After a long old winter it was time for the riders to dust off their trick bags and get ready for round 1 of this year’s Rose Bikes Dirt Wars UK FMB Bronze National Series. Chicksands was first on the list and as always the jumps didn't fail to impress us.
Chicksands Bike Park is set in woodland in Bedfordshire and has been around since square wheels and is ran and maintained by the Chicksands bike park crew. The park has a whole range of riding from 4x, dirt jumps and DH to dual racing.
The Dirt Jumps are by no means the biggest in our series but they are however the perfect jumps to get the series going every year and let the riders get back into the swing of things before moving on to some of our bigger courses later in the year.
As always, we held an open class and a pro class to separate the big trickers from the up and coming riders and with the 3 top riders from last years open moving up into pro class this year it has opened the field for a whole bunch of new riders who are getting ready to move up through the ranks.
At signing in we came across a bit of a problem as our insurance stated that all riders must be over the age of 13 to ride the series but we had a 9-year-old ripper who was desperate to ride the comp in open class. We really didn't want to upset the little fella as he held a valid FMB Bronze licence and after watching him ride we could clearly see he was totally competent in riding the course and throwing out his little trick bag. A phone call was made and we awaited a response, the call came back and we managed to up our insurance cover to allow the tiny Finlay Davis to ride.
With all riders on course for practice you could see the determination in the new riders as they familiarised themselves with the course getting ready for the open category qualification round. All the riders were ripping through the course when one of our top boy’s Cameron Crozier showed the top guys still get it wrong as he slipped a pedal on the set up jump and ended up face first at the bottom of the second jump taking a huge SFG (Scorpion Face Grind) and cutting up his face ending his days riding.
After a bit of course maintenance by the Bike Park Crew we got on with the open rider's qualification round and all the riders were set to shut each other down. Even the close brotherhood of Sam and Tomas Wood was divided as they lined up at the start against each other.
With tuck no handers, superman's over the set up jump (Robert Beard), no-footed cans, whips, tables and the occasional 360 from welsh rider Rhys Pryce Griffiths and many 360 attempts from Sam Wood (kept landing 450 and getting bounced down the landing) the open class riders were cut down to the top 7 ready for the final.
Over to the pro riders and the privateers riding in pro as they took to the course to show the open riders how it's done. With 10 of the UK’s top riders on the line up it was set to go off big time.
With the jumps at Chicksands being on the smaller side the riders have to hold back in the first round as there is not enough air time from the jumps to pull double backflips, double tailwhips and triple truck drivers etc like there are on some of the other courses so they all had to choose their runs wisely to make sure they got everything in to ensure their seeding place.
Alfie Stephens was back after a year out from injury and styled the course like he had never been away pulling Inverted tables with huge style and tailwhips to perfection. Zac Rainbow and Callum Sherwood were showing they have what it takes to compete with the big boy’s as they rode their first comp in pro class (both rode open class in 2017 which Zac went on to win) and both riders rode amazingly well with Callum pulling out decades and Zac putting down the frontflip tuck no hander…
After 3 runs each the riders were put into their seeding order ready for the pro final.
After a short break and some food, the open riders started their final and a few of the newcomers had a few surprises up their sleeves.
Scottish rider Aiden McMillan had obviously been putting in the practice over the winter months as he pulled several flips and 360’s as had Larn Baldwin with his nothings and triple x-ups. Dan Northern couldn't quite get a run together despite riding really well in practice he just kept coming up short or crashing out in his final runs unlike Harry Bolton pulling off huge moto whips and managing to bag a tail whip.
The little 9-year-old Finlay Davis showed the older guys he was well worthy of a spot in the final chucking out oppo no footed cans and no footed seat grabs and toboggans which saw him take 4th Place in his first FMB Bronze event. This little guy really is the future of freestyle mountain biking.
Even though Finlay came up with the goods it wasn't enough to stop our top 3 open riders as Rhys Griffiths (A.K.A Rpg) Jake Kennedy and Aiden McMillian from taking the podium
1st Rhys Pryce Griffiths - barspin, suicide, 360, oppo 360
2nd Jake Kennedy - x-up, barspin to x-up, 360, truck Driver
3rd Aiden McMillan - ET, flip, tuck no hander, 360
With the open riders done and dusted it was time to settle the score with the big guns as the pro riders took to the course.
Rose Bikes Harry Campbell was up first throwing front flips and his trademark backflip one footed X-ups, a few things went a bit wrong for Harry in a few of his runs but he still managed to put in an amazing second run that set his score high.
Fresh off taking his Saracen/Madison sponsorship young Sam Hodgson was set to get on top of the scoreboard sending huge superman seatgrabs and flipwhips whilst Dartmoors Alfie Stephens chucked out the tailwhips and perfect Indian airs.
Just back from Canada, Chromags Joe Aldridge was just getting back familiar with UK soil with 360 cans and barspins being sent from all angles.
The Two pioneer riders Zac Rainbow and Callum Sherwood again showed they had the talent to be riding with the pro’s as Zac sent underflips, fliptucks and frontys whilst Callum struggled to trick the setup jump he still threw out the tailwhips, oppo tailwhips and fully stretched suicides. GT Bikes Tom Isted was not on form due to a huge 6hr drive to the venue followed by him being sick all morning. Tom still decided to ride and although finishing 5th in quallys he couldn't quite put a run together in the final.
The first and second place battle was between Ex/Smuggling Duds rider Freddy Pulman and Banshee Bikes/Gusset rider Alex Cahill with both unleashing their trick bags heavily.
Unfortunately for Freddy he couldn't quite top Alex this time and went away with second place.
1st Alex Cahill - barspin, backflip barspin, tailwhip to barspin, 3 downwhip
2nd Freddy Pulman - barspin, truck driver, backflip tuck no hander, 360 tailwhip
3rd Sam Hodgson - tuck no hander, backflip cancan, superman seat grab, double tailwhip
Well done to all the riders who competed and thanks for such an amazing day.
Big thanks to the Chicksands Bike Park Crew, photographers Terry Stag and Hugh Wycherly, filmers Henry Agar and Ryan Nangle and The Dirt Wars Crew
Round 2 is on the 10th of June at Radical Bike Park in Essex UK.
All riders wanting to ride Round 3 NASS then you need to mail Cliff@dirtwarsuk.com before the 15th of June 2018.