Round 5 of the 2015 Rose Bikes British Downhill Series visited Farmer Jacks at Moelfre, mid-Wales.
Even with a few big guns out at Crankworx the elite battle raged on … and Joe Smith made his move on the series lead.
Photos by Ian Lean // Words by Jamie Edwards
Moelfre. Built by the Athertons to train for high speed, wide open World Cup racing. First raced in 2003 (won by Crawford Carrick-Anderson and Tracy Moseley) the fast, open, tree-less track was once an absolute main stay of British Downhill. It was raced 5 times in 2011 … but then only twice in 2013 and only once in 2014 with no British Downhill Series race. Have we fallen out of love with Moelfre? We rolled through the familiar farm gate and up the well-worn track interested to find out.
There were rumours of a few changes to the track and a new line – but for the most part the track was the Moelfre favourite. Brutally windy, brutally fast and dusty as hell. There were some new corners and a spruced up jump but for the most part if was classic Moelfre.
(above) How do you go fast at Moelfre? It’s easy. You just unplug your brain, forget what you think going fast feels like and death grip. Then … when the wind stops you going faster you learn to tuck like your at Le Tour de France. There’s about 3 trees on the whole track and they’re right by the finish line. The rest of the hill is flat out, windy and high speed.
After a few filthy wet races at this year’s British Downhill Series it was great to get some sun and dust at Moelfre. Above is Phil Atwill shredding a deep brown pow turn way up the hill. These turns were so good – loose, flat out and high speed. The slow stalled in this turn. The fast – like Phil – fired out of the dust and shot down into the next big step up.
Shimano support is just one of the things that separates the British Downhill Series from the rest. These two heroes you see above work tirelessly to keep riders on track and ready to put a run in on Sunday afternoon. Got a broken Shimano equipped bike? Give them a shout and they’ll fix you up. Coffee and cakes are most welcome!
Of course, they’ve got some stiff competition in the “we’ll fix your bike for free” game. RideIO‘s The Box (seen above) has also been at every race all season keep racers racing. Moelfre was mechanic Burf’s last British Downhill Series of 2015 wielding spanners. I’m sure a good few racers owe their weekend’s success to him. Top job mate, we’ll miss ya!
Becci Skelton (above) is one of a new wave of fast females at the British Downhill Series. Becci raced once in 2012, three times in 2013 and then just went nuts and raced every event she could in 2014 and 15. Hard work pays off with a second place at Moelfre.
A regular female face here on Wideopenmag and at the British Downhill Series … it’s Jess Greaves (above). Jess works at Enve distributor Saddleback in the week and then races on their team at the weekend. She’s got a way to go yet before she’s untoppling Manon and Rachel but it’s great to see Jess stuck into the elite field. Jess’s 3rd place and a no show from Rachel Atherton meant she was able to slide into 3rd place overall in the series.
Anyone remember the classic British downhill belly-filler Janet’s Jackets? Those guys don’t seem to be around anymore but The Billy Can did a great job. Look out for these guys at loads of mountain bike events from downhill to enduro. Don’t miss out on the flapjacks!
The HT Components T1 pedal prototype. Thanks to internet loud mouths like us you rarely see many “never before seen” products at the races these days. Tucked away in the HT Components pits though we spotted this (above) … a sneaky brand new HT clipless prototype. HT have been working with Jerome Clements to develop this – their new T1 pedal. More on that “after Eurobike”.
It’s easy to forget that 4X is a thing these days and we’re often guilty of doing just that ourselves here at Wideopenmag. We were excited to see the 4X National Champs elbowing its way onto the end of the DH track on Saturday night and pushing the DH’ers aside for multi-racer, bar to bar action. It’s been a long old while since we covered a 4X race and it was great to see it going down.
Scott Beaumont – despite suffering some tough problems with his health – took the win and another National title. Female winner Natasha Bradley was a real surprise of speed and style. She won her A final by a Moelfre mile.
