Race Report: Danny Hart Wins 2019 Northern Downhill Kick Off Event at Hamsterley

Jan 15, 2019 at 5:55
by Jerry Tatton  
Danny Hart returned to the grass roots race scene and brushed shoulders with some quality local riders

It's been a quiet time in the UK race calendar over the festive season, but as far as the Northern Downhill was concerned, this was the quiet before the storm. As they returned to one of their most popular race venues, so did a respectable number of riders and a certain 2 time World Downhill Champion.

Hamsterley was the venue for the first enduro in the Northern Downhill calendar. Hamsterley is a very popular forest very well located and central in the area, hence its popularity as a race venue. It forms part of the super 6 mountain bike trail centres, Northern England's answer to the 7 Stanes in Scotland. The others being Kielder, Chopwell, Whinlatter, Grizedale and Gisburn. One of the best features Hamsterley has to offer over the others is the purpose built Downhill Trail centre run by the Hart family and the very popular uplift service.

Danny Hart's family run uplift bike park provided some tasty technical trails for the enduro

This was a sell out race very soon after the Christmas break, but this did not deter the riders signing up for an early year race. Time to burn off the Christmas Turkeys and puddings. Talking to several riders on the day, their excitement was always apparent as the wait to race had seemed endless.

Riders gathered well before the official sign in started such was the keenness to get back racing

This time of year always seems like a high risk time of year to organise a race in Northern England, but the weather this year could not have been more prime, except for some hefty winds on the tops of the hills. With uncharacteristically mild and dry spells for weeks leading up to the race, most trails were bone dry and even dusty.

Don't be fooled by the summer looking conditions, there was a hefty wind blowing. Photo credit Andy Cole

Dusty trail centre trails. Photo Credit Andy Cole

This enduro consisted of 4 stages on either side of the valley. Stages 1 (old NPS) and 2 (the Edge) in Danny Hart's Descend Bike Park provided steep and technical riding more closely suited to the downhill riders. Stages 3 and 4 were part of the red cycle trails, but with a twist. The trail commonly known as Root 666 was used in its normal guise, but also the climb part of 666 was used in reverse. Something that hasn't been done for some time in a race at Hamsterley, so this could potentially have levelled the playing field, as well as Carl (Northern Downhill's organiser) putting in some crafty lines in stages 1 and 2.

2019 Northern Downhill ND H uro
The bottom of stage 1 provided some #JustPressSend moments

2019 Northern Downhill ND H uro
Tight steep berms on stage 1 (NPS) Melody Fife taking the win in women's open category and beating nearly 50% of the entire field of riders

Normally during an enduro race the format is to follow the stages from 1-4 in order, however, due to the shorter winter days, riders could choose which ever stage they wanted to ride and in any order. This provided the perfect opportunity to practice in the morning and then have ample time and light to race through the afternoon light.

Mark Neal tucking in on the Edge. Mark (Vets) took the win in his category

The overall fastest time of the day is probably no surprise and went to Danny Hart in 6:11.64 across the 4 stages. Looking through the stats, Danny seemed well ahead on the technical and steep trails, however, he was beaten on stage 4 by Christopher Philogene. Chris came in second place behind Danny in the 19-29 category. The second fastest time of the day went to Brad Illingworth (30-39) in 6:29.78 and third fastest went to Josh Noble (14-18 ) in an incredible 6:34.26

1st Danny, 2nd Ben and 3rd Chris

The women's race was won by Melody Fife, her time 8:25.60 followed closely by Phoebe Gale in 8:40.66 and third place to Elsbeth Greenshields in 8:43.91. The women's race provided much tighter and closer racing with less than 20 seconds separating the top 3.

1st Melody, 2nd Phoebe and 3rd Elsbeth

For a full and complete rundown of the results head over to Roots and Rain

This was a superbly run first race of the season for Carl and the Northern Downhill crew. The next race in the calendar is at Ae forest on 10th February 2019 and promises to be an absolute belter of a race. A Time Trial (TT) race from the very top to the bottom of the hill. This is honestly one not to miss. More details can be found on their official website here you can also follow more information on their FaceBook pages.

So that's a wrap, it was great to see the legend that is Danny return to the Northern Downhill race scene, not seen here since 2015. I'll leave you with some more images from the weekends race. See you at Ae next month.

