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UK Northern Downhill Hamsterley TT

Northern Downhill Hamsterley TT

Storm clouds looming, but the weather held.Whip off competition anyone?

Northern Downhill returned to Hamsterley forest for the eagerly awaited TT. One of the best sections of red trail in the area known as Transmission, Accelerator and Nitrous was the course.

When all eyes in the mountain biking world were focussed on Fort William and the UCI world cup Downhill race, Northern Downhill were providing another brilliant race in a small corner of the North East of England at Hamsterley Forest. Carl who is the organiser of Northern Downhill has been in the race scene for some years now and knows how to put on a great race that runs smoothly. This again, was no exception.

Riders assemble and are ready to start thrashing out some practice runs.

One key factor for this race was the weather.  During the Saturday and Carl’s team setting up the race, there was torrential rainfall, the kind of biblical rainfall that causes flash flooding and yellow warnings across the region. But come race day, the rains held off leaving humid and warm conditions all day. Driving to the event, you could tell the weather had been brutal as rubble and debris was strewn across the approach roads. But this didn’t seem to put off the riders coming to the event.

Final preparations before the race starts. Carl has a great team behind him.

This trail is a popular one at Hamsterley and has been around for some time, brilliantly put together by the Hamsterley Trailblazers and maintained by them; it’s a fast and flowy course with some great features like rock drops, jumps, bomb holes and berms. To get down there the quickest takes precision breaking and compressing the jumps. Too much air and you’ll lose time for sure. Too much speed and you’ll under steer the berms. Carl will often put in sneaky lines to give the local boys a little more of a level playing feel, but this time round it was full on top to bottom go as fast as possible.

Some will argue that there’s no point racing a trail you can ride any time. I say that’s garbage. We can all compare our times on Strava, but that doesn’t account for inaccuracies, cheat lines and ebikes (he says from experience). This is all about the “the bullshit stops when the gate drops”. Furthermore, you can’t beat that adrenaline rush standing there at the start, with other riders behind you. Will you catch up the rider in front? Will the rider behind you catch you up? With a far more accurate timing set up, this really is when the KOM is decided.

On the day Sean Luke (19-29) riding for Bird Cycles was the fastest down the hill in 3:27.75, closely followed by Carl Simpson (30-39) in 3:29.05 and then third David Stonehouse (30-39) in 3:29.28. The women also had an incredible race for top spot. Tess Cakebread-Brown (U30)  in 4:14.01, Lucy Metcalfe (U30) in 4:17.25 and Phillipa Farrar in 4:19.28. So for the fastest overall 3 places in women was literally 5 seconds, and in the men’s a staggering 1.50 seconds. What an incredible battle took place for the top spot on the day! For a full run down of the results and to see where you placed, head over to Roots and Rain. You can also view all of DialledinUK Race Photography images here.

The big hip jump!

These TT races provided by Northern Downhill are outstanding to take part in. The atmosphere is usually great, often with local lads (can’t race due to injuries) providing support and quality heckling. Not only are they great for more expert racers, but also a superb starting point for novice racers. Next up is the Eastgate TT with uplift. For more information or to sign up head over to their website HERE. To follow Northern Downhills FaceBook pages head HERE.

Until next time, I’ll leave you some some images from the day.

Sean Luke to the win and overall fastet time of the day, racing for Bird Cycles

Who needs a bike for a whip off competition! Who is that Scottish guy!

Words and images by Jerry Tatton, Photography Editor

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