The Welsh venue of Moelfre Hall near Llansillin has seen its fair share of events over the years, from regionals right through to the prestigious National Championships. Always a bit of a lottery with the weather being such an open hillside, the track has its critics, but never fails to produce close racing. Read on for the action from Round four of the 2010 BDS series:
After three sun drenched rounds of the BDS the luck was bound to run out at some point. So it was to a slightly damp welsh hillside that riders arrived to for round four of the 2010 British Downhill Series. A series much rejuvenated this season - where Rheola kicked things off in the South early season with sun and an awesome track, Fort William soon following in Scotland for round two with a lot of fresh track work ready for the World Cup to be held shortly after. And then there was round three at Llangollen in North Wales just a few miles over the hills from the chosen venue for round four of Moelfre.
First used in 2005 by Dave Morgan when he was in charge of the NPS the main track has seen some fair wear and tear in the intervening period with all manner of races having taken place on it. But with the original track taking the best line down the hill already there is a limit to where any new track can go. Which is why Si Paton and his team set to work on tweaking the existing with just a week to go before the race for some fresh sections. The track itself is deceptive for you’d be forgiven for thinking it was pretty small but at 1049ft in vertical drop over 2.25km it’s not that far from Fort Williams 1600ft in 2.8km. Factor in the times and that all adds up to a track which the fastest riders are completing with an average speed of over 30mph (we like a good mix of imperial and metric)!
So what changes were actually made? From a blustery start line the course cut across the old worn in rut leading to the first quarry which created a drifty off camber corner across fresh grass; great fun and fast when got right, a speed sapper when you didn’t. Drop off the high side of the quarry and turn into a gap which caught several riders out over the weekend. It wasn’t huge but it was awkward as you were turning, battling a cross wind and taking off from a falling lip. The usual fast and carving turns then followed as you were led down by the fence marking the ridge of the hill to the first newly constructed berms. Sprint from there into the first step down which was closely followed by the second. This was another jump which was awkward and caught riders out during practice – the big hip being about 30ft long, kinking to the right in the air and followed immediately upon landing by a tight left hand berm where some G’s were pulled before being spat out into the gorse corners. Crash into these bushes and you’ll come out looking like a pin cushion!
Stay smooth, hold your lines and carry speed through the switchbacks before hitting maximum compression in the run to the road crossing. Flat out across the road and you’re onto the traverse which used to be off camber with the need for a 100mm left hand crank to get the pedal strokes in. No longer, a good ledge now exists and allows you to really crank towards the turn at the end, the fades alongside catching out the unwary. In sight of the finish now but still thirty seconds to go with just a bit more pedalling. The last section was where the real interest was anyway, especially from a spectators point of view. Drop into the old 4x track to catch the last three doubles which were certainly a challenge to clear on a downhill bike, pop off a small kicker and into two long right/left berms, the first with a hip-kick at the end which was great to pop out of. Compress through the ditch and a last gasp sprint to the finish line to break the beam. Sub 2:40 was a very good time with a high average speed.
Now as well as being famed for not having much protection from the elements it also has something of a reputation for damaging bikes on the uplift. To help alleviate some of the damage there was foam matting on hand which certainly helped although some people decided it was unfortunately an opportunity to just dump their bikes down without any care so there was still some damage about. You just can’t win. And on the note of uplift there was also the unfortunate incident involving Jack’s newest tractor which was rolled onto its roof on Sunday morning. Luckily it was on the way back down so nobody was injured and the BDS quickly made amendments to the uplift to prevent a repeat. It’s worth pointing out that it was a driver ignoring specific instructions not to take a route which caused the tractor to roll.
And then it was almost time to race. There is no doubting that downhill is a dangerous game when it all goes wrong but this weekend was certainly one some riders would rather forget with three air ambulances being called which takes the total the BDS have needed this year to five. There doesn’t seem to be much opposition to the inclusion of an extra few quid on the entry to make a donation each round for 2011. Unfortunately the last of those was during seeding and caused some massive delays to proceedings, delays which in the end saw the cancellation of seeding so that racing would be able to finish before everyone needed headlamps to see where they were going.
So with everyone ready to go again there was news that the offending jump at the top which caused seeding to be cancelled had been removed, and this caused a fair bit of uproar amongst the majority of riders, especially those who had been jumping it. It was a decision by the BC commisaire and a bad one at that for instead of creating a slower route around the jump (remembering that it was rollable anyway) the tape was moved significantly to the left to open a faster line and remove all incentive to do the jump. Compared to many tracks this was a pretty tame obstacle and it was a real shame that at a National level event it was removed. Anyway, onto the racing.
