Legendary. The 2015 British Downhill Series Final photo story

And that’s it… The 2015 Rose Bikes British Downhill Series Final.

Thousands of miles, hundreds of runs, countless gallons of coffee, beer, tyre sealant and diesel we’re here at the end of 2015’s race season.

Damn, it’s been a good one …

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In memory of Jason McRoy. Steve Peat’s Troy Lee D2 that he raced in ’95 to remember Jason.

The final race of year couldn’t have been set in a more dramatic location. Framed against the slatey gloom of Blaenau Ffestiniog, round six celebrated old legends and crowned new ones. It was mountain bike culture at its very best with young guns and old dogs racing together in the land of wizards and dragons. Rumour has it that Tolkein took inspiration for Lord of the Rings from North Wales unique landscape – you can see why!

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Its been a long season. It started in Scotland at Ae Forest, then charged further north to Fort William. Round three took us to the wildly steep slopes of Llangollen and then on to Bala, Moelfre and finally – here to North Wales for Antur Stiniog.

Racing a full season is a test of rider’s bike handling and fitness but also their bank balance and ability spend countless hours away from home or training for racing. It’s a huge commitment of time, money and energy for a rider of any level.

Despite the massive investment, 590 riders took part in the series with 175 riders taking part in 5 racers or more. That’s a hell of a solid core of riders, all dedicating themselves to going fast and able to take on the toughest tracks the UK has to offer.

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Corey Watson – 8th in youth at Antur and 5 BDS races against his name.

The track was an interesting one. Antur is a big, rough old beast with some gnarly lines and plenty of rocks to crash into when things turn wild. The talk of the weekend was the scary rock drop that spat riders into a rough, over-the-bars landing if they weren’t careful. Wet slate, rough corners and plenty of jumps added to the challenge! Did the riders love it? Some did, some didn’t.

Off the track was a mixed bag. The camping was crap. The race pits were cramped. The cafe was brilliant. The local town of Blaenau was great fun and welcomed our invasion with open arms. Horses for courses. We’re looking forward to going back.

Helmet cams (or the lack of) have been an interesting issue this year. Rather than impose the outright ban we had feared, British Cycling and the British Downhill Series team showed some pragmatism and allowed on board cameras to be mounted bikes during practice.

We’re grateful for the flexibility but come on guys, it’s time we did ourselves a favour. We need great quality on board footage that does our riders, our tracks and our races justice. We can’t do that with shakey, handlebar cams. The UCI can do it at World Cup, let’s follow their lead.

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Kade Edwards. The force is strong!

The BDS crew get plenty of criticism for their uplifts but let’s give them their dues for once – the uplift at Antur was great. Quick and efficient. Nailed it!
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Of course, the real story of the weekend was the BDS Legends. The weekend coincided with the 20th anniversary of the passing of legendary British mountain bike racer Jason McRoy. Jason was the original big-time pro British racer and inspired riders like Steve Peat and Rob Warner to take their racing to international level.

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To celebrate Jason’s life the BDS crew invited a host of legendary, old school mountain bike racers to take part in their own race and to hold a small ceremony. The results was so good! The usual vibe of the series was thrown into complete disarray by the injection of heaps of old dogs – all are still flat out and loving being back racing!

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Remember this bloke? It’s Ed Moseley – Tracey Moseley’s brother and a racer that’s been hammering downhill races since 1999!  Ed came dead last in his first race. Since then he’s won National races and scored top results at World Cup. Legend.

The legends battle came down to a ruck between Lee Bertram and Rob Warner – with a bet thrown down that the loser had to get the winners time tattooed on their  skin! The legends pack had a plan though and all stopped on track to slow Warner down with a barrage of heckling and booze! The planned work perfectly and Lee took the win leaving Rob ripe for new ink!

legends_17Alongside all the booze throwing, jokes about zimmer frames and setting-up Warner there was a brief moment of seriousness. Midway through the morning, the Legends took a moment to spread the last of Jason’s ashes on the hillside, led by Steve Peat. Next time you’re up at Antur Stiniog, take a minute before you hit the steep rock drop and check out the three new saplings planted trackside – they’re in Jason’s honour.

