The plan was simple, assemble the ‘UK legends of downhill’ on a mountainside in Wales and get them to race each other. Read on…
Legends may be stretching it a bit far (for some!), but all these guys ripped it up at one point in their race careers, and I’m pretty sure that they have all had a photo in a MTB mag at some point in the last 20 years! The ‘Legends’ race at the final round (Sept 19/20) of this year’s Rose Bikes sponsored British Downhill Series (BDS) was an idea dreamt up as a way to commemorate the 20 year anniversary of the death of the late, and great, Jason McRoy (JMC).
McRoy was the first UK downhill racer to break onto the international circuit and he paved the way for British downhilling, he really was the ‘Godfather’ of downhill here in the UK. He influenced and inspired young up and coming riders like Steve Peat and Rob Warner; and we all know how influential those two have been over the years. A tree had been planted at the side of the track to mark the anniversary, and a small ceremony took place with the last of JMC’s ashes being scattered on the tree’s roots.
The idea of a ‘Legends’ race was genius (I think Rob Warner can take the credit for that). Get together the good and the great from the last 20 years and get them to race down the DH track at Antur Stiniog as part of the BDS weekend. Sure there were some names missing (we’d have liked to have seen the likes of Steve Geall, Robin Kitchen, Crawford Carrick Anderson, Helen Mortimer, and many more), but it was never going to be an easy task getting together a bunch of riders like this, and the organisers did a great job of making this event happen.
As it turned out, Rob Warner had apparently been taking the race far too seriously for some. Rumours were going around that he had been up to Antur to practise on four different occasions prior to the race. A bet was laid down in the pub the night before the race between Warner and friend (and ‘legend’) Lee ‘Bertie’ Bertram; whoever finished first out of the two of them would have the ‘honour’ of having their race time tattooed on the other’s arse! Without their knowledge the next day all the riders apart from Warner and Bertie peeled off the track near JMC’s commemorative tree and waited for them to come through. They let Bertie go through unhindered but showered a somewhat bemused Warner with beer and champagne. Bertie won, and Warner got another tattoo!
These great photos from Simon Nieborak capture the day perfectly… the fun, the camaraderie and of course the ‘racer head’ in all of the legends. Plans are already afoot for another race/get together in December. This looks all set to become a regular fixture in the British downhill calendar.
Lee Bertram, Rob Warner, Steve Peat, Will Longden, Nige Page, Dave Wardell, Tim Ponting, Andrew Titley, Ed Moseley, Billy Cheetham, Darren Howarth, Stu Hughes, Jonny Cheetham, James Allaway, Pete Crump, Jim Buchanan, Cheesy Pete, Jason Jessop, Martin Ogden, Matt Farmer, Martin Hawyes, Andrew Parks, Andy Pope, Keith Wilson, Dave Hemming, Carl Alford, Clive Gosling and Paul Smith.