Juveniles are always first down the hill and were one of the few categories to have actually got a seeding run. Taylor Vernon of Bike It Cycles took third in the race with a 2:59, scraping the place by the slimmest of margins. In second was Sam Herd with a 2:58 having made the trip down from Scotland for Perth City Cycles & Scott. However, taking the win by nearly two seconds was Will Weston for Ancillotti UK in a time of 2:56.
Next up was Youth and Tomac/OC Tuning rider Dan Sheridan was the one to take third with a 2:42. First and second were separated by just 0.055s which amounts to pretty much nothing. An unfortunate gust of wind would make that difference and more! Both Scottish, second place went to All Terrain Cycles’ Fraser McGlone with Alpine Bikes’ Joe Connell the elusive top step for the first time in the 2010 BDS. Their times were both on the 2:38.7 mark.
Junior nearly always sees the top times competing with those of the Experts and this weekend was no different; the top five separated by less than a second, the first four all on a 2:38. Empire Cycles’ Brad Mather took third with Jamie Maller second. All Terrain Cycles’ Mark Scott took the win having spent this year so far ripping up the World Cup circuit.
Seniors were just as tight as Juniors and saw Joseph Taylor take third for Ticket2Ridebc.com with a 2:40, just behind the 2:40 of Alex Holowko. But winning the category with just a 0.073 margin was Jonathan Owen for Stan Jones Cycles with a 2:39.
SRE’s Antony Gaskin rode the course in a 2:43 to take third in Masters. Second went to Fanatik Bike Co rider Neil White with a 2:41. But it was the big man of downhill, Dave List, who took the win for the second time this season having powered to the line in a 2:40.
Pete Roberts didn’t have much luck in the run up to the weekend with his xc bike being nicked, the only thing having stopped his big bike also going being two flat tyres. Having managed to get a few runs in on Saturday afternoon once the Police had been he nevertheless managed third spot in a time of 2:54. Second went to Jerry Twigg of Cycle World in a 2:53 with the win going to Bikeactive.com’s Rich Simpson having broken the timing beam with a 2:49.
Jess Stone may be the 2010 National Champion but wasn’t going to have it all her own way once racing started in the Elite women’s class. 2:56 was good enough for the Trek Gravity Girls team rider to take third whilst Katy Curd put her strength to good advantage on the track to take second with a 2:53. However, the win really was only going to go to one woman and that woman was Tracy Moseley who made it across the line for Trek with a 2:44.
In the non-Elite womens third spot went to Angela Coates for Fox with a 3:23 whilst Lianne Bartleman took second for Mountain High/Orange with a 3:16. However, just over half a second up on that time was Reanne Atherton for Dave Mellor Cycles, breaking into the 3:15’s as a result for the win.
It’s tight at the top in Expert this year with seven riders spread across less than a second, all in contention for the podium. Leon Rosser took third for Team Bicycle Doctor with a 2:36. Just two tenths up was Sam Shucksmith in second place whilst Team Skene’s Emyr Davies took the win with nearly two seconds to spare on a 2:34.
Some big names were present in the Elite category for round four. In the end Josh Bryceland took third for the Santa Cruz Syndicate with a 2:28. 2.25 was the time for the win and it was a time that GT’s Marc Beaumont did but unfortunately it was 0.054s down on the fastest time of the day, a time set by 2009 World Champion Steve Peat. Marc had a crash early on Sunday and then hooked his wheel on the last triple in the 4x track come race run but the Val di Sole World Cup winner took valuable points for the overall series title.
So overall a weekend with plenty going on. 2010 has seen a surge of interest in the series, all the more so after images were leaked of the track changes which brought about another thirty entries for the event. And that’s the big difference this year, the races really have the feel of being a solid event. Entertainment on the Saturday night included a DVD premiere as well as a jousting match and hot food. Round five sees showers added to the mix which should entice more riders to camp onsite and make the most of the entertainment, adding to the atmosphere.
Round five takes place on 25th/26th September at Caersws in Mid-Wales. Quick uplift and a short but intense track should keep things exciting. Moelfre had the track walk led by Steve Peat whilst Caersws will be led by Marc Beaumont. 7pm sharp from the top of the track on Friday, keep an eye out on the BDS website below for up to the date info.Results - Race Results - Series British Downhill Series
Fancy getting some uplift in at Moelfre? Then give Farmer Jac a call on 07970406339 and get it sorted!