5 things we learnt at round 1 of the National Downhill Series
At the weekend, the classic South Wales venue of Cwmcarn welcomed the opening round of the 2018 UK National Downhill Series. Here are five things we took away from the event...
At the end of the 2017 season, we weren't alone in questioning the future of British downhill, what with a steady trickle of racers converting to enduro and news that the British Downhill Series was coming to an end. Now, like a phoenix from the ashes, the new National Downhill Series has arisen! The first round of five kicked off this past weekend at Cwmcarn, in South Wales, and we were there, in the start gate, between the tape and soaking up the atmosphere trackside. Now the dust has settled (that wet, Welsh version of dust) after an intense weekend of racing, this is what we've learnt:
UK DH ain't dead!
With over 300 competitors taking to the course over the weekend, it looks like downhill is still popular as a participation sport. Twenty-five women and girls took part too, which is a helluva lot better than five years ago and shows that things are becoming more inclusive.
Cwmcarn is rad
The 'Y Mynydd' downhill track turned 13 this year, but, after some recent TLC and a full revamp of the bottom jumps, it's stood the test of time. With no super-gnarly sections and limited line choice, it may not be the most technical track of the series, but it's a whole lot of fun to ride and proved a hit with racers and spectators alike. The good news for you guys is that it can be ridden outside of races too, so book yourself an uplift with Cwmdown and go check it out.
There's a new threat in the Elite ranks
Reigning Junior world champ Matt Walker moved up to the Elite category this year and opened his assault on the rankings in style. He took the win and fastest time of the day in front of new Madison Saracen teammate Danny Hart. You know that's not gonna sit well with the Redcar Rocket, and you can bet that the internal team rivalry will egg them both on at the first World Cup round in Croatia, the weekend after next. Watch out Lošinj!
Rachel Atherton is back
After spending the latter part of last season building up speed again after a shoulder dislocation, Rachel made a statement that she's still the one to beat, putting a 2.8-second gap into second-placed Tahnée Seagrave. Katy Curd rounded out the top three, proving that she's going fast again after a year away from racing with injury.
The kids are alright!
Trek Factory Racing's Kade Edwards won Junior and placed 10th overall, and he wasn't the only under-18 going balls to the wall. the Junior ranks were stacked full of World Cup potential, with riders like Morgan Tyrrell and Jamie Edmondson. Even younger than that, we were amazed by the speed and talent of the Youth and Juvenile riders. The UK breeds fast mountain bikers and that's a fact!
More like this
1. Matt Walker
2. Danny Hart
3. Michael Jones
4. Laurie Greenland
5. Adam Brayton
1. Rachel Atherton
2. Tahnée Seagrave
3. Katy Curd
4. Lucy Drees
5. Abbie Sloan
Full results can be found on Roots and Rain
The next round of the National Downhill Series takes place at Fort William on 12-13 May. Entries are still available via the British Cycling website. Even if you don't fancy racing, spectating is free, so get yourself along and show your support.
Former Mountain Biking UK features editor Ed Thomsett is a downhiller at heart but has been riding bikes of all types since a young age. He's raced both nationally and internationally in downhill and enduro, and has spent several summers living in the Alps and Canada, riding, roadtripping and living the dirtbag lifestyle. Now Ed calls upon his years of experience riding bikes to the limit as a writer and reviewer for MBUK and BikeRadar. He's also an avid trail builder and has scraped out numerous steep and technical lines in the woodlands of his native North Yorkshire. These days Ed will happily turn his hand to any discipline and believes the sign of a good week is when every bike in his shed ends up muddy by the end of it.