Meanwhile back on the downhill track … Shaun Richards (above) looked smooth, fast and stylish all weekend. We watched him hit the loose, rocky corners up top and he really shone (get it?) compared to a tonne of other riders. Shaun scored 4th in expert. (above) Another man that has saved more racer’s weekends than he probably cares to remember. Raul Walker from Silverfish. Give this man a shout if you’ve got eThirteen, RaceFace, Mondraker, Yeti or any of their other brands and he’ll get your whip in tip top condition. Raul’s box of “thank you” ciders is running dangerously low so don’t forget to drop him a scrumpy if he sorts you out! Jay Williamson (above) a one time Wideopenmag racer and now part of the Steve Peat Syndicate family. Jay has stepped up a gear this year and is chasing the dream of being a World Cup racer hard. He’s a great example of how hard you have to work to make it in mountain bike racing. There’s no getting by on talent alone these days … it takes hard ass graft all the way. 15th for Jay in elite this weekend and one of his best ever BDS results. Well done mate!
Katy Curd (above) is hitting downhill racing hard this year and plans to ramp it up again for 2016. It’s easy to overlook Katy alongside Rachel and Manon … but you’d have to also overlook the fact that she got to Moelfre in 2nd place overall in the series.
Katy couldn’t take the win but took a firm second place with over 25 seconds between her and third place. With just one race left in the series she’ll almost certainly take second overall this year.
Jack Reading (above) 1Vision team captain. 8th in his race run and 8th overall in the series. Weirdly, Jack was the 4th fastest elite down the first section of the track in both his seeding and race runs. How’s that for consistency?
Ruaridh Cunningham (above) is a racer that is relentlessly flat out. You may not see huge amounts of media hype, cover shots or video edits from him … but his results are just consistently awesome. 20th at Lenzerheide World Cup, 7th at Bala BDS, 5th at the Glentress Enduro World Series, 2015 Scottish DH Champ. 3rd place at Moelfre for Rhubarb. When can we hook up for an interview mate?
Mike Jones (above) is a new face in the elite field … but this photo could have been taken at any race between today and 2005. The classic Moelfre lightning fast, ass hauling step-down. It’s not a huge feature but at mac 10 it turns into a pretty decent huck!
Having seen, ridden, raced, dug and photo’d this feature for years are we still stoked on Moelfre? Maybe we were pretty tired of it back in 2013 after racing the hill to death … but after a bit of a break and the chance to see fresh, new racers putting their mark on it we’re feeling refreshed. The hill might not always change, but the talent just keeps getting better.
Another great ride for Mike with a 6th place in seeding and a 6th place in his race run.
Speaking of talent … Joe Smith (above) has it to spare. A true World class racer that’s more than capable of taking on the best in the World. Joe won the last British Downhill Series race at Bala by over 2.5 seconds and pushed on with his assault on Gee Atherton’s hold on the overall.
Joe landed in 8th place in seeding, stepped up his game for finals but fell 0.6 seconds off pace. Despite not taking the win Joe completed his attack on Gee’s lead and was able to take a firm hold on the overall series lead. With Gee hundreds of miles away at Crankworx he had no chance to defend.
At this stage, Joe isn’t guaranteed the overall. If Gee turns up at the final and goes fast all weekend he could still claw the win back.
Manon Carpenter (above) was in that frustrating position of having no Rachel Atherton on the start sheet this weekend. With Rach and Manon occupying their own top-tier within the female elite field, the rest of the females battle to get anywhere close. Manon was obviously stoked to take the win but it must be tough not having your main competitor on the sheet.
Manon was 8 seconds faster than Katy Curd and is now (if our maths is correct!) guaranteed the overall series title. With Rachel having won 2 races and Manon 3 the final will be a battle stop Rach breaking even!
And the man of the day. Matt flippin Simmonds. Incredibly, Simmonds has never won a British Downhill Series race in his career so to take the win must have been extra good for him.
Matt was FAST all weekend. He was fastest in seeding, fastest through the speed trap and fastest in the flat-out bottom section in his race run.
“I’m happy with that. It was hard, the course had some big holes in and I had to push all the way down. It definitely wasn’t easy!” Matt Simmonds.
Series update // Round 5
1st Joe Smith 8712nd Gee Atherton 790 3rd Mike Jones 689