2019 Northern Downhill ND H uro

Party shirts make you go faster!

Perfect blue skies Photo Credit Andy Cole

This race report brought to you by @JWDTphotographyPhotography by @DialledinUK
A massive shout out to the main man himself and a warrior behind the camera Andy Cole. Check him out here


  • + 55
 Danny that is some pimp Athleisurewear for the podium
  • + 3
 I literally burst out laughing at that and now can't look back up the page! Made my lunch time reading! Cheers dude!
  • + 0
 Theme song of "rocky" in my head now...ear worm...great song tho
  • + 7
 Looks like Danny won first AND second place in that pick. Is Ben a brothafromanathamotha?
  • - 1
 Danny carries quite a big wallet for racing.
  • + 0
 See man's got that hottt trackkkyyyyyyyyy, BIG MAN TINGZ
  • + 0
 cant stop laughing at that comment
  • + 0
 @chyu: I just thought he was pleased to see you...
  • + 23
 The guy who finished second looks more like Danny Hart than Danny Hart!!!!!!
  • + 4
 Ha ha, yeah. He looks like Danny but stood closer!
  • + 19
 Danny with the yugoslavian tuxedo!
  • + 12
 They didn't stand a chance.
  • + 3
 Kind of true, but he was beaten on one stage!
  • + 2
 @JWDTphotography: So rad. Thanks for the race report.
  • - 11
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 16, 2019 at 2:31) (Below Threshold)
 @Adamrideshisbike - they did. Danny's 36 has so much flex it was putting him at a disadvantage. Also his handlebar and stem combo has non optimal geometry. Read about it on Pinkbike.
  • + 11
 Not really news that Danny win a race at his own bike park is it?
  • + 6
 @big-G-84: Beating up on the locals is a great way to build confidence going in to the new season.
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t: If it is your own park, no one is more local than yourself Wink .
  • + 8
  • + 6
 when you start getting the first race-reports it's like... ok, NOW the year is starting... looking forward for pizza and beer and racing streams over the weekend !
  • - 1
 It's madness when American foods are even popular in a country with such proud culinary traditions as Italy.
  • + 1
 @ermoldaker: please tell me you're being sarcastic
  • + 6
 It’s not sandbagging- it’s supporting your local scene. Good on ya Danny, I wish more pros would follow suit...
  • + 4
 It’s never sandbagging if it’s on your local hill.
  • + 5
 Dear Pinkbikers, lets chip in for Melodyś knee pads!
  • + 1
 Yes - really. The winning female wears no pads at all. Very smart. I don't get it.
  • - 8
flag oldtech (Jan 16, 2019 at 4:07) (Below Threshold)
 @NoriDori: some riders use skills insted of pads.
  • + 3
 Love to see steel bikes win races. Great job Melody! And great bike obviously, Cotic Smile !
  • + 2
 "a certain 2 times World Cup Downhill champion." Typo?

Maybe i am wrong, but Danny have won the world cup once, and twice the world championship.
  • + 2
 Danny hasn't won the world cup overall yet Smile but 2 x WC once in 2011 and then in 2016
  • + 2
 Aye. My writings not clear there. PB editors, could have amended this. ;-) @Mirks:
  • + 4
 So it's 6+ minutes total racing time throughout the entire day?
  • + 2
 that's what I thought. How long was each track, 300 metres?
  • + 6
 What is this!A race for ants!
  • + 2
 @enduroNZ: is that a confession that a few stages at 300m takes you 6 minutes... says more about you I think Smile
Only been there once, the trails all start off pretty flat then get rowdy.
  • + 2
 Practice in the morning, racing in the afternoon
  • + 3
 If you are having a slow day, read this article in Danny’s voice and I promise you your day will improve.
  • + 3
 Is Ben Danny's big brother? same face
  • + 2
 Looks like enduro session.
  • + 1
 So wait.... Danny competed in a race that he put on in a bikepark he owns? .......................................?
  • + 2
 He could have won on that hill going backwards.
  • + 2
 It's hard to believe there that was that few women racing.
  • + 2
 Sandbagger XD
  • + 1
 Damn, Daniel! Back at it again......
  • + 1
 Proof read before you post.
  • + 1
 Nah....that's why you submit to the editors....lmao
  • + 1
 Is this the place where those cute little furry creatures come from?

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