Last weekend saw riders brave the cold conditions in the Forest of Dean to do battle for the first time in 2019. A new year has also seen a few changes, riders have no moved categories and the Mini Downhill now has a new title sponsor. This was the first time riders could race against new rivals and find out if the winter training has paid off. The track used was Corkscrew, a favourite with many of the riders here at the Forest of Dean. The weather was pretty bad the day before so the track was slick which made racing exciting all day.
The top-half of the track was very physical that included plenty of jumps and flat turns to catch riders out with the slippery surface, The trail bike would be better for this section but could be costly when it comes to the end of the track. People had various styles to conquer this top section, plenty of riders pedalled where as other pumped and kept the jumps low to keep the momentum and wheels turning over. This wasn't an easy task with the conditions and plenty of people were tired before the fire road split.
There was plenty of action in every category this weekend, making for some very tight racing. The rippers are progressing every race but also provides new and younger kids to learn and explore racing in a friendly environment. The youth and juniors was full of the 'next level' riders who have the potential to take it to the top in the years to come. In addition to the, the 27 female riders that spread over the five female categories was great to see and keep racing interesting. This doesn't mean that the other categories were not fast, the battles in each were immense and kept everyone pushing for the podium.
A handful of racers were gapping onto the fire road, which was risky but also rewarding as it kept speed and momentum.We would like to wish them a speedy recovery, we hope to see them at round 2. Others decided to land flat or try and pump onto the downslope, this is where the downhill bike would now come into strength. Over the firer road and it was a steep and slippery chute which caught plenty who came into the section too fast or off-balance. Keeping the wheels into the dirt was key and tyre pressures would be the talk throughout the day. There was plenty of roots and drops that allowed riders to become creative with line choices and how they attack each section on the bike, the risk was high but the reward was a chance on the podium where times were very close.
Riders were experimenting throughout the day with high and low lines into a tight and awkward right hand turn, last thing that racers wanted to do was to throw away a good run in the final corners. It allowed riders to show off in front of a packed crowed and the live stream, but could easily go wrong due the amount of roots and speed that you enter this section with. Another chute into a flat muddy corner also caught plenty out but holding it open also gave people momentum to the finish line.
A few weeks for riders to re-group and practice ready for round 2, a big thank you everyone on the day such as the marshal's on a cold day and to the sponsors for keeping the series running.
Blog and Video: Behind the Tape Productions
Photos: David Price Photography