With all eyes on Meribel for the World Cup Finals it was Farmer John’s Downhill track that brought a bunch of riders together for what was going to be a flat out weekend of partying and racing. Everything from 16 inch kids bikes to trikes and of course DH bikes were pitched head to head last weekend and we’ve been sent this report of the race by James Smurthwaite who beamed over the photos too. It’s easy to get caught up in the pro race circuit but it’s events like this and the Local’s Whip Off in Morzine a few weeks back that make you remember why we all love riding bikes.
Words & Photos: James Smurthwaite
On the weekend that saw local legend, Josh Bryceland, take the World Cup overall, the Farmer John’s Race Weekend went off with its usual mix of fun events, a party atmosphere and of course, tight racing action. Riders rocked up to the venue early on Saturday morning, keen to get their tents pitched and crack on with the weekend. After a short practice session, the track was closed so Ratboy could take centre stage. Gathered around a small laptop, over 50 racers and marshals clamoured for a good spot to watch their hero claim his first World Cup overall. A massive cheer erupted as Josh crossed the line and the result left racers ‘peakin’ for the rest of the weekend.
Next up on the Saturday was Bogey racing. The idea was to build a ghetto downhill trike and race it against other teams down a short slalom course. There were only six trikes entered, but the chaotic racing proved to be entertaining for the expectant crowd, who let’s be honest, were only really there for the crashes anyway. Before long, practice for the night race started. The track was short, but in the golden evening sunlight riders were happy to tear it up, and the sound of trains of whooping riders echoed down the valley as they chased each other down the flat out track.
As night fell, the generators were powered up, the DJ started blasting out tunes and lights were switched on for the night race. It also meant that those in fancy dress had their chance to shine. Costumes ranged from Osama Bin Laden to a Ghostbuster and even Jesus, making for a surreal, yet hilarious evening of racing.
The Farmer John’s night race is now renowned for its party atmosphere and a lot of locals came up to share in the event. A large bonfire was lit and the partying carried on till the early hours of the morning. The night race was won by Callum Russell for the men and Cath Tilford for the women, but if you were racing it seriously, well then you were doing it wrong.
Racers emerged on Sunday morning to bright sunshine and fuzzy memories. What better way to clear the groggy heads than heading down to the track for another practice session? Farmer John and his trail crew had put a lot of work into creating a whole new track for the weekend. Out of the start gate, the track quickly flowed into a series of drops, tables, bridges and most notably, a sizable double. Riders then flew into the woods and after a series of switchbacks, hit a long, tricky north shore section that traversed a swamp. The track finished with the carnage corners that have made previous races at Farmer John’s a big hit with spectators. The switchbacks were steep and slick, with polished sniper roots eager to push riders off line.
The track quickly bedded-in and riders were starting to gain race pace. The woods received the most attention for sessioning as multiple lines began to open up, it was great to see older riders giving advice and encouragement to the rippers as they tackled this tough section. Once again, the race drew large crowds, especially on the double which had been off limits for most of practice due to a crash. This led to a combination of do-or-die cases and some brutal heckling for those who chose to roll it.
To top the weekend off, Farmer John paid for everyone to have a go on the airbag from his own pocket while the results were being calculated. Here’s what he had to say about the event, “I think they’re enjoying the new track, they keep falling off it, but they’re responding to it very well.
It’s a bit of a different track for me this year, it’s quite bike parkish at the top, it’s wide and flowy and there’s some bigger gaps, then we’ve taped the woods extra wide with a pinch point at carnage corner – Farmer John
It’s a bit of a different track for me this year, it’s quite bike parkish at the top, it’s wide and flowy and there’s some bigger gaps, then we’ve taped the woods extra wide with a pinch point at carnage corner.We had a t-shirt made up for Ratboy with the national anthem on it upside down so he could lift his t-shirt up and read it. Hopefully we’re going to get him up here for October for the next round. He’s one of us, he’s even more one of the boys than Peaty, which takes some doing. He’s massive with the fans and he’s a dead genuine sort. Whether he comes up here or you see him at the nationals he’s just the same guy.”
1: Craig Evans – 1:15.829
2: Josh Lewis – 1:17.111
3: Jamie Johnson – 1:18.940
1: Cath Tilford – 1:43.049
2: Vanessa Paul – 1:51.316
3: Claire Calland -2:06.868
Check previous reports from Farmer Johns below: