MTB Strength Factory’s Ben Plenge headed to the Forest of Dean for the Onza Mini Downhill Series to celebrate their 10th year of racing.
Going into its 10th winter of racing, the Mini Downhill series still pulls the crowds and this weekend at the Forest of Dean was no exception with a sell out event.
It is easy to see why when you see the slick but friendly operation that Chris Roberts and his team put together.
When you sign on for one of these events you know what you are getting, with well taped and marshalled tracks offering riders of all abilities a genuine challenge. The First Aid cover is spot on with no corners cut and you even get portaloos put on for those pre-race run nerves!
The Forest of Dean is the home of the Mini DH with the Pedalabikeaway cafe putting on a hog roast as well as the usual coffee and tasty cake. Combine this with ultra reliable timing for your two timed runs and you have a recipe for a great day of racing bikes with your mates.
A mild, sunny morning greeted riders as they signed on for a day of old-school push up downhill racing on the classic ‘Ski Run’ DH track. The track had been taped fairly wide in places offering some line choice and a new top section with a tricky off-camber right hander had been added in to keep the locals on their toes.
The Mini DH format has two timed race runs, starting at 1100, meaning a 2 hour dash in the morning to get the track dialled in and remember your lines.
The most technical part of the track was the new right-hander, about 5 seconds in, and after that the whole thing hit warp speed, trying not to flat land onto the fire road before dropping into a series of bomb holes complete with greasy roots and rocks.
After a short traverse you hit another super-fast section across some off camber roots that took quite a few scalps in the damp morning practice sessions. The track finished off with a run through the new berms and table tops, before a small road gap and then over the line.
It was short but intense, and you could not afford to make any mistakes as times were so tight and the speeds so high. Fastest time of the day was an impressive 1:06.81 by youth (yes, youth!) and Team Wideopenmag rider, Morgan Tyrrell.
Whilst the achievements of the race category winners are not to be overlooked, the thing that really struck me and a lot of people I chatted to was the number of female riders and the number of youngsters getting stuck in and pinning it!
There is just so much talent at the moment and with accessible grass roots racing like the Mini DH to nurture the next generation, the future is bright for UK racing.
Full results for all the categories can be found on Roots and Rain.
For all the winter fixtures and other races in the Onza Mini Downhill Series, head to their here.