Moelfre in Wales is an idyllic venue for mountain bike racing. Rolling hillsides and views for miles provide some stunning backdrops for this venue and on Saturday 11th July, Britain's fastest mountain bike riders were here to do battle and decide who would be crowned 2015 Schwalbe 4X National Champion. The event, run in conjunction with a British Downhill Series race, was all set to be a great weekend showcasing that DH and 4X work so well together over a weekend. The weather forecast was good and we were all set for practice.
Most people arrived on Friday to get practice in ahead of the National Championships which were held on Saturday night. The track was last used in 2006 for the Fat Face night race series. Chris Roberts was at the track during the week to spruce it up and at 19.00 on Friday night practice got underway. The rough track took some adjusting to for many riders but by the end of practice everyone was up to speed and looking good.
Onto Saturday and the weather was great. Blue skies and perfect riding conditions for the riders as practice got underway at 14.00. Two hours for everyone to get the track dialled. You could tell it was National Championships, as everyone was pushing hard, looking for those vital lines that could help them take home the title of 4X National Champion.
At 17.30 the senior riders lined up for their timed qualifying runs. Going in reverse order to their national ranking, the pace was going to get quicker as seeding progressed. Duncan Ferris set the early pace with a run that looked faultless. Luke Cryer, Alex Metcalfe and Will Evans were unable to beat Duncan's time. Then Nathan Parsons nailed a great run to take over the hot seat. Last rider down was defending Champion, Scott Beaumont. Boom Boom rode smooth and precise to claim the fastest time by 0.5. So with the riders all qualified and the brackets decided, it was time for racing.
At 18.00 the racing began. It was great to see such a huge crowd. Plenty of downhill riders had finished their practice and had made their way up to watch the 4X race. In the first round the action started. Luke Cryer was leading from Dave Richardson when third place rider Ben Jones crashed into Dave taking them both out. In a scramble for the bikes both riders set off together. Richardson dived inside in the next turn but his front wheel washed out. That was it for Dave as Cryer and Jones went on to the next round. Leon Rosser was also a surprise going out in the first round.
Semi final time and it was down to the sharp end. In semi final 1, it was Scott Beaumont in gate 1, Alex Metcalfe in 2, Paul Bakewell in 3 and James Whitby in 4. Boom Boom got the snap and checked out. The battle was for 2nd between Bakewell and Metcalfe. It was close through every turn as the riders battled but across the finish line Metcalfe did enough to make his first ever 4X National Championships final.
Onto semi final two. Nathan Parsons took 1, Will Evans in 2, Luke Cryer in 3 and Ben Jones in 4. The gate dropped and it was Nathan Parsons in the lead. Parsons got a clean run through turn 1 and was away. Cryer was in 2nd and holding off the hard charging Evans. This one again went all the way to the finish line but it was Parsons and Cryer who crossed the line in 1st and 2nd and they were in the final.
This was one of the most unpredictable races of the day. Liz Fowler was the defending champion but Natasha Bradley was looking fast. In gate 1 it was Bradley, 2, Tyde D'Souza, 3, Megan Wherry and 4, Fowler. The gate dropped and Bradley had the lead. Wherry was close behind but Fowler and D'Souza got a bit messed up in turn 1. It was an amazing ride, leading from start to finish, for Bradley to become the new National Champion.
The ripper class was first up. I think these guys got more support than the elites. The racing was close all night but in the final it was Louie Partridge from Tyler Partridge and Luke Madley. Travis Davies was 4th and George Madley in 5th.
So it was down to this. Beaumont took gate 1, Parsons in 2, Metcalfe in 3 and Cryer in 4. The gate dropped and Beaumont took the holeshot with Parsons in 2 and Metcalfe battling with Cryer. In turn 2 Boom Boom protected the inside and the others swung wide to carry speed. It was tight but in turn 3, the action started. Beaumont pulled a lead, Parsons was holding 2nd but Cryer dived inside of Metcalfe. His wheel lost grip and he crashed out. Beaumont kept his head through the last corner and crossed the finish line to retain the senior men's 4X National Championship. Parsons in 2nd, Metcalfe in 3rd with Cryer in 4th. It was an action packed race from start to finish which will now go into the history books.
The podiums took place soon afterwards with champagne flying and National Champions jerseys being handed out to the winners.
Congratulations to all the National Champions - they showed what it takes to win the title. For more information on the Schwalbe British 4X Series, please visit:www.british4x.comFacebookTwitter