Yes it’s here, the first round of the Halo BDS down in the deep south at Combe Sydenham country park in Somerset (England).
Ace Woodley drives down from Grimsby to his old Somerset haunt and reports back on what’s going on at Combe Sydenham for Halo BDS round 1.
Words and pics: Ace
So whats the fuss about then? For those of you overseas around the world this is the biggy in the UK, the national series, the stepping stone to World Cups, the BDS…British Downhill Series.
If you don’t know this small island of the UK has a shortage of venues that can handle a full on national series event. For some in the UK there hasn’t been a national series as most of the races take place up north, great if you live above the M4 corridor, crap if you live in the south/southwest/south east of the uk.
There are many things that make a venue, the track is a part, location another, uplift is good, and area for camping parking. The Uk is a small place but with heavy limits on what and where can be raced. The highlands of Scotland have chairlifts and a World Cup track at Fort William, both have great uplift, great tracks, but suffer from weather, mountain weather, racers can be blown off the mountain, no fun when you driven 550+ miles only to do that again to go home. The locals here said if we build it will you come? BDS organiser Si Paton took a chance and said yes.
So Combe Sydnham country park down in the south in Somerset, last used as a national track back in 2004. Granted we don’t have killer mountains to play with, we hopefully have a big enough venue to cope with a Halo BDS, we have a 2+ minute track that has a circular uplift route, the uplift does not interfere with the race track, 10 mins from nearest town 15 from a major town and not too far from the M5 motorway.
As things have panned out the track roughly runs that of the last NPS race in 2004, it has been revamped by www.kustombikes.co.uk
From the left is Dave, then Owen, then Don from Kustom bikes, who have been behind the reworking of the Combe. Many others have been involved as well to bring the race south. Many hurdles have been jumped, it’s a working estate so all though months have been available only small time slots have been available for work to be carried out, and last minute tweeks are going on.
Lesuire Lakes bikes and Madison are first in and setting up when I turn up. It’s hot and sunny and dry and dusty, there are only two rows of campers in the blue zone and more trickle in as the afternoon goes on. I go for a track walk to see how it’s taped and find Si Paton hard at it with the track crew taping out.
It has changed again since my last vist and Don/Dave/Owen where busy tweeking a few things. Interesting point is the BDS have their own track team on race weekends as tracks can suffer when 330+ start ragging the piss out of it, so patch ups and tweeks during practice are on call, nice touch.
What a view, still waters, swim with the ducks to cool down, the trickle of motor homes and caravans carries on, Nigel Page of Chainreaction turning up. The pro pit area, was starting to fill up with Steve Peat and the Steve Peat Syndicate out in force.
It was all systems go over at the Madison pit with bikes being preped and built up, Harry Molloy appeared with new race gear in hand (gotta look sharp) while techs dialled in and built up bikes.
Madisons taking no chance with tyres and bikes in the back ground there, I did notice a semi slick on the tyre rack as well.
I bumped into Manon carpenter on track, but managed to catch up with dad, Jason who is racing in vets (curious about what he is racing) after sorting out Manon’s bikes I part walked the track with Jason, who used to run the Dragon Downhill series ( a cult legend in the UK, more so if you did them on a HT)
I walked the track fully to see how it was taped with some racers, thumbs up so far, on the way back down we had a clap of thunder then the heavens opened. Saturday is looking to a damp start, sunny later, Sunday is looking to be a nice sunny day. Should be faster than 2004 when both Gee and Dan Atherton did 2.45s on Muddy Foxes (I belive rebadged M1’s), Danny Hart pulled a 3.13 and get this Harry Molloy did a novice 3.46 with Alex Bond in 2nd at 3.47, Team Dirt/Norco Ben Reid had the win in junior 2.55, Brendon Fairclough in Youth with a 2.51, so it will be interesting to see what times they put in this time…several years on with the latest bikes and equipment.
It’s all looking good with racers arriving through the night, I will be back on Saturday for another update.
More action to come from the south west.
To finish with the scene as I left, wet and heavy rain in the pit park, and the trickle of track walkers, saturdays practice should be a bit lairy in the morning, speeding up later in the day 🙂 more later.
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