Aston Hill hosted the Eastern and Central, District and Bakerloo-line Champs a while back, here’s the low down.
Madison/Saracen youth rider Phil Atwill had the fastest time of the day with a 1:09.03, read on for the full story.
The 2011 Eastern and Central Champs at Aston Hill: AKA we could really do with a little rain…
After a dry week at the end of a very wet August, too many people were tempting the weather gods at Aston Hill. The very dusty course was “like riding on marbles”, according to one racer on Saturday’s practice and “it could really do with a little rain to settle things down” was said more than once.
Well my friends, ask and you shall receive.
To prove that the weather gods are listening and have a sense of humour, racing kicked off at 11am on Sunday and by 11.15 it had started raining. By 1pm it had become a deluge of biblical proportions and at 3pm it was barely letting up. By 5pm, shortly after prize giving, the sun finally came out.
Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?
Still, the conditions proved a few things. The first was that the 423 really is a good all-weather course, standing up remarkably well to the sustained beating that a day of racing brings. The second was that racers are a hardy bunch, with a good portion of riders staying to do a second run on a wet-turning-tacky trail.
The hardtails were off first on a dry course, and Sam Johnson and Isaac Mundy of the Identiti Flow team claimed 1st and 2nd, with the 3rd and 4th fastest times of the day (1.10.71 and 1.12.93 respectively) and Matthew James making up the podium, barely four seconds off the winning time. Truly crazy, crazy fools.
The juveniles headed off next and a special mention really should be made about Dees Cycles’ Alistair Warrell, who beat his nearest rivals Peter Hutchinson (Wreckage Clothing/MX Prints) and Connor Low by 12 seconds, and was just over six seconds off the fastest time of the day with 1.15.84. One to watch maybe?
Aston Hill local and Madison/Saracen Youth rider Phil Atwill stamped his authority on the race with a dry run, beating Matt Goode and Wiggle’s Finn Tennant by over five seconds, while also claiming the fastest time of the day with a rip-roaring time of 1.09.03. Boom!
The Madison/Saracen sweep continued in the Junior category, with possibly the smiliest guy on the circuit getting the second fastest time of the day. Josh Lowe beat Chris Keeble-Smith and Slam Cycles’ James Aveil by over seven seconds, just as the heavens started to leak.
The Masters is a traditionally hard-fought category, and this race was no different. Red Mist Racing’s Dan Haines claimed the top spot, but only beat Anton Columbo by 0.7 of a second and Michelin/Roots and Rain’s Seb Frost by 2.19 seconds in conditions that were getting steadily worse.
Veteran veteran Trevor Harvey didn’t disappoint, roosting and sliding home over seven seconds quicker than Red Mist Racing’s Niall Ingram and Tim Webb in a massively respectable 1.14.38 – a time that placed him 7th overall.
The Women category was small but brimming with talent, including the gifted juvenile Emily Holmes in her first downhill race, racing those with several years on her. Nicky Belton used a mix of skill, experience and local knowledge to take the win in the wet, just over four seconds up on Jess Greaves, with Steph Kerr rounding up the podium.
Ride of the day must go to senior Pete Robinson with an insanely wet second run that saw him only six seconds off superfast youth Phil Atwill’s dry time. He beat Chris Charles and Nick Cornwell by over five seconds, who still had times that would have placed them top five in the Expert/Elite category.
Speaking of the Expert/Elite category, it was Madison/Saracen rider Harry Molloy who pipped course builder John Holbrook at the post by 0.23 of a second with an amazing second run in difficult, tacky conditions. Ben Deakin of Muc-Off/Primera/Royal Marines completed the top three with times all breaking the 1.20 mark.
Quite the weekend for Madison/Saracen, especially with Manon bringing home the rainbow stripes of the Junior World Champion from the similar, if slightly more mountainous, conditions in Champéry. Thanks for investing in young talent guys!
RAF/Mixed Forces Champs
While the weather can be a cruel mistress, the military contingent (also present for the RAF and Mixed Forces Champs) maintained a stiff upper lip and soldiered on, showing us civvies the Dunkirk spirit. Thomas Round became the RAF Champion and Ben ‘the Deakinator’ Deakin maintained his dominance of the Hill for the Royal Marines, taking the overall Mixed Forces Champs.
A slightly sour note
Unfortunately the rain wasn’t the only dampening element of the event. It seems that the constant requests for no fires or loud music on the campsite were ignored, which has lead to the landowner cancelling any future event camping. The few really have ruined it for the many. If anybody has information on the culprits (names or race numbers), we’d appreciate you sending it to [email protected]
On a brighter note (like the weather around 5pm), the event was supported by some incredibly generous sponsors who need to be named. A huge thanks from the organisers needs to go to:
– Madison (Madison.co.uk, Shimano, Aztec, GoPro)
– Fisher Outdoors (SRAM, RockShox, Truvativ, Troy Lee Designs)
– Ison Distribution (Gusset, Halo, Identiti, ODI)
– Upgrade Distribution (DMR, Lezyne)
– Surf-Sales (Kali, Dakine)
– Beeline Bikes of Oxford
– Dees Cycles of Amersham
A special thanks should also go to Madison/Aztec for giving each racer a set of brake pads – as it turns out they were needed!
The event, as ever, also owes a great deal to Café in the Woods (and the ice cream van, who still did a roaring trade) for providing superb food to the wet and hungry masses, Extreme Medics for their rider-patching skills and the marshals, without who the race would not be possible. Finally, thanks to all who came and braved the weather to race, spectate or shot video and film!