Last weekend saw the return of the Northern Downhill (NDH) race series. Just when you thought it was safe to put your bike in for a service, dust off those turbo trainers or fire up Zwift for the cold and wet winter days, then boom, NDH puts on an incredible Sunday race under the name of Descendant. The venue, the behemoth of a forest that is Kielder. I remember talking to Carl, the man behind NDH some years ago now, when he last entertained an enduro race here. He had said how he wanted to race this downhill line from the very top to the bottom. I remember him saying it would only really suit the more experienced rider though. He was not wrong!
Sunday consisted of 2 races, one hard and one... well... not so hard. He also included an e-mtb category, since the rise of the e-mtb is not something to be overlooked. The hard race started right at the top of the Deadwater trail, but then cut off to the right into some super technical rocky, sloppy, steep and rooty trails. It was obvious how much work had gone into this trail since the last race here back in March 2016. As I was stood in places snapping photos, the grunts, expletives and laughs coming from the riders were all too audible. People were loving the technicality. I've ridden many of the race lines in the UK, exploring race lines, and this has to be up there as one of the hardest out there. Natural, technical and soon to be one of the British National Enduro Series race lines. Yes, that is correct, in 2020 NDH will be hosting the final round here at Kielder, and what a finale this could be!
The easier race avoided this trail and formed part of the Kielder Black trail centre line. Not one to be underestimated, especially at race speed, with big jumps, drops and amazing berms. Once racers had completed their first stage, either the hard of the easier lines, then they all came together and raced the Deadwater trail from top to bottom. Not that technical of a stage, but very long all the same. Most riders after practicing and racing will have done approximately 3000+ feet of climbing. On average, despite there only being 2 race stages, most riders were racing for between 12-18 minutes. Some races that have 4-5 stages have that amount of racing or less!
Did you make the mishap shots?
The fastest rider on the hardest race was Christopher Sutcliffe (19-29) in an amazing 12:08.33. Christopher took the fastest time on stage one, second fastest went to Oliver Draffan (14-18 ) only 8.22 seconds behind and taking the fastest time on stage 2. Third fastest went to Brendan Morris (30-39) 33.72 seconds behind the leader. That's some pretty tight racing over such long stages. A big shout out must go to Veteran rider Philip Grimes (40-49) for making it into the top ten fastest of the day, and winning his category in a commanding time. For a full run down of the results head over to roots and rain
So, that's a wrap for the NDH's first winter race. Next month we will see a change in venue. They should have been heading to Ae forest again, but that has been moved to Kidland, home of the Naughty Northumbrian. This will be one hell of a race, and definitely not one to be missed since it is only accessible during races. For more information and to sign up, head over to the Northern Downhill site
, or their Facebook pages
See you all here next year for the British National Enduro Series final round. It's going to be huge!
Race report and photos brought to you by @JWDTphotography