzing early with riders taking full advantage of this classic Forest of Dean trail. Many riders chose to session the upper section of the track, puzzling their way through the multitude of lines on offer to steal valuable tenths of seconds. Other riders were tempted to try outrageous gaps through the tangle of roots in a bid to fly over rather than fight through the slippery maze.               

Racing soon got underway amongst some scepticism from the riders as to whether they required lights for their second run due to long winter nights encroaching on valuable riding time. These fears were soon to put rest with relatively uninterrupted first runs completed by all with minimal crashes and no red flags. In the second run many riders chose not to race relying on their first runs, but those who did dared to push even harder to get those podium places resulting in some slightly risky line choices being taken which produced a lot more crashes in the second half of the course once the finish-line was in sight.  

There was talent on display all the way through this packed field today with a large elite group for the men and strong representation all the way through the men’s categories. The female riders have turned out in force also with a good sized field showing that women’s mountain biking is growing. This can be seen with a number of the women’s field choosing this to be there first ever downhill race.

There was  no stopping the elite men’s winner today Intense Racing’s Oliver Morris, followed by the Dirt Works new boy Archie Box putting in a very strong show on top of an unfamiliar bike from his new sponsors. With William Organ (Ridgehill Race Syndicate) taking third in a decent sized elite category for an event of this size. These riders really showed they were the fastest boys on the hill all day today.

The stand out performances of the day from the men’s field were Madison Saracen development team rider Jordan Williams and Brink UK’s Dec Willicombe putting in the fastest times of the day by anyone. These two boys were split by less than half a second and 2 seconds ahead of the elite winner. Dec Willicombe put in the fastest time for the day of 1:03:19. Showing these two young men are ready to mix it with the big boys, they will have the elite field keeping an eye on them next season that’s for sure.

Bradley Shields took the masters win in his last ever race in the category before the Dirtworks’ rider steps up to the expert class. It was a strong show by Shields this weekend, only needing one run to take the top step whilst carrying an injury to his arm which led to his decision to call it a day after run one. The junior classes seem to just get faster and faster with the young guns hot on the heels of the big boys.

It was a similar story for the women’s field where Jena Fellows showed the rest of the ladies a clean set of skills with a time of 1:16:54 to win the under 19 women’s and with it the fastest women of the day. This girl has a bright future ahead of her that’s for sure.

Other notable performances in the woman’s field are 9 year old Olivia Taylor, showing even at a young age racing at this level is attainable, and Sarah Gamsjaeger (MTBBeds) taking the win in senior women.

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