2014 British National Downhill Championships photo story

//words by Jamie Edwards //photos by Ian Lean


The National Champs (presented by Seven iDP)! It’s the Big One! The one-off, one-chance, one-run opportunity to be crowned the number 1 racer in the UK.

Unlike the British Downhill Series there’s no “next time” to rely on. You can’t ease into a season of racing or climb up the ranks through persistence and steady riding over several months. It’s one run, letting it all hang out, death or glory. The winner gets a stripey jumper and the chance to stand on a box, spray champers around and say “I’m the best downhill racer in Great Britain”.

This year’s Champs went down on a dark, dingy, wet Innerleithen – a true classic venue that riders have been pin-balling down since the dawn of downhill racing. In fact, the first recorded race at Inners was way back in the year 2000 – it was the “British Cycling Federation National Champs” and was won by Steve Peat and Tracy Moseley. 14 years later and whilst there was no sign of Moseley, Peaty was still racing hard … albeit it slightly further down the results sheet and on a slightly bigger wheeled bike!


The track was a wild one. It was dark, wet and moody. Tight trees, tight lines but not tight results. The gaps in the times on the results sheet are huge! Where some tracks see just seconds between first and fiftieth the gaps here were enormous. Josh took the win by over 3 seconds and 10th place Sam Dale was a full 10 seconds behind. The slowest senior male rider was a full 5 minutes behind Josh’s time!


2013 saw race organiser Mike Marsden put on an excellent National Champs at Bala. 2014 was his chance to show it wasn’t a fluke and he can step up from regional races to organising national standard events.

“Yeah, I’m happy. The uplifts could have been better but at Innerleithen we’re limited. I feel we achieved almost as good as you can get there – riders managed 6 or more runs, even more if they wanted. Some riders said the track was a bit tight up at the top but … that’s what made it a challenge.

And the prize presentations were awesome – I’ve never seen it like that at a national. The stage, the back drop, champagne for all (except the youngsters!) – it really made it” 

//Mike Marsden, Race Director


We’ve been treated to the chance to see Ruaridh Cunningham ride twice this year and both times it has blown our minds. He went massive at the Tweed Love dual slalom … but his race run was insane. Where other riders were pulling weird shapes and trying to scrub, old Rhubarb just sent massive air and a massive, fully locked turn bar. He definitely won the “sickest rider out of the bombhole” comp. Oh … and he scored 4th place overall.


Greg Williamson is having a hell of a year – his 9th place at the Fort William World Cup proved that he’s a rider that can really cut it with the fastest in the world. He’s young, but there’s but there’s big things to come for him. We’re predicting a National Champs title for Greg in a couple of years. 8th place for him.


And – of course – Laurie bloody Greenland. The kid that used to race downhill on a cross country bike ‘cos he was too small for a proper bike. Loz had proper bike, a proper team and a proper deal at Inners and scored his second National Champs title on the trot. That alone is pretty amazing … but knowing that he just won a Junior national champs title as a first year Junior, beating older and more experienced kids. That’s pretty damn special.

“My run was really good apart from clipping a tree and kinda stopping! There was this one section with some tight trees and some roots from hell – I managed to gap them in the final and after I had done that I had a little shout to myself because I was so stoked! Haha!”

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I am so stoked to win in my first year. It’s just like a flash back to last year. I’m just as over the moon! It definitely came as a bit of a surprise to me. I picked that race at the start of the year as one of my main goals for the season, so to pull it off is amazing!

//Laurie Greenland

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Atherton Academy young gun Kade Edwards has style for miles but must have had a disappointing weekend. Innerleithen was the first race of 2014 that he hasn’t won.

Adam Brayton keeping it squashed in not-gassing-to-flat shocker. 13th for the Keswick Kestrel.

Andrew Dorritt – the MS Mondraker young gun. 12th place.

And Harry Barrett – 10th place in non-champs men. Who said you had to be a big-dog to get on the internetz?

Charlie Hatton has got style. Nice work.

And Rachel Atherton is your women’s National DH champion. Sure, Manon is getting quicker and Rach has had a tough year but you’d still be a fool to bet against her. Llangynog’s finest was 5 seconds up on the competition and National Champ for the 3rd year in a row. Simply incredible!


And finally … the Rat Attack! Josh Bryceland! Peaty won National Champs at Inners in 2000. 14 years later and it was his protege’s turn to take the gold, fresh off the back of his first World Cup win.

“The track was so blown out I made quite a lot of mistakes at the top. I just thought to myself “the advantage you had in seeding is gone so you really better put the effort in!”. I just nailed the bottom section and I was pedalling really hard, I don’t often do that! I’m stoked, I’m buzzing for it!”

//Josh Bryceland.



Thanks for everything Innerleithen – the rain, the roots, the beers, the mountain-top bonfires, the all-night rave, the late-night bag-piping, the rowdy pubs … the lot.

See you again soon!