The first grassroots downhill race of the year in the south of England brought with it one thing sadly lacking so far in 2018: Sunshine and dust. And it was blooming wonderful.
What a cracking event it was and if the raw talent and speed shown here this weekend is anything to go by then the future of British downhill racing is very bright.
Tidworth Freeride is situated on the edge of the British Army training grounds of Salisbury Plain in Hampshire and has undergone a resurgence in trail building over the last few years. Under the umbrella of the B1KE group, it is now one of the premier DH venues in the country. The team have created multiple tracks in the chalky soil over the years and it now caters for everyone from beginners through to the most experienced and bravest riders and everything in between.
They have held very successful races for the last 2 years called the Root 1 race series with fun and fast tracks that are relatively easy to ride but still a challenge for the fast boys and girls.
With 200 riders signed on, ranging from 5 to 56 years old including 30 under 12 rippers and 20 ladies, it was always going to be a busy day and as riders began their practice runs the talk was of the slippy dust that covered the track and that made for some sketchy moments during the day.
Last minute helmet and goggle adjustments on the huge wooden start ramp before the riders launch themselves off onto the course.
The riders sped down the start ramp and straight into a completely redesigned top section for 2018, the culmination of a ton of work for race organiser Neal West and Barry Lee with the help of the guys from Dirtkraft who have been in with their machines over the winter. These guys always manage to surprise us with new features every spring and never cease to amaze. A fast slalom through the trees with the odd small table gets the riders' blood flowing.
The track then turned into the first of many root sections that littered the course. Many riders would be cursing these roots later on with a lot of riders dropping chains as the bikes bucked around underneath them.
Roots gave way to fast smooth berms now and even with a fine covering of chalk dust, the riders were really starting to pick up speed here.
The track carried out into the blazing sunshine and onto another fast section that favoured the brave keeping off the brakes before diving back into the woods and more roots.
The middle section of the track is arguably the hardest section to get right and not lose any time. The tight corners were like a dustbowl and the roots were ready to grab your wheel in the blink of an eye.
The last root lined section saw the fastest riders take the high line to avoid braking and turning on those treacherous roots.
Out of the woods now and this is where the track really opens up and a series of catch berms leads down to the finish with only a few small jumps to keep the riders on their toes.
The finish line was there all too quick for some riders but now it was time to kick back and check out their times and see how everyone got on.
With the days racing over it was time to reflect on future of downhill racing in the UK and with races like this up and down the country the pool of talent for the future looks very promising indeed. Click here
for the full results.
Thanks to everyone at B1KE, Tidworth bike park, all the medics, sponsors and marshals for putting on what was one of the best weekends of the year so far.