Forest of Dean Mini Downhill – the Deakinator Report

Flatland into Sheepskull

Words: Deaks
Photos: Dave Price

The Onza Tires Mini Downhill has firmly established itself as one of the go-to races during the winter months. There’s always an entry level track that a beginner can race on for the first time and at the same time a full-time pro can have a laugh on in a relaxed, fun environment for a bit of pre-season training.

This weekend was no different, attracting a staggering 331 riders – with almost 60 of them under 14 years old and with over 40 women racing. Not exactly bad for a Mini Downhill in January!

When you sign on for one of these events you know what you’re getting. The tracks are well taped and well marshalled and there are no corners cut. The track is great for all abilities and if you have any bother, the medical cover is spot on. Combine this with ultra reliable timing for your two timed runs and you have a recipe for a great day of racing bikes with your mates. Oh – and the Pedalabikeaway cafe puts on a hog roast if you need any more convincing!

The track started off on ‘Flat Land’ with a lung busting 40-50 second sprint with a few compressions and loads of wet roots to keep you on your toes. Nicely gassed you were then spat into ‘Sheep Skull’ and a nightmare of damp criss-cross roots and a blood thirsty crowd waiting for the carnage. It was all good fun though there was plenty of applause for those who made it through successfully.

If you made it through Root City you were shot out onto a fire road at eye-watering speeds, dropping straight down in a section that caught a few riders out. Next it was into a short, sharp uphill that rewarded loads of entry speed and a string of jumps to show off for the cameras and the crowds. Sprint to the line and you were done. The average time was just shy of 2 mins 10 seconds.

Bike choice was mixed with quite a few riders opting for trail or enduro bikes for the pedalling at the top and the short uphill climb half way down but sacrificing the grip on the harder sections where a downhill bike was by far a better choice.

With a former Elite National series winner that I grew up with posters on my bedroom wall (Tim Ponting), a current Masters National Champ (that’s me, sorry!), A famous Red Bull slopestyle sensation’s fast brother (Jono Jones), a French alp seasonaire and a local pinner you knew it was going to be fast.
Jono Jones looked on fire all day onboard his DMR Sled trail bike taking no prisoners stopping the clock with the fastest time of the day (1.36.70).

Local Pinner Kyle Hall by far won the most runs you can fit in a weekend award using the uplift to full advantage on the Saturday and the Sunday getting faster by the run bringing home the Silver. I tried to race in Masters but apparently it’s frowned upon (can’t help my age lads!) so I raced in elite and took 3rd place – making it a 1st and a 3rd for Team DMR.

Last race’s winner Fergus Ryan (MTB Beds Tea Maker) clearly isn’t used to the pedalling after being spoilt with the gradient in Morzine taking fourth and Legend Tim Ponting still showing no signs of slowing down finishing 5th (He would have won his age cat). Not bad for a guy nearly double the age of some of the competition – sorry Tim!

In hardtail, five guys made the challenge of getting down on a hardtail with Josh Morris taking the win with a (1.54.42)  with Finn Chapman (1.58.83) and Tom Bell rounding out the podium with a (2.01.32)

The Rippers category is for the 10-12 year olds. There was a good turn out of 25 Brave youngsters with the top three all finishing on the same second! Rudi Elchhorn just pipped local Will Haines and Alfie Heming by 0.30 of a second – over two minutes thats tight racing!

The Juvenile Boys saw Toby Driscoll stopped the clock with a 1.53.81 putting just over a second into Pedalabikeaway rider Jacey Harris and D&D cycles rider Dominic Platt.

Youth BMX rider Ethan Craik (Gosport BMX Club) demonstrating he can ride a big bike as well putting over 4 seconds into his closest rival and finishing in the Top 20 overall with Grady Jones and Elis Roberts rounding out the Top 3.

Juniors saw some quick Young guns as well with Jordan Beighton stopping the clock with a 1.44.79 just edging Dec Willicombe (1.45.88) and Jake Gaskell (1.46.69).

Seniors once again put on some  tight racing with some quick times with Connor Buxton stopping the clock on a (1.43.24) just pipping Tom Creber (1.43.97) and Matt Lynn (1.44.16).

Masters saw Enduro Rider Oliver McKenna (1.44.45) pip Old school World Cup Racer Nick Platt (1.45.47) and another fellow Enduro Rider Tomas Kupstys (1.48.22).

Veterans saw Wayne Davies taking the win stopping the clock on (1.46.98) over Lee Howells (1.47.05) and Pete Crump (1.50.08) rounding out the Top 3.

Ian Bray was the only Grand vet to get under the 2 minute barrier with (1.56.74) with Mark James and Mark Taylor prove they aren’t thinking of hanging the bike up just yet!

Mini Downhills have been extremely good for encouraging female riders to race and their numbers have been getting bigger and bigger by the year – this race had 41 women on the start sheet!

10-18 year old saw Rosy Monaghan winning by by over 10 seconds to Elon Berry and Jenna Fellows.

19-29 Senior women saw Aston Tutt being the only girl who got sub 2 minutes with a (1.58.94) with Abbie Sloan and Katie Perkin finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Master Women saw some old school faces with Mojo suspensions Aimee Dix pipping ex Team Animals Jo Ponting and 417 Flyup’s Amanda Tanfield.

Veteran Woman saw 8 riders compete with Renee Diwell take the spoils over Suzy Dickens and Joanna Tucker.

All in a great weekend for all abilities looking to get into or have fun under the clock, The next race is 25th February 2018.

Full Results can be found at

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