Saracen BDS Combe Sydenham. Wet and Wild practice day

Saturday at Combe Syd,  I showed up late afternoon after spending most of the day at a very packed out Bespoked Bristol handmade custom bike show.  It was quite nice when I drove up to Bristol at 7.30am,  had no idea it been raining until i got out at 1.20pm…….wonder if it’s rained down the Combe then….

Words and Photos: Ace Woodley.

Ben from Schwable was possibly in the worst pitch spot,  and was busy trying to dig out a drainage channel,   going by the muddy ladies and blokes with buckets washing down bikes,  I suspected the weather hadn’t been too chipper down here.

Brendog and Rich Thomas about to head up for another run.


Things have turned this year,  last time it was sunny and dusty,  this year the track bites back.

Alastair Macleanan from Fort William,  it was snowing up there on Friday morning when he came down,  it may be wet and muddy but it’s not too cold.

10 tractors on uplift service,  no big queue,  appeared to be running well.

Grabbed some photos while I walked up the track, couldn’t tell who was who as everyone was brown,  and most of the bikes where brown.  The bottom woods seemed to be fine,  the field was running well,  the middle woods… a bit slick and rutted in there.

Had a quick chat with Ben Deacon  he’s mental anyway but went off on one about how good this would be on hardtail because of all the mud 🙂    Ben reeled it in and was riding for fun and loving it,  lots of riders were losing speed on the run into the gap jump and coming up a bit short,  Ben’s take on this was to ride the easy line (slower) but just nail the jump in racing,  no point binning it big time in practice and maybe screwing over race day.   Some very heavy bottom outs and saddle razzing action by those that came up a bit short.  Also in the last photo above,  it’s been taped wide,  if you can nail the jump just right you can undercut the first berm and make more of a straight line through the 2 berms.  Watched Brendog and Thomas nail it all right.


Is Brendan Fairclough running a 650b Gambler? Photo: @Brendog_1 Twitter.

The bus stops exit,  two of the main line choices on show,  think Peaty went long and round the wrapped/taped tree last year….. heard chatter on (insert pro riders name) line choice was being used.   Get this exit wrong and it’s an unpleasant flat landing,  few riders have knocked themselves out over shooting it,  I hucked it by accident once to flat on the hard-tail,  rode it out,  couldn’t walk proper for a few weeks afterwards,  compressed the soft tissue in my knee and a vertebrae or two,  not recommended.

It was getting close to last uplift time so I headed back down (and bumped into Ben Deakin)


A quick last walk about amongst the jet washers.

I spyed a bike,  baby blue M9  being jetwashed,  thats the FMD bike so they must be close by……  as a general rule,  if pro pits are zippered up,  leave alone,  if the doors open,  ask if you can have a quick chat,  most of the big teams where empty of riders or zippered up and it was hard to tell until the rider had passed you who was belting down the track,  being as everyone was mud coloured.

Yep open door…hello i’am Ace, can I take a photo….it’s for dirt !  maybe my timing was off,  had a quick gossip with team boss and Tahnee and scuttled off 🙂

So race day coming fast,  team GT where busy re-cutting tyres on Friday night,  the wet weather mud specialist riders are loving it,  more rain and winds tonight,  racing is looking lairy,  perhaps a wet champery rider will show us how to race….who knows,  anything thing could happen,  the track is changing so much,  whatever the outcome the spectators are in for a good day of foot out mud slinging race action.


🙂  Ace.


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