Saracen BDS rd1 Combe Sydenham race day blog

Sundays photo dump from Combe Sydenham.

Words and Photos: Ace Woodley.

Big news was the loss of the live feed,  from what I could gather the satellite up link worked but there was a server issue that stopped connection.   Filming was going on with some big cameras being humped up and down the track,  I assume something will be edited and crop up during the week……. not that there was anyone else filming up there 🙂  some odd looking homemade boom arms from the small army of video editors that are out there.

full camping field and overflow carparking (out of shot)


The track was a bit soup like to start with, but the rain held off and things started to dry out. The middle woods had suffered and mud was clogging bikes so much that most riders decided to skip the gap jump,  many that tried it came up short,  very short.

Manon & Harry team Saracen, getting ready for seeding.
waiting to be cleaned and checked over.
Saracen mechanics on full chat getting bikes prepped for seeding.

On Saturday I snapped 2 ladies 631 Annie Matthews and 633 Jessica Greaves,  both muddied up,  caught up with Jessica again on her way up for race run. Now in the field lurked the hecklers  “Whip it” being screamed as they hit the table jump,  out of all the girls Jessica had a little go at whipping it,  hecklers where impressed because she had a go,  top girl! 

Jessica Greaves.
Jess Stone.

Local riders the Anderson brothers,  enjoying the now technical nature of the very muddy track.  Had a quick chat then walked up top to the start gate to check out the track.  The bottom woods were not too bad,  the field was not too bad,  the middle woods where rutted up and bikes being choked up. Many couldn’t get enough speed on the run in to the gap jump,  or got pinged off line,  some proper lairy foot out action there,  and a big crowd formed for the rest of the day.

The Anderson brothers.

Watched some of the kids in seeding have a stab at the gap jump,  didn’t get photos,  but punching way above there weight with some gutsy riding and holding on and saving it. First one flatlanded and got pinged off line badly,  held it upright and rode round the outside of the berm,  next nose dived but rolled it out,  not over the bars.  Kids if you read this or you know who they where,  Brendog and some other expert/elites watched you,  they were well impressed…as was everyone else standing there.

Alastair Maclennan seeding run.

Keith Saunders seeding run.

Watched the Vets category kick off for seeding,  getting a clean start was hard work. The first corner had deeply rutted and pedals seemed to be getting snagged,  some got a clean start,  some stalled,  by this time the track has had maybe 2000 runs down it, and the field was drying out but the top woods and bus stops are still wet.

Duncan Ferris appeared with his DMR Bolt,  did see another being raced too,  he didn’t shy away from the jumps and the crowd loved it.

Duncan Ferris, short travel DMR Bolt bike.

Watched the ladies seeding up top,  Manon was well fast and lairy, lost the rear after the double into the tight trees,  didn’t crash out but stalled,  Rachel was a bit slower but smoother more composed,  maybe tactics,  play safe others might try to hard and thus lose time.

Rachel Atherton, top of track double jump.
Manon Carpenter, top of track double jump.

Wandered down to the last bus stop exit,  waited for the Elite men to hammer past.

Sam Hill

From what I could  see all the pro-elites hit the same line through here,  same as Sam Hill.  With seeding over and a short break then it was racing.  Track was improving and the rain was holding off.

Lot of carrying around going on, try to keep the bikes as mud free as possible.
some pushed, some carried bikes.

With racing under way, I wandered back up track to the big road gap.

Last jump to the finish line.

Mud tyres still ruled but by race runs things were improving.

whip it…maybe not
whip it ! … go on then
WHIP it… for heckler style points

Moved on up to the gap jump,  Tahnee Seagrave getting some air time,  but no whipping it for the hecklers.

Tahnee Seagrave.

Camped out on the gap jump.

Bottom out bang time
he rode it out !

Some very heavy landings and sketchy run outs from the gap jump kept the crowd busy,  you knew if a rider was going for it as the hecklers went wild in the woods.

Some Elites.

Sam Hill inside line.
Marc Beaumont, inside line.
Gee Atherton, rode the berms.
Rich Thomas, inside line.

As you exit the woods over (or round) the gap jump,  you could aim for a straight line and in some cases miss both berms……or just ride the berms and still win.  Gee must have had enough gained time to pull that off and still win with time to spare.

Someone had a helicam going,  not sure on how legit that is,  having a drone hovering above the track and spectators,  curious to the footage it took though as it caught the last few Elite riders.

Heli cam ?

With racing over went to find a time sheet.

As I wandered off,  bikes being cleaned,  the pro pits had started to vanish,  bumped into Manon,  ready for the podium,  only girl to attempt the gap jump,  bit of a nose dive but rode it out,  crowd loved it !   Manon knew too late it was coming up short but couldn’t take the sneaky 3rd line, cut off the kicker onto the wide line which a few blokes pulled off when they knew they wouldn’t make it but too late to stop,  also the kicker is rounded / gouged out (ruined)  so trying to hit the best part while holding your line in the mud,  not easy.


Cracking days racing,  loved it.



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