“It’s a great way to remember Jason. It’s been 20 years, it’s been a long time. For us to be able to do that today and to educate people about who he was is good. He was the first British racer to go and take on the rest of the world and fight his way into a pro deal.” Steve Peat.

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Three trees were planted in JMC’s honor and Steve scattered his ashes beside them.

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Back in the main event the battle for the elite women’s series lead was already wrapped up. With Rachel Atherton only racing three events she was long out of contention and on holiday for the final. Tahnee Seagrave sat out of two races leaving her in 3rd. A solid season of racing for Katy put her in 2nd, leaving the win wideopen for Manon. Was there ever any doubt?

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Tahnee Seagrave
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Katy Curd
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Manon down the gnarly North Wales rocks
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and Manon again. Winner. Stay tuned for details of Manon and dad Jason’s 2015 end of season party at their skatepark!

Before we get onto the winners – here’s a few riders that got us stoked in 2015.

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Taylor Vernon. The Bridgend Bandit. Tay beat his ankle up pretty bad at last weekend’s Hardline race … but managed to get back on the bike for the final. He was the Atherton’s only rider on the hill and took 21st place in the series overall.
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Becci Skelton – cool kit and 2nd place overall in the Flare Clothing women field. First place went to Hazel Wakefield who – we’re sorry – we didn’t get a photo of. Give us a shout Hazel, let’s do an interview!
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Craig Evans – another Hardline survivor! Craig has only been racing properly since 2013 and has already achieved more than most people do in their whole careers. Best of all, he looks RAD on his bike! 12th overall in the series for Craig.
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Part time racer, part time photographer – it’s Innes Graham! 14th overall in the series for Innes.
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And of course – Kye Forte! 3 years of DH racing and he’s finally done it. The overall masters series win. Awesome job man – we’re stoked to have you as part of the Wideopenmag family!

The battle for the elite men’s final might well have been won before we even rolled in to Antur – but our maths wasn’t good enough to work out whether Joe Smith had it sown up or Simmonds could still take it. Joe wasn’t shedding any light either – he knew that it was close either way and he had to pin it to be sure.

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3rd place in the series overall went to Mike Jones – Mike has been on fire all year, with top results at every British race he’s been a part of. There’s a World Cup win out there for Mike, mark our words.
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Simmonds. Amazingly, this year at Moelfre was his first National elite win – which was followed up with another win by nearly 2 whole seconds at Antur. A heap of other nearly-won races were enough to put him in the running for the overall. But … not quite enough. 2nd overall for Matt in the series.

It was a close battle all season long but 6 races, thousands of miles and a year of racing later it was Joe Smith that took the series win with 920 points to Simmonds’ 838.

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That’s it! The 2015 Rose Bikes British Downhill Series is done! It’s hard to believe that another season of travel, adventure, racing and stories is over and it’s time for another long off-season. We’ve had a great year. We keep coming back and investing time in the British Downhill Series because it’s worth the money, the effort and the time away. It’s the UK’s best race series in our books – we’re stoked to be a part of it.

Simon Paton and Rob Warner

Huge thanks to Mr Simon Paton and his team, not least Colin Olden and Krien Dawson – two guys we’ve got to know this year and had a great time with.

We’ll see you in 2016 guys!

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Ian Lean (2nd from left) and Luke Hough (right) – our media squids! Photo by Gee Milner.

Also thanks to Ian Lean, our intrepid photographer that has worked his ass off all year to turn the BDS into stunning photos for your entertainment. Also to Luke Hough, the man behind our Trackside videos.

And last but not least, cheers to you guys for reading out content, hitting share and supporting us. We’re not the biggest MTB site in the World – but with your help we’re growing.

You rule! Cheers guys!

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