Caersws Cup. (Seconds out, round two)
A report from our man the Butcher and his side kick DopeY Dan.
It’s been kind of a while since I actually entered a Downhill race. The big man Jones introduced me to the joys of riding a fully suspended push bike over rocks and roots as fast as my brain and body would allow, a few years back. After a weekend of slipping, sliding and foot dabbing with an old pair of Nike airs on my plates (because I didn’t know any better), instantly, I was kind of hooked. Before I knew it, I was on the top of a wind swept, rain sodden hill, with only the odd squirrel and my brother in law - Potato Head Rob for company. The rest, as they say, is history.
It was time. Time to enter another. Downhill race that is. This time, Mr Potato Head was sunning himself in Scotland. So up steps to the plate my other brother in law. A Downhill virgin. Never rode a downhill course. Never raced any sort of bike full stop and yet seems to love and follow the sport with a passion. Here’s what he thought - but bear in mind he’s a virgin, even though he brags he’s a sex machine! Over to you, Dopey Dan.
A day with a butcher, a midget and a small dog call Bessie.
As my alarm sounds at some ungodly hour, I drag myself out of a lovely warm bed to begin the experience that is my first ever downhill event. The optimism of waking up to a dry warm day wears off after an hour in the van, when our Lord Almighty decides that its time to piss it down. I actually saw cats and dogs fall from the sky until 20mins from the hill, where it was miraculously dry. Someone was looking out for us.
As the van was emptied, the loo soon got filled (thanks to the stinking Butcher), my only bad experience of the day.
My first true downhill experience had begun properly. I wandered around the pits before many of the riders were too awake to practice, I was briefed. Take pictures of stuff that’s unusual and I had my pick of the crop. However, somewhere between the horrendous 90’s Brit pop and the overwhelming number of riders, I forgot to do that, so pit photos would have to wait until after practice.
As I finally got to the top of the first hill I saw a sight that I will never forget - a sea of people or more, a sea of helmets and bikes. My first main surprise was the range of riders. From lads as young as 12, to older men and women, from Scott Beaumont to Barracuda Bob!
I resent the bugger who decided that it would be a good idea to ride on such a steep hill! I was not allowed the ‘luxury’ of an uplift. It was hard work, but I was constantly reminded that I was being a total pussy and to do my job!
I learnt a lot about downhill on the day. If a rider sounds silent and looks slow, he is actually going fast (or has fell off and is walking down). Also, if it sounds like someone is riding down with tin cans attached to their rig, they are either going slow, falling off or on an Orange. Another revelation was that the youth class haul ass, those boys were rapid for their age!
I moved up the hill to a wall to wall step up. All that attempted it cleared it, some by eight feet and others by closing their eyes and praying that Karma wasn’t going to jump up and bite them on the ass. Yet again, I was forced to suffer for my art and move further up the hill where I was confronted by a sound that I will never forget. A rider went over the bars and landed chest first on what was apparently a bomb. It was frightening to hear, and from what I’m told, all those who witnessed it turned to stone.
With that, practice was over.
I wandered down the track into the pits to see a field scattered with broken riders and broken bikes. A white blur kept appearing from laid down bikes and used tires. This turned out to be an overly hyperactive Jack Russell called Bessie. That bloody dog cost me 20 minutes of my life in order to get that pit shot that the DIRT on-line editor demands.
So, it began.
‘All riders to the uplift, lets go racing!’
I was amazed at how a group of seemingly “Normal" people could ride down terrain that I struggled to walk up. I was truly gob smacked. The fast boys were fast. The slow boys were slow. But who care’s - it was just impressive to see man and woman attempting to ride down a hill, bouncing from tree to tree and enjoying it!
Most were flying down the hill all day, until unfortunately one rider managed to take out the timing clock that was situated inches from the start. This caused the only Down Hill delay. It also meant that the last runs were made all the more interesting by the great Welsh weather!
These lads are mental. You have to have something really wrong with you to do this to yourself.
My bike’s on order. I can’t wait to ride.
There you have it. Chris and his four cross team did a fantastic job. The uplift was fast and efficient. The course was fun and sometimes scary, and the bloke on the mike seemed a lot taller than usual. See you at the next round. If you snooze, you lose.
Thanks for reading.
The Butcher; in association with a Dopey Dan production.
Check here for full results.